One of my goals for Over And Out is that it help serve as a gateway for female riders of all levels to discover more opportunities for riding, be it through connection to new friends and a broader riding community or by building up the skills and confidence to join a race or try a longer or more difficult ride.
For me, as a casual recreational rider, meeting Amelia Kamrad became my own gateway to trying my first race. I was stoked to experience it, but what I actually ended up getting out of it, I never expected. That is: the addictive high of working hard at something I love, but as part of an incredible team.
I played team sports all through high school and college, but this experience was different. Maybe because there were only six of us. Maybe because riding enduro is a sport I love more than anything I've ever done...I'm not sure, but I have to thank Millie for recruiting me to be on the team, and I've got to do it again!
NORTHEAST 24-HOUR CHALLENGE, WOMEN'S TEAM: INTERVIEW WITH AMELIA KAMRAD
I asked Millie to tell us a bit about the race experience. Sure, we're not the first all-girl team, nor did we capture first place, but it's all too common to read interviews with people who are already killing it. I wanted to share some information for those of you who might be trying new things in the world of riding two wheels, just like we are.
I hope you enjoy and that it maybe encourages you or someone you know to give something new a try, be it a race, an event or simply riding for the first time.
TELL US ABOUT THE NORTHEAST 24 HOUR CHALLENGE!
The Northeast 24 Hour Challenge is a true test of endurance! Riders tackle an 11-mile course, but aim to complete as many laps as possible within 24 hours. You can form a team of up to six people, or ride as an ironman or woman, aka just one rider for the full 24 hours.
The race starts with a Le Mans-style start - riders start with a run to their bikes, having to start them up before taking off and heading into the woods. Each team also has a transponder that gets handed rider-to-rider to track their laps.
The race goes for a full 24 hours, meaning riders continue to ride throughout the night, and must make use of headlights and helmet-mounted lights to make their way through the densely wooded course in the dark.
WOULD YOU SAY THIS IS THE TOUGHEST PART OF THE RACE?
Riding all through the night definitely adds an additional test of endurance. The pits get quiet while riders who aren't currently riding try to get some sleep, and some teams aren't able to keep a rider on the course through the early hours of the morning. Managing sleep, hydration, and nutrition are key, so riders can continue to put in laps throughout the 24 hours.
Watch Part 1: Team Theft Recovery at the Northeast 24 Hour Challenge.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO ASSEMBLE AN ALL-GIRLS TEAM FOR THIS YEAR'S RACE?
Last year I joined a friend's team, and I had a ton of fun. I thought it would be a really interesting experience tackling this with five other women. This was in November 2017, and with Over And Out's first women's riding event on the horizon I realized I'd be meeting a number of female riders keen to take on new challenges.
There weren't that many female riders at the 24-hour challenge, so I thought if I could gather five other women to join me in a team, I'd be significantly adding to the number of women riding at this event. Hopefully, our participation this year will inspire more women riders to take on this challenge next year!
WHO ENDED UP ON YOUR TEAM AND WHY DID YOU SELECT THEM?
We had a few changes to team lineup over the year. Because race entry opens in January but the race isn't until July, naturally some changes came about throughout the year that forced two girls to drop out by early June.
BUT, Over And Out was set for the end of June so I knew I'd likely meet some more riders game to join. I met so many positive, awesome female riders at OAO, I was able to fill the open spots!
The final lineup of "Team Theft Recovery": Tracy So, Megan Babineau, Ashley Lusky, Liz Kiniery, Kelly McCaughey and me, Amelia Kamrad. All of the girls that joined the team are great riders, but riding ability was only a small part of what makes a good team.
I was hoping to find teammates with positive attitudes, ready to take on an endurance challenge, and I couldn't picture any of these girls giving up easily.
I also knew right from the start that they would help to build each other up; it's super important to be team-focused. When we finally settled all six team members, it felt right.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR THE RACE?
One thing we did was join Erika Hurst's Gnarly Babes Fitness program together!
Erika was one of the first east-coast female riders profiled on the Over And Out blog. She started a fitness program for women who ride, and took us on as clients.
The majority of our team committed to the fitness program to improve our strength, modify eating habits, and also stay in touch and motivate each other to stay fit and healthy as the race approached.
In 90+ degree weather, your physical fitness (or lack thereof) really comes into play. It's a recipe for complete and utter exhaustion if you haven't prepared in advance. By around week 4 I could tell the program was making a difference in my strength and in my riding.
We also needed to prep our bikes appropriately. While the race lap is only about 11 miles, if you have an issue with your bike it could take you two hours to get hauled back to the pits. That's two hours that you won't have someone completing laps for your team, and it will definitely make a difference in the race.
Solid Performance KTM (based just outside of Philadelphia) came through for us in so many ways: They let us borrow a KTM 250xcw that they professionally lowered 2 inches.
Funny story: the bike was actually stolen from their shop at one point. It was ridden in inner city Baltimore for a while before it got impounded and Solid Performance got it back. This is where our team took the name "Theft Recovery" from!
They of course put a lot of work in to ensure this bike was in top shape to race. Solid Performance is the only WP suspension shop on the East Coast (they lowered my Husaberg for me last year - a MUST do if you've got short legs like me!). A lot of women don't realize the difference that lowering a bike can make in your riding. These bikes come stock built for the average size man, so lowering the bike by 2 inches made it much more accessible.
Solid Performance even came through big time by lowering Tracy's bike for her the week before the race! They gave us assurance, confidence and amazing support!
I Imagine (and hope!) we might have some women who end up reading this who are curious about trying a race for the first time. During the actual race, WHAT WAS IT ACTUALLY LIKE FOR YOU GIRLS?
Well, like I described above, a 24-hour race is inherently a test of endurance. It was fairly exhausting! Basically, when you aren't expending energy actually riding, you're trying to chill in between rides, conserve energy, hydrate, eat, fix things on your bike that you may have broken on your last lap...and a million other things.
It helped to be organized. We had organized areas for food, gear, prep, stretching and recuperation. And we helped each other. While a rider got geared up in anticipation of their riding time, other riders helped them do whatever they needed: bring them food, help find a piece of gear or tape or some other solution they needed.
The weather also threw in a few challenges. We had a few thunderstorms roll through, so overnight the course turned into a soupy, muddy mess!
Not only is it extra challenging to ride in sticky, slippery rutted-out mud, it's a bummer come the morning when you're already getting sore, and you have to put cold, wet, muddy gear back on for your final laps...
Watch Part 2: Team Theft Recovery at the Northeast 24 hour Challenge.
Oh yeah, by the time morning came around, putting the gear back on felt a bit like punishment. But before you know it it's time for the last lap to be ridden and seeing your teammate cross the finish line is an incredible feeling.
We may have been exhausted and ready to get home and into a shower, but as we packed up our pit, gear and bikes we were already thinking about doing it all over again next year!
@millieonthemove @kellymccaughey @lizismoto @tracysowhat @motogal315 @alluneedisluff @solid_performance @erikahurst_ @hurststrengthct
Images and video by Steve Kamrad @steve_kamrad