September 22, 2010 -- At Portland Fire & Rescue, firefighters work a 24 hours on-duty, 48 hours off-duty rotation. Firefighters participate in many different activities during their off-duty time. Lieutenant Kris Rotan from Station 25 enjoys mountain biking in her off-duty time.
One of the events that she participated in this summer was the Portland Mountain Bike Short Track Series. This event took place every Monday evening in late June through early August at the Portland International Raceway. The dirt course is changed once a week for motocross participants, allowing mountain bikers to have a different course for each race. The course includes steep banks, logs, and other obstacles that participants must maneuver over and around. This is a very popular event drawing at times upwards of 375 riders participating in the different classes. The course only takes about seven to eight minutes to get around and riders go for about 45 minutes. After the bell goes off, the leader is declared the winner and points that go towards the season total are awarded.
Lieutenant Rotan placed 3rd last year in the women’s category and was invited to ride in the Women’s A Group this year. The group created a fast-pace, intense racing atmosphere. Racing with these talented women was an honor for Rotan who said she had to work hard to finish in the middle of the pack.
In addition to the Short Track Series, Rotan also participates in Cyclo-cross during the fall and early winter. This event uses a road bike outfitted with knobby tires to endure the often wet and varying conditions. Participants have to fight through steep embankments and obstacles, often having to carry their bike to get through road blocks. “It is essentially a steeple chase for bicyclists,” explains Rotan. “You have to time your passes so that you don’t get caught behind someone on an obstacle and also be careful when people crash that they don’t take you down as well.” Rotan often races in the men’s category in these races so she can ride with fellow Station 25 crew members. “I don’t do as well in these races,” Rotan says. “I learned early on the best thing to do, and something you can do every time regardless of results, is just have fun.”
In addition to races, Rotan also enjoys mountain biking recreationally. She rides on a variety of different trails in the area including some on Mt. Hood. This helps her prepare for the competitive season.
By participating in recreational activities like these in their off duty time, firefighters like Rotan are able to become accustomed to a wide variety of situations and maintain a physically active lifestyle. This helps them perform their jobs as firefighters in a safe and effective manner by maintaining a good physical condition.
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