Published on March 14th, 2013 | by Daniel Boyle3
Mary & Mike – Riding the Dream
We wake at 6 a.m. For us it’s a bit of a shock to the system, but for professional mountain biker Michael Broderick, it’s business as usual.
Mary and Mike ride a track at Punto de Lobos. Photo: Vasilios (Billy) Devletoglou
“I like to keep to the same schedule every day. I get up at 6, have a coffee, then when we’re here, I come down for a surf.”
We all pile in to the car and have the fingers crossed that the surf gods will have brought something in. Despite its reputation as one of the most consistent waves in the world, there’s nothing happening at Punta de Lobos.
Punta de Lobos, when it’s working, can be one of the fiercest waves in the world. The break, south of Pichilemu on the Chilean coastline, plays host to one of the Big Wave World Tour events.
This day was not a lucky day, but Mike is unphased. We drive around to some of the other breaks Pichilemu has to offer, but the swell isn’t offering any chance to get in the water for an icy blast.
Despite being a professional mountain bike rider, Broderick ensures to keep himself occupied away from the bikes, with surfing a longstanding passion. With his wife, dual Olympian Mary McConneloug, the couple run all of the operations of their mountain bike team.
This includes everything from driving the van, cooking meals, attracting sponsors and of course, racing.
“We’ve been running our own show since we started, and the life we lead now is a reward for all the hard years we had when we started out,” says Mary. While the Olympic exposure could have seen options for increased sponsorship, it may have limited their freedom to choose where and when to race.
The couple have been coming to Chile for the past four years, competing in the Trans Andes Challenge stage race. Once again, the couple were too strong in the Mixed Teams competition.
“We are hoping next year there can be some prize money and some real competition in the teams. In each race we have been pushing the top riders, and of course none of them want to be beaten by a girl,” says Mary.
The race provides six days of arduous riding, beginning at the Huilo Huilo Nature Reserve, before passing through to the adventure capital of Pucón. The last stage of the race included riding up the Volcán Villarrica until the skifields.
Both Mike and Mary agreed that the course was the best the race had provided yet, with extra stages of single track being welcome additions to the course. Riders from around the world came to contest the race.
“We focus mainly on the World Cup circuit, the cross country races, but we’re really looking to diversify the events that we go in as we get older,” says Mary.
We arrive home from the beach, no luck with the swell, but also no need to face the cold waters, which come directly from Antarctica.
After a hearty breakfast, we go out to see the professional riders strut their stuff. We got to various riding spots, looking to get new angles on old trails. Cloudy conditions mean we can’t get the sun shining on each trail, but the sun does appear just as we are preparing to leave.
Mary and Mike weave their way through various trails, some meant for riding, others simply animal trails that have had enough wear and tear to keep in a ridable condition. Our final stop of the day returns us back to Punta de Lobos.
After a mysterious greeting from the locals, the two riders wind their way through cacti on a track that you would be unlikely to see in any race. With waves crashing in the background, the image is quite spectacular, though disappointingly, the waves are not breaking on anything but rock.
What stands out the most about Mary and Mike is their genuine friendliness and humility. They themselves expressed that they are “living the dream”, but while at a race, or anywhere else, they try to deflect the spotlight from themselves, and shine the light on others who have helped them.
Among these people are cabin owner Val, who runs the Pichilemu Institute of Language Studies and a program to hire mountain bikes; or Klaus and Chi-Chi, Chile’s leading mountain bike couple.
Mary and Mike returned to the United States just days after we spent time with them to prepare for 2013. Their opening saw troubles with a rented vehicle, but the mountain biking community came to save the day. Some passing mountain bike enthusiasts saw the bikes on the roof of a the vehicle in distress and asked how they can help.
Both Mary and Mike attribute their success to hard work, commitment and leading a simple lifestye. This simple lifestyle, which sees them regularly living out of an RV van, allows them to travel throughout the world and continue in their passions.
Mary and Mike are sponsored by 7, Kenda and NoTubes, but also thank their friends and family for their support.
“We have friends and family written on our racing jerseys. That’s about everybody that has supported us all through the years. We couldn’t do it without them,” says Mike.
You can find out more about Mary & Mike at maryandmikeride.blogspot.com