Singlespeed adventures

Rhonda 2017 race reports

Corn Cross

Singlespeed racing is always an adventure – epic courses with only one gear and disappointments when mechanicals affect the race. My season started with Corn Cross in Boring, Ore., a fast and hard race that includes dodging fallen corn husks (they hurt) through a maze, a steep, oh-my-god downhill and enough hard, bumpy turf to loosen fillings.

Corn Cross 2017

With a bit of a slow start trying to get into the pedal, I chased another rider for a bit, but over took her after the first lap or so. After that it was chasing down racers in the men’s field. At one point I grabbed hold of a metal barrier with the intent of swinging myself around the corner, but the barrier wasn’t secured to the ground and it toppled over barely missing the male rider next to me. “Sorry about that,” I blurted, while he was probably quite irritated with me.

The flyover on this is a huge wooden U-shaped monstrosity that is one-part scary and one-part fun. Each time I had to remind myself to breathe while sailing over it – never clipped in of course.

I took the win this day and enjoyed the fabulous prizes they always give at Corn Cross. Thank you City of Sandy. You all do a fabulous job.


This one will be short. Had a descent start, top 5, and about 1 minute into the race on the first uphill my chain drops. On a singlespeed! Game over. Fortunately I was able to get it back on, but that in itself told me it would likely happen again. SS chains aren’t supposed to come off and certainly you shouldn’t be able to put it back on if it’s correctly aligned and tight.

I chased the rest of the race. No pressure, just clean out the pipes. Tough parts to this course, but it also had some great flowing parts. There were a couple of corners I never figured out. One was where you came in at an angle for a 90 degree turn up a small hill. Soft sand usually put me in the bushes. Turns out it was faster to run it.

There was an uphill section that could easily be done with a geared bike, but not a SS, at least not for me. I did see a SS racer ahead of me who remounted and took the second half of it. Impressive.

Dropped the chain a second time on the same darn hill just after passing a racer. Got it back on again and was able to re-catch her after the sand pit. There were two back-to-back pits (volleyball sand) – one was rideable, the other not. I love sand!

Managed to catch and pass two or three competitors in poor air quality. The Gorge was on fire with the Eagle Creek burning and on this day and the smoke was particularly choking. Probably took a year or two off my life.

Battle at Barlow

Haven’t done this one in years, despite that fact that it is four miles from my house. It hasn’t been one of my favorite races before this day. We’d had several days of race and several dry days leading up to the race, so the ground was less bumpy then in the past. There have also been years when it was an absolute mud swamp and not even worth the trouble. Google pictures of a few years ago to see what I mean.

On September 24 the sun was out and the ground was tacky. Perfect conditions. Fast in parts and wicked hard in others. For the first time I ran up the steep ravine via the railroad ties that are lodged into the earth. I had discovered the right-side edge pre-riding it the night before, which allowed for not having to leap up each railroad tie, some of which came up mid-thigh on me!

That’s the spot where I took third on the first lap, passing others who chose to take the circuitous route up a path through the trees. I’ve done that before, but saw first-hand this time that it takes longer. I remounted at the top right away and muscled through to the single track.

I put some distance on me and #4 and worked to keep #2 in sight. There was never a chance I’d catch her, but I did manage to keep the time difference to about 10 seconds between me and Anna C. She’s in her 30s I think, so that felt good.

A podium finish helped erase last week’s chain episodes and my body felt good. Looking forward to doing a few Cross Crusade races this season.

Battle at Barlow 2017

Portland Trophy Cup Report

Jennifer Justus race report

On September 19, Julie Ann, Michelle, Judy and I raced at the Portland Trophy Cup race at PIR. It was a beginner-friendly course, made a little bit more fun from slippery grass and just a little bit of mud.

It was so much fun to ride with these three. Every time Michelle and I would pass she would say hi (I never saw her before she saw me)! Julie Ann’s love for cyclocross is really inspiring. This was Judy’s first ever race and I was so glad to see her huge smile at the end.

 This was my fourth time ever racing cross. Every time I sign up for a race, I immediately wonder what the heck I was thinking. I queue up and have a terrible case of pre-race jitters. Then I get going and all of that goes out the window. I just have fun. My bike and I just do our thing.
I felt much faster and more sure of myself than last race. Next time I know I will be even better. I was feeling a little down on myself for how I did last race. I knew the only way to fix that is to show up and do it again, which I did and will keep doing.

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!

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