Our Focus this month is on Cristina Marquez, 2015 Membership Meeting Presenter, dedicated B+ hill rider & accomplished Ride Leader.
The fun started in 1997 when I moved to NJ for work and joined the PFW club to discover a great life of cycling and meeting great friends! My first ride was with Norman, a great ride leader! I was struggling to keep up with Norman since my leg muscles were accustomed to running which does not translate into long endurance bike rides. It was clear to me that I needed to get in shape to keep up with my new PFW friends!
So I began training with Ken Natalie’s hill rides out of Hopewell, NJ. Instantly I found myself on Poor Farm road trying to figure out how to get up that steep hill! This is when my love/hate relationship began with climbing. I would not allow this “steep” climb to get the best of me! Following in Ken’s pedal strokes, I have been leading PFW rides on Thursdays out of Hopewell, NJ for the past 5 years.
Early in my cycling (2000 – 2002) my husband and I moved to Wales, UK for work assignment. We spent the next 2 years climbing through the hills/valleys of Wales. My first season there was a bit of a challenge given that I was recovering from back surgery (a ruptured lower disc) and had to take it easy. There are no flat roads in Wales! The 18% grade climbs were common and very demanding. However it provided a fantastic way to see the beautiful countryside in the summer when daylight lasted until 11pm. Living in the UK also made it very easy to travel into Europe for cycling.
In 2001, we biked in the Italian Dolomites. Little did I realize that not only would I be dealing with the miles long climb to the top of Paso Role but also learned the relationship between altitude and oxygen levels in the higher mountains. This meant more stopping to breathe and taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. We also travelled to Mallorca, Spain in 2002 to attend a spring cycling camp operated by an English organization and then returned in spring 2006 with some of my PFW buddies. Both trips were a great experiences. During spring training there are cycling groups from all over Europe training in this warm weather nirvana. It was a great opportunity to ride with cyclists from other countries. The camaraderie, scenery, and climbing in Mallorca was spectacular!
In 2003, it was back to Italy with our PFW friends and tour guide, Luciano Virgili, for the best of everything (great biking, food, wine and gelato). It is amazing how much gelato one can eat when you spend the day cycling! A small group of PWFs friends, including George Foradori, met up with Luciano in central Italy, Umbria region. We stayed in Spoleto, Umbria where we cycled the beautiful and very challenging Apennine mountains. By the time I got to the top of the mountain I was ready to throw my bike off the mountain and said I was done with cycling! Soon after I had some gelato and came to my senses.