Martha’s Vineyard resident Mary McConneloug, 37, will compete in her second Olympics tomorrow morning, in the women’s mountain bike race. The Chilmark cyclist is the highest ranked cross-country mountain biker in the nation and is one of two women on the 2008 United States mountain bike team.
There to cheer her on is her longtime love and partner in racing, Michael Broderick of North Road. Mr. Broderick was one of six men nominated for the Olympic long team this year, although he did not make the final cut. The pair are sponsored by Seven Cycles in Cambridge.
The two met at a California bike race in 1999. Later that year, Mr. Broderick brought Ms. McConneloug to the Vineyard to train. “I was supposed to be here for a month, but never left,” she told the Gazette in 2004, just before the summer Olympics in Athens. “The Vineyard is just an incredible place to ride and there are enough hills and trails for solid training.”
When Ms. McConneloug began winning New England area races and later, larger, more competitive events around the country, the couple began training with the Olympics in mind. They spend most of their time training on trails in Europe where they bike vigorously by day and sleep by night in a recreational vehicle. Though their mail still comes to Chilmark, they are now half a world away, in Beijing, China.
They travel alone with no trainer, no chef to prepare meals, no masseuse to work their weary muscles. “They’re a two-man team. They’ve done it all themselves,” said Mr. Broderick’s mother, Emily, from her Chilmark home yesterday.
Seven Cycles provides their bikes, van, trailer for their gear and the recreational vehicle they travel and sleep in. Those were their only luxuries when Ms. McConneloug qualified for the 2004 Olympics. “We set out with the goal of Mary making the Olympics and when we reached it, it was unbelievable,” Mr. Broderick told the Gazette at the time. “Really, if you look at what we’re up against, it is shocking that we did it.”
Ms. McConneloug placed ninth in Athens.
“They are really living a wonderful life and getting a lot of tremendous reward. The Island should be proud,” Mrs. Broderick said.
Tomorrow at ten, Ms. McConneloug will take to the trail, an event which typically extends offroad for 30 to 35 miles, up and down a mountain, and can last up to two hours and 15 minutes.
After the Olympics, Mr. Broderick and Ms. McConneloug plan to return to the Vineyard for a few months, Mrs. Broderick said. “They have a whole network of trails here,” she said. Then they will fly back to Europe and to their recreational vehicle. Their mail will still be delivered to North Road.