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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Julie Kelly's Race Report: WEMBO World 24 Hour Championships

After some great riding in Fernie and racing over the summer it was time for the road trip to Weaverville, CA for the World Solo 24 Hour Championships. It would be my first Worlds and I was pumped! Arrived a few days early to get a few laps on the course and have some fun with fellow Canadian racers. We settled in at the Strawhouse, where owners Julia & Don made us feel right at home.

First lap on course

View at the straw house

Registration with the boys

Race day came quickly as it always does. The weather looked good, the only concern was high winds expected later in the day. Our group of five all pitted together with Steve and Sarah managing the pit.

Headed up to the start line, it was a nice treat not to have to do the traditional Le Mans start. It was definitely a fast start the ladies were hammering. I tried not to get too wrapped up in it and settled in by the 2nd lap. I was putting out consistent laps and the Fate was handling well on the terrain. The course was challenging will the majority of the climbing upfront on a fire road with a couple steep pitches. It then leveled out on the road before dropping into the single track. The first section was fairly fresh and the corners were already getting blown out. Things would be interesting later in the race. The back end had some fun & fast sections where you could let it rip. All up approx.1650ft gain and 19 kilometres.


The temperatures were still good when it was time to mount Exposure lights, Reflex on bars and Diablo on helmet. I was feeling good and my nutrition was on point with Infinit and small sips of water. The first night lap took a bit to adjust to the darkness and dust. After a few more settled in and grabbed some layers along the way.

My eyes were really starting to water with the dust so I decided to stop and have them flushed out to be on the safe side. At that time I asked about Sonya Looney and if she lapped me. I was told to continue to do my own thing and ride my race. Grabbed another bottle, got back on my bike and faced the climb again. The wind was getting pretty strong towards the top of the climb and the dust was flying around on the road descent.

I began to suffer a bit in the wee hours of the morning but as soon as the sun came up it was like magic and started to come around. I still didn't know my position but figured was 4th or 5th. I saw a few of the Elite women on and off but was not entirely sure on positions. One racer said I was 3rd but didn't know if he had me confused with Kate, the other small one riding a Specialized.

The last few laps were challenging with the sun beating down on the road climb. I stopped at the Aid station at the top of the climb and dumped water over my head to try to cool down. Got back to the pits with plenty of time to complete another lap but would not be back in before noon to go out for another. I was good with that ;-).


In the end completed 16 laps, 304 kilometres, and approx. 25,400 ft elevation gain. Finished 5th Elite/Overall for women. It was a stacked Pro field with strong ladies from all around the world including adventure and mountain bike champs. It was so awesome to race with that caliber of women. They have inspired me to up my game.

With the champ Sonya Looney
Banquet and Awards - Some were more concerned with eating and drinking! 
Our group had some strong results with Ryan Gardiner taking the win in his age category and Andrew Bovard banging it out on his single speed to grab 4th! This speaks volumes to the outstanding abilities of our coach Shaun Taylor of Forward Momentum Coaching.

Thank you to Steve & Sarah for the great pit support and encouragement during the entire race. As well, thank you to Coach, Specialized Canada, Infinit Nutrition Canada, my parents for looking after the dog and all the volunteers. There was a great vibe with fellow racers and volunteers really getting behind you. That makes a huge difference!


The road trip home was a lot of fun enjoying some good food, beverages and laughs with great friends. Finishing off the season with a top five at Worlds is definitely an accomplishment I am proud of but has left me wanting more out of next season. I look forward to the journey that lies ahead.

Mmmmmmm wine and pizza!

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