The Amgen Tour of California started in 2006 - just before I learned to ride a bike. In my early years as a cycling groupie, I remember watching a women's criterium up in Santa Rosa before the men came in. It looked terrifying! In 2010 I got to do the race myself! It was a blast....albeit terrifying. The next few years, the criterium was canceled, and Amgen ToC held an "invite-only" time tria instead. (Obvioulsy, I was never invited). Last year, there was a lot of pressure to have a Women's Tour of California in conjuction with the men's race. While that didn't happen, Amgen did have 2 races for the women this year: a downtown criterium in Sacramento, and an invite TT. I tried to get an invite to the time trial, but that didn't really work out. To be part of the criterium, you had to be on a team. As I don't have a team this year, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to enter the race. There is a men's U23 Development team out of Southern California, BMW Development, that is considering adding a women's squad next year. They decided to host a composite team for the ToC race - and I was lucky enough to get a spot! I liked the kits, as they have a big orange whale on them! Thanks a ton to BMW Development team for letting me guest ride!
The race was super cool - tons of people cheering, and everything felt really official! I remember coming after the first lap and thinking something had gone terribly wrong...that is until I realized that the noise was people banging on the barriers, not some freak thunderstorm!
I had no good result so to speak of, but it was fun being part of a great event like this in my home state. The organizer's did a great job incorporating the women into the overal Tour of California structure by inviting them to the opening press conference, having sign-in, media highlights, and covering the race on the Tour Tracker. It was great to have everyting be so professional!
It was a great 1-day event. But I really hope that this race becomes a UCIsanctioned race next year. It would be great to have all the international women teams come in for the race. Of course, a lot of the domestic and regional teams then would not be able to race, but sanctioning the race with the highest governing body would be very good for the development of women's racing. Additionally, I hope the race organizers consider expanding it so it is a few stages long. A Mount Diablo stage would be awesome! California has always been on the cutting edge of gender equality issues, and I think the residents of California really desire to have a full-scale women's event in addition to the men's event. It is 2014, not 1914! Single sex sporting events should be something of the prior century.
The highlight of my race was definitely getting to measure Jens Voight's quads.