Rider Spotlight: Rachel Hovel


Some of us like fish (to catch, to eat, etc.), but Spokeswomen Racing’s Rachel Hovel REALLY likes fish.  By day, Rachel is a research scientist in the Aquatic and Fishery Sciences department at the University of Washington. But when she’s not up to her waist chasing a fish in a creek or lake somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, she’s an avid cyclist and bike racer. We caught up with Rachel to learn a bit more about her work and how cycling fits into her life.

Q: Tell us about your work as a research scientist.
Rachel: I am an aquatic ecologist, and I study how changes in freshwater environments affect biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and aquatic animals. I primarily work on fishes (including Pacific salmon!) and zooplankton, and most of my current research takes place in southwest Alaska, on Lake Washington, and in the Northwest Territories of Canada, where freshwater habitats are acutely experiencing the effects of climate change. It’s important to me that my research helps inform sustainable resource use and conservation.  

31214881741_434753dbca_zQ: When and how did you take up cycling?
 Rachel: Two years ago, a number of factors started limiting the amount of time I could spend mountaineering and alpine climbing, and I found myself spending a lot more time on my bike. A female climber friend of mine told me about cyclocross, and as soon as I watched a race I knew I had to try it. Cyclocross has remained my favorite discipline, and I love everything about it–the intensity, the mud, the community.

Q: What attracted you to join Spokeswomen Racing?
Rachel: I really value how our team is a collection of women with diverse interests, and I was interested in joining a team that is invested in promoting women’s participation in the sport. In particular, I was attracted to how Spokeswomen Racing makes dedicated efforts to give back to the community (e.g. regular volunteering for Jubilee Women’s Center).

Q: How do you fit cycling into your life?
Rachel: I commute every day and try to get out for a couple additional rides every week–around town, at one of the mountain bike trail networks, or on steep gravel roads. I primarily race cyclocross, and most weekends in the fall/winter have a race day!

Q: Do you have any other interesting facts?
Rachel: I also like to work on bikes! I built my around-town commuter, and there’s always something I’m updating or a new gear ratio I’m trying on one or another of my four bikes.

Editor’s Note: Rachel will be moving to Maine later this month to begin a faculty position. We will miss her!  However, she plans to continue to race for and represent Spokeswomen Racing on the other side of the country. Watch out!



Ballard Criterium 6/10/2017

Spokeswomen Racing provides volunteer support to Apex Racing for the annual Ballard Criterium. This year the chance-of-shower forecast was replaced with a spectacular mostly sunny day of racing.  Over 10 team members showed up to help facilitate and watch this fan-favorite race.



Women’s Pro/1/2/3 ladies at the start line.

March – April Race Report

Seattle may be having a record wet winter/spring, but we’re still out riding!  Here are some highlights from the past few weeks:

Dash Point Mountain Bike BuDu Series – 4/9/2017

A brief spot of sunshine made for a delightful trip to Tacoma.

2017 Dash Point

2017 Dash Point. Photo credit Woodinville Bicycle

Maura – 4th, Cat 2 ladies 19-29
Chelsea – 2nd, Cat 3 ladies 19-34
Heather – 2nd, Cat 3 ladies 35-49
Anita – 3rd, Cat 3 ladies 35-49

Mason Lake #2 Road Race – 4/9/2017

On the same day as the Dash Point race, Barbara and Linda carpooled down to Shelton, WA for another great road race, placing 10th and 12th, respectively.


2017 Mason Lake #2

Wednesday Night Worlds – 4/19/2017

Despite a wet forecast, the rain held off during the actual race to allow Meg to cruise to 2nd place in the season opener of the popular summer mountain bike series.


2017 Wednesday Night Worlds. Photo credit: NW Multisport

Early season racing in 2017

Spokeswomen Racing has been active despite record rainfall in February and March.  Tracy, Barbara, Heather, and Tara tested out their legs at some early season road races, while Maura sought out some wet dirt (aka mud!) for some off-road bike racing.


Feb 25. Women’s Road Racing Clinic and Races at Pacific Raceways


2017 Icebreaker Time Trial

Maura placed 5th overall (Cat 2) in her first mountain bike race (Henry’s Ridge by BuDu Racing). She followed this up with a 2nd place overall (Cat 2) the following weekend at the very muddy Port Gamble race. Awesome work, Maura!

Woodland Park CX Grand Prix

We had buckets of fun at the November 13, 2016 Woodland Park cyclocross race (season finale for the MFG Cyclocross season).  The course featured mud, twisty turns, technical descents, barriers, run-ups and loads of cheering and support from fellow team members.


Muddy post-race smiles.

Congratulations to all our ladies who showed up to brave the mud:

Rachel Hovel – Cat 3, 3rd place
Tara Mixon – Cat 4, 2nd place
Linda Nalis – Cat 3/4 masters, 10th place
Tracy Chen – Cat 4
Cathy Downs – Cat 4

And thank you to all our teammates who came out to support and cheer!


Racing is always more fun with teammates!