Five years ago (in 2014), Spokeswomen Racing fielded a 5-person all-female team for the 24-hour Round-and-Round mountain bike relay held annually in Spokane. Link to 2014 blog post.
With the 2019 race being advertised as the final year for this classic race, Spokeswomen Racing rallied to field not one, but TWO teams! It was decided to try to set up our two teams as even as possible to make the competition more fun.
The race started at noon on Saturday with dry and fast conditions. Mary Weir and Kamila volunteered for the LeMans-style scramble leg start duties to lead out their respective teams.
For the first several hours, our two teams stay fairly close, separated by at most a few minutes. As each rider finished, her name and time was logged into a group team text so the other members could track and plan for the following transition. The sun was out and the course was dry, and folks were still full of energy. However, conditions would soon change…
As daylight dimmed on Saturday night, lights were dutifully switched on. Darkness eventually fell. And then the rain started around 11pm…. light at first, but eventually picking up to a steady rainfall by the wee hours of the morning. Jess, Tara, Becca, and Joy rode through probably the worst of it, returning absolutely filthy and covered in mud after their legs between about 1 and 3am. Transition mistakes were made and some time was lost. Rain combined with chilly overnight temps pummeled rider motivations, but the team members soldiered on, attempting to seek some sleep between their legs.
After every team member had completed 3 legs, morning began to dawn. The rain thankfully also stopped. With the light came a much appreciated rise in temperature and the course quickly started to dry out. But motivation was at its lowest. Much groans were heard as our team members pulled on damp kit and wet shoes for their 4th legs. But everyone successfully completed their 4th leg.
Both teams needed one person to ride a 5th a final lap. Fortunately, Mary W. and Becca rose to the challenge.
Amazingly, after 24 hours and multiple lead changes, our two teams finished less than 20 minutes apart after completing 21 laps of a ~13 mile loop. It was only during the last few legs on Sunday morning that team Wake and Bike pulled slightly ahead of Cyclonettes. Out of a total of 10 women’s teams, our two teams placed 4th and 5th place.
Overall, team members responded enthusiastically to the 24-hour race format, and several are already scheming/planning our future 24-hour relay race entries!
Thank you to Lucas Arnold Photography for some of the photos shown here.