Enjoy Life, Stay Healthy, Keep Riding

Julie Cuneo

Julie Cuneo

Julie on an April ride near her home.
Julie and her husband Brian after having climbed Mount Ventoux.

Where do you live, what do you do for a living, and how old are you?

I live in Saratoga Springs in a neighborhood by Saratoga Lake.

I’m 46 years old, and I just started back to work as a nurse practitioner after staying home with my four school-age children for many years.

What kind of bike(s) do you ride? What are the features you like about it?

My bike is a 2012 Trek Madone 6.2 WSD (women specific design). It’s a Project One bike, meaning I could pick colors, gearing, and the components so that everything is good to go from the start. The Project One bikes are hand-painted and assembled in Madison, Wisconsin. It has Ultegra shifting (excellent shifting quality), and Race Lite wheels. The Madone is Trek’s high-end race bike, meaning it is the best handling, lightest weight, and best ride quality they make.

How long have you been riding, and how did you get into cycling?

I have been riding for about eight years now. We moved to Saratoga Springs from Albany in 2010. I was introduced to cycling through a local group of women’s riders who had a weekly ride on Mondays for beginners. From there I made many friends; some I still ride with today. I was amazed at the beauty of Saratoga County, which I discovered on my bike, and the strength of our local cycling community. Cycling took me beyond my suburban neighborhood and into the farmland that surrounds us. It also helped me achieve a level of fitness I had never experienced before.

How do you typically put the miles on your bike? Do you keep track of your miles?

I ride about three times a week currently, but that can vary depending on my training schedule. I estimate I ride 100 miles a week on average. I don’t keep track of my ride information. I find I’m too busy to go back and put information in. Fortunately, I ride frequently with my good friend Gale, and she records EVERYTHING, so I can always check with her. The exception to this is when I was training for Ironman Lake Placid last summer. I had many rides planned out with specific distances and focuses (hills vs. speed). Gale rode every single long ride with me: a cyclist’s dream friend, one as crazy as the other.

Do you have some favorite routes?

My favorite routes all leave from my house near the lake. I love going out towards Schuylerville and up to the Saratoga National Battlefield, or over to River Road by the Hudson. It’s amazing to have these great rides with friends, working hard, sweating. You have this incredible experience, travel around for a few hours, and suddenly you are back home in your everyday environment. No cars necessary.

What are your long-term cycling goals?

I just achieved my greatest goal as a triathlete last summer, when I successfully completed Ironman Lake Placid. Prior to moving to Saratoga in 2010, I had only done a few 5k road races, all with no training. I was the person who walked and ran. I always injured my knees with running. I said, “I can’t run” and believed it for most of my life. Now, because biking has developed my quads and my glutes, I am able to run. The increased muscular leg strength allows my knee to track properly in the patellar groove. I have now been able to participate in triathlons and run marathons. I owe it all to biking. Also, I am grateful to Chris McKnight, she herself is an accomplished, nationally ranked triathlete who told me, “You can do it,” when I asked her about IMLP. She said this in her customary frank, no-nonsense way. If Chris says you can do it, then I think you better do it!

What are your proudest moments as a cyclist?

My proudest moment as a cyclist was when I completed climbing Mt. Ventoux in France. It’s a legendary climbing stage on the Tour de France. All week during our tour, the distinctive white tower at the top of Ventoux loomed down at us from above. I had just started cycling the year before and still felt pretty green and couldn’t decide if I was strong enough to do it. Ventoux means “windy” in French. The total elevation gain was 1,910 m (6,273 ft) over 13 miles and the majority of the climb was at a grade between 7% and 10%. As tired as my legs were as I neared the top, my greater fear was the strong winds that felt as though they could blow me and my bike off the side of the mountain.

What tips would you offer to less experienced cyclists?

Start slowly. There are so many things to learn, but it takes time. Also, ask questions, and aim to ride with riders who are more experienced than yourself. They can help you learn the rules of the road, provide safety tips, and teach you group riding etiquette — all very important things to know.

What is your favorite cycling product or accessory?

My favorite cycling product or accessory: I really like my Garmin Edge 520. I love my Sidi cycling shoes, they are so obviously well-constructed and fit so well, I even like just looking at them. When it comes to cycling products or accessories I defer to Caleb at Blue Sky. He helped me find the perfect “fit” on my bike as I added aero bars to train for Ironman. I came in countless times for the most minute of seat or handlebar adjustments. He helped me find a hydration system that worked for my bike, ordered me a special “kit” to wear come race day, and assisted me with so many other smaller, but equally important, items throughout my training. It got to the point I considered him part of my triathlon training team.

How do you fuel and hydrate when you’re in the saddle?

When riding I like to use as many natural food energy sources as possible. I’ve tried a lot, but find my stomach tolerates real food best. I enjoy eating dried mangos, they have more CHO per serving than potatoes, and replace K+ too. PB and J sandwiches are great for long distance rides. My favorite electrolyte replacement drink while riding is EFS (electrolyte fuel system) lemon lime. It tastes good and doesn’t cause bloating, which happens for me with some other brands. I like Clif Blocks because of the taste, and they are easy to eat while cycling due to the packaging. My favorite recovery drink is definitely Battenkill chocolate milk. There is a ton of fat per serving, but worth every calorie!

Any funny or unusual experiences during your riding/racing career?

One of my first memories of falling in love with riding was when I was riding a nice flat portion up on King Road. As we rode, the sky opened up and you could see beautiful blue sky dotted with occasional white, fluffy clouds. There was a farm to my right, and I remember seeing a butterfly flitting about near the edge of the road amongst the brush. The air smelled like a mixture of grain and manure. I was shocked at the completeness of this sensory experience; my pumping legs and feet, lungs working hard, and the road and sky ahead. While in my peripheral vision, green fields are whirring past my eyes. All while pedaling a bike.

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