by Neil Schirmer
Madigan “Maddie” Munro may need to consider getting more closet space at her Boulder home.
After a stellar 2018 season that culminated in valuable experiences in the U23 ranks at Nationals and Worlds, she hit the ground running in 2019 with Elite podium finishes at the US Open C2 events in Boulder alongside the two most recent National Champions in Katie Compton and Clara Honsinger. She also added a win in the first-ever Junior Women Pan-Am Championship race.
Munro’s latest closet addition is a Stars-and-Stripes earned in the Junior Women 17-18 race at Lakewood Nationals.
In between cyclocross seasons, she raced her mountain bike and gained some valuable experience at Worlds in Mont St. Anne where she rode to an impressive sixth place finish in the Junior Women XCO event. When asked, Munro admits, “I think the overall experience of going to those races and lining up against some of the best girls in the world—and the level of racing there—prepared me really well. It’s a whole different kind of racing,” she said.
Like many of the young domestic stars of the sport, Munro’s composure belies her age. When discussing her finals schedule as a Senior at Boulder High School this week, it’s easy to forget that in the past few months alone she’s gathered State, National and Continental Championships and is about to fly to Europe for a serious block of Junior and Elite-level racing at the international level.
Oh, and let’s not forget the college program considerations in the spring just a few short months away, and the full mountain bike season after that.
In the middle of this whirlwind month, Munro made time to chat and answer a few questions about the big race on Sunday, starts, local mentors and a range of other topics.
Interview: Madigan Munro, 2019 Junior Women Cyclocross National Champion
Cyclocross Magazine: First, congratulations on another jersey, another championship. How are you feeling the day after this one versus Pan-Ams? How would you compare your experience at Nationals against Pan-Ams?
Maddie Munro: I think they’re actually kind of similar. They’re both super exciting and really fun races, so I was pretty proud after crossing the finish line and felt pretty accomplished about what happened over each weekend.
I think I was in a little more shock at Pan-Ams because I was really unsure how I would compare to other girls and how the race would pan out, but at Nationals I was more aware and knew what the competition was like and how the race might play out, so it was still super exciting but maybe a little different than Pan-Ams in that sense.
CXM: Things seem to have come along quickly for you with cyclocross. Do you feel like competing at Mountain Bike Worlds helped you prepare for the big events in cyclocross this season?
MM: Yeah, definitely. I think the overall experience of going to those races and lining up against some of the best girls in the world—and the level of racing there—prepared me really well. It’s a whole different kind of racing, so much more aggressive and the fields are deeper, so it just pushes you a lot more than most of the local races here, so I think that definitely helped coming into this season, for sure.
CXM: With your mountain bike background, how do you feel about your bike handling in cyclocross? Do you think that’s a strength of yours relative to your peers?
MM: I think my mountain biking background has helped a lot with that. I think on the descents and cornering I feel confident most of the time, and I think that has come from all of this mountain biking and pushing myself there, so I think that’s been an advantage, yeah.
CXM: Tell me about Boulder Junior Cycling. How long have you been on that squad now?
MM: I’ve been riding with them for two years now, and it’s an awesome team. I love it so much and think I’m so lucky. The community is amazing, and all of the coaches are so experienced and knowledgeable and supportive, we really learn a lot, and my teammates really push me a lot. Seeing the younger kids there and having a chance to be a mentor to them is also a really cool and special opportunity.
CXM: I’ve read that you have a ski racing background. Do you still do that?
MM: I used to do a lot of ski racing, but actually stopped last year just because it was just a little too much with trying to do cyclocross and train in the spring for mountain biking. I just couldn’t do all of it, but I did do it for five or six years.
CXM: Have you given much thought to what sort of overlap there might be between ski racing and cyclocross? Has anything jumped out at you that you feel is beneficial from your ski racing experience?
MM: I think yes, in a general way. I think when I started getting into downhill and super G in ski racing, I was pretty scared at first; maybe that has helped at some of these bigger ’cross events with handling my nerves and being able to go down the descents and stuff like that.
CXM: The first time I saw you race this year was here in Boulder at Harlow Platts and you were off the front with Meredith Miller right away in the Open race. I’m curious about what sort of advice you’ve gotten from her or from some of the other experienced folks we’re lucky to have around here. Have you gotten any lasting bits of advice that you’ve held on to?
MM: Last year, Meredith went to Worlds and the Hoogerheide World Cup with us, and I thought that was amazing. Leading up to it, I got to train with her a little bit, and then she was at the races, so I got to pre-ride with her and spend a lot of time with her and she definitely gave a lot of advice.
Having her there as a mentor was super positive and encouraging. Most of it was more about, How can I mentally get ready for this race? I’m really nervous, it’s World Championships, I’ve never done a race that big, and she was there saying, ‘It’s just another bike race, you’ve been training really hard and you’re going to be fine, you just have to go into it like it’s just another race.’ Stuff like that.
Also just riding with her, with her able to tell me ‘This is a good line choice,’ or, ‘If you ride this section this way you can gain a couple of seconds on people.’ Also, I got the chance to ride with Ruth Winder a couple of times over the summer, that was really cool, too.
Overall, Meredith is just super encouraging and super fun to ride with and I definitely look up to her. I think some of the best advice she’s given me is how important it is to keep it fun so you don’t get burned out and to focus on what you can control and not worrying too much about your competitors and what’s going on around you because you can make it into a really long career if you want to, but you can’t focus too much on individual results because that won’t help you in the long run.
CXM: I noticed at the start of your race on Sunday, by the first turn it looked like you were sitting fifth or sixth wheel. Was that by design, or is that just how it happened? Did you miss a pedal, or were you just playing it conservatively at the start?
MM: No, it was definitely not on purpose. My starts are something I’ve been working on the past two seasons, and they are something I think I’ve been struggling with. They’re definitely not my strong suit, so I think it was just mentally challenging being at the start, and then I didn’t get clipped in and just didn’t have that explosiveness. It definitely wasn’t on purpose, but I knew there was a run-up coming up and I knew if I could just stay within the top five or ten, I could make up time on the run-up. I had that in the back of my mind but starts are something I’m definitely working on.
CXM: I read one of your blog posts on the Boulder Junior Cycling website, and I noticed you’re an excellent writer. What do you enjoy most at school?
MM: I think it’s funny you mention that! Writing is definitely not my favorite subject, I’m definitely a math and science person. I’m thinking about pursuing engineering or something in the medical field in college, so those are my favorite things. I like to read a lot, so maybe that has something to do with it.
CXM: Have you given thought to what colleges you want to go to?
MM: I just finished applications to a bunch of schools, and I’m just waiting to hear back and then decide from there, what’s going to be the best fit for cycling and school and I want to see how it plays out with teams next year. I think that will really influence my decision. I don’t really have a top choice for schools right now.
CXM: I’m sure that cycling programs were part of your analysis when considering schools. Are you comfortable sharing which programs you applied to?
MM: The main cycling school I’m looking at is Colorado Mesa because I really like the team and the location of that school. I’ve talked to a lot of the athletes and coaches there. I applied to three UC (California) schools and Stanford, and then two East Coast schools—Middlebury and Dartmouth—and then Arizona State.
CXM: What does the rest of your season look like?
MM: The next six weeks are pretty packed. I’m leaving Thursday for Europe for two weeks to race a couple of the World Cups and C1 races there, then I’ll come back and train here in Boulder, then go to Worlds and the Hoogerheide World Cup at the end of January, and then I’ll have a pretty big break before I start gearing up for mountain bike season again.
CXM: I hope you continue to have fun with it, and of course the Boulder community is super proud of you and pulling for you. Good luck.
MM: Thank you so much!
Visit our dedicated 2019 USA Cycling Cyclocross Nationals page for all of our 2019 National Championships coverage.