2022 Oregon 24 Hour MTB Race

2022 Oregon 24 Hr Race

We had so much fun at the Oregon 24 race in 2021 that we fielded another team for the 2022 edition. On July 9-10, 2022, the team of Coral, Ginger, Heather, Hannah, and Karlé bonded through dust and freezing night-time temperatures to secure not only the greatest number of laps (23) by any women’s team but also the top step in the 5-person Open Women’s category during the 2022 rendition of the race.

The team faced challenges ranging from mid-course crashes, freezing toes during the night laps, light failures, chronic injuries, first-time racing a mountain bike, and more, but we all kept pulling on our kit and showing up for our scheduled hand-offs, even if it meant dancing to stay warm in the transition area under a full moon and the blazing artificial lights of the timing tent.

A plan for the night laps was scribbled out on the side of a paper grocery bag, and alarms were set to ensure middle-of-the-night wake-ups.  During the night, double laps were pulled by Hannah and Coral to allow others a longer break. Through it all, we helped each other recover after our laps, sometimes even cooking ramen in the middle of the night for a team member who was cold and exhausted after a double lap while preparing for our own upcoming lap.

With the return of daylight early on Sunday morning, Karle pulled a heroic double lap fueled by a mid-ride donut feed, and we all gathered around the finish line to welcome our final rider completing our final team lap (ridden by Hannah).

While our 5-person relay team was trucking along, our very own Linda was back in 2022 for her second attempt at the 24 hour solo race format. Linda started slow and steady during the hotter daylight hours, but then picked up the pace as darkness fell and rode thru the night (no naps) to finish 3rd overall in the Open Women category! This accomplishment took a year of planning and preparation to hone her fitness and a sustainable racing strategy. 

Linda en route to 3rd place in the open 24 hr solo women category!

Our full 5-person team nearly didn’t happen due to last minute covid cancellations, but a mutual friend (and former Spokeswomen team member) connected us with Hannah and Karlé of Fount Cycling to fill in last minute (massive thank you!) and bring us back up to full strength, simultaneously renewing our faith in the incredibly inclusive and supportive mountain biking community.  Everyone that we encountered in the race was positive and supportive of each other, regardless of speed, category, or time of day.  

Many thanks to Mudslinger Events for a fabulous event! We are already looking forward to our next 24-hour team relay event.

Bend 24-Hour MTB Race

2021 Bend 24hr Race
Fresh faces at the start of the 2021 Bend 24 Hour Race

What happens when you merge summer weather, race-hungry cyclists, and a decrease in covid infections?  The Bend 24-hour mountain bike race, of course! Eight team members road-tripped to Bend, Oregon for the 24-hour mountain bike race held July 10-11, 2021. With the help of a few extra friends, we fielded two 4-person relay teams and one solo 24-hour entry.

Group photo (minus Linda and Jess)

Our ladies did an amazing job.  It was not an easy weekend of riding. The day time temperatures were HOT, the trails were dusty, and the nighttime temperatures plummeted to the 40s to add to rider anxieties about riding in the dark.  In the words of first-time night racer Coral:

“Kamila woke me up at 12:30ish for my 1:30 am lap. I have never been a big fan of the dark and the past two times I’ve ridden at night were with Ben and I was still scared. I am so proud of myself for pushing through my fear of the dark and staying calm throughout the 11 mile loop, while still having fun!”

One of our two relay team finished 2nd in the ladies 4- and 5-person category. One of the keys to the team’s success was Brys, our dedicated bike mechanic who worked tirelessly through the night to keep the race rigs running smoothly and help support our lone 24-hour solo racer, Linda.  According to Linda:

“My favorite part was riding at night when the temperatures had dropped, and the lights gave me the ‘tunnel’ vision; definitely, the best rides were from 10 pm -1 am. It started to feel weird around 1 am. I could ride the bike and had energy, but when I stopped to refill bottles and eat, I couldn’t walk in a straight line or think clearly about what I need to do.”

Around 1am, Linda threw in the towel for a few hours of shut-eye before resuming riding again a few hours later.  In the end, Linda finished 7th place overall for the solo ladies category!

Linda clean and fresh before her start.

Rider Spotlight: Joy Baer

With bottomless optimism and an incredibly supportive nature, Joy is a pillar of our team. If you’re new to bike racing or just nervous about lining up at the start line, Joy is the team member who is there to talk you through your fears and encourage you along. And when she’s not cheering you on, she’s out tearing up the cyclocross and mountain bike race courses as well. We are so happy to have Joy on our team! Read on to get to know Joy a bit better.

Q: When and how did you take up cycling?  

Joy: I’ve enjoyed riding a bike since I was a very young. Riding a bike always gave me a sense of freedom and makes me feel more in tune with myself and my surroundings. I originally used a bike for transportation. But I would always want to ride as fast as I could and beat my previous travel times, and I found myself secretly racing cars and other riders. 

Q: How did you find/decide to join Spokeswomen Racing?

Joy: It’s a story of fate I guess😊… When I decided to enter my first season of cyclocross, I wasn’t even thinking about joining a team. I met some really nice ladies that I was competing with and one girl, RJ, told me about this awesome team she had joined, Spokeswomen Racing. She had really great feedback about the team, but I decided not to commit right away. The next season, still flying solo, I was approached by another girl on that same awesome team, Heather. She was very convincing, but I still wasn’t ready to commit. Later on, I was shopping at Goodwill and found a used Spokeswomen jersey! I decided to take that as a sign that I really needed to join this team. I bought the jersey and then attended their next annual Meet the Team road ride, wearing the jersey, which surprised and thrilled everyone. I joined right after that, and I’m really glad I finally did.

Q: We’ve heard rumors about your roller derby racing background. What was that all about?

Joy: Oh yes, a long time ago, I played Roller Derby. My first season was with the Windy City Rollers,   just as leagues started to break out across the country. After moving to Seattle, I joined the Rat City Rollergirls. My persona was Seraphina Scorcher. I was quick and sneaky, and I played the position of Jammer, which is the one who has to try to skate past the blockers, which is also the one who tends to get beat up the most – and sometimes I got the crap kicked out of me. Playing roller derby, I indulged in my competitive side, and met some really awesome ladies, some who I still keep in touch with today. I was in my mid 20’s when I started playing, so I was younger than most of the league by 5-10 years, at least. I was very inspired by the athleticism and determination I witnessed from these older ladies. They really changed my outlook on what women are capable of doing. 

But weekly practices, monthly Bouts (including set-up) and other duties required to keep the league going were very consuming. Not to mention, there was a lot of stress on my body and on my relationships. I decided to call it quits after being injured for most of my 4th season. Leaving the league was bitter sweet. It was a great experience to be part of something like that, but it took over my life too much. It even took away enjoyment for riding my bike, and that was a real bummer. Going forward, I only want to participate in competitive events that are also lots of fun.

Q: You joined the board recently. What motivated you to take on a leadership role within the team?

Joy: Yes! I decided to join the board because I’m seeking more leadership experience, and I want to hone my skills as a natural leader. I bring to the board a willingness to listen to any and all concerns and relationship building skills. I’m drawn to problem solving and seek to produce harmony and happiness wherever and however I can.  

Q: What are your preferred cycling disciplines and why?

Joy: Recently, my preferred cycling discipline is mountain biking. I love being in the woods, and the dirt trails provide fun and interesting terrain that is also challenging. I’ve advanced in my skills enough that I now have a lot more confidence with meeting those fun challenges. I get to use more of my body and when I’m feeling the flow of the trail it’s just like dancing or doing yoga, and I love that feeling! However, cyclocross will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll miss it this year due to Covid.

Editor’s Note: Watch out for Joy on the race course – she’ll both cheer you on AND pass you if you’re not careful.  Many thanks to Joy for sharing so much about herself.

Black Lives Matter

Spokeswomen Racing acknowledges the systemic inequality towards people of color, especially the Black community, and we support the peaceful protests for positive change.

We remain dedicated to our team’s mission to promote women’s bike racing and support the development of female cyclists competing in bike races while also encouraging our members to give back to the cycling community and other charitable causes. Spokeswomen Racing strives to create a safe and inclusive space for women/trans/femme (WTF) cyclists from all cultural backgrounds to pursue bike racing; a supportive team environment and product/financial assistance are some of the ways in which we support this goal.

We also acknowledge that bike riding and racing is a privileged sport: stable housing, income inequality, access to bikes, gear, safe streets, and time are all significant barriers to entry.  One way in which our team currently supports all women and women of color, including Black women, is by providing meal assistance to the Jubilee Women’s Center, a local nonprofit that provides housing and support to women experiencing homelessness. We will continue our volunteer support to Jubilee. We commit to expand our understanding of structural racism, and we will explore more ways to engage with and empower communities of color.

2020: New Year and New Faces

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We had a fantastic turn-out for our annual team meeting held in January. Of the 18 members who made our 2020 team photo, ten are new members who have joined our team within the last 12 months. With our new members comes a surge of excitement and interest in bike racing — even road racing! We are looking forward to fielding a more regular presence at the road races this spring, with the collegiate UW omnium at the top of our list of target road races.

Meanwhile, mountain bike season has already kicked off with 6 of our members racing at the first Budu XC race.  Come join us at a race and say hello!

 

We are now a 501(c)(3)

We have exciting news! After many months of hard work, we have attained 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Our mission is to support and develop amateur competitive women bike racers of all skill levels while engaging our members in cycling-related community service and other charitable community causes. Thank you to everyone for all of the support and encouragement, and we are looking forward to increased growth and participation by women in bike racing in our community.

 

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