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On the Job

Cyclocross racer thrives in tough conditions

Maureen Bruno Roy is one of the top-ranked pros in the nation in cyclocross, a form of bike racing that combines on-road and off-road cycling with an obstacle course.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Maureen Bruno Roy is one of the top-ranked pros in the nation in cyclocross, a form of bike racing that combines on-road and off-road cycling with an obstacle course.

With spring just around the corner, Maureen Bruno Roy will be in her element. A professional cyclocross racer and mountain biker, she thrives on muddy conditions.

A cyclocross course features pavement, wooded trails, and steep hills, requiring the rider to both navigate the obstacles and run with the bicycle hoisted on the shoulder. Roy, 38, who began cyclocross racing a decade ago, is ranked in the top 10 in the Cyclocross National Championships.

You won the single-speed category at Nationals this winter. How did that feel?

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I began riding a single-speed cyclocross bike just this year. Differences from a geared bike are, less gears, of course, and no front and rear derailleur (shifting mechanisms), making the bike lighter. The advantage for me is more fun. Riding a different bike in a fresh category allows me to play a little.

The lack of financial support for women’s cyclocross often necessitates being a working pro. How do you support your racing?

I approach companies to cover costs of racing — approximately $29,000 for a full cyclocross season. My current title sponsor is Bob’s Red Mill, a grain company from Portland, Ore. They provide $10,000 or more in support. Their logo is placed on my clothing, bike, and equipment. I also have sponsorships for my wheels, drive train, brakes, tires, even my glasses, food, bike rack, and coffee. In addition, I work as a massage therapist with a private practice in Arlington.

Your strengths are tactical decision-making on the bike. What are your weaknesses?

I struggle with flat, wide-open, or paved stretches. Physically, I’m a little small — 5-foot 4, 108 pounds — so I don’t put out a ton of power. If I find myself with a headwind in a flat section, I can use up a lot of energy.

In addition to racing, you’ve worked as a soigneur with several top-ranked domestic and international cycling teams. What was that like?

As a soigneur, your main duties are to be team caretaker, picking up and dropping off riders and staff, preparing water bottles and food for riders, shopping for the team, washing laundry, as well as maintaining a complete medical kit. The athletes were either racing 100 percent or resting 100 percent. The sitting around seemed incredibly boring to me.

Your husband, Matt Roy, is a bike mechanic and made some of your bicycles. Is that an advantage?

Matt grew up working in a bike shop, bike touring with his dad, and racing as a junior. Having him as my pro mechanic is a huge plus because he is on top of every detail of the bikes.

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at
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