On the 29th of April, 50 women will set off on a 680km journey around the “empty mountains” in Spain. The route will begin in Teruel, a town nested high in the mountainous region of Aragon, and it will cover 13,000 metres of climbing on mostly dirt roads. Held by route planning app Komoot, the event aims to unite women and break down the barriers to entry in adventure cycling.
Komoot had space for 50 participants on the ride, and it sold out within days. The event is open to women, non-binary and trans riders and was inspired by Komoot’s Women’s Torino Nice Rally (WTNR) which took place last year. The event in 2021 took on a challenging route through the mountains from Italy to Nice, with riders carrying all spares, camping equipment and food on a completely unsupported journey. Rather than races, these events are a learning process for riders as they are encouraged to share knowledge and help each other.
Ultra-endurance challenges often serve as a key opportunity to bring riders together, encouraging friendship through even the toughest moments. In 2021, the 26 riders that took part in the WTNR became lifelong friends after helping each other through 700km of tough bike riding. Komoot hope to encourage a similar result with the Montañas Vacías Rally in 2022, as 50 women take on the 680km route designed by Ernesto Pastor.
A local cyclist in the area, Pastor aims to bring more riders to the area with his route, even stashing repair equipment along the way to connect the cycling community with local people. At the same time, the event aims to encourage more people to ride in the stunning Montañas Vacías.
Seasoned ultra-endurance cyclist, Lael Wilcox, is the pioneer behind Komoot’s women’s bike-packing events, leading the way during the WTNR in 2021 and back to do the same in the Spanish mountains this year. “Sleep under the stars or under the shelter of refugios. Ride forest roads and doubletrack between mediaeval villages. Be part of the rolling community of women,” wrote Wilcox on her Komoot page, promoting the Montañas Vacías Rally.
The route will largely be on dirt roads and riders will tackle the event completely unsupported, aside from the repair points along the route. Lael Wilcox will be documenting the journey on her Instagram profile and the route will be available to download via Komoot. With a focus on community and self-improvement, the Montañas Vacías Rally is a positive step in inviting more women into the bike-packing community.