Cyclocross Races

2017 Race Reports by Susan Koonce

9/2. David Douglas this year was an incredibly hot day, nearly 100 degrees. I race in the Women’s Masters 3 35+, where we usually have fewer than 10. For this race, we had 8. I know many of the women, as we have been racing together for at least a season, and there is a feeling of comaraderie among us. We are racing against each other, but we all support each other as well. The race is a bit of a blur in my memory now, it was so hot, but still fun. I especially loved the downhill single track sections. They had a water hand-up station after the top of a hill. I was breathing too hard to actually drink much water, but it felt so good to pour it over my head to help cool down. I finished 2nd for the day and looked forward to the next race.

9/9. Het Meer was also a warm day, but not as hot as the week before. For this race, 13 lined up in my category with a couple of women I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after getting second last week, I really wanted another podium and a chance at the leaders jersey. This course is fast and mostly flat. There’s a section of sand, soft at the beginning and end, and more packed along the waters edge. That edge is by far the most difficult part of the course. One of the new racers was incredibly fast and strong, I tried to hold on to her wheel for the race, but just couldn’t do it. There was no rest on this course at all, I was wither going flat-out fast or slogging through the sand. As a result, I saw my highest-ever average heart rate during this race. I finished 3rd, behind Jennie, who is new to OBRA and was a full minute ahead of me, and Traci, who finished just behind me at David Douglas.

9/10. Het Meer apparently wasn’t enough punishment/fun for one weekend. I also went out on Sunday and raced Corn Cross. That was also a fun course (I think all the courses are fun!). I didn’t really know what to expect of my body after racing so hard the day before, so I just went out and rode the race my body would allow. I couldn’t work as hard as the day before, but I still managed to finish 4th! Corn Cross goes through a corn field maze, has some good hills and a flyover. The flyover is a wooden structure with steps going up and a ramp going down.

9/16. The race was Zaaldercross on the 16th. Another race I’ve never done before, but have heard that people love the venue. It did not disappoint. The course is a fun mix of single track, hills, gravel and grass. It was also smoky that day from the nearby fires, and anyone with common sense would have skipped the race. Apparently, I don’t have that much common sense, and neither did 12 more ladies in my category. This time, I was able to hang on to Jennie’s wheel for most of the race, but not enough to get in front, even with encouragement from Kim when I caught up to her during the last lap. I still finished 2nd, and it was enough to gain the most series points in my category! I’ll start Ninkrossi on Saturday with the leaders jersey…I’m a bit nervous. It has taken me 7 years to get here!

CX Clinics in August

Photo by Colleen McClenahan


Cyclocross requires good fitness, great skills and consistent race preparation. Join our clinic and learn how to improve your cross skills and race readiness. We keep our rider/coach ratios small to ensure individual attention so that skills can be taught and practiced to meet individual and group needs.

Mondays, August 14 & 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at PIR

Saturday, August 6 at Vernonia Springs Outdoor Events Park

Clinics led by Sorella member and Wenzel coach Rhonda Morin and Elaine Bothe with assistance from Wenzel coach Andrew Coe

Cyclocross skills covered over two sessions

Barriers, mounts and dismounts
Shouldering the bike
Racing in mud (Yes, there will be mud!)
Off-camber riding
Bike handling tips
Group starts

Cyclocross topics covered over two sessions

Race preparation
Race strategy
Equipment and tire selection

PIR Clinic Location:

Portland International Raceway (PIR). Enter at the main entrance of PIR. Once you reach the track/infield keep going on the paved road. Keep the fence and track on your right. Pavement turns into gravel. You’ll next see a pond to your left. Shortly thereafter is the parking area on the grass.

This is held outside of the track in the West End of PIR. It is not in the infield where Short Track is, nor is in on the track where the road bikes race. Parking is also outside of the track in the West End along the fence. Entrance to PIR and parking is free.

The clinics will be held rain or shine…this is cyclocross!

Vernonia Clinic Location:

Vernonia Springs Outdoor Events Park

54658 Nehalem Hwy. S.
Vernonia, Oregon 97064
From Hwy 26 approx. 30 miles west of Portland, turn north onto OR-47 toward Vernonia/Clatskanie. Drive north for 8.6 miles to Vernonia Springs, which will be on the east side of the road.


Cyclocross and/or mountain bikes (without bar ends). Be sure to come dressed to ride for all weather. Bring food and water for 2 hours of riding. Expect hot, dry conditions at PIR in August. But, there will be a mud pit!

Helmets are mandatory – they must be in good condition and fit appropriately.


Get more info on the clinics.

Sign up today on OBRA!

Contact Coach Morin

Contact Coach Bothe

High Desert Omnium Race

Heather’s High Desert Omnium Race Experience

My first omnium race provided lots of learning experiences. First event was the time trial. My cleat broke right before the race, so I had to make do. I did the best I could and thought I placed pretty high because of how many people I passed and the number of people who passed me. It turns out I didn’t do as well as I thought. Lesson one: trying to make performance comparisons in a time trial is futile. Only the clock knows. So, always go as hard as you are capable of no matter what.

Second event was the criterium. Criteriums are my biggest “area for growth.” I have trouble generating the constant speed and power required to perform well in this event. It was a combined field of categories 1-4 and the pace started at close to 30 mph. I held on for a bit before getting dropped. I was lapped twice by the cat 1-3s and once by cat 4s. I witnessed a couple of racers quit and I thought about quitting several times. Here was my thinking: “why put yourself through this? Save your energy for tomorrow’s road race.” I hung in and finished. Turns out two women in my category did not finish and I placed 3rd. Lesson 2: Don’t quit!

Heather in her TT tuck at the 2017 High Desert Omnium.

The third event was the road race. The field was combined which meant cat 4s were racing 60 miles instead of 37. A very hot, mid-90s day on the Cascade Lakes course. Race started out great. We were all working together and taking it easy the first 10 miles. At the first climb, the race was on. I settled into my group and we ended up pulling back a couple of women who had tried to break away early. We kept a consistent 18- to 20-mph pace and I felt relaxed and strong until about 50 miles in. After the second feed zone I grabbed a can of coke and shared it in our group. It took collaboration to get the can opened and then pass it around, which was fun. Right after that my body just started slowing down. I and another racer fell off the back and I never caught up. She did however. I’ll get to that in a minute. I pulled this rider for eight miles until I made a wrong turn and she used that opportunity to gain some ground. About 3k from the end, my legs cramped and I overheated. I crawled my way to the finish. At one point a support person stopped and gave me water and poured water on my head and back. It was a miracle I made it to the end. As it turns out, the other riders (in my cohort) also slowed way down at the end. The woman I pulled after we were dropped ended up passing most of the other racers! Again, the lesson is don’t quit. You never know what’s going to happen with other racers who pass you.

Lesson three: Pay close attention to nutrition on the bike. I contribute most of the end-of-race death spiral to not eating enough. I was drinking calories but not eating enough solid food. After so many years of riding, I thought I know how to fuel properly. However, when you are in a race there’s a lot to pay attention to and your fuel needs are higher. Not eating enough resulted in a last place finish for me.

After it was all said and done, I placed third overall in the omnium. Why? Because not that many riders race in all of the events. Even though I didn’t do well in any one event, I finished all of them and accumulated the points. I like that omniums racers can be acknowledged in a couple of ways, by race performance and by point accumulation. Give it a try and consider my lessons when you do.

Piece of cake

Sorella Forte members got down to business during the 2017 OBRA road race opener in Aurora, Ore., on March 19. Piece of Cake this year was, well, a piece of cake for Heather and Sarah. The skies cleared, allowing for a dry race. 

Piece of Cake was my first race, in my first racing season. I raced category 4/5, which also included masters 3/4/5. The pace on the first lap was moderate similar to most group rides. The course had a couple of short hills. I was relieved that I did not have any problem keeping with the pack up and over those hills. The pace quickened on the second lap as did the frequency and distance of the attacks. I wasn’t gaining any ground, but I didn’t lose any either. About two-thirds of the way around the second lap, the leaders made a strong effort to break away. I fell back a bit, but finally gained back the ground. Then the group slowed to a puzzlingly slow pace for the remainder of the second lap. The race was definitely back on during the third and final lap. I kept up and even rode toward the front for a bit. About one-third of the way through the final lap, one of the lead riders took off like we were all standing still. No one was able to catch her. She time-trialed the rest of the race. Those who tried to catch her grew tired, but allowed us to catch the second break in short order. The pace in the pack kept getting faster the closer we got to the finish. About 3 km from the finish, I could no longer keep up and dropped from the lead riders. Overall, I finished in the middle. Not too bad for my first race. I’m looking forward to the next race – the Gorge Roubaix. I hope to have some Sorella company. It was a bit lonely out there with no teammates to ride with.

~ Race report by Heather Simmons

Gorge Roubaix Road Race and Gravel Grinder

The Gorge Roubaix Road Race is on!

photo by Gary Medley

Mark you calendars for Saturday April 1st, 2017. Thanks to everyone who reached out to Breakaway Promotions to offer their time to volunteer at the event. Also a huge thanks to Evoluation Racing, Portland Velo and the Bicycle Attorney and other racing teams for their financial contributions in helping to make this event happen, as well as Castelli. Registration will open the Friday before at 5 p.m.

The course andstaging will be the same as last year utilizing the historic highway between The Dalles and Mosier as we well as the local favorite Dry Creek Road gravel climb.

The race offers Masters Men 40+, CAT 3/4 Men’s Race, CAT 1-2 Men’s Race, CAT 4-5 Men’s race, CAT 1-3 Women’s race and CAT 4 women’s race.

A Gorge Gravel Grinder will be the one and only event for Sunday. This year’s Gorge Gravel Grinder will be a mass start event that is timed and scored. We will break down the categories and offer prizes. Courses will be more challenging than nearly all road races in the Northwest this year. We will offer discounts to anyone who wants to double down that weekend and race Saturday and Grind on Sunday.

A huge thanks to those who stepped up to make this happen.
Chad Sperry
Breakaway Promotions

women's cycling team in Portland Oregon Vancouver Washington

2017 Annual Member Meeting

women's cycling team in Portland Oregon Vancouver WashingtonStrong Sisters!

Sorella Forte held its annual meeting on Saturday, January 28, 2017. Thank you to everyone who attended. Your commitment to this group is appreciated.

For those who were not in attendance, we had a few board spots to fill, introductions of new sponsors, a gift certificate from one of the new sponsors to give away and the most important reason to get together: the crowning of Queen Badass.

Board elections

Trish’s membership coordinator term was up and she decided not to run again, and Elaine’s term as president had also come to a close and she decided to make way for another to leader. Heather and Sarah chose to renew their commitment to the board for two more years and were re-elected in the roles of member at large and team captain. Newly elected to the board was Kim as the membership coordinator. She will retain her role as apparel manager. I (Linda) ran and was elected as president. Janet ran and was elected to the volunteer coordination position, which I vacated. Your new board is now:

Linda Watts, president
Susan Koonce, treasurer
Aleson MacFarlane, secretary
Heather Simmons, member at large
A second member at large/ride coordinator
Sarah Brown, team captain
Kim Flier, membership coordinator/apparel Manager
Janet Gillis, volunteer coordinator

Sponsorship news

Fully – my employer – joined us as a sponsor about six months ago. West Portland Physical Therapy has also signed on. This is Trish’s employer. Visit West Portland Physical Therapy for all your physical therapy needs and then come see me for an awesome ergonomic office desk. We welcome them both to our club.

Metolius Tea will be the newest in-kind sponsor. If you are looking for the tea, go to Nossa Familia espresso bar to order some or visit your local natural food store.

Member in good standing

We encourage you to volunteer throughout the year as a member of Sorella. To earn your Member in Good Standing (MIGS) points, you can lead a ride (not the RCB Saturday ride), volunteer at races (Short track, Alpenrose, Cherry Pie), do trail work with NWTA. We ask you to complete a minimum of four MIGS per year.

Our team captain, Sarah, attended the annual OBRA meeting and recapped it for us. One of OBRA’s requests this year is to train more officials. If you’re interested, join them on February 11, at Mazamas in NE Portland. Training to become an OBRA official is a MIG-worthy event. So take advantage of this opportunity.

New member Jennifer is our social media diva. Please send her photos and information on your adventures and events and she will post to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to include Rhonda on the email so she can posted to Sorella’s website. Got a blog? Forward that to Rhonda and earn a MIG. You can find those emails on our Yahoo account.

We had a raffle for a bike fit/running analysis from West Portland Physical Therapy. Congratulations to Jamie Reed for winning the raffle.

Rides & get involved

We now have a meetup group for rides. Post rides, invite friends and have a great time. Saturday River City Rides will continue to be posted on our email list. If you haven’t joined the meetup group, I encourage you to do so. The Sorella Forte Meetup Group is worth telling your friends about.

We are currently in search of a ride coordinator. The coordinator doesn’t necessarily lead a ride every week; instead, she coordinates ride leaders. Sounds easy, right? The current ride coordinator says that with the new meetup group, this position is a whole lot easier. Please contact Jamie, Susan or me on email to answer your questions.

Queen Badass

Queen Badass for 2016 went to someone who rode and ran her heart out last year, by doing time trials, century rides, mountain bike races and volunteering for events. A lot of power packed into a small package. I am proud to announce that the 2016 Queen Badass is Robin Yakhour! Congratulations Robin. You will wear the sash and tiara well.

I’d like to thank both Elaine and Rhonda for serving as past club presidents. You both have been excellent role models and a huge inspiration to me, both on and off the bike. I am proud to follow in your footsteps and hope to serve the club to my fullest abilities.

If anyone has any questions regarding the club – or bikes – I am happy to help. Got a new sponsor? Tell me. Need help with MIGs? I’m the one to ask. Want to learn how to adjust your squeaky brakes? I’ve got you covered.

Thank you for entrusting the future of Sorella with me and the 2017 board. We hope to do you all proud. I’ll see you on the road and trails in 2017.

Linda Watts

Thinking about spring

McKenzie Pass Ride

Generally in May, Sorellas gather for a car-free ride on McKenzie Pass. The mountain pass in the Cascade Range in central Oregon. It is located at the border of Linn and Deschutes counties, approximately 20 miles from Bend.


Meet the Team Ride

Bakery PNG LogoWe are holding a Meet the Team ride for women only from St. Honore Bakery’s Division street location on May 14.

Two rides – a shorter ride and a longer ride. This ride is free.

Both rides will leave St. Honore Bakery’s Division street location and swing by River City Bikes to meet that group ride at 9 a.m. Then we’ll ride to the St. Honore Bakery located on Thurman street.

From there, the longer ride will head toward toward the Lake Oswego St. Honore Bakery location, while the shorter ride will take another route. Both rides will swing by River City Bikes at the end of their ride.

When: Saturday, May 14
Where: Meet at 3333 SE Division St, Portland
When: Ride leaves at 8:45 a.m.

Download the flyer

McKenzie Pass Ride

Saturday May 28, 2016

McKenzie Pass Illustration(433W)Ride one of Oregon’s most scenic mountain pass roadways while it is closed to cars.

The women of the Sorella Forte Cycling Club invite all of our cycling sisters to join us for an out-and-back, recreation-paced group ride up to the McKenzie Pass Observatory. Help us fill the road with dozens of women riders!

Our goals:
Promote women’s cycling
Strengthen relationships among women’s cycling clubs and teams
Build awareness of leadership and mentoring opportunities

Ride Details
Ride Start: The Sister’s Coffee House
Start Time: Arrive at 9:30 a.m. and start to ride at 10 a.m.
Post Ride: Stay in Sisters to have lunch and participate with the Sister’s Stampede cross-country mountain bike race and events. Travel to Bend for the Bend Don’t Brake Road Race.
For further information call Heather: 503-302-6524
Download the flyer

Ride and Unwind on the Joyride

A Cycle Oregon Event for Women

Joyride in Willamette Valley

Joyride. Stoller Family Estates(650)Grab your friends, daughters, sisters, and moms and escape to the countryside! Whether you’re a newbie or veteran rider, we hope you’ll join us for Cycle Oregon’s first annual one-day event celebrating women on bikes.

Register at

Download the flyer