- Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
October 09, 2014, 16:22 BST,
October 09, 2014, 17:11 BST
American couple triumphs through first Swiss Epic edition
Dropping into the center of plush Swiss villages temporarily transformed into accommodating race venues after hours spent negotiating world class high alpine tracks in the surrounding area is the stuff MTB dreams are made of.
Mary and I have had the chance to race bikes in some amazing places over the past years, but the Wallis region of Switzerland just seemed to be waiting for the knobby tires to make a red carpet roll through. The Perskindol Swiss Epic was a chance at a deluxe introduction to this remote region of Switzerland with the touch of Autumn casting the impressive landscape in its deepest hue and the riding at it's absolute best and last days for the season. This was a chance to get an intimate impression of this rugged region and more than a sample of the impressive mountains that shape landscape as well as the way of life on all that surrounds them.
It was truly a robust week of mountain bike experiences - six days, 400km and 15,000 meters of climbing through Verbier, Leukerbad, Grachen and Zermatt. Each stage was nothing short of a big challenge with four to six hours of riding and 3000 meters of climbing, over lengths varying from 60 - 95km.
The terrain here is as big as we have ridden anywhere and the extended climbs allowed plenty of time to anticipate dropping into the exceptional trails that expanded our perception of long, fun singletrack descending. The course brought us riders on a journey through everything from small villages to dense forests to desolate scree fields on a course that consistently showcased the alpine perfection that makes this region so special. The remote paths and seldom used roads allowed us a local's insight while the trails themselves brought amazing, consistent excitement in their steepness and variety.
Much of the high mountain terrain we encountered had an element of danger and critical nature that was not to be taken lightly. It was our primary concern to stay focused and remain in self preservation mode throughout the entire week as each day brought loads of narrow paths riddled with slick roots and pulverized rock sections set close to overhanging clifs with shocking exposure. There were many moments we felt on the edge of what could be considered safe to ride, but in the adventure seeking nature of the sport, these sections typically proved to be the most satisfying pieces - the ones that defined the event, and the ones that we would seek out to ride again in a heartbeat.
The organization and structure of the entire event seemed outstanding with motivated capable hands on deck for every aspect and need making the week astonishingly smooth from our campground perspective. Clearly the Swiss Epic was well thought out and organized with an incredible amount of passion and put together by people who understand mountain biking and what an epic MTB experience in the Swiss Alps should be all about!
Mary and I stuck to our tried and true RV styles (the only option other than hotel packages) as our base camp for the week. It was great to have our little mobile home base to return to after each of the grueling stages with the comforts of food, bike stand, tools, foam rollers, yoga mats, etc., so we could efficiently prepare to go again the next day.
As Mary and I come to our senses regarding the importance of race day support in stage racing, we entered into this event with out such luxury. I was on my own with our mechanic work and need to take a moment to offer our deepest gratitude to our special group of sponsors - especially Kenda Tires, Stan's NoTubes, Intense Cycles, Sram, ESI Grips, Fizik, Smith Optics, Clif Bar, Cane Creek, Defeet, Mavic helmets and shoes, Quest Sport team clothing, Crank Brothers Squirt Lube, Guayaki Yerba Mate and Jim's Organic Coffee and the rest of our supporters whose amazing products gave us a consistent advantage while standing by us throughout this grueling endurance event. It is a tribute to all our fine product sponsors equipment that we could manage and excel at an event like this while riding self supported! The bottom line is that good solid equipment keeps race mechanic duties to a minimum and this is so important when going through an event like this riding and wrenching.
The support that was provided to the athletes by the Swiss Epic staff was incredible as well! Full onsite bike shop service possibilities with pro mechanics on hand, massage and physiotherapy, full service bike wash, race nutrition throughout the entire event, fully equipped medical staff compete with Swiss Air evacuation Emergency services if need be. It is important for each rider to have every last detail together before going into an event like this but also incredibly helpful to have alternative options available onsite.
We enjoyed uncharacteristically good weather throughout the week, and it was especially appreciated since it consistently threatened to be otherwise. At night we heard doomsday thunder echoing through the mountains and could only imagine how it would complicate our rides. We saw enough dark clouds to keep the rain jackets close and cherish every minute in the sun like it was the last, but somehow, luckily it just kept on shining. Mary and I went out for a short spin the day after the event and saw firsthand how difficult rain could make things in this area, at this time of year - we really felt lucky to not have to go through one of these big days in such conditions!
The word "Flow" kept coming up over the week and there were plenty of swooping smooth banked full speed rolling pump screamer downhills, but the Wallis region of Switzerland is far from a big bike park. We encountered heaps of old school natural singletrack and trails that have been developed and used for centuries before the bikes even came into the picture. While racing we followed the well placed course markings on a wild ride across what felt like the BEST these incredible mountains had in store for us!
The Swiss Epic was an excuse to push ourselves to the absolute limit of our riding passion while sharing the experience with like minded individuals. Each day was a challenge and an internal battle hard enough to put all the other crazy stuff that goes on in the daily life on hold and commit fully to the present situation. Finding a way to get through the difficulty and feel that bit of accomplishment that comes with getting through an extraordinary challenge was rewarding and perhaps even gave us some new motivation to more successfully handle our daily grind.
In our own experience, as well as the overall impression from those we spoke with, was that this was equal parts one of the toughest weeks that many have gone through in off road racing as well as one of the most special. For us it was an in depth education into a foreign land alongside the familiarity of riding and the tribe of bike to help guide us to get the most out of the experience. It left us wanting nothing but to do it all again and share it with those special people who we know would be better off for having taken part.
Mary and I came into the experience with some significant disadvantages with her recent injury - a broken ankle just six weeks prior. Even though she was technically within the doctor's predicted healing phase, she was still not 100%. The training she lost due to the injury and the clear discomfort that comes from the stiffness and weak feeling of a recovering broken bone left us with much to be desired. However with a good taping, her strong mental resolve and our teamwork, we got through it. It was harsh to see her suffering (hobbling) up the massive hiking sections so we found our best option to get her up some of these was for me to push on foot while she rode. I was deeply impressed with her resolve to continue to do her best and tough it out.
On the purely competitive side, we were dealt some frustrating circumstances at the race as well. We were less than one second off of winning the prologue. Turns out this was a decisive disadvantage being that the leaders in each category earned a front row call up for each stage - while all other competitors were left to battle for a staging position in a second box behind 50 some elite riders. This was about as ideal as starting a World Cup from the back row, battling traffic instead of moving forward freely - we felt strongly that we were kept from our best overall result by the call up procedure. Hopefully one of those little tweaks that we hope to help improve or change with our feedback as the Swiss Epic goes into its next edition. It would have been easy to go to see the negative and look at it form a purely competitive side but instead we fought from where we were staged, buckled down and really tried to take the experience for what it was.
We found some competitive satisfaction on stage 3, when we gave a huge effort at the start and finally managed to bridge up to our competition for the first and only time all week. We were motivated and it was a great battle, back and forth all day. In the end, we got away on the final hike a bike section with some muscly team work to WIN the stage!
Mary and I are stoked on our Swiss Epic experience generally and our second place overall. We are proud of our precision teamwork that may have caught many of the uninitiated off guard - but certainly helped us ride our best together with the cards we were dealt in the lead up to the race. Reflecting back on the event gives us motivation for our future desire to compete together in events like this. There is no doubt that the Swiss Epic has firmly stamped its name on being a premier MTB event and is one that we hope to be a part of again in the successive editions!
In all honesty, Mary and I were sorely tempted to cave into the reality of a less than perfect situation presented by Mary's injury in the lead up to our entire European adventure and seriously considered opting out of everything - especially the daunting Swiss Epic. In the end, we just couldn't pull the plug on an opportunity that we knew was going to be so outstanding and in looking back we are really happy to have made the effort! We pulled things together to the best of our ability and went for the experience with the best energy and motivation we could. By the end of the week, the Swiss Epic had turned us ON to Switzerland like nothing else ever could have and just riding and finishing the event together made it one of the most gratifying challenges of our season.
We learned a lot about the special tax and feeling of accomplishment that the mixed racing puts on any team, let alone a husband and wife effort. Mostly we re-learned once again that we should not be hesitant to reach towards what may seem impossible when it is important to us. To go for it even if we have some doubt as to whether we could perform at our best or take the opportunities that arise because we can!
Best of luck in all your challenges and adventures!
Mike and Mary
Team Kenda - Stan's NoTubes
- Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
August 26, 2014, 16:31 BST,
August 26, 2014, 16:41 BST
World Championships a target for return to competition
Greetings from Europe!
It's been a challenging and complicated past few weeks for Mike and me. A time that we have had our mental fortitude tested in a less familiar way. The problems started for us abruptly with a training crash at the World Cup at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec, Canada. After getting the x-ray confirmation that I actually broke my ankle (a lateral malleolus fracture) Mike and I have had some serious refiguring to do. Dang!
To have our momentum abruptly stopped and not be able to compete at the World Cups that we had so carefully been planning our energy and time around was more than disappointing. Although making our first trip to the emergency room in our 13 years of competing at this technically demanding venue is not the worst odds - it really did little to make things brighter as we made the long drive home from Canada.
Alongside the emotional roller coaster of being injured, laid up and prevented from doing what I love to do, Mike and I had some serious re-figuring and restructuring of the season to consider. With the season planned out, races pre-registered for, airline tickets bought, RV rental arranged, ferry tickets booked, focused training for months in full effect, what were we going to do?
I have a tendency to quickly look to the positive and because there is so much that requires attention in our profession and our lives that is outside the racing, this was a great opportunity to motivate in these ways.
I feel pretty lucky that the injury was not worse - no surgery, cast or even crutches. The doctor gave me the best case scenario of six weeks until complete healing along with a liberal protocol of being able to ride and work out immediately as long as I respected the pain tolerance and of course wear a specific brace that is designed to immobilize and prevent further injury.
At this point there has been an incredible amount of improvement making me realize just how difficult the first two weeks have been. In addition to the break, the strain of the ligaments and tendons made things pretty painful, stiff, swollen and purple. I was really limited in what I could do without pain and/or detering the healing process. I did my best to respect what I was feeling and the pain was telling me to STAY OFF my ankle and elevate it. It throbbed, it ached, it needed to be iced, heated, rubbed with oils and balms. Wrapped, supported, moved and stretched. It was amazing how much energy my new part time job of caring for my injury took!
Just a few days after, I found that I was able to get back to some semblance of my workout routine. I focussed on training everything that avoided my injury - my core routine and many of the less committed yoga moves. I was on the stationary trainer for more hours in those weeks than I have been in the last year, careful not to overdo things by making sure to focus on how my body reacted to the workouts. Riding up to pain tolerance is always difficult to gauge for those in our business that are in effect used to suffering and pushing through discomfort on a daily basis. I have been carefully listening to the pain, no longer masking it with ibuprofen and taking care to do all I can to rest to accelerate my healing process.
My next progressions seem to be coming more quickly, I am now back to riding the road a good bit using both dual suspension mountain bike and flat pedals to limit the jarring and prevent needing to make the sideways motion of "clicking in and out " that still causes discomfort. This has been very liberating and although I am still unable to walk normally, the bike feels really natural and I am happy to be able to get out on an ever increasing number of miles and almost normal intensity just three weeks post-injury.
This is a great time to be at home but since home for us is really just wherever we are together, Mike and I have decided to go ahead with our seasonal plans of returning to Europe. We made the journey just a week ago and are now happily tucked into the RV once again. The convenience of having everything like kitchen, bathroom, office, closet, and the like, all accessible from a single seat has never been more appreciated! Along side the convenience, it has been great to have a change of scenery where quiet bike paths and the beautiful countryside of southern Germany and Austria are the perfect medicine for us right now. Getting out for some extended rides with Mike last week felt like a milestone! And being able to push the pedals a little felt good! Feeling the small increments of improvement each day and the simple act of just spinning my bike outside makes me so happy - it is like I am free again!
I have set my sights to make the return to competition with the world championships in Norway - which is in reality just five weeks out from the injury. So I'm clearly pushing the envelope with my optimism and I realize that even in the best case scenario, it will be a huge challenge!
With how things are going, I have hope, but the reality of my situation is to be revealed one day at a time. My main goal is to be smart about my recovery and get back to being healthy and strong for the long run. Mike and I have some incredible racing and travel planned for the fall, winter and already the next season, so it is my top priority to work my way back to 100% for all that is to come!
The next stop for us will be Eurobike where we are looking forward to catching up with many of our great partners and friends and getting a preview of what exciting things the bike industry will be turning out for 2015 and beyond.
Hope you are all managing to keep a positive outlook too - despite the many challenges life brings!
Wir wünschen euch einen wunderbaren tag! (Wishing you a wonderful day!)
Mary and Mike
Team Kenda-Stan's NoTubes
- Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
May 25, 2014, 15:45 BST,
May 25, 2014, 15:57 BST
Ready for the Trans-Sylvania Epic stage race
Greetings from a campground on the edge of Rothrock State Forest, Pennsylvania!
It has been a busy past few months for Mike and me as we have attended some truly fantastic MTB cycling events in various corners of the continent. From the Pan American Championships in Brazil to the Sea Otter Classic in California, a road trip to race the Whiskey Off Road in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona, and now back to the East Coast for more excitement and racing.
It has been great to see how the Tribe of Bike continues to flourish in such a positive way. The fun, connection, and health, that the simple act of getting out on a mountain bike can bring, is constantly inspiring many, and we are glad to be a part, living this lifestyle.
So today is the beginning of an epic week. Mike and I are just getting ready to compete in a seven-day off road stage race - The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic! We will be racing and riding for hundreds of miles on trails and gravel roads, through densely lush and rocky forests surrounding State College, PA. We are both looking forward to the challenge as we put our bodies, minds and equipment to the test.
Mike has been busy dialing the bikes all week to be ready for the sharp rocks and super rugged terrain. In looking to get the most out of our bikes for trail performance we are set up with seat droppers and oversized sealant compatible Kenda tires - which will make a big difference in trail performance and comfort for the long haul - which is what this race is all about.
Rarin to go! Stay tune for updates, results, photos of the week, including the "Enduro" and "East Coast Rocks" segments here on Cyclingnews.
Best of luck to all of you in your summer adventures,
Mary and Mike
Team Kenda/Stan's NoTubes
- Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
February 18, 2014, 16:42 GMT,
April 09, 2014, 15:54 BST
A taste of summer in Chile
Our off season was a time of travel and transition amongst several communities that have become a favorite part of our yearly migration. It seems we have been expanding on our list of of favorite spots to the point where it often it feels like too little time in each place. Mobile continues to be our chosen way of operation, following the season, following the races and tending to the needs of our team program while forgoing many of the comforts of the white picket fence lifestyle.
The six weeks we spent in Northern California passed quickly as it tends to when the long training rides take up the majority of the short winter days. This year was the driest we have experienced in the state and although not ideal on the environmental end, it served us well in getting in the type of mileage we needed to get an early start to our mountain bike season. Riding in dusty conditions in the winter of Northern California was a strange but welcome departure from the norm that allowed us to spend the majority of our time riding where we prefer - off road.
Mary and I happily made the most of the rugged Sonoma County terrain that keeps us returning annually to this temperate coastal area. Here we experienced the winter in a time of extremes with the sun tracing it's lowest arc across the sky and the nights dropping well into the freezing range. Shaded pockets of land were hard frozen for weeks on end while the areas gifted with a view of the winter sun had already blossomed with signs of spring. Never knowing what was around the next corner (like an icy patch) on a 50-degree day made for some exciting riding and amazing scenery while out on the bike.
Mary and I got in a lot of solid training days amongst the holiday festivities - which made for some good endurance training themselves! Mary's side of the family runs deep in California with the majority of her 20 or so aunts, uncles, her parents, four siblings and their growing families all living in the immediate area. This is also where many of our dearest friends reside, so there were no shortage of ways to spend quality time. Lucky for us, many of our favorite Californians are talented riders, so we often had the opportunity for a combination of training while getting in a memorable ride together! Group rides with friends are such a pleasant change from being isolated on the road in another state, country or continent.
Just when we were starting to settle into the rhythms of the Golden State we made the move to Chile. However in our seventh trip here, in as many years, we are starting to feel pretty accustomed to life on the central coast of this long skinny country. We arrived on the first of the year to a whole new world of terrain, riding and opportunities for outdoor adventure in the height of the South American summer!
The major focus of our visit was to compete in the Trans Andes Challenge - an epic six-day off road stage race in Patagonia. Mary and I once again enjoyed the unique challenge of competing and riding together over this shockingly beautiful terrain. We were really happy to have our hard efforts rewarded with our fifth overall victory in the mixed duo category and an overall incredible experience.
It is mind blowing to see how fast Chile is growing! On the more positive side of mass development, no area seems to be advancing faster than outdoor tourism. Mountain biking and surfing have specifically been embraced by the Chileans and for really good reasons as the country has some world class offerings in both departments. Clearly though it is the enthusiasm and general warmth of the people here that really makes Chile a special place to come and see for any number of reasons.
Chile has once again given us the chance to step away from the potential of brutal winter conditions in North America so we can better focus on our training. The summers in Central Chile offer up hospitable temperatures and there is is no ignoring how handy those extra 35 hours of light a week are to get some stuff done.
Whether it's the next town or the next continent, traveling is always a good reminder of the tremendous variety within the mountain biking experience. Most every riding area has its own unique character and as a MTB rider, it is of course preferable to sample a wide assortment of terrain. It's just plain fun to ride in new places and In some little way each new challenge conquered adds to the overall repertoire of bike skills and shapes us into more complete riders.
There is also a lot of opportunity to tune and set up a bike specifically to get the most out of the riding experience in any given area. When traveling, Mary and I keep an eye out for the equipment and tune that the locals are putting on their bikes to get the most out of their trails so we can integrate the same advantages. It's now just about impossible to ignore some of the amazing new products that you can bolt on your bike and straight up re-define what is possible with a similar level of skill and commitment. If you have gotten down with a dropper post you know what I am talking about.
Variety is also something that is on the increase in the mountain bike racing experience. Back in the day it was all about cross country or downhill - both on the same bike. Now there is a broad selection of off road events on any given weekend pretty much worldwide as well as bikes that cater to the specific applications. The alternative mtb events have helped stoke up a tremendous increase in worldwide participation. Great to see the sport thriving globally and people getting out on their bikes!
Hope to see you out there too!
Mike and Mary
Team Kenda/Stan's NoTubes
- Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
May 14, 2013, 19:35 BST,
May 14, 2013, 20:38 BST
Early season racing in Argentinia, Austria, Germany and Italy
Greetings from Europe where Mary and I are settling into the latest chapter in another season of international racing. The next few months will see us continuing forward with a diverse and exciting schedule that is first and foremost about having another go at the cross country World Cups. Alongside this, we will be attending international cross country and marathon races in many a country while filling any remaining gaps with team and solo stage racing and or attending several of the larger European bike festivals, all while based out of our little mobile home.
Up to this point, our season has been on par with our busiest, with travels covering ground in Chile, California, Argentina, Massachusetts and three countries so far in Europe. Since all of this has come without ever really calling any place home for more than a couple days or weeks at best, it has felt a bit over booked. Perhaps it is not so strange that now here in this compressed living situation things seem to be settling into place. No doubt car camping has a certain confinement to it, but we always seem to be at our best as a team when we are back to our preferred mode of operations.
It is a struggle to consistently be "on the road" and away from the many comforts of home/hometown, but Mary and I are really happy to have the opportunity to spend the majority of another MTB season in this fashion. We feel that we can make the most significant impact with our long term commitment to be one of the few American MTB outfits to consistently attend the majority of our races outside of our home country, now for our 10th year! We continue to be a geographic anomaly where we travel, feel especially well received and are often utilized as an international feature in the race coverage and press. This is a reputation that we appreciate as Mary and I act as representatives and agents of marketing for our esteemed sponsors and any special attention translates directly to being better able to pull our weight.
A quick recap of the past month or so takes us back to our travels to Argentina. Definitely can't blame those who chose not to attend the 16th annual Pan American Championships in Tucuman, Argentina, especially those who needed to make the travel by air from way out of town like we did. It was a long and arduous journey that presented many especially difficult logistical challenges.
It was still well worth the trip to attend what Mary and I consider the premier mountain bike event on the American continent. The Pan American event has been a perennial favorite of ours for the last decade and is undoubtedly one of the most flavorful racing specific experiences any mountain biker could hope to take part. It always makes the experience bit more special when racing for national pride and even more amazing to have the opportunity to race and explore areas that are completely off the beaten path. In these instances we find ourselves surrounded by like minded individuals that regardless of language or cultural differences clearly understand what we are all about as we share the bond of being deeply committed to the bike.
We competed high up in a desolate, open mountainous plain that makes up a large portion of the smallest province in Argentina, Tucuman. The area seemed to be internationally known for little more than being the place where Argentinian Independence was signed. It's proximity to the towering Andes mountains and impossibly dense rainforest/ jungle made for a unique and fantastic environment though the main tourism attraction seemed to be petroglyphs and other decayed relics from past civilizations, driving home the idea that this was a place that once was.
In stark contrast was the enthusiastic vibrant reception we received as traveling athletes from the people there. The impressive hustle of day to day life and the positivity of the people we met surely gave the impression that Tucuman is a place that has ambition to be something special. Many of the racers who attended surely left a deep impression on the young and old alike in this isolated region of Argentina. We had the feeling that perhaps the experience of hosting the Pan American Championships will inspire some to take sport more seriously or even help to develop a future champion.
After spending 10 days in a tiny flat stuck on the side of the hill above town, and riding little more than the cross country course and a few dusty dirt roads far better suited to the non-stop motorcycle traffic, we actually started looking forward to the 40 hours of airline bus boat and car that would bring us home. Having Mary take home her fourth continental title was more than enough to keep us smiling the entire way!
After an ultra brief five days spent mostly catching up with family and recovering at home, we again packed up the bikes and made the trip across the pond. After an easy red eye flight, we awoke in Munich where we spent a precious few days with our long time German friends rediscovering the culinary joys and social atmosphere of the outdoor "bier gartens" while we packed ourselves out of our storage unit (their garage) and into our mobile home.
We headed straight to"Bike the Rock" Festival in Heubach, Germany. A busy and exciting event that was well attended by spectators and by many of the best mountain bike athletes in the world. It felt kind of like a mini World Cup and this really drove home the feeling that Europe is the place to be to attend the highest level of mountain bike competition.
Heubach was still gripped in a wet late winter blast that made "Bike the Rock" festival an incredibly muddy experience! The type of conditions that made us choose to not even go out for a pre ride on the course. Lucky we had the right Kenda tires (Karmas) as well as the general course layout in our heads from racing here a couple of times before.
Mary really showed her early season fitness by making the top 10, even though in her own words she was "riding conservatively" and not taking the type of risks that are pretty much mandatory for a top result in cross country competition these days. I also rode OK for someone just off the plane, but suffered initially from my mid pack start position, unable to make the right moves in the critical first moments. All in all, a great reminder of what we will be up against for the duration of our time spent here.
Our next moves brought us a couple hundred kilometers to the south to one of our favorite mountain bike festivals - The Oetztal Bike Festival in Haiming, Austria. This event is a premier example of a high level race that is run "the right way" by friends, family and the incredible grass roots effort of the local HaiPower Bike Team. We were treated to some great weather for the majority of our time there and this really helped us to enjoy this event as well as the exceptional MTB riding around town. Its not that we particularly mind riding/racing in the rain, but the weather really plays a tremendous role in overall morale when living in the car!
Racing wise, Mary was really on in Haiming, she was motivated by the sweet, all natural, technical course and held her own among some of worlds the top contenders, posting a solid sixth place finish. After another less than ideal start, I was able to claw my way back into the action and fight some satisfying individual battles eventually finishing 29th on the day. More than anything we were happy to attend this great event (for the third year) and once again feel like we made a positive impression for our team/sponsors and as American representatives.
We shifted gears this past weekend to attend The Garda Bike Festival in Riva del Garda, Italy. We initially came just to make a team appearance, see some of our European sponsors and to check out what is known to be one of the premier festivals in Europe.
We quickly found that the north end of Lago di Garda is one of the most impressive and beautiful places that we have ever had the good fortune to visit with our mountain bikes in hand! We immediately took advantage of ride opportunities with some eager friends and got out to explore some of the vertically endowed terrain that towers over head in every direction from the north end of the lake. Perhaps not the most singletrack endowed place ever but this is a seriously STUNNING place to ride!
On Saturday evening after a fun day of catching up with many of our industry friends, Mary and I made the last minute decision (though we both knew it was bound to happen) to take part in the Garda Bike Festival marathon race. We initially entering into the experience with a laid back attitude and with hopes of getting in a solid training ride, mostly because we realized that we would be starting behind 500+ people due to our late entry into the race.
Over the course of the "mildly technical mostly muscly" 93km and 3,800 meters of climbing Mary and I clawed our way through the crowds and by the end of the day Mary managed to take the WIN in the open women's "Extrema" category! After an equally hard fought battle, I was quite happy to end up 20th in the overall. This extended effort pushed the limits of our cross country trained bodies but really turned out to be a positive experience. Passing over so much beautiful terrain so quickly in one ride made a deep impression in our minds and we are now looking forward to competing in a greater number of marathons style events as we can find the time.
Mary and I are now recovering RV style in a lakeside campground, not all that disappointed that the impressively wet spring weather is preventing us from getting in a whole lot of miles. We are beginning to taper down for the soon upcoming cross country World Cups and still find ourselves with plenty to do, much of it quite literally in our faces and at our fingertips, though the dirty laundry is doing a good job of covering everything.
Every day of living and racing from our mobile home here in Europe brings some sort of adventure that takes us out of our version of what we expect or want to happen and into just going with the flow to make the most of a constantly changing situation. The bike along with the familiarity and community that we find surrounding our sport and at the weekends races is often the glue that holds that whole program together.
Wishing you all good health, rides and adventures!
Mike and Mary
- Mike Broderick & Mary McConneloug
April 02, 2013, 20:40 BST,
April 02, 2013, 21:41 BST
American couple spends time in South America and California
Spending the majority of the past decade in a mobile/ temporary living situation has pretty firmly altered our previously held idea of "home" as any single location to where we happen to be working out of on any given day. Home for us is now simply a place where the morning beverages are prepared, daily missions are staged from and returned to for recovery, and where we lay our heads down to re-up for the next outing. At this point, Mary and I have called a lot of places home.
It's not like we are happy posted up in the middle of any old place and in fact we are pretty picky about what we are looking for and where we spend our time. Lucky for us, we have come across places that meet the criteria spread across most corners of the world that we have found ourselves.
We are now well tuned in to the fact that our best times are spent when we are immersed in a community of like minded passionate individuals, athletes, outdoor lovers, conscious people and most on the mark - other fully committed mountain bikers! This has lead us to believe that these special places are numerous, continually expanding and can be found all over the world by following not much more than intuition and the word of other off road cyclists about where the good riding is.
It is clear that many of these special places have drawn in or altered the consciousness of the people who live there and happily the typical style of greeting out of town riders is to take in those who come to their neck of the woods without hesitation and proudly share what are increasingly (with days and years of hard work often by under recognized local riders) becoming more advanced and enjoyable trail systems. These are the places that act as surrogate homes for us and are the places that keep us stoked on traveling, training and continuing what we do! This is something that we don't see changing any time soon as we continue to figure the best path to feed our passions for off road cycling and make our way into 2013 once again as a two person all inclusive husband and wife team.
This season is all about utilizing our past knowledge to chart the best course for the future. Mary and I started out 2013 with a considerable base period and extensive travels that included our participation in the Trans Andes Challenge Stage race in Chile. By this point, our fifth trip to the country, we have smartened up enough to spend as much time as possible around this exceptional race to get in the type of uninhibited training that is most easily possible in the embrace of a warm and dry summer that we have come to know in Chile.
We proceeded to trade in the long days of the Chilean summer for the winter/early spring of Sonoma County, California to ensure that we touched up on the type of environment that has all the necessary ingredients for what we hope to accomplish on the international circuit. Considering what many in the northern hemisphere are going through this time of year there was little reason to complain about the weather and we made sure to use any naturally occurring adversity (or straight up bad weather) to polish up the technical skills and test out the latest in tire and equipment choices.
As soon as we stepped into the familiar Epic-ness of Northern California, we knew it had been too long since our last visit. A couple of weeks later, Mary and I were well into our own version of the hardman/woman training camp, with this segment firmly aimed at riding our bikes loads of miles. In between dropping the saddles low to fulfill deep primal urges of "getting some" in the vertically endowed singletracks in the land of the redwoods, we made sure to enjoy the precision luxury of our road bikes on the oh so amazing, though often decayed, roads of Sonoma county. It was a great feeling to be back in such an exceptional area to stretch our limits.
We are still trying to keep it diverse by getting in the ocean a couple times a week, on the paddle boards if it is flat but always hoping for some incoming swell to light up one of the little known and seldom surfed B waves that shape the cliffs along the wild Sonoma Coast.
The cross country racing season is fast approaching and that means change and travel is soon on the way, but before that it means digging in deep to take advantage of all that this area has going for it and getting in some serious CHARGING.
Our first major cross country competition of the season will be the Continental Championships, and it is coming right up this weekend. Mary and I are happy to announce our selection to the US National Team and are excited to represent our country, team and sponsors at what is undeniably one of the most special events on our yearly calendar. Pan American Championships is always an exciting event to compete in, but even more it is a chance to be ambassadors of our sport at an event that showcases the talent of an entire continent while visiting an incredible part of South America - a fantastic opportunity!
Looking ahead, the ink is just drying on our tickets to Europe where we will soon be returning to our chosen style of RV travel and living. Mary and I will be launching our tried and true mobile World Cup campaign spending the spring crossing borders to compete in the highest level national cross country events across Europe. Here we look forward to the opportunity to compete with some of the best while taking the time to appreciate the different cultures that are so apparent in countries often separated by little more than a few hundred kilometers.
In our travels, Mary and I have learned to take advantage of the good things that are available right in front of us while shelving our preconceived notions of what is "good and bad". We know how good the beer is in Germany, but more importantly we know well enough that when in France it is time to switch up to wine to ensure that we continue on with the A game and experience the best that each culture has to offer.
Hope to see you at a race in your neighborhood sometime soon!
For more updates, visit our personal blog at www.maryandmikeride.blogspot.com
- Team Kenda-NoTubes: The Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick diary
MTB "super-couple", former US National cross country champion Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick live together, train together, travel together and race together. They also share this diary on Cyclingnews.
Follow their adventures as they race the World Cup cross country circuit and take on other adventures. Enjoy the unique, professional racing style of these two accomplished racers and world travelers.
You can also follow them via their blog at www.maryandmikeride.blogspot.com.