Jess Cerra: Why WiFLi Works for Me
Jess Cerra’s cycling life spans multiple disciplines. After many years on the dirt, which included an XTERRA national championship and 2 years as an elite endurance mountain biker, Jess shifted her focus to road in 2014. Her stints with Team Twenty16 (now Sho-Air Twenty20 Pro Cycling) and Hagens Berman Supermint have seen her in the biggest women’s races in the world. In addition to her professional cycling career, Jess has used her Exercise Physiology degree to establish herself as an expert in athletic nutrition, writing a column in Triathlete and co-founding Jojé Bar. As a long time SRAM athlete and user of WiFLi, we asked her to describe the benefits of a medium cage derailleur and wide range 11-32 cassette in her own words:
Coming from a background in mountain biking, you learn a lot about equipment and are constantly making little changes from tire choice to gearing. Trying new things becomes second nature. I had one of the first SRAM XX kits on my mountain bike and thought it was revolutionary. Wider gear range, faster front shifting, and lighter weight: LIGHTBULB!
If I learned anything from my days on a mountain bike, it was the importance of EFFICIENCY. Anytime you can conserve energy and be efficient you are edging out the competition. In that discipline, equipment choice played a big part in the ability to be efficient. SRAM was really the first to adapt this concept to the discipline of road cycling. Before WiFLi was available, short cage derailleurs limited us to a 28T cassette, so changes were often made to the front chainrings depending on terrain.
Climbing is one of my strengths on the bike, but I also love ripping down descents. In the past, I had always struggled with front chainring choice. A compact 50x34 would leave me spun out in many scenarios. I tried riding a 52x36, but still missed my 53 big chainring on descents, in crits, and on flat group rides and races…I just like the extra big gear. However, I was craving to be more efficient while climbing, and WiFLi solves all of that. Now I can have my big ring sprinting and descending, and rely on a 32T cassette to provide me a larger range of gears for climbing. When you are climbing up cobbled 15-18% climbs in Europe and you’re able to quickly shift into that large 32-tooth cog, you are literally saying a prayer to SRAM!
This year, I competed in the Colorado Classic. Stage 2 took riders up the infamous Moonstone climb, over 10,000 feet in elevation, with pitches close to 20%, FIVE times. I run a business on the side of cycling, so I was unable to train and acclimatize in Colorado before the race. I was one of 29 out of the original 80-rider peloton to finish, and it was 1,000% due to having the ability with the WiFLi to get over the climbs without overtaxing and depleting my leg muscles of oxygen.
As a professional athlete who also runs a private chef service and energy bar company, I have a demanding life balance. If I want to save my legs and spin up a climb, I have the ability to do that with WiFLi. This means recovering faster for my next training session or putting "money in the bank" for the next stage in a race. This is something any rider that is balancing life and training can appreciate. Once you try WiFLi, there is no question—you won’t ever go back!