Navigate Saturn. Pilot an airplane. Race Cat's Hill. That was Julie Bellerose's weekend. How was yours?


Julie was a pro racer before becoming a rocket scientist (who still races like a pro).


Where did you grow up? What was your cycling community like?

I grew up near Montreal until leaving for grad school in Michigan, where I started racing and where I met my current teammate Molly Van Houweling. My last year of school turned out to be a really good year for me. I joined a semi-pro team from Quebec and raced at the UCI level. I also did some collegiate racing with the University of Michigan and won the national criterium championship. I then took a hiatus from cycling to work at the Japanese Space Agency in Tokyo, but resumed racing with Metromint after my return to North America.


What better way to become an honorary American than by winning a U.S. national championship?


How did you end up joining Metromint?

After my post-doc in Japan I landed in the Bay Area at NASA and was looking to get back into cycling. I guest-rode with Metromint for a few races, went on an intro ride, and applied to be part of the team. Metromint has been awesome and patient with my busy schedule. It's been an amazing few years with the team so far and I'm looking forward to continuing even from SoCal.

You're a rocket scientist. Can you describe your job in terms that non-geniuses can understand?

I work at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena as an orbit determination analyst on the Cassini navigation team. Cassini is a spacecraft that has been orbiting and studying the Saturn system for about 10 years now. My job is to estimate where the spacecraft is and to support the maneuvers and science that the Cassini team wants to do. It's a lot of fun. Before that I worked at NASA Ames in Mountain View, doing analysis and simulations for planning spacecraft missions to asteroids, comets, Mars, moons of Mars, etc. Racing my bike helps me stay on Earth! ;-)


Julie flies that around Saturn. Seriously.


Um. Wow. So I guess you don't have much time for hobbies outside bike racing?

Actually, I also love scuba diving, hiking, and flying small airplanes. And I sometimes enjoy calmer activities like reading (space stuff and other things), solving Rubik's Cubes, and going out with friends. I also like playing around with small electronics like Lego Mindstorms and other little robots that I really should get back to at some point...

What?s the strangest thing that's happened to you on a bike?

I once broke a thumb while riding over a patch of ice in Michigan in January. That's the only time I've ever broken a bone or fallen while riding. Now that I'm in sunny California, I should be safe!

What are some quirks about you?

I become incredibly hyper if I drink even a little coffee before a race, which is actually super fun. ;)

What has been your most memorable moment in dots?

I'd say Topsport Stage Race last year. It was not my favorite race but a very memorable one due to a teammate's crash and my suddenly having to defend the GC. I felt a strong sense of team cohesion from visiting one teammate in the hospital and having another teammate lend me all her TT gear (which I had not even brought with me, thinking I was not going to be competitive). I ended up winning GC. It was scary, exciting, and humbling all at the same time.


Making minty lemonade from lemons at the 2012 Topsport Stage Race. Mmmm Lemonmint.


What are your goals for 2013?

I feel like my cycling form has been improving over the last year or so, which I'm really happy about. My goals are to be able to support my teammates who are in pole positions, and be able to compete for the top five spots in road races and criteriums.