Two things have conspired to make the Little Red Riding Hood one of the hottest rides in Utah cycling: womens’ rising interest in cycling and a rollicking party.
Little Red, which begins at 7 a.m. Saturday in the northern Cache County community of Lewiston, will have 3,700 riders, which organizers say is the largest women-only ride in the country.
Each winter, the Bonneville Cycling Club has a lottery because more women want to ride than the club — or the small town of Lewiston — can accommodate.
"I love the ride," said Deanna Byck of Ogden, who was the top fundraiser as of Thursday morning, with $3,100 pledged. "I love it because it’s a beautiful valley and you’re riding with 3,000 women and it’s so much fun."
She adds: "There’s just a sense of camaraderie. The women come in all shapes and sizes. There are all kinds of bikes, from expensive ones to beach cruisers."
Little Red raises money for breast and ovarian cancer research at the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, and is expected to raise $150,000 this year.
Penny Perkins, a member of the cycling club’s executive committee, said the ride was fairly small for many years after Salt Lake City resident Alice Telford founded it in the late 1980s.
When Perkins and Lynda Forbush took it over eight years ago, there were fewer than 500 riders.
They added "girly" aspects to the event, such as dance lessons to fit each year’s theme during the night-before-the-ride party. Many of the riders will sport carnival costumes and compete for best costume awards. There will be live music and Brazilian food.
On Saturday, the women will ride distances ranging from 26 to 100 miles, but the 100-mile route is by far the most popular, Perkins said.
Many of the volunteers supporting the women along the way are men.
The ride’s popularity, Perkins said, is due to "a real explosion of interest in women’s cycling. That’s made a huge difference."
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