Julie Wright is disarmingly nice and alarmingly fast. We built her a Mudhoney PRO cyclocross race bike last year and watched as she got faster and faster and faster, culiminating in a 12th place finish at Cyclocross Nationals recently.
She wrote us this note, when we asked her to tell her how it went:
Looking back on this past season, it’s a bit of an out of body experience when I think of what I’ve accomplished. I started cross racing when I lived in Phildelphia and had a job that kept me up in New England on weekends in the fall. Coming off of a year of “road racing” where I fell off the back of every single cat 4 race, I never in a million years would have thought I’d race in a UCI field. Somehow, many years later, I made it there, and this past season, in my second full UCI season, I got points in almost every race weekend. I got a few top 5s in C2 races, a few top 15s in C1 races and ended up 12th at nationals. It blows my mind.
I started my list of goals for the CX season before the 2015/2016 season was over. I tweaked my goals and tiered them throughout the year and finalized them right before the start of cross. Most of them made my palms sweat, so I knew they were goals I had to work for, which meant staying mentally engaged through the season. Staying engaged for me equals staying honest and listening to my body. It’s funny how the things I learn through bikes run parallel to the non-cycling aspects in my life.
One of my favorite things about cross is that it seems like an individual sport at face value, and for my first few years, that was my experience. But as my results have improved, so has my community of support. There’s no doubt in my mind that the community came first. It’s hard to show up to a race, or even a workout, and not give it your all when there are people who’ve worked just as hard beside you to help you achieve your goals. Or when people are genuinely excited and supportive of your improvements. When you’re on an inspiring team of driven and hardworking individuals, when you have a coach who encourages you to push your limits, when you have Seven Cycles fix a bike post crash, within three days, and then hand deliver it to your house. I feel so fortunate. This season has been a dream in so many ways.
Thankfully, it isn’t over yet! My Seven Mudhoney PRO and my persistent stutter step are heading to Europe to try out Belgian racing, along with one of my teammates, Erin, and our team mechanic, Gary.
If you want to follow along with Julie, Team Averica will be keeping everyone updated on IG: @team_averica and on twitter: @teamaverica.
Her 2016/2017 Season by the numbers
22 races in the US, 5 races (still to happen!) in Belgium
19 US UCI races, 24 UCI races overall
69 UCI points
12th 2017 USA Cycling Elite Nationals
18th USA Cycling Pro Cx Standings
6 vacation days used, pre Belgium trip
8 US states, 3 countries
2 awesome teammates and 1 incredible NECX community
Brad smiles a lot. He’s a good natured guy. So the snow and bitter cold that visited Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford last weekend didn’t dampen his spirit. It only excited him.
“On race day,” he says, “I got to the course around 10:45am. It was 20 degrees out, with clear skies. By 11 am, it had dropped to 18 degrees with snow flying, but it was so cold that the flakes just fell and didn’t stick to anything.”
“I got three pre-ride laps in,” he continues, “with each one being 100% different than the last time I’d been through. It was a variable I had no control over, but nobody else did either, so I was getting stoked! I pretty much had a smile on my face from 11am until…well, I still have it.”
“At 2pm, it’s still 18 degrees. It’s still snowing. I kept warm and loose until the call ups. I didn’t know where I’d be in a national field, but I landed in the 4th row out of 146 starters. Looking around me I could see maybe four people I have raced against all season. Everyone else was new to me.”
“The excitement kept me warm until the race was on, and then it was basically mayhem for the first part of lap one. The snow covered up the frozen icy ruts that had formed throughout the week. Any line you wanted to take, you couldn’t get to. The snow never got worse nor let up, so each lap you’d search for the lines everyone else was taking, but they were covered by fresh snow.”
“Everything was a gamble and a scramble. “Every time you had to turn or ride an off camber, you wouldn’t know where you were entering or where you’d exit,” he laughs.
It’s hard to explain what keeps a racer’s mind off the pain in his or her legs, what keeps them going when they’re exhausted, but cyclocrosses heckling tradition might be part of it.
“After a few laps I honed in on people yelling something about my beard,” Brad says, “but I was moving just fast enough not to really understand it. It just kept resonating in my head that something was getting people talking.”
At the line, he finally put it all together, saying, “After 45 minutes of slip sliding and scrambling I crossed the finish line in 21st with my eyelids frozen open, eyebrows caked with ice, and my beard as white as Santa’s. The smile was frozen too.”
Bradford Smith is a full-time bike builder at Seven, and erstwhile leader of the Drifters.