As a second-year junior, 18-year-old Dylan Kerr of Horseshoe Valley, Ont. is finishing up high school this spring while preparing for the 2019 mountain bike season. In his seventh year of racing, Kerr hopes to represent Canada at the 2019 UCI Mountainbike World Championships in Mont Sainte Anne. He’ll spend the season racing for Angry Johnny’s Racing pb/Norco who has been supporting him for the past six years.

Oliver Evans: What’s your favourite discipline?

Dylan Kerr: I favour mountain biking over all the disciplines, although I still compete in some road and cyclocross races.

What are your most notable results from 2018?

44th at cyclocross junior world championships, first at Ontario MTB Cup #1, second at Ontario MTB provincials and third at the junior Canadian national cyclocross championships.

*Dylan also finished in the top ten at junior criterium and road nationals.

You went to cyclocross worlds in 2018. Tell us a bit about that experience.

I got the opportunity to travel across the pond with Team Canada to compete in three World Cups and the 2018 cyclocross world championships. This was a great experience, exposing me for the first time to some world-class racing. This calibre of racing is hard to come by as a junior athlete, making that trip very beneficial for my development as a racer.

What were the biggest differences between Euro and Canadian ‘cross races?

The difference in the level of racing between the Canadian ‘cross races and the European cross races is huge. Not only are the courses twice as muddy, but you are lining up in a start grid of 60 to 80 riders, all who have a virtually identical fitness level to you. This means that the racing comes down to who can suffer the most as well as who is willing to be the most aggressive.

What made you decide not to go again in 2019?

I was offered to attend the same trip again this past year, for the 2019 world championships. I turned it down, however, to focus on training for the mountain bike season, as it is my main discipline. Although I still would have been riding during that period in Europe, I would not have been able to get the same volume of training in, so I opted to stay home and get some bigger miles in.

How do you manage winter training in Ontario?

I attend training camps in warmer locations to get large training blocks in, although I still spend most of my winter at home. This involves doing a lot of training on rollers or a trainer. I also try to mix up the training from time to time with training alternatives. I find myself doing lots of cross country skiing and fat biking, taking advantage of my winter environment.

Are you training anywhere warm this winter?

This past Christmas break I travelled to California with the NextGen MTB group for a road endurance camp. I spent 10 days getting in long miles on the road bike. This allowed me to take a short break from winter and really focus on building for the season.

Who is your coach?

Up until this past October I was coached for over four years by Kevin Simms. He was able to jump start my career in bike racing. He helped me develop as an athlete getting me to an elite level of racing. I then switched over to being coached by Jeff Ain, on the Canadian NextGen MTB Program. The NextGen Program has given me the opportunity to focus on developing as a national level mountain bike athlete.

Dylan Kerr, first on the left, on the podium at the Canadian relay championships alongside Haley Smith and the Disera brothers of the Norco Factory Team.

Who are your biggest role models and sources of inspiration?

I found that my biggest role models and sources of inspiration as I was growing up were the older riders I was getting to train with. When I was younger I got to train with up and coming athletes who are now at a world-class level. At the time it seemed like I was just trying to push myself to keep up, however it was a visual goal of where I wanted to be. I also remember having our current men’s national champion, Peter Disera, being my first coach and inspiration in a development program when I was first starting to get into riding and racing bikes.

Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever raced?

One of my favourite places to race is on the west coast of Canada. The environment and the level of riding are amazing out there. I also really enjoy racing in Belgium due to the huge amount of spectators that show up to the races.

Do you compete in other sports?

I originally was a competitive downhill skier racing at a national level on the provincial team. This was my first main sport, having competed in it for as long as I can remember. I stopped racing two years ago when I got the offer to join Team Canada for the cyclocross world championships.

Do you feel that anything has been missing in terms of support as you’ve developed as a cyclist?

I find that I have good support on many fronts as I develop as an athlete through my parents full support as well as my team’s effort to make sure I have what is needed to be successful. All of this combined with a supportive coach is allowing me to strive to reach my full potential.

What’s one of the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn as a cyclist?

The hardest lesson I have had to learn was the fact that you are not going to have an amazing day of training or racing every time. You are going to have some tough days, and you will have to learn how to push through and not let them drag you down. This ability to push through is what will get me to the next level(s).

Are there any changes you’d like to see in Canadian Cycling to promote equal opportunity for all riders?

I would like to see changes continue to happen regarding opportunities for younger riders. More and more riding groups and programs are starting to pop up giving opportunities for those younger riders who are looking to get into the sport, and I would like to see that continue to happen

Where would you like cycling to take you?

I would like cycling to take me as far as I am willing to put in the effort. I feel that if I am able to continue putting my full effort into this sport, I will be rewarded.

What are your goals for this season?

This season my main focus is on qualifying for MTB world championships in Mont Sainte Anne. This is a big goal for me as I would have the opportunity to race World Championships for my country while racing at home in front of friends and family.

Any tips for other young, ambitious cyclists?

I found that the biggest thing for me to focus on when I was younger was making sure I was having fun. If you are having fun while doing the sport you will learn to truly enjoy biking, making training something you want to do, not something you have to do.

Kerr tags off to Peter Disera at the team relay in Canmore at nationals.

So, just to let you know, in 2015 at junior ‘cross worlds, I finished 43rd which puts me one spot ahead of Dylan. I doubt the story would be the same now though, so I’m glad he’s sticking to mountain biking and I’m sticking to the road. Pretty cool that MTB worlds is coming to Canada this year, and I really hope to see Dylan flying our colours there.

Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.

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