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!

~Tiffany

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!

~Tiffany

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!

~Tiffany
women@ertc.org

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!

~Tiffany

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! 
~Tiffany