Photos by Dorothy Wong & Alberto Lazaro.
This year’s Beach Babe Bicycling Classic (BBBC) was a sold-out event, drawing in 500 female cyclists who conquered 15 and 38 mile routes through Long Beach.
Both routes began and ended in Long Beach’s Shoreline Aquatic Park and focused on creating an event that, according to founder Janaé Noble, avoids the fiercely competitive, pressure-cooker nature of male-driven races in favor of offering unique, casual rides and awards like that of Best Costume (yes, tutus are just as popular as spandex at the BBBC).
Noble, originally from Long Beach, became the head of the first ever woman-owned company to start bicycling events exclusively for and geared toward women when she launched the Princess Promenade. Set in Sacramento, the NorCal trip was staged across 34 miles of Class 1 biking trails along the American River from Sacramento to Folsom Lake. Riders were able to choose any of 15-, 26-, 40-, 55-, or 64-mile routes that weaved in and out of rivers, parks, and some of California’s most beautiful vistas.
“After the success of the Princess Promenade, I wanted to bring this experience to my home town of Long Beach,” Noble said. “When I found out about the city’s interest in cultivating a bike culture that was conducive to women taking to the bike—meaning nice infrastructure with bike paths, protected lanes, better surfaced routes on the river trails—I approached [City Manager] Pat West and ran the idea by him. He was all about it.”
Thus, the BBBC was created.
The “beach babe” moniker was born out of Noble’s discontent with never being considered a so-called true beach babe while she attended Jordan High School. According to Noble, “beach babe” was reserved for those attending Wilson during the 60s and 70s and, in an attempt to ameliorate her frustration with never being truly beach babe-ish, named the event the BBBC in the belief that all women are qualified beach babes.
Unlike traditional bicycling events—such as the Tour of Long Beach—the BBBC aims for other accolades and traditions that fall off the spectrum of normal. The start line? No horns or dogging eyes or vicious sneers. Rather, set to the theme song of “Wish They All Could Be Californian Girls,” the ladies shout the multiple cities from which they hail.
“There’s something really prideful to hear Santa Monica, La Jolla, Chino Hills, Folsom, San Mateo, San Diego screamed aloud,” Noble said. “And this in addition to the furthest states and countries like New York, Alaska, and Australia booming out over the PA. It’s inspiring.”
Next May, Noble will be behind a true feat for women bicyclists: the month will mark the world’s first Women’s GranFondo in Calistoga/Napa, turning heads everywhere within the biking community as pro female riders are being asked to take on the bicycling tradition that has, until now, been reserved for men.
“I’m frankly shocked that no one but me thought to stage a gran fondo for women,” Noble said. “Just like Nike took over the sport of marathon with the Nike Women’s Marathon Series, we are doing the same with the world’s first Women’s Gran Fondo. We are looking for just the right company to serve as title sponsor and get those naming rights.”
The Gran Fondo will occur on May 3 of next year.
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