Willamette Valley Women’s Cycling Team
aka The Poplollies
About the Poplollies
The Willamette Valley Women’s Cycling Team, aka the “Poplollies,” are a licensed Oregon Bicycle Racing Association team who live and train in Eugene, Oregon. The Poplollies are the only team in the southern Willamette Valley dedicated solely to promoting women’s bicycle training and racing. We formed in 2005 to create a team with goals aligned with women’s real lives –balancing training, racing, families and work.
Since we formed our riders have included some of the top placing women in the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) and our team has consistently been ranked in the top ten in Oregon overall. See the “Results” section for more of the season’s exciting racing results.
We are fortunate to have Norman Babcock, Expert USA Cycling coach, as our head coach. He is working with our team to develop team tactics for races as well as developing individual training plans for each rider. With his help our team continues to grow in experience, skill and depth.
Albany Tri – Race report
Good to know there were some other crazies out biking and running yesterday (congrats Mudslingers!). When I left for the Albany sprint tri at 6 am, the snow was coming down. So different than Carol’s IM Arizona, and not just because it was 124.2 miles less of swimming, biking and running! My bike was covered with snow in the transition area–ugh. The organizers gave people the option of skipping the bike, which was tempting but I decided it tough it out–I’m a poplollie, right? No delayed start so at 8:30, I started what felt like a long 750 meters (pool swim thank goodness). Swim was fine but didn’t feel very quick. Tried to dry off and get some clothes on. Getting clothes on a wet body is frustrating and humorous to watch-and time consuming. Ugh again. My top half was toasty with my long sleeved poplollies jersey but out there on the bike course (12.8 miles) my legs were FREEZING! Strong head wind and the cold made it hard to get going and find a rhythm. When I did this race in 2005 (in the sun…), I averaged just over 20 mph.
Yesterday I didn’t even hit 19 mph [my training is really paying off ;)]. I can chalk some of it up to resistance training. I noticed afterward my new rear tire was hitting the seat tube and wasn’t spinning. Ugh again. At least the course was scenic, not including the guy in front of me with the disc wheel who ended up in the ditch (did I mention it was windy?). Numb feet for the run but it went quick–only a 5k. A warm shower and hot drink were the best part of the day. I managed to beat the other old ladies in my age group, although I’m sure most of them had the common sense to stay home. I am about done with this winter stuff.
Mudslinger – Race report
Unlike some other early season races (Jack Frost and Icebreaker), this one absolutely lived up to it’s name. Candy, Kori and I headed up this morning about 7:30 in the snow. Maybe I should have heeded the sliding down the hill on Fillmore in my van as a warning for things to come, but it turned out OK then and for the rest of the day too, so no worries. We arrived on time (early!!), got a great parking spot and had plenty of time to register, gear up (with plenty of discussion of “What Not to Wear”) and warm up before a 15-minute delayed start. It looked like a great turnout and the weather wasn’t even too terrible, mostly just pretty cold, thank goodness for layers. Everywhere!
We rolled out the road to the start. Kori was up front with the Pro Women and Candy and I waited at the back in the last group, Beginner Women. Then we were on our way, up the “stair steps” first, five to six sharp inclines, one of which was said to be 27%, but “only” for about 30 yards. There were some little flat breaks between, but it was a long climb. Candy was off to a great start, coolly RIDING up everything while most of us had to hoof it at least part of the way. Then more steady uphills and a detour for some muddy singletrack and some more uphills to the top with a water station and quick views of the valley.
At the top, the “long” loop went left and Candy (out of sight ahead of me) and I went right for the “short” loop. Downhill on the road in a hailstorm, then some fun double track with “water breaks”. At this point, more advanced riders were passing and it was cool to watch their techniques and lines and learn a few things. More downhill, then the piece de resistance. More like lack of resistance, as in traction. Plenty of resistance in the form of trees, roots, other riders and everything else found in a forest which could impede the progress of a person crazy enough to be coming through on (or accompanying) a bike. I think this is the section Kori referred to as “Slip & Slide” in her pre-race report. Candy said it was fun. I spent a lot of time pushing my bike, it was just plain SCARY! Spent just enough time on the bike just to totally clog my pedals.
At the bottom, Candy and I got to follow the sign with the arrow indicating “Finish” which took us back to the Blodgett School along the gravel road. My legs were crying “mercy” and those last few little rollers were a ton of work. But I finished strong and Candy was there when I finished with a smile and a hug. Kori, on the other hand, got to follow the sign with the arrow indicating “Loop” to experience the whole thing a SECOND time!
Candy and I hit the bike wash station, cleaned ourselves up and waited out a rainstorm in the van hoping that Kori wasn’t getting too wet. Then back to the gym for awesome minestrone soup and Great Harvest bread, just what we needed. I went out later to check on Kori’s progress and found her just finishing up at the bike wash. Did you know that her eyes are an even more brilliant blue when her face is encrusted with mud?
Our patience waiting for the awards and final festivities was rewarded with bronze medals for Kori and Candy and raffle prizes for Candy and me. We also avoided getting beaned by Clif Bars thrown by Mike’s daughters with much more enthusiasm than accuracy. I was very pleased with my fifth place (out of 11) finish, only 1 1/2 minutes behind a very strong and experienced Candy. Another good showing for the Poplollies today.
Thank you so much to my compatriots, Kori and Candy, I had a blast and you are both terrific company. Thank you also for putting up with my anxiety about getting back for kid activities, you were more than gracious. Jill, you were missed, hope you are feeling better and look forward to having you out there next time. I had such a great time in my first mountain bike race and I can’t wait to do it again!