La Course – a giant step for women

By now you’ve probably heard that women’s pro cycling took one giant leap towards equity by earning a stage at the Tour de France.  What makes it even better is that the women’s stage – La Course – will be held on the final day of the Tour, July 27,  on the same course as the final men’s stage.  This is huge for so many reasons, but one intangible that can’t be ignored is the exposure that racing on the Champs-Elysées on the final day of the Tour will give women’s cycling.  Pro women’s cycling will be broadcast on the biggest day of the year with wide international TV, radio, and press coverage.  The lights couldn’t be brighter.  The crowds will be huge.  What a glorious day! Thanks should go to the advocates who fought for this: Emma Pooley, Marianne Vos, Kathrine Bertine, Chrissie Wellington, and everyone who signed petitions and spoke out in support.

To be sure this isn’t a full Tour de France for women yet, but it couldn’t be a more significant start.  I am confident that women will be eventually racing in a complete Tour de France of their own.  What a fantastic step towards that!

All women who ride will benefit from this exposure, whether  they are amateur racers or casual riders or bike commuters.  This will have a carryover effect on women’s cycling at all levels.  Seeing women ride La Course will inspire countless women and girls to ride more.  More demand will mean that bike shops will better support female riders and better service for all women who ride will be an end result.

Many women are intimidated by bike shops that cater to competitive male riders.  They feel they aren’t adequately represented there (I mean really, one rack of women’s jerseys and shorts?  Is that all you’ve got?), male techs often don’t understand the goals of female riders, and we often “make do” with men’s bikes and clothing and equipment.  Respect means representation.  Representation means respect.  I am sure there will be a day when women will not feel intimidated when they go to a bike shop, when we will have a plethora of bikes to choose from, when women’s gear takes up as much retail space as men’s gear.  There will be more bike clubs for women to join and more pro races. More races will be broadcast on TV because we will demand it. More demand will increase better support.  It’s a beautiful circle.

Just this morning while I was out on my daily ride I noticed more women riders than men.  I believe that’s the first time it’s happened.  Could women already be feeling inspired?  I hope so.  The sky is the limit, ladies!