BFC 2017 Women’s Champ: Bryna Blanchard, from East Greenbush, NY. (Bryna won previously in 2010)
Age: 43 (on race day 2017)
Team: BMB Racing
Occupation: Occupational Therapist
Cycling & Athletic Experience: I fell in love with cycling as a freshman at Penn State riding road and mountain bikes. After being a recreational rider for many years I met a good friend who was starting a new team, he convinced me to try a race. My first race was a cross country mountain bike race in 2002 at Garnet Hill Nordic Ski Center in the Adirondacks. I have been racing bikes in various forms ever since, primarily mountain and cyclocross. Over the years bike racing has taken me all across the country and eastern Canada. I feel very fortunate for the experiences I’ve enjoyed and the people I’ve met through the sport. With so many different ways to race bikes I discover new goals, challenges and adventures every year.
Life over the past year: Life changes with the seasons. Summer is busy with lots of mountain bike racing, solo training, and fun group rides with friends. Thierry and I started off the fall with a trip to France with hours of bike touring through the hills and valleys of wine country and old villages. Cyclocross racing was extra fun last year with the addition of a women’s masters 40+ category at the bigger races, very competitive full fields of strong experienced women. Winter is the time to relax the training, enjoy some nordic and alpine skiing, focus on longer less intense fat bike rides and bike vacations to warmer climates. In spring I start ramping up the intensity with shorter hard efforts on the bike to prepare for the upcoming races once again. I also work 30-34 hours a week as a home care OT which I enjoy very much. My work life complements my riding and racing with a very flexible schedule.
Any Special Training? I generally stick to a weekly training schedule with specific work outs on and off the bike based on upcoming race plans. Twice a week I work on core and strength training which really helps with bike handling and decreased fatigue on the bike.
Goals: This season I have shifted my focus from the traditional cross country mountain bike race format to the longer marathon distance, stage races, and hopefully some enduro racing if the schedule allows. I plan to once again race cyclocross starting in October after the VT 50, my final mountain bike race of the year.
Why the BFC? The Black Fly is truly a challenge. The gravel grinder format offers a chance to combine the bike handling skills of mountain bike racing with the tactics and strategies of road racing. The huge field and mass start always generates excitement. The race promotors, volunteers, and vendors put on a first class event. The competition is strong and fellow racers provide plenty of good company and motivation throughout the course.
How is the BFC different? The point to point format is unique and allows for the yearly change in direction. My partner and I often take the opportunity to enjoy some easier pedaling on the scenic paved roads to retrieve the car following the race. The location is spectacular set in the peaceful beauty of the Adirondacks. Also the weather can be an interesting factor creating variable conditions and adding to the challenge.
How can we improve the BFC? Add more trail! I loved the final few miles of last year’s race with the off road section. It would be great if you could add some sections of trail or unimproved road throughout the course.