Through a bit of serendipity, I came across Tillie Andersen's website, http://tillieanderson.com/tillie/. The more I read, the more curious I was about women's bicycle racing in the late 1800s. On a long flight, I read "Women on the Move" from cover to cover. It's a well written book on the fascinating topic of women's bicycle racing by someone just as curious about it as anyone. One of the continuous threads throughout the book is about the official racing body of the time and their steadfast denial, oppression, and threats to keep men from racing the women. And kept the world from recognizing the women as athletes and record-holders.
I'm not sure why some men are so afraid of being equal or surpassed by a woman. In the few billion people in the world, it makes sense that given a class of athletes, some women are just as good, if not better, than men at the same sport. Whatever woman whips by me up Hawk Hill is clearly in better shape than I (and most of the riders struggling up the hill). In the end, it's one human body vs another.
Another serendipitous comment in this video reminded me about Tillie:
"Women weren't even allowed to race until the '80s"
I think she means the 1980s, but as Tillie and crew show, they were racing 100 years before that, just not "officially". You don't have to be a pro cyclist, or even want to be one, to enjoy the competition of women's professional cycling; road, mountain, time trial, etc. In many ways, it's much better than watching the men's races, because it seems much more raw and competitive.
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
In other words, get out and ride! No one cares if you want to win the Tour de France or be KOM of Hawk Hill, the point is you're riding.
My favorite cycling app is Cyclemeter. It's standalone and the only person I'm racing against is myself over time.
Enjoy the ride!