I wrote this partly because the ATOC (Amgen Tour of California) is one of the few major racing events in the USA and it is (from personal experience) a great event to witness. Linda and I have been to several stages of four of these events. If you cannot, or do not wish to, travel to France, Italy or Spain for a Grand Tour, this (along with the US Pro Challenge in CO and Tour of Utah) is the next best thing to experience the speed, athleticism and adrenaline of pro road bike racing.
It’s also a great example of bicycling being visible at a state and local level. CA gets it, and a lot of people have worked together to build this impactful event.
Linda and I actually attended the first stage of the first ever ATOC in San Francisco. It was a TT from our hotel near Fisherman’s Wharf up to Coit Tower. The climb to the Tower was lined about 4-5 deep with cycling fans. It was a ”Superbowl” of cycling…crazy fun and exciting to see such great cyclist athletes competing on American soil.
Whether you ride to commute, for fitness, as a conscious choice in transportation mode or any other reason, it is insightful to note that many of the technology changes that make riding easier, faster and more enjoyable have come from the racing world. That’s just one reason to support a pro cycling event such as this.
More “selfishly”, there have been past rumors and attempts to organize a major pro cycling race in AZ. None of these have succeeded, to date. But, I haven’t given up on that possibility. My attitude is “watch and learn from successful events” and then eventually help plan a world class event that creates buzz and more interest in bicycling in our state. For example, think about an event that would include a stage from the Grand Canyon to Flagstaff, a “Red Rock Road Race” stage (Sedona), a Mount Graham or Mount Lemmon TT, a stage around Tucson using the El Tour route…and an uphill finish on South Mountain (with 200,000 spectators lining the road). Wouldn’t something like that be amazing and bring major attention to AZ bicycling opportunities?!
In 2014, the CAzB needs to reach out to ADOT, the AZ Office of Tourism, various chambers of commerce and community and state leaders to advocate and make the case for the benefits of bicycling. We also need to be creative in our thinking and vocal in our support of new projects (Hey!!! Mesa is building a mountain bike park! Let’s go ride it, photograph and take video and make some noise!). Let’s meet with Phoenix Parks and Recreation and propose a combination bike, running and walking park near the Light Rail and along the Salt River (instead of more softball diamonds, etc.). Let’s get out to Yuma, Sierra Vista, Show Low, Cottonwood, Lake Havasu and Kingman and put on and/or participate in visible events!
It’s a new year, and it’s full of opportunities. Our success will be determined by our ideas, our energy, our ability to engage members and volunteers and our ability to connect with the public and our elected officials. Saddle up, team…it’s time to take our organization and efforts to the next level. It is everyone’s chance to step up and make a difference…what can you contribute this year?
Ride safely and tell people how great it is to ride a bike,