Martin Ernst Bruhn didn’t see any obstacles when he started dreaming up the Women’s Woodstock Cycling Grand Prix (WWCGP), which kicks off at 8 a.m. this Mothers’ Day Sunday, May 12 at the Woodstock Day School, and finishes a few grueling hours later at the nearby Woodstock Jewish Congregation. But the Canadian-born former Olympic cyclist is quick to note that what others saw as mountains, he summed up as mere challenges – the way true athletes judge courses in terms of time trials and other means of bettering their own performances.
“I see women’s racing as the reason competitive cycling becomes a phenomenal sport in the US in the next ten years,” he has said of what has driven him to repeat an experiment that he initiated nearly a quarter-century ago. “I think a generation needs to evolve before we see just how powerful women’s racing will be; and in the interim, events need to be formatted and created with a woman’s perspective in mind: tough racing on courses that challenge their incredible capacity to focus. Give the female racer 120-kilometer road races, and let them show the public how wonderful the bicycle is when ridden by athletes of tremendous ability and humility.”
The brand-new WWCGP – which will take racers up and over Meads Mountain Road, a truly windy uphill past Woodstock’s majestic Tibetan Monastery, then through a series of the town’s scenic back roads overlooking reservoirs, lakes and the central Catskills – aims to create “a marquee bicycling event in North America…a road race of significant length and challenge that is a necessary step forward in bringing parity to women’s competitive cycling.”
Bruhn’s plans, which will go to benefit the Woodstock Day School, Hope’s Fund of Ulster County, the Woodstock Day School and the Bowery Mission of New York City, will feature five USA Cycling-sanctioned road races of varying distances and serve to promote Woodstock, Saugerties and Ulster County tourism. Official partners include the New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments of Woodstock, Saugerties and Shandaken, with upwards of 100 participants expected. Sponsors include Rondout Savings Bank, Ruge’s Subaru, HorseShows in the Sun, Orthopedic Associates, Overlook Mountain Bikes and Sommerville Sports.
“The main obstacle has really been in promoting a road race in general. This event would not be possible without the generosity and support of a tremendous brain trust of like-minded folk, and I am continually surprised by the number of details there are to confront,” Bruhn noted, highlighting the safety elements tantamount to such an event’s success, as well as the creation of a great course. “Men’s racing is a large part of the North American cycling culture, but I think it is time to rattle the cage a bit and offer women’s competitive cycling the opportunity to shine. There should be complete stage races for women in this country, plain and simple! I would like to see a women’s Tour of New York, or the New England Women’s Five Day, that would garner media and sponsorship support similar to the events in California or Colorado for men.”
Sunday’s event starts from the Woodstock Day School on Glasco Turnpike, just east of Woodstock, and includes starts for a Category Pro 1/2 race at 8 a.m., followed by a Category 3/45+ and Category 4/Juniors 15-17 races at ten-minute intervals respectively. The races will conclude at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation from 10 a.m. onwards, after a 53-mile course.
Further information, including exact racecourses for those wishing to view the race at various intervals, are available online.
Women’s Woodstock Cycling Grand Prix 2013, Sunday, May 12, 8-10 a.m., start at Woodstock Day School, finish at Woodstock Jewish Congregation, Glasco Turnpike, Saugerties; www.womenswoodstockgrandprix.com.