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.

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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Gran Fondo Ellensburg

Editor’s Note: Team member Mary Brown recently completed the 2019 Gran Fondo Ellensburg. After surviving 90 miles of mostly unpaved gravel roads with over 7000′ of elevation gain, Mary shared a wonderful race report, re-posted here for all to enjoy.

I just got back from the Ride Vicious Gran Fondo – Ellensburg edition. It was Type…2.75 Fun. As always, Jake and Karen put on a bitchin’ event. Snack game was strong. Where to begin… the ride started at Mt. Stuart Elementary where the wind was blowing! I think NOAA had it at 16-18 with gusts of 26 when I checked this morning. The first…27 miles were headwind city. Just crushing headwind through rolling countryside. I ran into my Gran Fondo bud Sara and we found ourselves in a paceline with some other dudes. For some reason, I was taking monster pulls because I was feeling pretty strong…and wanted to shame the patriarchy. My generosity (and hubris) would later come back to haunt me around mile 60…

After headwind city, it was CLIMB city starting at around mile 29. It was a beast. It was the white whale to my Captain Ahab. Just when I thought I was at the top, sunscreen melting in my stinging eyes in the 88 degree heat, there was another switchback. My Moby Dick, National Forest Road 4510 slipping through my sweaty grasp. According to the Stravs, that hill was 10.7 miles, 2,989’ and I was climbing it for 1:41:33. Brutal. Also, what purgatory might feel like…if I believed in purgatory.

Many years later, I arrived at the top. Stunning views of the Stuart Range. Wildflowers galore. Improbable rollers. Why were there rollers up there? After some lovely ridge line riding, it was time to go down. It was time to go down the gravel descent of doom. Some call it “washboard city”. Some call it certain death. One guy legit broke his collarbone on that descent today. A terrifying hour to say the least…

After barely surviving the descent, I rolled into the fully stocked aid station at mile 56. Watermelon. Homemade cookies. Chips. Such bounty. Surely, nothing could go wrong after such a snack attack. Then it was time for another climb. A mere 3.7 miles and 1,137’ of gain. It was hotter and the cookies started to seem like a bad idea. many years later, I arrived at the top of this other hill. Then it was time for ANOTHER GRAVEL DESCENT OF DOOM. There were also dirt bikers roaming around Mad Max style. Apparently another rider ran into one and royally messed up his bike (but not person). I survived that descent – also barely. Then it was time for 25-30 miles of sweet sweet pavement to finish. There were rollers (of course) and we finished on the last 3 miles of the Iron Horse trail. There was a taco truck back at the start (bitchin’) and many cold drinks. After a vegetarian taco quesadilla mash-up, I felt 15% restored.

I’d argue this ride was about 20% harder than the Cascadia Super G if only because the climbs were SO long and the descents SO sketchy. The headwind also added a grade.

Will I do this ride next year? Totally. You should too. It’s super pretty and fun in a very painful and also scary sort of way. But first, another beer and a nap. My Garmin Fenix advised 4 days of recovery and Season 3 of True Detective.

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File Photo: Stottlemeyer 2019

Editor’s Note: Mary is planning to finish off her 2019 gran fondo season with the penultimate GF Winthrop this fall. We know she will do well!

Return to the 24-Hour Round-and-Round MTB relay race

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.

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2019 24-hr Spokane MTB Relay teams!

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…

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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.

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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!

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Thank you to Lucas Arnold Photography for some of the photos shown here.

 

Ready for 2019

We are excited for 2019! New kits have been distributed, a team photo was taken, and cycling goals for the new year were shared.

When Spokeswomen Racing was founded in 2011, our members’ primary discipline was generally road racing. In the years since 2011, mountain biking and cyclocross have blossomed in popularity both in our region and on our team. As we enter 2019, our team is now most definitely a healthy mix of dirt, cyclocross, gravel, and road.

Despite these changes, our mission remains unchanged: to promote women’s competitive cycling while giving back to our community.

Here’s to a fabulous 2019.

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2019 team photo