Female cyclers want a spot at the hub of competition

first_imgIn recent years, women have become the fastest-growing consumer base for cycling, accounting for 45 percent of all bike purchases in the nation. But most large-scale cycling events – including the eight-day, 700-mile Tour of California due to hit Santa Clarita on Feb. 24 – exclude women from participating in competition. In more than a dozen years of pro-cycling, Sandra Kolb has experienced plenty of snubbing firsthand. Kolb said most female races get less media coverage, and prizes tend to be smaller. “We want to make the public aware that women are racing domestically just as much as men, and we hope to get one day of the California tour before its run is over,” Kolb said. John Fries, co-owner of Bicycle John’s – with locations in Northridge, Burbank and Acton – has watched his female clientele steadily increase in the last few years. “With the gym and working out becoming more popular with women in the last couple of decades, and spinning workouts taking off in the last few years, cycling has been the next level for many active women,” Fries said. And Fries has taken women’s cycling on as a personal mission. He invests about $40,000 annually in women’s cycling and has committed to sponsoring a race for the ladies next year if they are not included in the California tour by then. “Sponsors need to recognize women; it’s about equality,” he said. Despite obstacles that women’s cycling continues to face, Johnson is excited to have an event celebrating female riders on a day when all eyes will be on bikes. There will be two races the morning of Feb. 24. At 9:30 a.m., women’s category three and four will compete, and at 10:30 a.m., women’s category one and two (or pro racers) will compete. The pro-race has already attracted riders from as far east as Georgia. Prizes will include cash for the top 20 in the pro-race, a Cannondale bike frame and wheels from Shimano. “We are just trying to have some fun,” Johnson said. For Johnson – who discovered a passion for cycling after knee surgery meant she could no longer do high-impact workouts – having the spotlight on women’s cycling is about getting more women to enjoy a sport that has given her so much. “Cycling gives you such freedom. You get to hop on your bike and go to places you might not otherwise go,” she said. Johnson remembers how she used to bike all the way from Van Nuys to Redondo Beach, stop for some breakfast, and turn around and ride back home. Cycling is such a part of Johnson’s lifestyle that even her family’s move to Santa Clarita was no coincidence. “We moved here because we knew about all the bike paths and the wide streets with less traffic,” Johnson said. She hopes the race this month will attract enough attention to get women included in the Tour of California next year, or at least encourage more women to get on their bikes and ride. But she doesn’t want to discourage anyone from also watching the men in the bigger race. “We will be done with plenty of time for people to watch the men finish. We are encouraging people to do both, not one or the other.” For more information visit www.santaclaritagrandprix.com or call (661) 309-3135. Smaller prizes Long rides [email protected] (661) 257-5254160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Girls can ride, too. That’s the message Irene Johnson and her band of lady cyclists are trying to get out. Later this month, the Amgen Tour of California is coming to Santa Clarita – a major event in the sport of cycling – but this group of ladies argues that their all-women’s pro-cycling race could be the real event to watch. “Women’s cycling has really taken off in the last couple of years,” Johnson said. “We ride just as fast and put in just as much work as the men.” last_img read more

Toxic smoke jumps English Channel

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “There is nothing to suggest that it is anything other than an accident, but we’re keeping an open mind and when we get into the site we’ll treat it as a … scene which could be a crime. We’ll be doing full forensics,” said Chief Superintendent Jeremy Alford of the Hertfordshire police. “We’d be remiss if we didn’t.” Firefighters battled the enormous fire for more than 30 hours before pulling back Monday. Authorities shut a highway nearby and extended a closed-off zone around the depot 25 miles north of London because of the chance the tank might explode, Wilsher said. He said flames had reignited in one tank where they had been extinguished earlier. “I don’t want a human tragedy to go alongside the environmental tragedy that we’ve already got,” he told reporters as firefighters withdrew. Wilsher told reporters the firefighters were in “uncharted territory.” HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, England – A fire raging at an oil depot in southern Britain sent toxic smoke as far away as France and caused jitters on the global oil market Monday as firefighters struggled into a third day to douse the flames with chemical foam. Authorities said they believe that the explosion Sunday at the Buncefield depot north of London was an accident, but will examine other possible causes, including terrorism. After extinguishing fires in 12 of the 20 tanks initially ablaze, the 150 firefighters withdrew for five hours amid fears that one of the flaming tanks could contain highly volatile fuel, said Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher. His office said firefighters resumed their work after determining that the fuel in the tank was not as volatile as had been feared. The terminal stores 4.2 million gallons of fuel, and the fire has caused unease on the oil market and raised questions about safety at the nation’s oil facilities. “This is the largest fire of this kind that the U.K. and Europe have dealt with,” he said. Police said the ferocity of the blaze would make it extremely difficult for forensic experts to determine its exact cause, but that there was no indication of foul play. Chief Constable Frank Whiteley said eyewitness accounts and closed-circuit television footage would be key to the investigation. The series of explosions came four days after an al-Qaida videotape on the Internet called for attacks on facilities carrying oil, but officials drew no link. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told Parliament there would be a full investigation once the fire was extinguished. “Does this latest incident prove that proper safety procedures were still not in place?” Conservative Party lawmaker Caroline Spelman demanded. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more