Richmond, VA to Boulder, CO 1,688 miles. One way.
One 45 min. race.
Julie's bib number of #22 represents a year of tireless work, scraping together UCI points from races within a 10-hour drive of Richmond, VA. Her 26th place finish amongst some of the world's fastest female racers reflects her focus on proving to herself and others that she belongs right where she lines up.
Robb Hunter (Julie's brother), my girlfriend Ash, and myself happened upon Julie in the parking lot on race day, bike upturned and brake parts in hand. I told her that the quickest way to make a bicycle mechanic feel like a total idiot is to have a bike in this position and asked if she had a stand and tools. "Yeah, definitely. They're actually Chris Meier's; he's pitting for me." He was nowhere to be seen, though she said he'd be here before the race starts.
"The brake's stripped," she informed me as I loaded it into the stand. "Don't worry, this is my favorite part of being a bike mechanic. It's basically ruined but I'll make it work for 40 minutes." I told her. After rigging the bike together, we headed to McGuckin's Hardware for some last minute zip ties after we realized the cable housing stops on the frame were only held on by cable tension and not by screws. Julie got changed and inflated her tires. Unlike other racers, she'll do as much as she can by herself.
"What team is she on" is the question I heard most in reference to Julie. It's not uncommon to see a self-supported rider in the elite field, one without fat sponsors and carbon wheels. But in the third row? Next to a two time Master's national champion? In her second complete season?
With Colorado's climate leaning towards dry, the course quickly showed hardened grooves and bumps, launching some off their bikes. Julie showed no signs of giving up, however, and plugged away to her proudest finish of the year, finishing right alongside those in her third row starting position.