16th Mariposa Women’s Stage Race
11 May 2013
Northern California continues to shine the light on women in bike racing.
Last year saw the debut of the Hellyer Women’s Team Pursuit Program and that program’s success at the 2012 USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships: Beth Newell, Korina Huizar, and Amanda Seigle earned silver medals; Adrienne Belliveau, Jennifer Zierke, and Heather Ross placed fifth; and Annabell Holland, Andi Smith, and Maryann Levinson set a new national record for 45+ women.
This season, the NCNCA is running a 12-race women’s series to “encourage women’s participation in racing.” Promoters are on board, having agreed to score women’s categories separately. After just two events, over 100 women have participated across three categories. Masters women will enter the fray at the Berkeley Hills Road Race.
The Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) begins tomorrow, featuring a divisive nod to women in the form of an invitational women’s time trial. The tour runs until May 19, the first day of the Mariposa Women’s Stage Race, presented by Velo Promo and the Golden Chain Cycling Club.
Going strong in its fifteenth year (2011 was cancelled), the Mariposa Women’s Stage Race is exemplary for its support of women’s cycling, whereas many people criticize the ATOC for tokenizing women with a 15-rider start list. For a sense of Mariposa’s role in developing women’s racing, one need only list the world-class athletes who have competed at Mariposa or its former embodiment, the Kern County Women’s Stage Race.
Dotsie Bausch-Cowden, a winner at Kern County in 2004, is a 2012 Olympic silver medallist, a seven-time U.S. national champion, and a two-time Pan American champion. Coryn Rivera, whose double collegiate victories last week made for 46 career national titles, won at Kern as a teenager in 2008. Second overall that year was Alison Tetrick from Mill Valley, who now races for Exergy TWENTY16 and is a beloved fixture of the NorCal peloton.
Other notable veterans of the race include Shelly Olds (Team TIBCO), Irish national champion Olivia Dillon (Now and Norvartis for MS), and 2012 Paralympic bronze medalist Kelly Crowley.
“While other teams skip this race as minor, I feel that this [event] exemplifies amateur women’s racing in NorCal,” opines Bill Nicely, owner and general manager of Pinnacle p/b Argon 18. “Nationally, no one knows about Mariposa. That’s OK. It is our gem, our getaway to spend time with teammates and play in the sun.”
“There is a bit of a race-camp attitude about this race. I hope that this stage race is around long after I am involved with team leadership. This is the 16th year it has been held! Epic event. Epic stories. Epic friendships.”
“The exclusive start list at the ATOC Women’s TT will highlight some of the best women racers in the world in a high-profile showcase,” says Molly Van Houweling of Metromint Cycling. “Mariposa instead offers an opportunity for women at every level of the sport (elite and masters) to participate in a grueling multi-day event. It may not get as much attention, but it will be more meaningful to us in terms of opportunities to build strength and skills, bond with our teammates and competitors, and rise to the challenge of the hardest race on the NCNCA calendar. Sorry, guys!”
Running in and around Mariposa County for the second year, the race begins Friday with the Basso Bridge Individual Time Trial. The next morning treats riders to the challenging Groveland Hillclimb, followed by the Greeley Hill Road Race in the afternoon. Sunday’s final stage is the Bootjack Road Race.
Promoter Robert Liebold adds, “We will hold the race whatever the numbers and are expecting around 90 riders this year. I don’t think it is fair to the riders to cancel a race because the numbers look low. They have to plan for the days just as the organizers do.”
This is the first of three articles on the upcoming Mariposa Women’s Stage Race. The second will post on Monday to remember Suzanne Rivera. On Wednesday, Molly Van Houweling will lend her view on the Metromint-Pinnacle rivalry.
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