By Cindy Atoji Keene
With spring just around the corner, Maureen Bruno Roy will be in her element as she trains for the elite cyclocross and pro mountain bike season. She thrives on muddy, challenging conditions as they add a level of unpredictability to racing for Roy, who is ranked in the top 10 in the Cyclocross National Championships. “I like employing tactical skills and decision making, like when it’s better to ride the bike than dismount,” said Roy, 38, who loves how the terrain dictates how a race unfolds. A cyclocross course features pavement, wooded trails, and steep hills, requiring the rider to both navigate the obstacles and run with the bicycle hoisted on the shoulder. Roy began cyclocross racing a decade ago when she found that her background in track and field complimented her cycling ability.
Q: You won the single-speed category at the Nationals this winter– how did that feel?
A: I began riding a single-speed cyclocross bike just this year. I had one of my first custom Seven Cycles bike sent back to their shop in Watertown where they re-machined the rear triangle of the bike to accommodate a single chain-ring set up. Differences from a geared bike are, less gears, of course, and no front and rear derailleur (shifting mechanisms), making the bike lighter. The advantage for me personally is more fun right now. Riding a different bike in a fresh category allows me to still play a little in contrast to the seriousness of the Elite events.
Q: The lack of financial support for women’s cyclocross often necessitates being a working pro. How do you support your racing?
A: I approach companies for financial support to cover costs of racing ¬– approximately $29,000 for a full cyclocross season. This includes race entry fees, airfare, housing, car rentals, and other expenses. I didn’t have sponsorship for a very long time; the company or business you’re approaching wants to be sure they’ll get some return from their investment. My current title sponsor is Bob’s Red Mill, a grain company from Portland, Ore.; they provide $10,000 or more in financial support. Their logo is placed on my clothing, bike and equipment. I also have sponsorship for my wheels, drive train, brakes, tires; even my glasses, food, bike rack, and coffee. In addition, I work as a professional massage therapist with a private practice in Arlington.
Q: Your strengths are tactical decision-making on the bike – what are your weaknesses?
A: I struggle with flat, wide-open or paved stretches. Physically, I’m a little small – 5’4”, 108 pounds or so – so I don’t put out a ton of power. If I find myself with a head wind in a flat section, I can use up a lot of energy; I really should be drafting behind another rider at that point.
Q: In addition to racing, you've worked as a soigneur with several of the top-ranked domestic and international cycling teams. What was that like?
A: As a soigneur, your main duties are to be team caretakers, picking and drop off riders and staff, preparing water bottles and food for riders, shopping for the team, washing laundry, as well as maintaining a complete medical kit in the event of minor crashes and cuts. While I was working as a soigneur, the athletes were either racing 100 percent or resting 100 percent. The racing itself looked fun to me but the sitting around between races and training sessions seemed incredibly boring to me.
Q: Your husband, Matt Roy, is a bike mechanic and made some of your bicycles – is that an advantage for you?
A: It's definitely helpful that we are both into cycling. Matt grew up working in a bike shop, bike touring with his dad, and racing as a junior. Having him as my pro mechanic is a huge plus because he is always on top of every detail of the bikes.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
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