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!

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.

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