Because we all know how effective these open letter thingies are. But play along with me, won't you?
Dear Quizno's Pro Challenge,
First off, congratulations on your new bike race. I'm totally excited to hear that the United States will have a big new stage race, especially because Colorado has some pretty awesome terrain for the bike racing. This thing should be good times all around. More bike racing is always better.
Why am I writing to you? You see, it's about women's bike racing. You know, that sport where women pedal bikes as fast as possible from one place to the next. Maybe you've heard of it? Oh, you have. Well, that's a good start. Maybe you also know that some of the top women riders in the United States come from Colorado? Mara Abbott lives in Boulder. She just won the Giro Donne, one of the two most important stage races on the women's calendar. Former national champion Meredith Miller also lives in Colorado.
You see where I'm headed with this, don't you? Your new race really needs to include a women's race. You Colorado people like to claim pride of place as the heart of American road cycling. That's cool. Lots of good bike riders have come from Coloardo. But if you really want to live up to that claim, you will celebrate women's racing right along side the men's pro race you have just announced with so much fanfare.
The Tour of Gila in New Mexico runs a women's stage race. They don't have a huge sponsor, and they don't have a huge budget. Until recently, the race had a cult following among climbers for its silly hard terrain, but it never received much media attention. But they do have a women's stage race.
Now, you will tell me that holding a women's race is too much work. It'll cost too much money. You can't find the sponsors. You'll say the logistics won't work out and the television people aren't interested. In Europe, they run women's races ahead of a few of the major classics. Sometimes, the television cameras even follow the race, though sadly, not too often. Yes, you would have to pay for additional road closure time to allow a women's race to ride ahead of the men. Yes, you would have to pay additional security and traffic control costs. But you would already have the course laid out, you would have your volunteers lined up, and you would have your audience gathered. Please don't tell me that with the star power and importance you are already claiming for your race, you can't manage this additional effort. Instead, tell me you don't want to ignore the women riders who compete with passion and heart, for very little money.
If you can't manage a women's stage race, surely you can manage a one day race. Why not a women's one day race run ahead of the men on one of the mountain stages? And no, don't tell me the women can't climb. The Giro Donne rode the Stelvio, which isn't what you'd call easy. If the best you can do is a criterium on one of the finishing circuits, we'll all probably smile and thank you for it. A small bike race is better than no bike race at all. But we'll also regret the missed opportunity for something bigger and better, a race that would truly showcase the women's talents and help women's racing grow.
Thanks and best of luck with the bike race.
Photo: Christopher See