New(er) to ERTC and loving it!

New(er) to ERTC and loving it!

I am very excited for the 2019 ride season (my second year) and getting out on the road on two-wheels!  Newer to ERTC, let me share a little about my first year experience with this great group!

I had never done any formal riding and certainly was not a road bike rider.  I couldn’t even fathom riding on a road or highway and most certainly didn’t have the confidence to do so.  I went to the “Learn to Ride” courses and learned a lot of information from very knowledgeable and patient riders!  My very first ride with the group was a cold one with a head wind most of the way; I was the last rider bringing up the rear by a great distance.  I was fortunate and thankful to have 2 lovely ladies who stayed with me on that very long journey and they encouraged me all the way. I nearly threw in the towel that day; I was embarrassed and never thought I would be able to ride with the group as I would only hold them up.  

However, I stuck with it and by the end of the season my average speed increased, I expanded my riding skills, I no longer “feared” cars on the road and I gained the confidence to ride by myself. I also learned how to ride a track bike at the Velodrome and bought a cyclocross bike to begin that new adventure! Most importantly, I met some great people who have a passion for everything with 2 wheels and I have made new friends!  If I had quit after my first ride, I would never have had the experiences of riding, or met the great people that I did last year. I am grateful for all those who encouraged me and were willing to share their experiences and knowledge with me.

And now a new ride season is upon us and I have actual riding goals (never thought I would say that)! I am going to race some crits for the first time, increase my distance this year and try a cyclocross race and gravel rides!  Most importantly I cannot wait to get out with the WoERTC group and hit the road! For those who are new to the group – Welcome!  You will have a blast. This is a great group of ladies who provide a supportive and encouraging environment to ride.  See you out there soon!

~Karen Marner

Winter Training, 4 Different Ways

Winter Training, 4 Different Ways

As cyclists, our biking season tends to have the same training focus - get on your bike and pedal. How often, how long, which bike, and at what effort may vary, but the medium seldom changes.

Winter training, however, can vary a lot. From changes in sport, focus, mental engagement, and life challenges, here’s a few thoughts on some approaches to winter training from our women.

Training While Traveling (Amanda Scott)

Winter training is great because it gives me the time and space to focus on my needs, assess future goals, and build up strength. However, it’s also my busiest time for work travel, so I’ve had to become creative so I can keep cycling when I’m spending more time away from home than usual.

I’ve had to learn how to find a bike, any bike. For warm destinations, I’ve flown my bike with me (fun but not enough time to ride it), found rentals that would drop off at my hotel (worth it!), and in Canada I’ve called around to hotels to find which ones have a legit spin bike in their gyms (moderate success) and located the hotels within a few blocks of a YMCA with free trials (definitely worth it!). These have also required some preparation: checking the bikes at the gym the night before to figure out which ones actually work, starting my early morning workout earlier than I need for the inevitable break when my coffee kicks in, and always bringing a bathing suit to the gym in case someone else beats me to being the jerk hogging the only spin bike for over an hour.

Traveling while training has also made me a better wardrobe minimalist (do I really need a second pair of dress pants in my carry-on, or would cycling shoes be a better choice?), and has lowered my shame of looking like a dork in public (yes, I will use my spirotiger in a corner of the airport terminal if pressed for time).

Base training while travelling has also taught me that I can exercise under lousy conditions and when outside of my trainer-in-front-of-a-fan-and-tv comfort zone: tired, hungover, stressed, on a bike that doesn’t quite fit right. It’s my personal time before a long day of being “on”.  It’s also taught me to get satisfaction from the little things: wearing snazzy kit in case I run into coworkers, riding a nearby strava segment at least three times so that I can get a “PR” while out of town, or just knowing I’m a badass spinning at 6:30 in a sketchy gym when nobody is pushing me but myself.

Training for Strength - #buttwatts (Jess Lacoursiere)

Once Cyclocross season wrapped up and the #cxfever had settled I got back to my strength training/off season routine. I had already set my sights on some big goals for 2018 but knew there was a long road ahead. I lifted weights on my own for approximately 2 weeks. My past injury history made me hesitant to push myself and make serious gains.

I sought out the help of a trainer at my gym with one goal in mind: Get F*cking Strong. In an effort to make my chronic back and hip issues a distant memory we began to work on glutes, then we trained glutes, and then I did some reps where I engaged my glutes. Sidebar anatomy lesson: the glutes are 100% your most important muscle. If they’re weak, there’s a good chance you’ll have back, knee or hip pain...or all of them.

On the bike, glutes = power. With the help of a cycling friend, the term ‘butt watts’ was born and shall forever be known as the act of lifting weights to improve one’s cycling performance. It saddens me to think about dialing back the weights as race season approaches, because I’ve had so much fun lifting heavy things, but I love riding outside. Maybe there’s room for both.

Training With/After the Plague (Tiffany Baker)

The cold/flu this year is no joke. And those, like me, who don’t immediately give it the respect that it deserves will quickly find your life taken over by OTC medications, numerous kleenex boxes, and more days spent on the couch or in bed than you ever intended. This routine can last over a month - at least it did for me.

As an athlete, or even just an enthusiast, the temptation to continue your training plans unaltered when the plague hits is real. Pushing through will help get rid of the sickness quicker, right? Wrong. In fact, it can do quite the opposite. So while it may throw a kleenex box-shaped wrench in your training plans, you’re going to have to adjust your expectations. If you don’t, you’d better have a good sick-day bank, because you’re going to use more of them than you want to.

So adjust your expectations. Training may now look like a walk, possibly simply to the mailbox and back. Or 30 minutes of stretching rather than lifting to try and loosen the couch-ridden muscles. Whatever you do, stick to Zone 2 or lower while you are obviously sick.

If the stupid little bugs have taken up residence in your lungs, make sure that you stay away from a lot exposure to the cold, dry air. A zone 2 trainer ride would be preferable to a brisk walk.

Most of all, stay on top of your mental attitude. You’re going to need it when you can get back to ramping up your training. Depending on when the plague hits in your winter training plan, you may be looking at a quicker ramp-up in duration and intensity to meet your early season goals, so make sure you give yourself the mental permission to take a break while sick so that you can tackle your return to training, both mentally and physically, once the plague finally finishes laying siege to your body.

I was out for a month. Granted, I could have been a little more active, but what little energy I did have was taken up by other life priorities. I wallowed for a bit, got angry at my immune system which clearly was on a different page than I was, and went a little crazy. But I’m back. And rather than lamenting the lost training time, I’m enjoying getting back into a new training routine.

But god help you if you come near me while you’re sick - I’ve done my time this year, as have many of you. Here’s to a healthy(ier) winter season that sets us all up for a successful next season, whatever your goals!

Not Training (Cheryl Voordenhout)

In the winter, which I think I am supposed to call the “off season,” I do whatever I want. This is not terribly different from what I do the rest of the year, but I’m told I bring a “diverse perspective” to this discussion, so here we are.

I am fortunate to have access to an excellent weight room at my place of employment, so I do that. I like yoga, so I do that. Because I have no personal boundaries, I have become friends with some of my fellow yogis, and we sometimes go for beer and wings after class. I am also a reluctant registrant on a Death Race relay team this year, so I have been running a bit, because it takes me at least six months to get to the point where I can run that far without wanting to actually die in the Death Race.

I love to skate outside, I cross country ski a bit, and I take the bus to work, which requires at least 30 minutes of core-stabilizing penguin walking each day. When I’m exceptionally organized, I ride to work on a ridiculous purple children’s mountain bike that I’ve equipped with studded tires. I also took up salsa dancing this year, which I’m terrible at, but which has resulted in a lot of laughter and some new friends.

I have no advice for athletes, but I imagine the off season might be a good time to have some fun and give yourself a break from the rigorous training schedule you keep the rest of the year. Also, winter on this frozen tundra can be hard on our mental health, so it probably doesn’t hurt to do stuff that gives you joy, gets you outside, and lets you socialize.

~Tiffany Baker, Jessica Lacoursiere, Amanda Scott, and Cheryl Voordenhout

CX Fever

CX Fever

CX Fever

WHAT?!?! It’s the fever, it’s contagious, and you’re next.

I knew I liked riding my cyclocross bike from the very first pedal stroke, flying through the river valley on gravel and single track, easily transitioning from pavement to trail and anything in between. It was the perfect shoulder season bike that I could ride well into the colder months.

September is typically off season for this triathlete, and I take that pretty seriously: no structured training, just riding bikes and having a good time. A friend (and fellow awesome-sauce cyclocross lady) put on two evenings of ladies’ cross (CX) camp before the races started so we could get a taste of some of the necessary skills. Mounts, dismounts, barriers, off camber turns, run ups, we tried them all. I found myself feeling pretty comfortable with most of them, and I started to feel warm.

Cyclocross racing starts late August or early September in YEG with a fantastic midweek series at a variety of local parks. The Alberta Cup series alternates between Edmonton and Calgary with double headers most weekends. Naturally, I signed up for the mid week series ‘just to see’ if I liked it.

I survived every twist, turn and zone 5 heart rate minute of my first mid week race. I’d never worked so hard in 20 minutes to ride 7 km in my life. I crossed the finish line with a smile, and as I drank my finisher’s Coke in the grass with my friends, I knew I’d have to sign up for the next weekend race. The feeling was getting warmer.

I drove to Calgary for my first ‘real’ CX race. The course was longer and more technical, and there were far more people. I had two goals: don’t get lapped; don’t be last. Once again, this sport tested my limits. The small hills felt like mountains. I tried to recover on a couple descents, but was egged on by the race announcer to push harder. I crossed the finish line with nothing left in the tank, smiling and ready for more. I felt the heat...and it wasn’t just the 30-degree weather.

I was hooked. I committed to practicing these unique skills by taking over a park in my neighbourhood. I knew that mastering the seemingly small skills would pay off in big ways.

It’s not all good times and feelin’ fine. The truth is that CX is hard. But, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it...the hard is what makes it great.” (Thank you A League of Their Own.)

Even in the toughest of races, I love this sport. Just recently at a race on a long, wide open course with high winds and what seemed like endless climbing, I lost every wheel, and I started to fatigue out there on my own. Near the end of the second last lap, I looked over my shoulder and saw the race leader about 400 metres behind me, and the thought crossed my mind that if I slowed down and let her lap me, I could be done my race and not have to ride another lap. Then the fever hit me...why would I want to stop riding my bike? What kind of attitude was that? My parents didn’t raise no quitter! I put my head down and I rode that last lap on my own with everything I had left. I was the last rider in the field to not get lapped.

That fever? It’s the CX Fever. (Thank you Maghalie Rochette.) To be clearer, it’s the butterflies in your belly, and the inability to stop thinking about shredding a tough corner at your next race. It’s that silly grin you can’t wipe off your face when you think about riding your bike. That fire inside you when the barriers seem taller than they were on your last lap, and you still fly over them. The gritty smile when you grind your way up that muddy climb. And the feeling you get when you cross the finish line and collapse into the grass, knowing that doing another lap may have killed you.

‘I’m not ready.’ ‘My CX skills are poor.’ ‘My dismounts suck.’ Any of these sound familiar? I’ll let you in on a little secret...none of us are ready, we are always working on skills, everyone is nervous about the next dismount. But in reality, no one at your next CX race is judging. They might be heckling you from the sidelines, but in reality, they think you’re pretty rad for being out there.

So how bout it?

~Jessica Lacoursiere

Jess Cross.JPG

Nutrition in the Off Season

Nutrition in the Off Season

Nutrition in the Off Season

If your training has changed or decreased, your nutrition needs to change too. During the off season, our training focus might be on strength or power and we need to shift our nutrition accordingly.

1) Protein remains your focus. Continue to consume 1.1-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (unless you have a medical reason not to). For a 60kg athlete, this translates to 66-96g of protein daily. Not sure what that looks like in terms of real food? Check out a nutrient tracker app that can help you monitor your intake. You don’t have to track your food forever, just for a couple days to make sure you’re getting enough.

2) Watch the sweets, treats and booze. During the season, it’s unlikely that you’ve been consuming more calories than you’ve been burning. When your training and racing volume decreases, it can be easy to continue eating as though you’ve been out for 4 hours of riding on the weekend. This can catch up with you if you’re training less and eating the same amount of food as you were during higher volumes of training. While it’s normal and often can be healthy to gain some weight during the off season, it’s important to focus on nutrient rich foods like vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats to maintain your physique.

3) Ditch the sports drinks. While nutrition during workouts over 90 minutes remains important, you likely don’t need any additional nutrient support for efforts under 90 minutes. Your body stores ample fuel for workouts that are less than an hour and a half. When we train or race for more than 90 minutes, we deplete some of our stored nutrition and consuming sports drinks or gels is beneficial. Most off-season workouts are shorter in duration (although, kudos to you if you’re doing 4 hours on your trainer indoors!) and so we don’t need nutrition during the workout.

4) Fuel up post workout. It’s normal for your appetite to be low after training, but aim to get 20-30g of protein in post-workout. If you’re strength training, you might find that later in the day you’re feeling ravenous even though right after your workout you didn’t feel super hungry. Getting that extra dose of protein in post workout helps to fuel your muscles and curb your appetite later in the day. Since you’re still training, but you’re training slightly less or in a different way, protein post workout can prevent overeating later on while fueling your muscles for recovery. At any point in an athlete’s training, the nutritional focus should be on healthy proteins, vegetables and fats. Changing the total amount of food and manipulating calories that are taken in during training are the biggest considerations for off-season training.

At any point in an athlete’s training, the nutritional focus should be on healthy proteins, vegetables and fats. Changing the total amount of food and manipulating calories that are taken in during training are the biggest considerations for off-season training.

If your training INCREASES in the off season, your nutritional requirements will shift as well. Continue to focus on your priority nutrients, proteins, fibre and healthy fats, but you may need to add calories during training for longer workouts.

You only need to add calories for workouts that are over 1.5 hours in duration. The amount of calories you need to add will depend on the intensity and duration of the workout. If you’re going to be on your trainer indoors for 2-3 hours riding, then you can consume anywhere from 1-300 calories per hour depending on your body size and intensity of the activity.

If your training is increasing you’ll likely also feel more hungry during the day outside of your workouts. It’s very common for your appetite to decrease right after exercise, then increase later in the day or the next day. This can be a bit of a trap if you’re trying to achieve a fat loss goal. As endurance athletes, it’s important to fuel up post-workout with protein to prevent a crazy high appetite later on. If you’re fueling with protein and you still feel your appetite is out of control, the next best step is to make sure you’re actually getting enough calories throughout the day. Using a tracking app for a couple days can help you make sure you’re getting enough.

Whether your training is increasing or decreasing for the off season, optimal nutrition is important for your continued success as an athlete. Ensuring you get enough protein and total calories will help prevent fatigue, injury and keep you functioning at your best in day-to-day life

Dr. Bri Botsford, ND

An Open Letter of Thanks

An Open Letter of Thanks

There’s an old proverb  ‘It takes a village…’

An open letter of thanks to that village who have contributed love and support to this average age group athlete.

To my non-cycling friends:
Thank you for listening to the weekly workout rundown, planned rides and other adventures. Thank you for learning the difference between a road, cyclocross, and time trial bikes. Extra kudos for remembering the names I’ve given each of them. Thank you for not rolling your eyes when I showed up for coffee in spandex, checking in on me during race season, and giving me a reality check when I need it -you’re amazing.

To my cycling friends:
Thank you for celebrating numerous victories with me - our first race, our first upgrade points, our first podiums, a PR on a Strava segment, or new bike day. Thank you for friendly competition when a QOM was up for grabs. Thank you for a much needed draft and taking your share of the pulls. Thank you for swearing at the hills with me. Thank you for sharing your snack with me when I bonked, for sharing your chamois cream when I forgot mine and for buying me an iced latte when I left my wallet at home. Thank you for being real, laughing and learning from our mistakes together, you are all incredibly strong and inspiring.

To my Parents and Family:
Thank you for encouraging me to try new things, especially when they’re scary and hard. Thank you for taking the training wheels off my first bike and for making me wear a helmet always. Thank you for not complaining when I showed up (late) to family dinner because I biked from home and didn’t quite calculate how long it would take me. Thank you for donating to the cause and becoming one of my main ‘sponsors.’ Thank you for being understanding, loving, and supporting me no matter what.

To my Partner:
Thank you for not being jealous of the bike that I just spent 3 hours riding that I’ll now spend an hour cleaning. Thank you for being that extra set of hands to help me adjust my brakes. Thank you for standing out in the rain or hot sun for hours while my friends and I ride laps around a crit, or a road course where you’ll see me for exactly 5 seconds. Thank you for jumping in and taking care of me and my teammates (whom you barely knew) when it was freezing cold and we needed hot drinks fast. Thank you for being the best race sherpa ever, allowing my race goblin to make an appearance when I yelled at you for not pinning my race numbers on fast enough after I changed my layers again. Thank you for always having your phone at the ready, taking hundreds of photos and videos. Thank you for not being mad that time I called you from the bike shop asking you how upset you’d be if I bought another bike. Thank you for embracing my passion and being my biggest fan both on and off the bike.

To the others:
Thank you to the volunteers, the race organizers, and the commissaires, without you there would be no racing. Thank you to the pedestrians who stay left and allow a large group of bikes to go past. Thank you to the motorists who are respectful and give me space. Thank you to the Velofix mechanics and the staff at my local bike shop, you often go above and beyond to ensure my bikes are ready for anything or that I have the gear I need. Thank you to the servers at Rosso for bringing us pizza and beers after hills ever so promptly.

Thank you ALL for the awesome love and support.

~Written by Jessica Lacoursiere, and echo'd by others

Finding My Place in the Stream at Track

Finding My Place in the Stream at Track

I first tried the track in August 2016, coming out to a beginner session at the Argyll Velodrome and loving it so much that I stayed all evening, through the skills development drills as well. I came back a few more times before the track closed for the season, and have been able to make a few visits so far in May and June.

Why do I go, and encourage other people to try it? It’s exhilarating! Scary at first - you’re clipped in on a bike with no brakes and one gear, and you want to survive cycling fast around an angled, paved surface. The physiological relationship you’ve developed with your road bike over the years doesn’t apply here: no freewheel to take up the slack if your legs can’t keep up with the speed you’re moving at; no coasting after a hard effort; no ability to gear up and grind to pick up speed. And may I mention again, no brakes! However, there are new skills to learn: how to modulate cadence to slightly increase and decrease speed; how to monitor the other riders in their lanes and safely change position; how to use gravity and the slope of the track to slow you down and store energy for a sprint. This last skill is especially rewarding the first time you’ve made a descent from the rail (the upper edge of the bowl) down to the sprint line (the shortest route around the track). Zoom!

I had been going to the skills development sessions intermittently this spring and decided to take the plunge and try a Thursday night track league race. These are cheap ($5), casual, non-ABA races to get a taste of racing and test yourself in a competitive environment. This was a very scary idea for me; I made a list in my head of reasons why I should do ERTC hills night instead, but eventually decided to get out of my comfort zone and give it a try. I was fortunate enough to be previously introduced to Lindsay, a fantastic racer from Juventus’ track team, who gave me some advice and answered my questions. I showed up early, warmed up in the neighborhood on my road bike, and spent a good amount of time adjusting my rental track bike to feel right. I had checked the online schedule in advance and thought I knew how to do each of the events that were planned for the night. I seeded myself in the C group (beginner ability level) and tried to calm my nerves.

And then I immediately bombed my first event. It was an elimination style race where the winner of each sprint lap gets pulled off, but more points go to later winners, so the race gets progressively faster. I hadn’t grasped this strategy and was near the front of the pack early on, and paced myself to hit second place for most laps the first half of the race (and therefore earning no points yet). Once I realized what was going on, I had to bust a lung to catch up and never obtained anything that event except a wicked cough. I was so winded that I needed to drop out of the next race, and texted with an ERTC teammate to get the courage to get back on the track for the last race. I felt embarrassed by my weak athletic performance, especially since I was wearing our club kit and wanted to proudly represent our club - or at least hold my own! However, I did finish my third event, in last place, and I gained a healthy appreciation for the skills and tactical knowledge necessary to do well at track.

This was also a reminder of why I need to get back to practice nights. On Monday evenings, we do drills using sprinting and gradual acceleration, and practice holding a line along the track. Sometimes we motorpace: draft behind a motorcycle at increasing speeds to get used to moving fast. They’re hosted by a coach from Velocity, but anyone with $5 and the willingness to learn can show up. The $5 includes the track bike rental, so if it’s your first time, be prepared to show up 20 minutes early to pick out a bike and set it up with your own pedals. Beginner sessions introduce cyclists to safety rules, terminology, and help riders feel comfortable moving around the track at various speeds. Most people should attend the beginner session a few times if they’re new to the track. It’s a low-stakes environment where you can get used to everything, and it also has enough breaks to get to know the other riders, who are likely going to be from the other cycling clubs in the city.

That Thursday race night finished up with a long-distance challenge, with people from all categories spread out over the track at once. Since it was 90% Juventus members that night, I had the strange sensation of being a foreign gold-and-black fish in a sea of blue. However, like a school of fish, everyone’s going along in the stream, and will safely “swim” around you if you keep moving predictably and hold your lines. Just like any other cycling sport, you get from track just as much as you put into it. Once you learn to read the other riders, cycle smart, and get comfortable moving fast, you’ll be ready to swim with the crowd.

~Amanda Scott

Track 1.jpg

Musings from the Back of the Pack

Musings from the Back of the Pack

“These bikes are worth more than my car.”

“Everyone looks really fit.”

“What are those guys even talking about? Is that English? ‘Strava’ sounds Latin.”

“I am going to get dropped like I’m hot. God dammit, it’s hot. I should just go home.”

This is a one-second snapshot of my brain as I roll up to my first hills ride with the Edmonton Road and Track Club (ERTC) – and I’ve been riding bikes for more than a decade. My favourite rides always involve a nice two-up on a country road and a good long intermission at a venue that produces pastry, so admittedly, this isn’t my jam.

The thing about cycling is, it’s inherently kind of intimidating. I often forget this as a long-time cyclist myself. Recent efforts to help a friend start riding reminded me that the learning curve for new riders is incredibly steep, even just to get out on the road. When you add in group riding and racing culture, the experience is enough to scare away even veteran recreational riders like me.

Joining an official racing club has been hard. I don’t feel comfortable riding in really large groups of cyclists I’ve never ridden with before, and I don’t typically push myself to the point of wanting to vomit, which I’m told is the norm on hills nights. But like just about anything in life, it is what you make it. I ride the hills at my own vomit-free pace, and bond with the other stragglers in hilarious solidarity. We laugh about all the ways we fantasized about getting out of riding hills that night, including wishing for flat tires en route, and not being able to find anything to wear. Despite these catastrophic laundry setbacks, we still show up. Something about the challenge appeals to us, I guess, and the satisfaction that comes from doing something that scares us. I’ve also noticed unprecedented gains in my ability to climb hills, which probably shouldn’t come as such a shock to me, since I have been spending every Thursday night climbing hills. One glorious, magical time, there was a donut truck waiting for us at the top of the last hill. It is not a coincidence that that was the first time I actually made it to the last hill.

Since joining the Women of ERTC, I’ve met lots of brave people who showed up for their first ride, terrified, knowing nobody, and they all managed to find their way, make new friends, learn new things, and improve their fitness in the process. I always make a point of telling them how brave that was. “Thank you for saying that,” said one woman. “I was scared!” I think everyone is, the first time, no matter how much cycling experience you have or how fit you are. For me, it’s helpful to know that, and to remember that ultimately, cycling is a sport that unites people who love to be outside. These are your people, and if you give them a shot, they will welcome you. 

By the way, I’ve since learned all about Strava and the culture that has built up around it. I’ve also learned that people ride Strava routes shaped like genitalia, the sheer hilarity of which makes me *almost* want to download the app.

-Cheryl Voordenhout

We're Women, We're Different!

We're Women, We're Different!

“We’re women, we’re different!”

Those words came from my teammate’s mouth when onlookers and course officials yelled “Keep racing!” after riders went down during the Stieda Classic Criterium race. The crash details are irrelevant, bikes will be fixed, people will heal with time and soon it will be a distant memory starting  with, ‘Remember that time…’

The moment that sticks is what happened directly after “the crash.” Those of us not involved immediately stopped pedaling and coasted. We slowed, shouted to the volunteers that medics were needed. We were advised that the race was “still on” as we crossed the start/finish line to begin lap 17 of 20. As a remaining group, we decided to pedal the final 3 laps together in solidarity, agreeing if things looked “bad” when we passed the crash site, the race was over.  In the end, everyone was ok and we had a small sprint finish. Finishing with full hearts, grateful for our small but mighty women’s racing community.

In the following weeks the incident was replayed and retold many times. To reduce the chance of it happening again, the Women of ERTC (WoERTC) hosted a women’s interclub night to practice crit and cornering skills, building our confidence as not competitors but friends.

Women’s cycling is different. They say cycling is a team sport that is won by individuals. And while I fully agree with this, the fact WoERTC had the largest women’s cat 4/5 start at Velocity Stage Race ever means we’ve won more than just a race and upgrade points. We’ve won personal battles: with self doubt, for equality, and the confidence to do things we didn’t think were possible. We’ve cleaned and dressed fresh road rash. We’ve taught new racers how to ride in a rotating paceline mid-race. We’ve brought tents and a camp stove and fed everyone pasta lunch.  We’ve ridden hills for the sole purpose of finishing at the new donut food truck. We’ve shared packing lists, clothing layer recommendations, and duct tape. We take care of each other no matter what team you’re on. Our community and our spirit is the reason that 2017 has had impressive turnout for the Cat 4/5 women’s road events, including record numbers at the very first race of the season. We are blazing a trail for the next generation of female cyclists. So as far as winning goes, there isn’t a podium big enough as we’ve all already won.
~Jessica Lacoursiere

Together - at the Velocity Stage Race

Together - at the Velocity Stage Race

11 Women of ERTC raced the Velocity Stage Race this last weekend. Many of them racing for the first time. These are some of their stories...

Tania: Wise words: “your imagination is more important than your knowledge” – so that is what I went with for my first official road race this past weekend.  I lined up, at least part of the group picture, with the knowledge that I had the fitness and the ability to race. The chain dropped on the first corner. Fix chain, chase that bunch, feel the legs, tell them to shut up but the bunch is rounding the next corner.  The chase continued forever, I considered just rolling back to the comfort of tents and warmth.  Somehow the bike rolled into the next lap and I said to myself “keep chasing and just see” so I did.  I knew I would never catch but I turned off what I knew –and just imagined.  So, never give up…..

Jessica: About 10 years ago I stopped playing team sports because no one cared as much as I did. I have raced so many times with just myself or maybe close to one other person I knew. This weekend I raced with my team and it was incredible. Yes, we got split up into smaller groups in the RR and Crit but I never could have finished in these tough conditions without their support and love. Finding a wheel when I needed it, sharing a laugh or pain...there was always a girl in ERTC kit close by and that alone gave me the strength to tell my legs to shut up and ride. I am humbled by your awesomeness ladies.

Christine: Between falling over at the start line in the TT, racing in the rain and cold and not even finishing the crit, one might think that I didn't accomplish much this weekend. Sure I could've prepared more and definitely could have trained more but is that really why I race?  Nah!  It's all about the experience!  I'm so pleased to have ridden alongside the wonderful ladies who I call my teammates. I'm so pleased to see the smile on my face in most of the pictures I have of me racing. Most of all, I am so pleased to have been a part of something and to have helped ladies from other teams to enjoy their first road race too. There's nothing quite like receiving a message from a stranger thanking you for being her positive experience at a race.  So to sum up: I'm not the strongest rider in the pack but I've found so many other reasons to race. Because of that, I am so proud to represent our club!

Nancy: Cycling has been a huge journey over the past 4 years from never riding a bike to riding a cruiser around town, MS bike tour, and last year completing a couple of grandfondos. It seemed the natural progression to try road racing this year. Yes it was scary, yes I was slow as molasses, but I completed this challenge and know that I can push myself to higher level. Thanks to the amazing ERTC team that cheered me on even I was was struggling in last place. I was very proud to wear black and gold this weekend and will be proud to continue wearing it in the future.

Liann: This was not my first bike race but it WAS the first time I've had a group of ERTC women with me at the start line. What a difference! After being dropped in the road race it was like music to my ears when I heard 2 teammates riding up behind me yelling 'Liann get on!!'. The rest of the race was spent sharing the work, smiling, grimacing and sometimes even singing in the rain. After this weekend, and the fun and support from absolutely everyone in the club, I'm more excited than ever for the cycling season ahead!  

Amanda: I've written and rewritten this paragraph a few times, always starting out with the reasons I was scared to race, but every time it just came out wrong. Instead, here are all the good things about racing that I experienced this weekend: getting to practice closing a gap in a crit, and seeing the consequences of NOT closing fast enough. Realizing that hills on a course are hard, but not as hard as they were earlier in the season before some Hill Night training. Working as a team with friends to challenge ourselves even after we've been dropped in a race. Getting dropped the same way twice and learning what I need to improve on for the next race. Seeing my ERTC friends do well in their respective categories. Having a good song stuck my head to remind myself that everything IS awesome after two-plus hours in the rain! Wanting to do it all again soon!

Erin: Wow, what a great group of women we have racing with ERTC this year!! Having teammates to strategize and work together with made racing a lot more enjoyable for me and even though my road race didn't end up quite how I would have liked, I had an amazing weekend and am looking forward to trying more races this year.

Sarah: I had a packing list, I checked it twice.  Driving out to the race on Saturday morning, I called my Dad. "It's pouring rain", I told him. His response was, "You don't have to do it". What was I getting myself into???  We warmed under tents on trainers (I hate bike trainers). I felt semi professional with my teammates, all dressed in matching kits. At the start, my nerves were settled as I was surrounded by my teammates. In the TT I couldn't get my legs moving, I felt like I was pushing cement blocks into the cold wind; It felt horrible. Part one done. Part two, the road race, was much harder. Just hold on I kept thinking to myself. Don't lose the wheel, and breathe.  "Hold on, you can do this, breathe" was my mantra. A few lead riders pushed ahead on the last stretch. There were three of us left together, pushing in the rain, battling amongst each other.  "Mind over muscle, mind over muscle" I told myself as I pushed across the finish line.  Part two done; it was extremely hard but fun. Last part of the stage race was the crit. I was nervous, I've never done one, and only practiced a few times. It took me a few laps to get comfortable with corners and the group. By far the crit was the most dynamic and fun!  I'll definitely be back for more races. I've got the bike racing bug.  Couldn't have done it without the support of my ERTC team.  

Tim Bulger - WoERT mentor: Bike racing is odd, it is a team sport contested by individuals. It is a sport where you do not defeat your competitors, you defeat your own doubts and self-imposed limitations. One moment your competitors are trying to beat you, the next they are trying to help you. In a bike race you can win without being the first to cross the finish line. Bike racing can be a difficult sport for people to get in to, often people new to bike racing focus on physical strength and beating the competition. This approach, racing alone, can work quite well, but it is very lonely. It can be successful but will only take you so far, because this is a sport contested by teams. Working as a team leads to much more success than racing as an individual. What makes me so happy about how the racing went this past weekend is is that the WoERTC did everything as a team, on and off the bike, to help each other to their win. What makes me so happy, is seeing people face and defeat their doubts and fears. The support, commitment, and positive attitude displayed this past weekend (despite quite challenging weather) is evidence that this team has so much more success to come.

Tiffany - WoERTC Founder: Approaching the race I was torn. Torn between simply focusing on my own significant fears of racing and being a support for the other 10 women who shared the same fears. Most of whom were here because of an initiative I started. I’d created the spark for this new group of racers - what if everyone hated it? What if someone crashed? And to top it off, the weather was AWFUL! I was sure these women would never want to be a part of any of my crazy ideas again. And then something amazing happened - our group of women bonded together with a strength far beyond anything I could have provided. Each women put their heart and soul into the weekend, into supporting each other, into staying positive when cold/freezing/wet, and into their own personal goals. No longer did I feel like I had to support them, it truly was them that supported me. I won in two ways this weekend. I won because I conquered my own personal fears with results far better than I could have imagined, and more importantly, I won because every single woman reached (and some smashed) goals that they set for themselves. Our momentum is no longer fueled by me, it’s fueled by women with huge hearts and strong passions. So watch out, I don’t think we even know what we’re capable of!     

So much more to come, from the new Women of ERTC Racing Team.

WoE Weekly Update - Week of May 7th

Well here we are - the first official weekly Women of ERTC update. Little later in the season than usual (darn vacation got in the way), but here's some info for this week. Weather looks AMAZING! Shout-out to the women who attended today's ride - most chose to do the long route and added over 100km to their legs today. Well done!!

  • WoE 1st Official Weekly Ride - Tuesday May 9th: We'll start the season with a nice city loop, rolling out of the main Hawrelak parking lot at 6:10pm. Loop is around 40km and can be previewed here. As long as you're a gal and are either an ERTC member, or have signed the trial waiver, you're welcome to attend! Pace will be social and targeted at ensuring everyone has a good time and is able to work on group riding skills
    • Those racing Velocity Stage Race - I'd recommend attending the regular club ride to re-con the Crit course. We'll catch you ladies at next week's WoE ride.
  • Interested in Racing? If you're interested in racing this year - formally or informally, make sure to let me know as there are separate communications for those racing and I wouldn't want you to miss out!
  • Regular club rides: Want to try a regular ERTC ride but not sure if you can keep up, don't know the route, or are otherwise a little nervous to try? Email me and we'll pair you up with another woman who knows the routes and can help introduce you to the ride and stick with you to make sure you're comfortable.
  • Beginner Track Nights: Want to give track a try? Amanda Scott was 'bitten' by the track bug last season and is looking to continue to attend some Monday evening beginner track sessions at the Velodrome. She's happy to be a familiar face and assistance if you'd like to join her - she'll be there May 8, 15, and 29th. The sessions are from 5:00pm-6:30pm although you need to get there a bit early to get set up with a bike. And the sessions are taught by a coach so you'll learn everything you need to know in a safe environment. Bring $5 with you and email Amanda for more information if you're interested.

I'm looking forward to another great season of riding with some pretty awesome women. Our group is growing and momentum in women's cycling is gaining - so tell your friends about our club, we're always looking for new amazing ladies (and guys) to ride with!


Let's Try This Racing Thing - Together

Let's Try This Racing Thing - Together

“It’s just Spring Series, why are there butterflies in my stomach?!” was my external monologue at 10am this past Sunday. I’ve done Spring Series races before, so I knew what to expect. But there they were, a whole swarm of butterflies taking up residence in my tummy.

For those unfamiliar with “Spring Series”, it’s a set of early season fun-races used to shake the winter cobwebs off the legs before the formal racing season begins. There are no points to be won, no official time, and you self-select your own race group. And the most coveted prizes are the yummy cookies given to everyone afterwards, regardless of results.

What made the butterflies a tad more tolerable was knowing that the lovely little critters had migrated into the stomachs of most of the women that were joining me in the race. I knew this because we spent the whole morning group-chatting about what to wear, what we were stressed about, and tips for cold weather riding. And seeing as I’d organized this group of women, many of whom would be racing their first race that day, I felt the need to portray confidence rather than nerves for their sake. Oops, there went the butterflies into a bigger somersault. Clearly they weren’t informed that I was trying to ignore them for the sake of others.

But we had a plan, a plan to ease us into this thing called racing. We had spent the last 6 weeks learning the theory behind racing, so this was our chance to start practicing. So we agreed to take the first few laps at a manageable pace for everyone. This would give opportunities to try moving around in the group, understand the effects of the wind, try a turn on the front, and understand what it’s like to have to chase down a wheel. All things that are hard to practice at full-speed if you haven’t tried them before.

Our butterflies ‘flew’ us to the meeting point, we (Danielle) conquered mechanical issues (without the help of any men I’d like to add), packed our backpacks with everything we might possibly need, and set off for the race course. As I listened to the chattering behind me…wait why was I leading the way? I’d just said that I needed to keep my HR down during my warm-up. Ok, from my new spot near the back I listened to the chatter and was reassured by its positivity. I heard introductions being made, nerves being shared, and laughter throughout.

After bonding over a group pee in the ditch (yes, we women have to go pee together no matter where we are), we made it to the start-line – 12 women. 11 from ERTC. We made Coach Tim proud, the front line was filled first. I reiterated our plan, slotted in, and we were off. Riding like Noah’s animals (2 by 2…) we started with a headwind and quickly understood the value of taking turns on the front. I had a few moments to explain group riding to a women who had never ridden in a group before, let alone raced in one. That takes guts, more than I ever had when I was starting that’s for sure. We turned the corner and were met with a new lesson – surging through corners. I think many women have cornering practice on their list of things to work on in the coming weeks. More wind...why is it always so windy? Ok, here comes another corner…

Hang on, where is Danielle going? And Sarah?  Oh crap, this is now a RACE!! Game plan, meet window. New plan: try and survive and by goodness, DON’T LOSE THAT WHEEL! The next 2.5 laps were full of speed, attacks, chases, bits of recovery, WIND, team work, tactics, did I mention wind, burning lungs and legs (that wouldn’t shut up no matter what I told them), and a fourth place finish. Remember the woman who’d never road ridden with a group before? Well if it wasn’t for her wheel I’d have been done-for a few times. And 2 of the top 6 finishers had never tried racing before.

As with every race, ours broke into a few different groups, each with their own learnings, joys, and challenges for the day. Much laughter was heard from Jessica and Christine as they bonded over being dropped, winning the suffer-face contest, and shamelessly using the juniors for a draft. Nancy took the opportunity to work on her cornering skills and used Jessica and Christine as little ‘carrots’ to chase. And Katie and Natalie successfully finished their very first races despite the unexpected change in group strategies.

Cookies were devoured, stories and learnings shared, and smiles were seen all around after the race.

Our women’s racing movement in Edmonton is no longer just an idea or a dream, this Sunday it became a reality. A very big, encouraging, and EXCITING reality. And to those who feel intimidated at the thought of trying something like this, be forewarned. For the last 5 years I laughed at anyone who asked if I raced – seriously, me a racer? HA! And now my first real race is looming just weeks away.

And guaranteed, my butterflies will be back, this time likely the size of pre-historic butterflies. But so will everyone else’s. And we are going to harness those butterflies, channel their nervous energy, support each other, and try this racing thing. Together.

See you at the start line!


And the Cycling Season Begins...

And the Cycling Season Begins...

Well, I think it's finally time to ride some bikes, outdoors! Some of use have started to shake off the cobwebs (a few of us had the cobwebs BLOWN right out of us on Sunday - sorry Sarah, Amanda, and Danielle) and there are some great things ahead, so here's some info that should be useful as you start to consider riding outside.

  • Women's Learn to Race Seminar 3 - this Saturday the 8th from 2-4pm. Our final seminar will go over the ABA race calendar, Velocity Stage Race specifically, before/during/after the race info and tips, and female specific questions. Please RSVP here.
  • Spring Series Races - start this Sunday. More info on the races can be found on the ABA website. A group of us are meeting at the Olympiette Center at noon and will ride to the race course (10km away) together at a gentle pace. If you'd like to join us please send me an email so we don't leave without you. NOTE: Even if you don't plan to formally race this year, these 'fun races' are great to try. They're actually the only races that I've ever done. All that is required is a current club membership, no race license required. I'd just recommend being comfortable with group riding. So come give it a try, because the worst that can happen is you enjoy a country ride on your own (been there, done that, might do it again).
  • ERTC Learn to Ride Series - started this week (see pic above) and will run for the next 3 Wednesdays at 6pm at Hawrelak. I highly encourage everyone to attend, especially those new to group riding. More information on our Facebook page and the general club blogs.
  • Women's Recreational Rides - will start on Tuesday May 9th and will be every Tuesday (weather depending) for the duration of the season. I will post the ride location and route here as a blog post every Friday. 
  • Unofficial rides - You're welcome to organize unofficial rides among yourselves. You can utilize the club FB page or let me know and I'm happy to send out an email. Just note that these rides are uninsured as they are not official ERTC rides. But they're still highly encouraged if you can't make it to one of the regularly scheduled club rides. It's always more fun riding with someone than riding alone!

We've got new faces in our women's group already, so if you show up to a ride and see an unfamiliar face, please introduce yourself and let's grow our awesome group and have another amazing season!


Is it time to ride bikes yet?

Is it time to ride bikes yet?

As dreaming of riding bikes starts to look like more of a reality, here are some thoughts to consider:

Women's Learn to Race Program:

  • Seminar #2 is March 25th from 2-4pm. Here's the Facebook event, and if you're not on FB here's the Revolution Cycle event. Please RSVP to the Revo event. The Seminar is free and requires no membership or commitment to race.
  • If you missed Seminar #1 you can attend the Learning to Race with ERTC from 12-2, directly before the Women's 2nd seminar. It will cover similar topics to our first Women's Seminar.
  • If you're planning to take advantage of the ERTC Learn to Race program, please sign-up on Zone4. Due to the overwhelming response we only have 9 spots left so sign-up soon!
  • Skills practice sessions will start as soon as it's safe (and warm) enough to ride outside. These rides will be for ERTC members only so ensure you sign up on Zone4 before then.

Women of ERTC Recreational Rides

  • Although we may do some impromptu women's recreational rides through April, the Tuesday evening rides will start May 9th. (They would start sooner but I'm on holidays till May 5th)
  • I'm looking for a few ride leaders to help me ensure that we're able to have a women's ride every Tuesday through the summer. If you're willing to lead a ride in my absence, please email me. I will meet with all ride leaders to ensure everyone is consistent in knowledge, skills, and comfort.

Women of ERTC Wine & Yoga

  • We had our first Wine & Yoga evening this week, and we had a blast! We'll look to plan more of these types of events throughout the season for all WoE members and will post event details here and on FB.

See you all soon on bikes!


Kicking off the 2017 Season with Awesomeness

Exciting things are in store for the Women of ERTC……for non-racers and racers alike. 

Recreational group: We’re increasing promotional efforts, continuing with our weekly WoE rides and larger general women ride events with the same focus as last year, and providing access to the Learn to Race program for those who’d like to learn more about fitness improvement/what racing entails but don’t want to race. Tell your friends – we’re always looking for more women looking to ride in an encouraging environment.

Learn to Race group: Brand new this year – we’re developing an awesome program that will provide you with all the tools you’ll need to feel confident and comfortable stepping into the realm of racing. We’re all going to tackle the fear and intimidation of racing, together!

There is a lot of new information on our website including some great FAQ's, but here’s what I’d like to highlight for ANYONE looking to ride and/or race with an awesomely supportive group of women. NOTE: The Learn to Race info sessions are valuable even for those who are only a teenie bit interested in racing. Mark these dates on your calendar!

General Info Session at the Bike Show (mainstage)

  • Sunday February 26th, 12:45 – 1:15pm
  • $10 off new ERTC memberships and $10 Revo Rubals for Revolution Cycle for all who attend
  • Info on both WoE groups, meet our trained Coach, and Q&A session (ERTC general club info session directly afterwards)
  • Open to everyone – men included who’d like to info gather for the women in their lives
  • Cost: $5 pre-registration entry to the Bike Show (or $10 at the door)

Learn to Race Info Sessions:

  • Saturday’s: March 11, 25, and April 8th from 2 – 4pm
  • Held at Revolution Cycle
  • Sessions: 1. How Do I Get Started, 2. Racing, The Basics, and 3. Race Day Expectations/Velocity Stage Race Info
  • Attend all 3 and be entered to win full race registration at the Velocity Stage Race
  • Open to ALL women interested in racing and/or fitness improvement
    • No commitment to actually race required
    • No specific club membership required
  • Cost: FREE

The cycling season may still seem miles away, but with any luck it’ll be here sooner rather than later. Let’s get prepared so we’re able to ‘hit’ the pavement pedaling and ready to have an amazing season, no matter what your goals and fitness/skill levels are!