Introducing: Raylyn Nuss
With the Road Season’s end approaching, cross is here once again and we’re stoked it’s back. Raylyn Nuss has been a MAAP ambassador for a while now, representing the brand through riding, racing and even featuring in recent photo shoots. At the end of last season Raylyn came to us with a plan to hit the next US CX season hard. The concept was to bring multiple partners together to build a single female rider CX racing program around her. How could we say no?
Thus the MAAP | MINI US Cyclocross Program was born. Whilst only her second full-time season in Cyclocross, Raylyn Nuss is setting some ambitious goals and we want to support her to get there. While she’s a relative newcomer to CX as a discipline, she’s previously been both a triathlete and a College Basketball All-American in her previous athletic lives. Having quickly risen through the US CX ranks she’s also set to head to Europe for a stint of racing this Winter.
She’s already kicked off her season in the US with the early World Cup events, so we caught up with her to chat about how she ended up in CX, gaining experience as a newcomer to the sport, what drives her as an athlete and more.
Q. Hey Raylyn, thanks for chatting to MAAP! How are you?
A. I’m good! I just stepped off a plane in Indiana, where I’m doing a ride this weekend with Reggie Miller!
Q. As In, NBA Legend, Reggie Miller? How did that happen?
A. So, Reggie invited me to do a charity ride with me here! He started out riding mountain bikes, and we had a glove sponsor in common, so he started following me. I was out in the Malibu area, riding bikes, and he said: “hey, we should ride”. So, I rode with him out there and we became pretty good buds; long story short, now I’m doing this cancer fundraising ride with him this week. I played college basketball, so I have a basketball background, and so we bonded over that.
Q. Wow! Well, we’d heard you were a basketball star back in the day! Tell us about your history as an Athlete – it looks pretty extensive!
A. Basketball is my bread and butter, I did a little bit of cross country running, and track in high school, but I ended up playing College Basketball and had some success, I played for four years and ended being an All-American, and my team made it to the National Championship Tournament … Granted we lost in the first round, but that was a big deal for our school to even make it!
And then I graduated, and I was like “what am I going to do now?” because I’m such an active person, so I decided to dabble with triathlon, and did for 3-4 years. Ultimately, I got tired of swimming all the time. So then I found cyclocross.
Q. So what’s driven this latest switch to from Triathlon to Cyclocross?
A. I was told it would be a fun offseason thing to do, and get better on the bike, and immediately it clicked. Like holy shit, this sport is awesome! You’ve got to be athletic, you’ve got to have some finesse. It's more than just a raw power output, but you’ve got to have that engine also. I feel like with cyclocross you’ve just got to have it in every aspect, so that’s what drew me to the sport.
Back in February of 2018, I got to go the world championships that were in Valkenburg, in the Netherlands. I was just spectating, hanging out, and to be in that environment and see the number of people there. You’re in the mud, it’s raining, it's nasty, and there are just five or six rows deep of people around the course, and in the middle, there’s just a rave going on. I just was completely blown away. While watching the women compete there, I thought to myself
Q. As a fairly new rider to CX, how have you found the learning curve – the jump from Triathlon to CX is probably about as extreme as it gets on a bike?
A. My body adapted to it quickly, but in terms of the learning curve, it’s never-ending for me at this point. Every race I’m learning something new. That should always continue though; I feel like even if you’re a world champ, you should be learning every race. Even how I can take certain lines - watching other people during pre-ride or watching the Men’s race after, and learning basically how I can take turns faster.
Q. It’s that variety and learning process that’s part of what attracted you to it?
A. Yeah 100%, it challenges me in so many ways. I’m not gonna say I was complacent in triathlon. But with Cyclocross, every course is different, and every weekend you have something new thrown at you. This weekend, it was dry and hot on Friday, and then Sunday it’s pissing down with rain. That’s insane. Even in pre-ride, the course could change.
Also needing all the equipment on hand, changing wheels, changing tyre pressure and having a good mechanic help you with those types of things. That’s what’s so amazing about the sport - you’ve gotta show up and have a good day, but also you’re making those types of decisions on the day. There’s so much more to it than just going out and pedalling.
Q. So it’s your second year of CX full-time – what does your program consist of with the MAAP MINI Team, and particularly how does it progress from last season. You raced all in the US last year are you heading to Europe this year?
A. So firstly, I got into the US World Cups. I felt as though it would be a shot in the dark as I’d only had a year of elite underneath me. I was able to be selected though for those first two world cups here in the states, which really helped in terms of getting points and getting that experience.
Hopefully, I’m going over to Europe once the US season has closed, and racing a Christmas block in Europe. Going over as a sponge essentially, and soaking it up as much as I can, to be able to bring it back for me.
I mean, the World Championships are my ultimate goal; I don’t know if that would be this year or next year, but that’s what I’m shooting for. In terms of racing in the future, to go and race a full season over in Europe. That is the end goal.
Q. So how was that first dip into the World Cup races?
A. What was cool, was having no expectations. I thought “I’m here, let’s just see what happens,” and I tried to stay as relaxed as possible. What’s been fun is there hasn’t been any pressure on these last two World Cups for me to get those results, and that’s what’s helped me get a stay as relaxed as possible, and get a top 20.
But this just a few weeks ago I lined up to race, and look over. I’m literally next to Sophie De Boer, who I’ve admired and looked up to these last couple of years, and I’m standing right next to her in the starting grid. Like, I’m here, this is it.
Q. What do you call a success this year – is it results-based is it seeing a progression and consistency?
A. I have goals like being top 5 at National Championships, and the Pan-Ams are another focus race I have this year as well. But I’m not putting so much pressure on the results, as just showing up and being the best that I can that day. Consistently being top 10, top 5 and kind of learning how to be in that lead group. I know I can be there, it’s just a matter of working on my starts, and certain things to help me get there.
Q. You’ve spent a lot of time at a fairly high level of athletics, what is that drives you as an athlete? Are you someone that just loves training? Is it competition?
A. It’s probably a bit of both, but I’m also just a ball of energy. That’s one of the parts of my training that’s hard for me – focusing on my rest and recovery, cause I'm just always wanting to go, go, go, and do things. I have fun when I’m training, and showing up to races and being competitive, I am an extremely competitive person. So it’s like that’s my time to play and release all my energy. But it’s also just super fun, travelling every weekend, and getting to meet a bunch of new people, and seeing new cities, and that’s also a huge part of why I love doing this.
Q. So what do you do when you're off the bike? If you're not training of racing, how do you spend your downtime?
A. Well I work full time. I’m a scientist, I do research and development in chemistry. So that does take up another good chunk of my time. But outside of work and training and bikes, I try to find my time with trying to find the best restaurants; good food, good coffee shops. I love going to concerts. My schedule’s been pretty busy lately, so I haven’t been able to do that as much as I’d like.
I also love going to sneaker shops, I’m a huge sneakerhead and it’s kind of a problem. I’m one of those people that have their phone out trying to buy pairs of shoes. So when I’m travelling I’m trying to find the best sneaker shops, the best coffee shops, and the best restaurants in any city I go to, it’s another part that I look forward to.
Q. So what is it about MAAP that’s appealed to you, and driven you to partner with us?
A. Honestly, the aesthetic that MAAP has is for sure the best in the industry, not to mention trying to align the artistic aspect with cycling. And the quality and technical performance of their product is the best I’ve ever used.
When I joined MAAP on a photo shoot in San Francisco earlier this year, that really solidified it for me; how well they took care of us all. There were 10 of us riding plus the support crew, photographer and videographer, which is a logistical nightmare for a ride that was point to point. Yet we had breakfast burritos, muffins and coffee delivered each morning, perfect places to stay and eat and an amazing loop to ride. After that, I said, “These guys just get it.” We were treated like rockstars out there, and that blew me away. This is a company I want to be associated with long into the future.