BEING PRO: JUSTIN MCQUERRY

Team: Team Skyline

Age: 25

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Can you share your journey to becoming a pro?

I’ve been riding bikes my entire life, but I didn’t really take it seriously until I was 13 or 14. I started riding mountain bikes when I was young, but a crash and torn rotator cuff when I was 13 helped me switch over to the less-jarring road bikes. I did my first road races later that year and haven’t looked back since. I did a bunch of junior racing, a few stints in Europe and then got picked up by the Team Novo Nordisk development program when I aged into the U23 ranks. I wasn’t quite ready to get picked up by a pro team as I aged out of the Devo program, but after a year on an elite team here in Texas, the newly licensed pro squad, Team Skyline, offered me a spot, and I’m now on my third year. 

How did the team transition their 2020 racing schedule with the lack of outdoor events? What are Team Skyline’s goals for 2021? 

Thankfully, we were not opposed to virtual racing at all and hopped into e-races from the beginning of the pandemic. We were lucky to be included in some of the first virtual editions of U.S. PRT races and helped kick off the Zwift Premiere League’s first season. What we lacked in preparedness and roster depth for the virtual races, we made up for with tenacity and consistency to make our virtual presence notable. We were hoping to establish ourselves as a deserving and unique American pro team in 2020, but the global pandemic put the brakes on that. Our goal for 2021 is to build on the virtual and IRL momentum we have built up and establish Team Skyline as a recognizable American pro team.

Has indoor riding become more common in your training program during the pandemic? 

Indoor riding has definitely become a staple in my training regimen, especially with no outdoor competitions over the past year. I love both competing and the social aspect of cycling, and Zwift has done a fantastic job of fulfilling on both of those fronts. While bad weather days are rare in Austin, Texas, I do hop on Zwift if the weather forces me inside, if I’m running late and need to smash some intervals or just want to mix things up. 

What’s your Zwift setup made up of? 

I’ve been riding on a borrowed smart trainer for most of the year, while our team issued Elite Direto trainers are being allocated. I’ve got a few box fans pointed at me from either side while Zwift runs on my laptop. I’ve tried live-streaming Zwift races in the past, but I think I need a bit more computing power to make it actually work. All of this is setup in the living room/ kitchen/ dining room of my small apartment!

What’s your best tip for a beginner Zwift racer?

Sprint for the first minute of a race every time and understand that racing on Zwift is different than
racing on the road. It’s a different type of race effort, and you’ll need to adapt and train differently to become competitive.

What are some of the challenges of being an athlete with diabetes? 

I don’t think that the day-to-day of living with and racing with diabetes presents any specific challenges, but rather just a few more things I need to account for in order to be performing at 100 percent. For a person living with diabetes, it is necessary to have an understanding of what food and exercise will do to your blood sugar at all times during a day, and having that understanding only helps my cycling. I’ve lived with Type 1 diabetes for 23 years, and I’ve learned the ins and outs of my body and what outside stresses will do to it. This only helps me with training, racing and recovering.

What is Winning the Race With Diabetes (WTRWD) and what are its goals? What role does Team Skyline play with WTRWD in helping the community?

WTRWD is a non-profit founded by my teammate Ryan DeWald to help spread diabetes awareness and educate others on living with diabetes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I am able to work very closely with people affected by Type 1 diabetes, and we try to organize outreach events associated with races I will attend with Team Skyline. While the in-person events weren’t really possible in 2020, I was still able to host a few virtual rides and talk to a few families who have members living with T1D. 

What is one basic bike maintenance tip you wish you knew sooner? 

I had a job in a bike shop during high school, and I now manage a bike shop here in Austin, Cycle Progression. I wish the importance of bicycle cleanliness was stressed to me. I was always aware that a clean bike is a good thing, but I didn’t really understand just how much better it is until after years and years of racing at a high level. A clean bike is a happy bike, and a happy bike is a fast bike and also one that will last much longer.

What are your goals for the next few years as a cyclist? Where can people follow along online?

I want to be the first Type 1 diabetic rider to finish U.S. Pro Road Nationals, and I want to earn at least one UCI point on the road. People can follow along on YouTube at youtube.com/justinmcquerry to watch my race analysis and footage, but my Instagram (@j_mcquerry) and Strava get updated a bit more regularly.

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