Rider Profile: Marcy Sutton
Introduction by Melissa Scott
When I transplanted from NYC to Seattle last year, I was excited to join a new tech-centric, adventurous urban scene. I was fortunate to meet the amazing Marcy Sutton while working together at Substantial, a rare female developer with a bold voice, a style all her own and a passion for all things bikes.
Marcy brings a brave heart to her work and adventures — advocating for accessibility in web development in tech arenas around the world and flying her bike with her to tour Europe while she's at it! She believes in including everyone in the digital experiences we create, teaching me and many others to learn code — and takes the same approach to bikes by getting more of our friends newly on the road. Marcy attacks life with a smile and reminds me to go big, stay positive and that we’re all stronger than we think.
PDF: What type of riding do you do? How did you get in to it?
MS: I do many kinds of riding! I got into cycling about 9 years ago first by going on some fitness road rides with my sister Jennifer Triplett, who is an elite bike racer now in Colorado. I liked how it whipped my body into shape better than anything. I realized it also helped my mood and confidence. I loved how I could gawk at cute houses everywhere, discover hidden urban trails I never knew existed, smell people cooking dinner, and get outside in nature with friends. I got into racing Seattle alley-cats and won a few as the first female: the Dead Baby Messenger Challenge twice (I got a bike tattoo on my arm as a result), the Tour de Watertower (urban time trial which hits all 7 watertowers in Seattle), and my personal favorite, the Girls of Summer all-girl alleycat. That one is special because there are so many awesome ladies on bikes! I have won it twice and am not allowed to win anymore because my cx teammate, who does marketing for Raleigh, sponsors the first-prize and doesn't have anything else to give me. haha.
In the past few years I've gotten totally hooked on mountain biking. I love how you're out in nature, getting worked. I've never had such a huge involuntary smile on my face as I have while mountain biking. I'm beyond excited it has opened up a world of travel destinations I never would have gone to before. My favorite mountain bike spots so far have been New Zealand and Moab, UT, but I'm pretty sure I could love the riding anywhere, given the chance.
PDF: It seems like cross is a big part of what you do. Are you on a team? Is it a women's team? Co-ed?
MS: I got into cyclocross 5 years ago when I met a guy I was dating at Cross Club, and I met a bunch of crazy beer-drinking single speeders who were totally my people. I tried the beginner race on my guy-friend's too-big-for-me single speed cyclocross bike and rode over stuff that made grown men walk their bikes (I saw in the event pictures and couldn't believe it). I did a few races, made a bunch of friends, and started zip-tying a geared Kona cross bike I'd bought. My friend Heidi said at the time, "If you race single speed, you can be on Hodala." The single speed only, co-ed, Raleigh and OR-sponsored, expert heckling, drinking team with a cycling problem. Hell yeah! They are not results based, as long as you race your bike, have fun and drink your beer. That's the first rule of our pre-season secret, Cross Club: drink your beer and ride around Seattle parks & hidden trails all year with your friends. It has resulted in some of the most fun times of my life in the past years.
I've also gone to Single Speed Cyclocross Worlds the past two years (Philly and Louisville) just to ride my bike and have fun. You either win Worlds or you don't, and so it doesn't really matter how you place if you're not at the top. It's more a gathering of like-minded crazy singlespeed cyclocrossers in one place to drink beer and heckle each other. I have made some amazing bike friends from different parts of the country as a result.
PDF: Coding and biking can both be total boys clubs. What do you wish more women knew about coding and biking?
MS: I wish more women knew how empowering it is to ride your bike across the city. It's also empowering to build things with code. I've met women who do one or the other, but not many who do both.
PDF: It sounds like your work as a developer is focused on accessibility and lowering the barriers for all people to interact with technology. Can you draw any parallels between your work, and getting more women involved in cycling?
MS: I see a parallel between my work with Girl Develop It and getting more women involved in cycling because they are similar efforts. Both software development and cycling are pretty dude-heavy. I personally feel we can get more women involved in either by being supportive to our fellow women and encouraging one another to be our most badass selves. We need to be a community of people at different stages in our careers or cycling lives, and show women just getting into it that they are welcome and encouraged to push themselves as far as they'd like to go.
PDF: What makes Seattle a great cycling city?
MS: I really appreciate Seattle's many cycling communities, from cyclocross to track to urban bike clubs to bike polo, and more. It's really easy to make bike friends with so much going on all the time–I do not think it's possible to believe in "the Seattle freeze" if you're a cyclist.
We also have pretty good bike infrastructure, with bike lanes and mostly respectful drivers (especially compared to other cities), although there have been some scary fatalities. As a result, I try to ride defensively as much as possible or stay on the dirt.
For me, though, the thing I love most is the natural beauty. The mountains, the trees, the lakes, the trails. Seattle's city hills will also kick your ass. But they provide great views and some wicked descents.
PDF: Does your awesome dog Wally join you a lot when you bike?
MS: Wally joins when I go to remote mountain bike trails where he won't be in anyone's way. He is a fantastic trail dog with amazing agility and performance, but he is a bit too much of an adventurer off-leash and can get lost by locking onto a faster stranger's wheel (or just by being a little shit). I have to limit how much he runs because he has worn the pads off his paws a few times. Poor guy. But he LOVES it! He is also super easy to ride with on a leash. I just worry about his little legs going too fast! :)
PDF: What are some of your favorite rides? And can you tell us a little about your bikes?
MS: I love a good road ride. Especially after picking up a Raleigh Revenio 3.0 Carbon as a demo bike from my cx teammate who is the marketing guy there. I have ridden the crap out of that bike in the past 2 years!
I LOVE riding urban trails on my Raleigh Rainier single speed cross bike, which is also my race bike. I think of it as the classic Cadillac of all my bikes. This is the bike I mashed around Paris streets on during a conference I was speaking at, and was in absolute heaven. I took the bike so that I would have it at Single Speed CX Worlds in Louisville on the way home (thanks, Google)! I bought a Pika Packworks bike bag for the trip and it was amazing.
I have a 29'er Raleigh hardtail bike I have ridden quite a bit. My favorite day on it for sure was the day after Christmas last year when I rode around snowmobile tracks in the snow on forest roads for a few hours and my dog Wally ran around. When I pulled up in my all-wheel-drive car with my bike on top, some guys rolled up and asked "are you okay?" Because they couldn't believe I would possibly roll out there to ride my bike in the snow. I was just out for an adventure, and I found it. Riding on snow was AWESOME and I can't wait to do it again!
PDF: Do you have any big cycling plans for 2015?
MS: In 2014, I did a ton of traveling and public speaking and I didn't ride my bike as much as the few years prior. I'd really like to do more mountain bike trips and cyclocross races this year. Single Speed CX Worlds will be in Victoria, BC this year so that should be crazy fun! I tend to be somewhat spontaneous, so I have no idea what will happen this summer or fall!