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Jessica Stuart of No. 22 Racing may be small in stature, but her huge passion for cycling brings a strong presence to the team.
"I can’t imagine a more perfect bike for cyclocross riding,” says the chemistry professor, originally from a small town outside Richmond, VA., when asked about her custom No. 22 Broken Arrow. She also told us about her unlikely path into cyclocross competition and how the women’s team augments her life.
“I started riding just on an old bike and I would commute around,” she says of her early cycling days. “I then found bike polo, which I got really into.” (If you’ve never heard of bike polo, it’s “a lot like hockey, in that the goal is to get the ball into the net,” Stuart explains. Played on a hard court, two teams of riders use mallets to try and score in a net.)
Stuart eventually moved into mountain biking, which she took an instant liking to, and from there it was only a matter of time before she found cyclocross and began to compete.
“I had known Krys Blakemore, director of No. 22 Racing, outside of the sport, through mutual friends,” Stuart tells us. “I was hesitant at first to get into cyclocross racing, but I wanted to be part of the team in some capacity,” she says.
As one of the earliest members of the team, formerly known as This Team Saves Lives, Stuart has been familiar with the No. 22 brand for a few years. Her first year competing, she just rode and raced on the old bike she commuted on to work but quickly decided to get a coach and a real cross bike to take the sport more seriously. After a couple rough months and a missed racing season due to knee surgery, Stuart is only now getting back into racing at a high level, and couldn’t be more thrilled to be back on her custom Broken Arrow.
”I was one of the first members of the team to get a No. 22 bike. My bike is my prized possession,” she says, beaming.
Stuart describes herself as “very small” and acknowledges that it could pose some challenges in finding the right bike with some brands.
“Being able to do custom geometry and fit the bike exactly to my needs was huge for me,” she says of her experience with No. 22. “I got the fit I needed, and the whole experience and the communication with the company was really great.”
Stuart made some other fun customizations to her bike, including subtle brass anodized and vibrantly spoked wheels. She notes that adding colour to the bike was a big creative step for her. “My old bike was all blacked out, so these little details really make it pop.”
The No. 22 Racing team is a huge part of Stuart’s life and she feels honoured to race alongside the other women.
”Over the past year I have mostly taken on outreach for the team,” she explains. “The team has changed a lot, with new riders last year coming on board. The team has always been a go-to for friends, I find myself relying on the members for cycling advice but also personal advice. It’s an extremely tight-knit community.”
Of the No. 22 relationship she says, “I can’t imagine a more perfect sponsor for the team. From day one it was clear to us we wanted to work with No. 22, and for them to be so stoked about us — that’s all we could ever ask for, because we are all so stoked about the bikes and the company.”
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