USCR's Mary Ruane Chats With Cyclocross Rider Maureen "Mo" Bruno Roy
USCR’s Mary Ruane had the opportunity to sit down with Maureen Bruno Roy (a.k.a. “Mo“), to discuss cyclocross. Mo is a massage therapist and has a private practice in Arlington, MA. She is married to Matt Roy, a professional bike mechanic, PhD candidate, and noted randonneur. Mo raced expert category Mountain bike in 1996 and 1997 and began her cyclocross career in 2003.
Some of her Cyclocross career highlights include:
- Overall winner of USA Cycling National Cyclocross Calendar, 2009
- Masters 30-34 Cyclocross National Championship, 2005, 2007, 2008.
- 3rd Elite Women Cyclocross National Championship, 2005
- U.S. World Champion team member, 2006, 2010
USCR: Tell me how you became interested in the sport of cycling?
Mo: I was actually a runner in high school where I was a sprinter. Than I ran one year at UMASS Dartmouth. My friend Tim Johnson, we went to high school together, was always into mountain biking. From running I always had shin splints and possibly stress fractures in my lower legs. Tim asked me “why don’t you try mountain biking?” It was really growing in New England in the early 90’s. All of the ski areas had big mountain bike races so I decided to give it a try. I did two summers of mountain bike racing in ‘96 and ‘97. I moved up from beginner to sport and then up to expert category. I left school, was working three jobs and trying to figure out what to do next. I didn’t have the time necessary to train. I went from running in one minute events to two hour mountain bike races. It became necessary that I put cycling aside as something I just did for fitness for almost 10 years.
USCR: How did you come back almost 10 years later with such a high level of fitness?
Mo: I don’t think that I did. I was working at REI where I bought a road bike. I was commuting to work on the bike and doing some group rides. I then went back to school for massage therapy. I still ran a couple of times a week and did some group mountain bike rides but it took a while to develop muscle memory and muscle strength. I think that many women tend to peak a little later, in their early 30’s. I just stayed in shape from cycling and running. In 2003, I was playing ultimate Frisbee with a women’s competitive group. We were doing track work outs and running up the stadium stairs. It was the first time I felt like I was training like an athlete again. I started thinking maybe I’ll get on the bike again.
USCR: How much later did you move into Cross?
Mo: Time management is so important in training and working full time. I thought cyclocross, it’s a 40 minute race and you only need to train for about 2 hours a day. So, 2003 was my first season of getting back into it. I had a few friends in the expert or elite category and I could train with them. I found that I could keep up with them and I think I got 10th in my first cross race. It wasn’t phenomenal but it was so much fun! I thought, okay, maybe I’ll do a couple more races. I only did five races that year but by the second to the last race I got on the podium. At the last race that year I was riding with Mary McConneloug and she had just won the National Mountain Bike title. The spectators were all cheering like crazy for her. I felt like I had won the race. Everyone was saying “you made it!” and that was how I got hooked. 2004 was the first year I raced a full cross season.
USCR: Tell me a little about racing in Europe this year.
Mo: This year we got to go around Christmas time. In Europe the week around Christmas is the biggest week in cyclocross racing. I did a world cup and three other UCI races. The crowds are enormous and the courses are different from in the US. I think if more American women went over and raced the world cup races, they would be surprised at how high they would finish. It was phenomenal racing and I can’t wait to go back again. One of my goals for next season is to go back. I would like to try to qualify for the world championships. You have to enter certain races and do well to qualify.
USCR: Do you think it’s more important to have bike handling skills or better fitness in a cross race?
Mo: It’s becoming a game of both. In one way you could get away with less fitness if you were a great bike handler however now the courses are becoming very fitness based. I think in the end it’s a combination. If you can handle the bike and put some power down you’re going to be on the front.
USCR: Did your background in mountain bike racing help with your bike handling skill and how did this related to cross?
Mo: Mountain biking in general really helps with handling skills. When it gets really muddy in cyclocross or the course is tricky or twisty, the people that don’t ride mountain bikes don’t get to practice for that type of riding. I think if you don’t mountain bike, it’s important to get on your cross bike in the summer and get on some dirt before your first race. See how it feels. A lot of it is changing your body weight on that bike and feeling that.
USCR: You are a vegan. Has being a vegetarian and vegan helped your fitness?
Mo: I have been a vegetarian since 1998. I grew up on a small farm in Topsfield. I knew where everything I was eating came from. When I left, I didn’t want to eat processed food or meat that I didn’t know where it came from. Then two or three years ago I stopped the dairy and I never liked eggs. I’m a very picky eater so it was easy for me. I like to cook. You are better off eating foods with less ingredients than foods that are processed.
USCR: Tell us about your sponsors. Is Bob’s Red Mill your main sponsor?
Mo: Yes. I work full time and they have agreed to come back on for another season which is fantastic. They are an amazing company. 2010 was the first season I had a title sponsor. It really provides for travel expenses which is a first for me. Seven Cycles has supported me. They have made me some great bikes. This will be my fourth season on these bikes. The process of getting sponsorship is difficult. Airfare, housing, car rentals, until last year we paid for it ourselves, all of it. It’s hard. It’s not very lucrative for many women.
USCR would like to thank Maureen for taking the time to talk with us. We look forward to following her in the 2011/2012 cyclocross season.