Rylee McMullen is a fresh face to InstaFund Racing for 2022 and recently debuted her new team colours at the Tuscon Bicycle Classic where she rode to an impressive 3rd place overall across three stages. The 25 year old New Zealander is already feeling right at home on the team following a successful pre-season training camp in Arizona where strong bonds were quickly established and many miles were logged. The talented young kiwi now has a big season ahead of her as the team race a busy schedule targeting events throughout North America and Europe – predominately on the road, with a bit of gravel thrown in the mix to keep things interesting.
We recently spoke with Rylee to chat all things InstaFund, season goals and equipment.
Q&A With rylee mcmullen
Photography by Drew Coleman
As you are new to the team, can you share how it’s going for you so far?
You honestly wouldn’t know any of us were new to the team! It feels as though we have known each other forever, and the team dynamics are like nothing I have ever experienced before. We definitely have something very special going on within the team.
How are you finding your new OSTRO VAM?
The OSTRO VAM is the perfect all-rounder bike. During team camp we put it to the test in every scenario – sprints, time trialling, climbing, even some cheeky gravel! I feel confident going into a race knowing that I am on the best bike no matter how the race pans out.
My favourite thing about the OSTRO VAM is how fast it feels descending, not just down to its super aero frame, but also because of how stable it feels going into corners.
And your BLACK INC wheels?
The team have a mix of shallow and deep section Black Inc wheels. I have been riding the FORTY FIVE’s the last couple of weeks and I love them! I used them during our sprint sessions, but also on our climbing days. They felt really fast leading out my team mates, while still feeling super light going uphill.
How was the team camp in Arizona? Can you share a bit about what you got up to there?
Team camp was two weeks long, ending with a three day tour here in Tucson. The goal for camp was ultimately to meet and get to know our new teammates and staff, as well as put in the foundations for a big season together. We did a lot of ‘team efforts’ throughout the camp including lead out practice, team pursuit efforts, and hill climbs.
Off the bike we had a lot of media and sponsor obligations. It was really cool to have the opportunity to meet the people behind some of the brands we are working with either in person or via zoom. It was a crazy busy few weeks, but I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season!
Congratulations on your great results at the Tucson Bicycle Classic! The race obviously went very well for you. Can you share a bit about the tour, your results and how it went as a whole for the team?
Thank you! It was very much a team effort. We had never ridden together before, so it was a really nice environment to learn more about how each rider races.
The tour started with a 5.7km prologue, Merckx style, so everyone was on road bikes. Myself and Heidi (Franz) finished up 2nd and 3rd respectively, which was a good start. Day 2 was a 130km road race on a rolling multi lap course. We had a reasonably small team which made for a really demanding race. The girls put in massive moves to cover attacks and chase down breaks. In the end it came down to a bunch sprint. I couldn’t quite finish off the amazing work from the girls and finished second.
Day 3 was an 80km circuit race of 9 x 9km rolling loops. It was pretty much a repeat of the day before, with the bigger teams sending riders up the road continuously, and the responsibility of the chase falling on our team. Again, our girls put in huge efforts to contain the race and make sure we were represented in all of the moves. After several hours it again came down to a sprint finish. A few sketchy moves, and a pothole on the final corner meant the girls in front left a gap and I got caught out on the wrong side, so I rolled in 4 seconds back from the top 4. Heidi showed how strong her sprint is after a day of hard work resulting in a podium finish!
Unfortunately, I lost 2nd place on GC by 1 second, sliding back to 3rd in the final standings. Not a bad start to the season, nonetheless.
What’s up next for you and the team?
We have quite a busy block of racing coming up actually! In 5 weeks, we head into two back-to-back weeks of tours – with Redlands Bicycle Classic and Tour of the Gila. While the rest of team race Gila I am actually heading to San Diego to do the Belgian Waffle Ride. This will be my first gravel race which I’m super excited about!
Can you summarise your plans for the season and where you will be racing?
InstaFund has put together such a cool race calendar for the season! From May to the end of July we are racing throughout North America with a mixture of road racing, criteriums, and gravel. Early August we will then head across to Europe for a block of racing, and will likely be competing in Spain, France and Belgium (although exact details are yet to be confirmed).
What would you like to achieve out of the season?
This season personally, I am 100% focussed on wanting to enjoy racing my bike again! Being part of a team like Instafund makes this pretty easy though. Going into each race knowing I have done everything I can in training so that I can give back to helping my team mates individually, or the team as a whole achieve the best we can in each bike race is a big focus this season.
Of course, my competitive streak always kicks in and winning a few bike races would also be a nice achievement.
Do you have a special target race that you’d really like to perform well at?
Something new to my race schedule this year is gravel! With the introduction of a gravel world series and a UCI world gravel championships, I think that would be a pretty cool target race. I haven’t yet done my first race on gravel though so I’ll reassess after the Belgian Waffle Ride. Sink or swim I guess!
Can you share a bit about your cycling background and how you got to where you are today?
I started cycling when I was 20 while I was at university. I was doing a sports science degree but was super lazy and wasn’t doing any exercise at the time. Naturally I felt like I needed a challenge to get me back into sport, so I signed up for a half ironman. Long story short, I dropped the running and swimming as soon as I crossed the finish line and took up cycling full time. I was given the opportunity to race internationally 6 months later with an Australian team and raced 4 months in the USA and Europe. Since then, I have done 3 more seasons with a European team, based out of the Netherlands and Germany, and this year I’m going full circle, returning to the USA.
It hasn’t been an easy journey and the time away from home is hard, but it’s also pretty easy to remind myself how lucky I am to be living this life!
Follow Rylee and InstaFund Racing to keep track of how they’re going this season here: