CX Athlete Feature: Madigan Munro
Maddie Munro, 17, started mountain biking at 11 in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. She decided to try cyclocross in 2018 and had no idea where that would have taken her. She competed in her first Cyclocross National Championship and placed fourth in the U23 race as a Junior. Going into the season full speed ahead, she was granted a spot on the U23 Worlds team in Denmark. Not only was she one of the youngest in the category, she rode herself to an impressive 25th place finish. It didn’t stop there, she also raced at the Mountain Bike World Championships this year and was the top Junior finisher for the US.
You went from being new to the national scene, to taking on the world scene all within a year. How did you mentally prepare for these big races?
To prepare for these big races the most important thing for me is to always remember to focus on the process and keeping it fun rather than the outcome/result. Thinking about what I can control and how I can maintain a growth mindset. I know that these are big and important races, but the results aren’t everything and keeping this in mind helps me stay focused on doing everything I can to prepare for the race while also staying positive and remembering why I love to ride my bike.
How did you feel when you found out you were named to the U23 World’s team?
When I found out I was named for the U23 Worlds team, I was initially in disbelief and a little shocked. I couldn’t quite believe that after barely a season of racing cross I was invited to race a World Championship. This was immediately followed by feeling excited and proud to have been selected as a part of the team.
What was the biggest take away from your first trip to Europe?
My first trip to Europe taught me many things, however, the biggest takeaway was probably the new sense of confidence and experience I gained from the trip. Traveling all the way to Europe by myself to line up at one of the biggest races of my entire career was nerve-racking, no doubt, and this pushed me to develop more confidence in myself and my abilities as an athlete. The racing itself showed me the true nature of European cross and the aggression and drive that is needed to succeed. This allowed me to grow as an athlete. On the other hand, traveling solo and staying with an entire team of unknown people pushed me outside of my comfort zone to be more outgoing and meet new people- further developing my self-confidence. The trip also showed me what it takes to be an athlete of this level, the skills and dedication needed to succeed and be able to compete against these women. Along with the preparation needed for a big race like this. I was fortunate enough to have such great coaching and support at Worlds, especially from Jesse Anthony. Jesse taught me how important it is just to have fun and learn something from every race. Plus, racing iconic cross venues and seeing the intensity of the European fans was super fun and motivating.
What’s it like having support from idols like Meredith Miller, Katie Compton, and Kaitie Keough?
Having support from these idols made a huge difference in my preparation for Worlds and future races. Meredith especially was extremely supportive throughout the trip and training leading up to the trip. She would ride with me back in Boulder and was a person I could turn to seek out advice or ask questions regarding the trip and preparation, etc. Once we got to Worlds she was there to help calm my nerves and provide encouragement. Preriding with Meredith and Kaitie Keough was a great way to look at the courses in different ways and understand how to best approach the race since they are such successful and experienced racers. It was humbling and motivating to see these women and think maybe I can be like them one day if I work hard enough!
How was it racing the Mountain Bike World Championships this year?
Racing Mountain Bike Worlds this year was an unforgettable experience. The course was by far the hardest thing I have ever ridden on my mountain bike which really pushed my limits and skills as a racer. Just like CX Worlds I gained a great amount of new experience on and off the bike and came away feeling motivated for the seasons to come. Coming into this year’s mountain bike season it had been one of my biggest goals to make the Worlds team and I knew it was going to be by far one of the most difficult to achieve. I worked and trained really hard all summer and couldn’t have done it without the support of my team, Boulder Junior Cycling, coaches, and family. The trip itself was a blast, I got to spend time with the other juniors doing some fun things off the bike like finding waterfalls and going swimming. I was also able to meet some of my all-time biggest role models and cycling idols, including Kate Courtney!
What are your expectations going into Cyclocross Worlds this season now that there is a junior women’s category?
Since I am still fairly new to cyclocross and constantly learning so much my expectations are relatively similar to how I went into Worlds last year. Of course, it would be amazing to get a good result in the 17-18 category, and I have been putting in the work and dedication this season to be able to race my best race. Now that there is a junior category, I have the chance to test myself against some of the best riders in the world who are my age, that in itself is an incredible opportunity. However, this is still all about the experience and growing as a person and rider. I’m hoping to come away from this year’s Worlds feeling as though I have improved my skills and discovered new limits and capabilities for myself.
Which do you prefer, mountain bike or cyclocross?
I love each discipline pretty equally but if I was forced to choose one it would be mountain biking because I feel more confident on my mountain bike and I have been racing mountain for a lot longer. After MTB Worlds I was able to step back into the amazing Colorado NICA high school race scene and ride with my friends and compete in a the last few races of the season. The high school races are such a different environment, hard but super fun, and that helped spark my motivation to get fired up for cross season. Plus, you have to admit that the mountain bike season provides much more sunshine and warm weather compared to the cold and wet cross season!
There has been a lot of support this year in the cyclocross community. What kind of opportunities are being created for yourself and other cyclocross athletes?
Without the MudFund and vision of USA Cycling and it’s supporters my generation wouldn’t have the chance to develop and race where the competition is strongest and most intense. Racing at a high level takes a community to support junior racers. We need the right team both behind the scenes and on the sidelines. As racing intensifies, more national and international travel occurs. These costs, combined with registration, coaching and equipment fees adds up quickly and expenses grow – especially for families with multiple kids pursuing sports and school. The MudFund has given me the chance to race in big events – nationally and internationally – spend the right amount of time in race locations to adjust, receive the right coaching and have the best opportunity to learn and preform. I hope that those currently supporting or thinking about supporting the MudFund realize the positive impact it has on junior racers. The continued growth of the MudFund will allow more and more kids to experience the joy of riding and racing and put team USA at the forefront of the sport.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I’m hoping to have begun my career as a professional cyclist, racing on a pro-level team for mountain and cross and even try out some road racing. I would like to finish undergraduate school and maybe even start thinking about grad school once I have some time racing at a high level. Outside of racing and school I see myself giving back to the cycling community in some shape or form. Whether that be by coaching or volunteering with an organization such as Outride to help get more kids on bikes and grow the future of cycling.
Developing young talent such as Madigan would not be possible without the help and support from the USA Cycling Foundation's MudFund. If you would like to be a part of the future of American Cycling, consider donating today: https://www.usacycling.org/foundation
Visit USACycling.org for more information on the athletes, events, and membership programs, and follow @USACycling across all channels for the latest on Team USA.
Cyclocross Nationals is around the corner! Don't forget to register today! https://www.usacycling.org/events/national-championships/2019-usa-cycling-cyclocross-national-championships