For eight months, Mary McConneloug’s routine was anything but ordinary. Joined by her husband, Michael Broderick, McConneloug traveled all over Europe in an RV so both could participate in high-level mountain bike races.
As a result of her success at the races on her European voyage, the last stop on McConneloug’s journey will be in Beijing for the Olympics. McConneloug is one of two women on the U.S. women’s mountain bike team.
The process to qualify for the Olympic team was a grueling one and McConneloug devised a plan with Broderick to accrue enough points to make the team.
When they aren’t traversing through Europe, McConneloug and Broderick make their home in Chilmark, on Martha’s Vineyard. They met at a mountain bike race in California 10 years ago and “instantly fell in love.” Their partnership expands to the racing world, as Broderick was one of six men nominated for the U.S. Olympic long team, although he did not make the final cut.
Naturally, Broderick will be in Beijing, though his role will be more than just a supportive spouse. He is also responsible for maintaining McConneloug’s bike, an essential task in mountain biking.
“When we could join our forces together and travel together, and he could help me with the mechanics and I could help him with the nutrition and the laundry, it was just like this little force that when we joined we became stronger together,” McConneloug said. “And here we are 10 years later, loving it.”
McConneloug’s race will take place Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. The event is typically a 30- or 35-mile offroad race up and down a mountain, usually lasting anywhere from one hour and 45 minutes to two hours and fifteen minutes.
This will be McConneloug’s second Olympics, and she is hoping to improve on her ninth place finish at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“It was a pretty solid finish to be in top 10 in the world at the Olympics, but I don’t feel like it was my best race ever,” McConneloug, 37, said. “I had been working really hard all season just to qualify and the criteria was set up for qualification that made it really difficult to be on form for the actual event itself. They changed the selection criteria this year and now that we’ve qualified we have the chance to rest a little bit and now build up in time to reach peak fitness in the end of August.
“I’m really hopeful for good legs and also good luck.”
Participating in the Athens Olympics was an awe-inspiring experience for McConneloug, a Fairfax, Calif., native. She did some reading on the history of the Olympics and had an appreciation for how the games gave nations a peaceful way to compete amidst wars.
“I went there with this awe and respect for the games,” she said. “I was honored just to be there representing. I was really just incredibly proud and amazed to be there.”
While those feelings are still strong this time around, McConneloug is going in with higher expectations. With a second chance to live out her dream, she is determined to make all of those months in an RV driving around Europe pay off.
“I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I’m smarter than I’ve ever been in the racing world and I know how to play the game so I want to go there and do my best and see if I can’t pull off an amazing finish,” McConneloug said. “It’s an opportunity and I think I’ve learned over the years that if we’re really focused on what we’re doing and we believe what we can accomplish we can do it. I’m ready to go there with an open heart and open mind to all the potential that can lie ahead.”
Thanks to Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald for the article and dave99biker for the YouTube video.