BFC 2018 Women’s Champ: Bryna Blanchard, from East Greenbush, NY.
Bryna defended her 2017 title and become a three-time BFC Champion, having previously won in 2010.
Age: 44 (on race day 2018)
Team: BMB Racing
Occupation: Occupational Therapist
Note: The text in “quotes” was written by Bryna and the rest is from a phone interview.
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: In late September last year Bryna crashed while in California, suffering injuries that made it impossible to do CX races while recovering. Since then she switched focus from doing CX stage races and gravel grinders back to cross country MTB in preparation for the Cross Country MTB Masters World Championships that will be held in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec at the end of August.
Any Special Training: Bryna has changed her usual routine a little, saying “Right now I’m doing more high-intensity interval work because of the shortened format of the cross country mountain bike racing.” She also did a bit of traveling, “We went to Moab this year for ‘training camp’ and rode 3-4 hours a day for five days straight and got a real workout.”
Goals: Compete in the Trans-Sylvania Epic MTB Stage Race and the Cross Country MTB Masters World Championships this year – see above.
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 promoters, 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 and the yearly change in direction are unique. 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 more technical off-road section. It would be great if you could add some sections of trail or unimproved road throughout the course. The staggered start is a good idea. It definitely helps safety.”