At the Races with Julie Wright

Seven Ambassador Julie Wright checks in with us after a challenging start to her cyclocross campaign that’s taken in both World Cup races and the other big US events.

We just added a Mudhoney SL to her race day equipment.

For those who don’t know me, here are some random and less random facts about me. I race on a small women’s elite team, Team Averica. We’re based out of Boston, though I live in Western MA. My day job is working in analytics in the health care industry. Chocolate and coffee are two of my favorite things. So are bikes, vegetables and swimming. And riding trails. When I decided to get my Mudhoney PRO, my goal was to have a bike that would elevate my level of racing, be fun to ride and be a source of inspiration to work harder. I found all of that and more! I’m beyond excited to have the Mudhoney SL now, which is proving to be another absolutely amazing bike.

I’m fresh off my first block of racing for this cyclocross season! As is expected, there were some ups and downs. The results weren’t what I hoped for, but I’ve learned a ton from the racing and the women in the UCI field.  Two years ago, during my first full season in the UCI field when I was coming up with my cyclocross goals, my ultimate goal in cross was to race in a world cup one day. At the time, I thought it was a long shot. This year, I got to start my season off with not one, but two World Cups, and both right here in the United States. It was an amazing way to start the season.

I made the trip in my little Honda Fit, packed with two bikes, five wheelsets, a trainer, clothes for racing in any imaginable weather and my work gear. I was gone for a solid three weeks, starting the season off in Rochester. I made my way west to Iowa, for the Jingle Cross WC, then on to Wisconsin for Trek CXC WC and then back again for KMC. I knew it would be a trip where the learning curve was steep, but I couldn’t have imagined how steep. I definitely lean toward the type A end of the spectrum and I really wanted a FAQ on traveling for bike racing, what to pack, how to budget, what to expect at a World Cup, and how to calm all the nerves that had been building up since wrapping up the cross season last year in Belgium. The funny thing about racing World Cups is that you don’t pick up your number at a reg table like you do at any other bike race. For those of us that don’t have a DS, we have to find the US representative who picks up our number for us either at the venue the day before the event, or if you don’t find them in time, at their hotel later that night. It’s kind of like Where’s Waldo, except for that you don’t know what Waldo looks like or what he’s going to be wearing. It was an adventure. It turns out Waldo was very nice and he had my numbers.

Lining up alongside some of the fastest women in the world is incredible and a bit terrifying. World champion stripes have the ability to be a little intimidating. We also had Annika Langvad, the 2016 XC MTB World Champion lining up. It took some practice reminding myself that I belonged there and that it was still pedaling around in circles like any other bike race.

Here’s my bike, post trip. It’s also a good metaphor for how I felt after the road trip back from the Midwest…

This past week, I’ve been camped out at home, enjoying some more of my favorite things: sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my kitchen, drinking coffee slowly, getting out on some long rides and mixing in rolling dirt roads, as well as beginning to work on the long list of things I learned I need to work on from the trip. Lots of turning practice!

Mark’s Orange Crush

Mark is a rider we’ve collaborated with a few times. He brings a lot of forethought and passion to his bike projects, and this was no exception.

This is Mark’s Expat S, monster cross bike, and some kind words, below.

Thanks again for your help (and Neil’s help) on the monster cross…”Orange Crush.” I’m still working rounding up a few orange accessories, but for the most part, she’s all built up and ready to ride ! I’m excited for future adventures!

Regarding the build, I decided to use a SRAM 1 x 11 drivetrain. A work colleague was selling parts, so I was more than happy to buy those from him! I’ve always loved Shimano parts, but I do really like the simplicity, reliability, and range of the SRAM single chain ring set-up.  To support the orange theme, I used the Chris King mango headset, headset spacers, and bottom bracket (ceramic…so smooth!).

I tracked down a Phil Wood orange seat post collar. And I had the head badge powder coated at a local auto paint store. The orange flame decals are a work in progress. These ones aren’t sticking very well, so I suspect they will be short lived. For wheels, I stuck with DT Swiss hubs…so reliable and easy to service. The anodized Chris King, I-9, and Hope hubs are nice, but I’m a DT Swiss fan. The hubs are laced to DT Swiss XM401 rims and I’m currently using Maxxis Treadlite tires. The cockpit is complete with Thomson post and stem, Salsa Cowbell handlebars, and Cobb saddle.

Mark’s Evergreen S

This is Mark’s Evergreen S, delivered by our friends at Wheat Ridge Cyclery.IMG_7086

Mark says:

Hi Seven,

I never sent you a pic of the new rig!

I love the geometry! Great descending bike and my back is really liking the slightly taller front end!

Here’s the build:

-Chris King Headset, 44 mm

-Whiskey No. 9 fork with through axle and fender mounts (nice stiff fork, but the fender mount is located too close to the head tube and is not compatible with any existing fenders on the market)

-Wheels: DT Swiss 240s hubs laced to Pacenti SL25 rims, Specialized Robaix 32 mm tires (nice tires!) 

-Shimano components: Shimano mechanical hydraulic disc brakes, R 685 STI 11-speed levers and RS 785 brake caliper set, Shimano Ice tech rotors, Dura ace compact 50 x 34 crankset, Shimano Ultegra 6800 long cage derailleur, Shimano Dura Ace front derailleur

-Shimano Pro PLT handlebars, Thompson seatpost and bar

-Brooks Cambium C15 carved saddle…nice saddle for me for short distances, but I have a tendency to sit where the rivets are located. So I’ve since put my trustworthy Cobb saddle on this bike as well. 

The Drifters at the Maneha 250

Our own Brad Smith and Matt Masuzzo, bike builders, riders, all-around cool guys gave us the low down on a local event, the Maneha 250, that just celebrated its second running. Brad and Matt rode, as they often do, with their team The Drifters.

All words by Matty and photos by Brad below:

HsAzkvuCyJ9deaopZ33cXGLStDMOovfUWLd8WE2dYZgc9uAxqiuCIRG-8bz4p-elcyFRqg=w1627-h775When I first learned the details of the Maneha 250, it quickly made its way towards the top of my ride bucket list. It’s certainly a singular event, unlike anything I’ve ridden before. The concept is straightforward enough — 250 miles of mixed terrain riding over the course of two days with roughly 14,000 feet of climbing. However, the content and execution of the route planning is what really sets the Maneha apart and makes it so unique. It’s definitely a maximalist approach to riding, as our tires seemed to touch every possible type of surface within New England.

0m_1GuRRm105SLBdBTL56x_vdCe_F-g36KwREKk7PdhSizZ9IRjBn8lB5eQuetoomg_xqQ=w1627-h775We left our respective homes at a time of day normally reserved for third shift security guards. Around 30 riders met at the start location, Ride Studio Cafe to sign in, and following a quick breakfast and round of coffee, groups started slowly rolling out around the 6 a.m. Grand Depart.

After some compulsory group photos, our team of three followed suit. We began the day on a long stretch of familiar gravel that often serves as a pre-work dirt commute. The morning sun was out in full effect and seemed to backlight all of the newly formed foliage along the path. The first 30 miles or so was a twisty-turny mix of mostly suburban hobo trails, the type you forget are practically in your backyard and beg to be explored and connected with bits of quiet paved back roads. From there we headed into some more secluded singletrack that wound through several town forests. Just as we were almost out of gas from a punishing climb up a lengthy rock garden, we were met by the affable sag wagon driver Mark, who supplied us with mini cokes and a cornucopia of gels, bars, and homemade rice cakes.

TPFp0JvcvMN3SM9HwsFmE7SVpH3r-8qW2AKE3EShJ735pRHSfBdo2UGPirxM1yxUVrQr2Q=w1627-h775The sun was starting to beat down as we continued on towards the New Hampshire state line. As we crossed into Granite State (official home of the vanity license plate) the ride took on a completely different feel. Rough single and double track gave way to peaceful gravel farm roads and rail trails. We stopped at mile 90 for a bonk break, quickly recovered and set our sights on the Mayfair Farm where we would be camping and feasting. The last few miles of Day 1 were a blur of steep yet smooth dirt roads, screaming legs, and some helpful locals offering friendly encouragements like  “You’ll never make it up that hill!”

SQfSZG1gOp_VO9ve_FieFxDlFLr6gIUX68KVCEiwtvj8daiNF4ljQimCODJil9WFyuCvlw=w1627-h775Once camp was set up at the farm, everyone began helping themselves to an amazing spread of food and drinks. We all swapped stories from the day as riders continued to pull into camp after nightfall.  Following some obligatory s’mores and fireside beers, we zipped up our tents just as the first few drops of rain began to fall.

ooOGVQGRdOwBreE6dB4b1B5QF-DDsB4dFw_vPvmQuI3aBj0VEUVnNieGPYXgMbJShX7lgw=w1627-h775The next morning we awoke at dawn to get another early start and head back towards Boston. Day 2 promised to be an overall descent and there was rumor of a possible tailwind to provide a little extra help to get us home. We started on similar dirt roads to those that had been so taxing just 10 hours earlier. Unfortunately for us, they hadn’t flattened out overnight in spite of the steady rain. It was decidedly chillier than the previous morning, even more so when cruising down some of the long gravel descents as we made our way back into the great state of Massachusetts.

The majority of the second day rolled along much quicker than the first, even when we hit some bone-rattling singletrack in the northern portion of the state. Throughout the day we were met by the support van offering cold brew and snacks to keep us going. The rural landscape and vanity plates began to fade away as we entered the familiar exurbs of Boston where it seems an appreciation for the quirky charm of having a personalized slogan on your license plate is lost. 

eQ80jQTPhw3njcYYwaZrQjo0DwcdDN96iqBEO21qtKwat4EZIOLOF4vXPuixpRi6vRHZSA=w1627-h775By now I had figured out that any paved sections that promised a straight shot to our destination were off the table. The last leg of our journey was spent on overgrown MTB trails, a bike path or two, and a few wetland boardwalks for good measure.

Our team finished up the Maneha 250 in good spirits, a little beaten up but proud of the ground we had covered in under 48 hours. It was an incredible two days of riding on a route that epitomized what is quickly becoming a new standard of a truly memorable ride — the type that emphasizes ambitious mileage, less traffic, more dirt, great food, and somehow manages to be both physically exhausting and overwhelmingly fun at the same time. The Maneha 250 may be checked off the bucket list, but luckily it found a new home on the annual “essential rides” schedule.

The Drifters ride our Evergreen series of mixed-terrain bikes.