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Julie Ann Smith and her husband have a little cycling fun on their wedding day.

Julie Ann Smith – Member spotlight

Our title sponsor, Julie Ann Smith of Blue Lake Oral Surgery, has a fun story.

Julie Ann Smith enjoys competing in cyclocross

One of Julie Ann Smith’s favorite types of races are cyclocross events.

Julie Ann (she/her) started cycling in her early 40s after years of distance running. She has not been a lifelong cyclist. Early on, she thought of cycling as far too dangerous, but her interest was piqued after she had some significant running related injuries and her doctor recommended an alternate sport. Julie Ann had to relearn how to ride since her last last bike ride was as a teenager. After purchasing a bike at River City Bicycles—a hybrid she later found too heavy for competing in triathlons—Julie Ann quickly upgraded to a faster and lighter road bike.

Like many in the Portland Metro community, she found out about Sorella Forte from River City Bicycles. She has been participating in Sorella’s Saturday intermediate rides for more than 10 years and credits the cycling community with bringing many wonderful people into her life. Prior to Sorella, Julie Ann also rode with teams Trailhead and Sweet Pea Ladies Auxiliary.

Today, Julie Ann is an avid racer and can be found racing the PIR series, time trials, cyclocross and mountain biking. Her most memorable race was a PIR on her 50th birthday when she raced while four months pregnant.

“I was dead last, but so proud,” she recalls.

Anyone who rides with Julie Ann quickly learns of her passion for the sport and eagerness to share the joy of cycling with others, including her 3-year-old, Katie, who has two bikes of her own.

Julie Ann Smith and her husband have a little cycling fun on their wedding day.

Julie Ann Smith with her husband on their wedding day. Notice her fantastic shoulder carry.

Fun Facts about Julie Ann
Joined Sorella Forte in July 2017
First organized ride: Portland Bridge Pedal
She’s also a swimmer.
First bike race: PIR on August 6, 2012. After a quick drafting lesson, Julie Ann shares, “I got last place in the novice men category, but it was FUN!”
Met her husband at her first cyclocross race.
Best meal after a ride? Burgerville. “A cheeseburger and fries after a cyclocross race, it’s become my tradition.”


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Fischer's Mill advanced ride

March board meeting news

Top news from our March 2, 2022, board meeting

Present Linda W., president; Julia S., secretary; Lisa C., member at large; Jodee Varney, treasurer; Tera H., membership coordinator; Emilie P., member at large; Clay W., social media coordinator. Members present Jaime R., Linda F., Julia S., Rhonda M.

Top news

Format of River City Bikes rides
The title has changed from “Challenge Ride” to “Advanced Ride” for the regular 8:30 a.m. Saturday ride. Think of it more like a faster, hillier team training ride. While still no-drop, many are training for races/events and there are less stops than the intermediate ride, which is focused on recruitment and getting women comfortable riding in a group of supportive riders. More conversation-pace comradery riding. See if the advanced ride is for you by contacting Lisa C.

Equity, inclusion and diversity proposal
Like Sorella Forte, many cycling teams have been on a journey to create a safe space for BIPOC, LGBTQ+ (binary, trans etc.).

Lisa C. has been taking a page from the Minnesota-based Stamina Racing Club, founded by a BIPOC cyclist who advises clubs they must be willing to put money and effort behind diversifying your club. It’s not just about recruiting current diverse cyclists; it’s primarily around creating them.

Action: The board supported Lisa’s next steps – to gather a working group to research more and propose how Sorella can move in this direction. If you’re interested in joining the workgroup, contact Lisa C.

Social Media
Clay identified 3 audiences to focus our efforts:

Current members: Highlight member stories, who’s going to what events to join in, what you are doing off the bike as well. See your teammates on social so you can share.

Potential members: Curated posts that show the team’s comradery, fun side. Yes, we also race, and can be tough racers too.

Community engagement: What’s the larger discussion in our cycling community? How do we play a part in moving/leading efforts around diversification of our sport? Participation in ongoing discussions and sharing of ideas/best practices. Regularly promote our sponsors by amplifying/sharing their posts.

Action: Need photographer to capture what we’re trying to portray/move toward. Graphic design so that we have curated content ready to go on regular basis.

Longer term: Refresh Sorella’s website using this imagery that reflects broader, diverse riders rather than an all-white, elite racing team. Think replacing homepage photo with image/graphic that represents where we’re going. Up level our photography/images for website so website and social media are aligned in the image that we’re moving toward.

Race coordinator proposal
Per member feedback, we will be adding back a race coordinator role as a board role. Club used to have this role the in past when there were more members racing. Desire communicated at annual meeting to return this role to support those who’d like to race.

Action: Watch for race coordinator opening announcement once we’ve dialed in the role description.

Sorella Bylaws Review
Per member feedback and request during our January annual meeting, board members reviewed our club’s bylaws, which haven’t been updated since 2012. With our club’s equity, inclusion and diversity journey desire is to ensure alignment between our bylaws and actions.

Action: Board will be updating language around diversity in addition to updating board role descriptions.

Researching digital waivers
Now that the RCB rides are back open to the public and we’re advertising again on Meetup, the board is researching a simple way for riders to sign a waiver before the ride begins.

Action: Tera will do research and recommend to board at next meeting.

Next Meeting

Next board meeting is June 1, 2022, at 6 p.m. Members are always welcome to join and/or bring topics/concerns/ideas to the board.

Graphic by Pixabay

Annual meeting set for January

Mark your calendar.

January 30, 2022, from 4-6 p.m. is the date for our annual meeting. Fingers crossed we can actually meet in person. We’ll evaluate closer to meeting and let you know.

Our annual meeting is usually one of the only times we’re all together, and it’s important for team building and team business. You’ll also receive 1 MiGS (Member in Good Standing) for attending.

Two Sorella board seats are up for vote at January meeting. Want to serve and have influence over club decision making? Board members earn 4 MiGS for each year served (terms are 2 years). If you’d like to run, contact Linda Watts to be added to ballot Any member can run against any incumbent or for any open position.

Board roles coming open for election at annual meeting:

Treasurer: Jodee Varney is incumbent

Secretary: Julia Sperry is incumbent

 

Graphic by Pixabay

Sorella Sweep at Ashes to Glory Gravel Race

Sorella Jodee Varney took first place in the Masters Women 50+ category at an October 2021 OBRA sponsored Ashes to Glory gravel race in Madras, Oregon. Rhonda Morin took 2nd and Lisa Congdon took 3rd for a Sorella sweep of the category.

The three rode 61 miles and climbed 6,200 feet on the most gorgeous October day in stunning scenery.

Tonya Roe Memorial Ride was on July 17, 2021

Ride Report Tonya Roe Memorial Ride

Twelve Sorella members started out at River City Bikes (RCB) on Saturday, July 17, 2021, and we made our way north to Marine Drive, where a tailwind set us free and we made great time heading east. We had one flat shortly before reaching Glen Otto Park, but that didn’t slow us down too much. It was awesome to meet up with another nine Sorellas and have a chance to talk to Andy, Tonya’s husband and long-time Sorella photographer, who snapped a team photo as he has so many times before. Tonya and her family will truly be missed by our club.

After that, we all headed together up to the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, a state park in Corbett, Ore., where we enjoyed the view and a bit more social time. Most of the group turned back, but the intrepid Trish and Karin (a former Sorella who joined us for the event), and I headed up Larch Mountain Road for about 5 miles, then headed south on Devereaux Road and made our way back to Hurlburt Road, rejoining the old highway in Springdale. We then retraced our route back to Marine Drive, where we headed our separate ways to head home. 

We may just call this the the Tonya Roe loop from now on.

Tonya Roe Memorial Ride was on July 17, 2021

Sorellas making their way down Marine Drive during the Tonya Roe Memorial Ride.

Ride report by Ann Thomas

River City Bicycles is a premier bike shop in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday Morning Rides are Back

After a long 16-month hiatus, our Saturday River City recreational group rides are back as of Saturday, July 10, 2021.

Now that more than 70% (and climbing) of Oregonians are COVID-19 vaccinated as of July and Oregon is opening up, we are back on the road hosting our Saturday rides at River City Bicycles, our shop sponsor’s Portland store.

We ask that unvaccinated riders wear a mask or face covering. Fully vaccinated riders are welcome to wear a mask per their comfort level, but at this time it is not required.

See About our Rides section for full details and what to expect when you plan to join us.

Tonya Roe was a Sorella Forte cyclist.

Passing of a Sorella Member

A beloved and fierce women’s cycling advocate left this earth.

Sorella Forte member Tonya Roe died on Friday night, January 1, 2021, in Portland, Ore., after a battle with cancer. She was 52 years young. We shared many, many memories with Tonya. We miss her spirit, her kindness, her dedication to the sport of cycling and women’s fitness, her laughter and most of all her friendship. 

Here are some of the precious moments and recollections Tonya’s teammates had with her:

“Tonya raced cyclocross, PIR and road. She was a strong, fierce racer. I first met her cyclocross racing in 2009 and I think she raced until 2012. She will be missed terribly by her family, her husband and two boys and all those who knew her.”  ~ Bonnie

“Her boys and husband were at the cross races with their dad when they were younger. They were the perfect family.” ~ Lynne

“Tonya was a former Kaiser colleague and brought everything to her work and cycling.”  ~ Emilie

“Tonya was so kind and sweet to me when I was a newbie Sorella trying to keep up with the group during our indoor winter training sessions. What a loss. She was good people.”  ~ Sherri

“Not only was Tonya a determined racer who liked nothing more than getting completely muddy with her teammates, she was a staunch advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Our community has lost a giant.” ~ Rhonda

This summer, if it’s safe to do so, Sorella Forte members will hold a memorial ride for Tonya. Additionally, a scholarship in her name is being explored.

 

River City Bicycles is a premier bike shop in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday Morning Rides Cancelled

After speaking with Sorella’s board and River City Bikes management, we have decided to cancel the Saturday morning rides starting March 14, 2020 through April 12, 2020, and maybe beyond depending on Oregon’s health department requirements. This is in line with the COVID-19 guidelines of OBRA and the state of Oregon. River City Bikes, where our Saturday rides originate from, will update their website and I have updated our Meetup group events page.

This is not to say you should stop riding! Continuing to exercise is an excellent way to staying healthy. I ask you to stay safe and use caution. If you ride with others, please keep in mind ways you can mitigate close contact, in case:

  • Someone crashes, and needs help getting up, or needs medical attention
  • Someone bonks, and needs help getting stable
  • Someone might need a wheel, and you can’t really draft from 3-6 feet back
  • Two people crash into each other and need medical attention

Linda Watts, Sorella president

Muddy Sorella kit

Cyclocross Nationals Recap

Rhonda Morin takes the downhill at the 2019 CX Nationals.

Rhonda Morin trying to find the best line on the downhill at the 2019 CX Nationals.

A handful of Sorella Forte sisters made an appearance at CX Nationals in Lakewood, WA, December 10-15, 2019. It was an epic experience. Make some noise for Bonnie Rosenfeld who captured the only podium for Sorella – a silver medal! 

Kim Sass bravely did two of the hardest fields at nationals – the 40-44 group and women’s singlespeed.

Oregon’s Clara Honsinger won the Elite Women’s Pro race. Katie Compton has won this race 15 years in a row. Interestingly, Katie captured her first national title in Portland, OR at PIR in 2004, and lost it 16 years later in Washington to an Oregonian. 

Rhonda Morin’s master’s field (50-54) was the largest with 29 incredible athletes. It’s a privilege to line up on the start line such fit and fast women. The course was extremely technical. There were two steep (15%-18% grade) up hills to run while carrying the bike on your backs. The mud was thick and created moving steps that feet would sink into with each step. Then racers had to remount their bike on the top and ride to the next obstacle. Needless to say there was a lot of heavy breathing.

Two steep down hills, complete with dogleg turns kept the pack honest. Muddy, ruddy, rooty and lined with spectators heckling the racers to “stay off the brakes.”  These hills were intimating. But by race day, they seemed a little less so. Kim and Rhonda got up enough nerve to ride down them in practice and in the race. But on Rhonda’s last lap, she drove her bike right into a photographer on the side of the hill. Luckily, she bounced off him and got right back on the course. Glad he wasn’t a tree.

Rhonda crossed the line in 12th place and finished unscathed and in one piece. Kim finished 17th in the geared race and 27th in singlespeed.

Kim Sass goes for the run up at the 2019 CX Nationals.

Kim Sass goes for the run up at the 2019 CX Nationals.


Posted by Rhonda Morin

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!