Health care raced to a new level
Sadly there haven’t been many all-women’s teams in the history of WOW Cyclothon but that really changed in 2015. In 2014 the race saw two all-women A category teams and the first one to reach the finish line was the Medical Racing Divas.
The name of the team derives from the fact that all members are educated and work in the health care sector. “We had an occupational therapist, a nurse, a pharmacologist, a doctor, a physical therapist and a specialist from the Ministry of Welfare. It’s safe to say that we had the healthiest team in the race,” say the Divas adding that the WOW Cyclothon had been on all of their “to-do” lists.
“This was a group of women that fitted very well together and that’s really important in a race like WOW Cyclothon. Our goal was to enjoy the race but also to be the first all-women’s team to reach the finish line. Being an all-women’s team was important to us. Female participation in the cycling community is increasing year by year but for some reason women seem to be reluctant to compete. We can understand if they’re simply not interested but it’s a shame if they are interested but afraid to participate. We encourage all women to take on the WOW Cyclothon, especially the A category. We held our own with quite a few of the other male teams,” the Divas say.
The Divas’ race plan was fairly simple and their goal was to get a good start and be ahead of the other female team, Stelpurnar (The Girls). “We had our first changeovers well planned based on ability, speed and technique, we started strong and everything we planned worked out. The Girls had some great cyclists but their start wasn’t as good as ours and after Hvalfjörður we formed an alliance with a few good teams, The Iron Grandpas, Team Herbalife, Team Risk and Team Kraftwerk,” say the Divas.
Working with four other teams poses its challenges. “Because we had five teams working together we couldn’t change cyclists more than every 25 minutes. Our drivers and team leaders had this all under control making sure to document every kilometer and how much rest each of us got. The biggest challenge during the changeovers was finding a spot where five large vehicles could stop and prepare their next cyclists. It was hard but we managed and the changeovers were always a lot of fun, the atmosphere was so great.”
“This atmosphere and the sheer joy of being out on the road is what kept us going—that and of course the great support we got from home. There were so many who pledged to our team and we had a big fan club following our progress throughout the race. Some of our family members even brought us hot food and Danish on the road,” say the Divas.
We asked the Divas about their most memorable high and low points during the race. “Boy we had so many,” they say— “the start, the rain and the excitement during the first few hours in Hvalfjörður, reaching Akureyri way ahead of schedule, all the downhill speeding and the adrenaline rush we got and finally reaching the finish line after battling up Hellisheiði Moor; we came in screaming and laughing with a healthy dash of happy tears.”
The Divas say that good company was imperative on the road. “We were getting pretty tired when we reached the southeast corner of Iceland but all such hard moments during the race were quickly turned into good times. Cycling and working beside our good friends the Iron Grandpas really gave us the boost we needed. They were real good company on the road and helped us get through it. We’d made a deal with the Grandpas around Öxi that we would do this together and enjoy the race after the other teams split from us and we never had to go through the drama of strategizing against our friends during the race.”
After their perfect race in 2014 will any of the Divas be competing in 2015 “Three of us will compete in an all-women’s B category team called HFR-Stelpur and one will compete with the Vikingur group as a driver along with her husband. WOW Cyclothon 2014 was definitely one of the highlights of our summer and we all agree that it’s the most fun race we’ve ever competed in. Experiencing the Icelandic nature while riding a bike and the feeling of victory when finally reaching the finish line, was indescribable. Now all of you out there, put on your helmets and let’s ride!”