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Four ways women+ are being elevated in bicycling in Colorado

Have you noticed more women getting after it? Have you seen the gap closing in gender equity in sports? We’ve noticed. And we want to share more information with our members. Read on below to learn more about four ways we’re seeing women+ being elevated in bicycling in Colorado and how you can get involved to advance this progress even further. 

1. We’re seeing the playing field being leveled for women in professional sports, right here in Colorado!

Raising the bar for pro women’s cycling around the world, the 2019 Colorado Classic is the only women’s stand-alone stage race in the Western Hemisphere. The third-annual Colorado Classic will be a four-stage road race, from August 22-25, that will bring some of the best teams and riders in the world for four days of racing over challenging Colorado terrain.

More than a race, the Colorado Classic is a movement to inspire women, challenge and redefine female professional cycling, and ultimately, empower women of all ages to break the mold, and fight for their goals.” -Colorado Classic

YOU can support women in bicycling

New this year, YOU can take part in the #WeRide pledge for equity in the sport. Follow this link to add your name to a growing list of supporters for equitable bike racing and support gender equity in all sports. With a gross disparity in women’s pro cycling in terms of pay, media and TV exposure and racing opportunities, the #WeRide Pledge creates awareness of the gender gap and helps bring equality to bicycling and all women’s sports. It’s time to level the playing field. Please show your support!

With free live video streaming coverage each day of the Colorado Classic, the race will put women’s cycling and Colorado on a global stage. How can you help elevate women in racing? Watch it and show up! 

The live stream and on-demand replays will be available to fans around the world on Bicycle Colorado’s website, through Facebook Live and the race’s Tour Tracker mobile app. Now we just need Coloradans and bicycling fans to support the race to ensure this all-women’s race continues long into the future! 

This pro race is great for the racers and great for Colorado

The Colorado Classic offers unprecedented financial support to female athletes at the 2019 event, including a prize purse nearly four times the 2018 women’s purse and more than the men’s 2018 purse, along with stipends to support team travel and expenses! 

“The Colorado Classic has been instrumental in bringing pro racing back to Colorado, and we are proud to support their bold move in becoming a women’s-only bike race,” said Colorado then-Governor-Elect Jared Polis. “The Colorado Classic reflects what our state is known for – innovation and inclusion – while showcasing Colorado’s diverse outdoor health and wellness lifestyle.”

Don’t just take it from us. Take it from pro racer and fellow Bicycle Colorado member, Cory Popovich.

Cory tells us, “I am honored to be racing the Colorado Classic as part of the ALP Cycles Racing team. I appreciate the support of Bicycle Colorado for this event focused on equity in cycling, and empowerment of women through cycling. Being a member of Bicycle Colorado makes me even more proud of this amazing organization and what they do for our community.”

Cory racing at the 2017 Colorado Classic, stage 2 in Breckenridge.

Go get ’em, Cory!

2. Women are riding more and getting involved with organizations that are elevating opportunities and encouraging gender equity.

BRAC Women’s+ Initiative led by Jessica McWhirt

Jessica first noticed the lack of women at bike races two years ago among the sea of, as she puts it, “lycra-clad men.” The Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (BRAC) Women’s+ Initiative Jessica helped put together is the culmination of self-identifying women getting together to learn to race. 

I remember when I started racing – not knowing anything about it. I didn’t know what category to sign up for, licenses I needed, or what was required for racing. I wanted to find a way to make it less intimidating for a woman to try bike racing. I wanted to make it exciting and fun; to give women confidence to take beyond bike racing and to eliminate the barriers that prevent women from trying racing. – Jessica McWhirt

Led by Jessica and the BRAC Women’s+ Development Committee, BRAC hosted affordable and community-building clinics and day camps throughout the spring and summer. Attendees of the clinics spanned from new riders to triathletes to swimmers to runners. Some had never raced before and some had been racing for decades. 

Alison Powers, Lynn Taylor, Meredith Miller, Jennifer Sharp, Katie Compton, Margot Clyne, Cari Higgins and so many other awesome role models in our Colorado bicycling community contributed at events this year. The spread of experience among these successful women was surely inspiring!

It didn’t matter the kind of bike riding you preferred: everyone and every kind was welcomed. Disciplines from road to track to cross to mountain were discussed and encouraged. Learn more about BRAC and see the calendar of events and how you can register for your next race!

Events for women in Colorado

Each year, Venus de Miles brings more than one thousand women together for sisterhood, community and a great time, all in support of Greenhouse Scholars as they cultivate extraordinary leaders to change low-income families and communities. Venus de Miles is for all skill levels and features courses to accommodate any active woman – whether it is your first athletic event or your hundredth.  Choose among a rolling 32-mile course, a 64-mile metric century, and a 100-mile century course. All courses go through beautiful Boulder County. The 2019 ride happens to be this weekend–register today or save the date for 2020!

Another enriching event for women+ is the GEM Night in Denver. Gender Equality Mechanics (GEM) Nights feature open shop hours designated specifically for folks who are marginalized by bike culture due to their gender. Bikes Together encourages people to come wrench on bikes in a shop full of other women, girls and trans folks! Click here to learn more.

Check out our event calendar to find even more events encouraging new and experienced riders!

3. You can get even more inspiration at the upcoming Colorado Bicycle Summit!

Rebecca Rusch is coming in October to speak to Bicycle Colorado supporters! Don’t miss it!

A 7x-world champion and celebrity in the ultra adventure/endurance realm for nearly three decades and recent electee to the prestigious international Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame, her status as a fierce competitor and inclusive influencer motivates millions. She’s the keynote speaker at our Colorado Bicycle Summit on Monday, October 7, and you can register to attend here

Bicycling is a tool for good

In addition to all her grit and accomplishments, Rebecca has long advocated for using the bicycle as a tool for positive change. In fact, she was the first person to ride the entirety of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, documented in the Emmy-winning documentary Blood Road, which you can watch in conjunction with the Colorado Bicycle Summit. 

Prepare to be inspired

As she enters her 50s (or, as she likes to call it, version 5.0), Rusch’s inimitable brand and redoubtable resumé continue to expand. Combining ongoing athletic pursuits with entrepreneurial interests as CEO of Rusch Ventures, she oversees an impactful network of events, products, experiences, and content designed to elevate possibilities for people and their bikes. 

Whether in print, on the trail, via her popular digital platforms or as a keynote speaker, she inspires and emboldens countless people. In other words, her presence at these two Bicycle Colorado events is sure to be incredibly inspiring. We. Can’t. Wait.

4. Let’s move forward and continue to ride for equity. Here are resources for you, your family and your friends. 

Here are some actions you can take to support and encourage bicycling for all gender identities:

Watch the Colorado Classic and take the pledge for gender equity in sports.

Volunteer at the Colorado Classic in Steamboat Springs, Avon, Golden or Denver. Get a front-row seat to the action, a cool pair of custom Smartwool socks, volunteer t-shirt and advance equity in women’s professional sports.

Bring friends and family to the Open Streets event in Denver! Coming out to the event is not only fun, but it’s advocacy in and of itself to show the Mayor of Denver and the Governor we desire safer streets for our children.

Join the We Bike Colorado Facebook group (open to women, femme, transgender and gender nonbinary (WFTNB) people who ride bikes). 

Race or ride! Find organized events that support women on the Bicycle Colorado event calendar, including BRAC Women’s+ events. 

Join us at the Colorado Bicycle Summit and/or the Blood Road screening to be inspired by Rebecca Rusch.

Attend or share local opportunities to build confidence and skills, like Elevation Cycles’ events for women+ or Bikes Together’s Gender Equity Mechanics (GEM) Nights

Encourage people in your life to ride with you or sponsor them to join a Learn to Ride lesson for first-time pedalers!

Know of additional resources in Colorado? Let us know so we can share!

Thank you for helping us better represent and include all bicyclists as well as celebrate the strong community of people who ride here in Colorado.

Erica Hine

About the Author: Erica Hine

Erica leads Bicycle Colorado’s membership and Share the Road license plate programs, and she contributes to our communications and outreach efforts statewide. She believes everyone in Colorado should be able to ride and feel safe doing it. Erica enjoys mountain biking and year-round bicycle commuting.


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