I like to bicycle, I like to watch people race each other on bicycles and I like Iran. So imagine how nice it was to discover that Iran dominates the UCI Asia Tour and that Tabriz Petrochemical Team regularly storms across the eastern hemisphere like Ghengis Khan in reverse. I don’t know how popular riders like Mehdi Sohrabi and Ghader Mizbani are in Iran, but by all rights they should be lauded as national heroes.
There’s also a women’s league. I should note that women’s cycling gets short shrift the world over. The races get no publicity and the riders get paid less then the men. This despite the fact that the rider with the most wins in the world is a woman. But Iran really takes the cake. Every time I see pictures of Iranian women racing, I have to stop and take several deep breaths. For God’s sake, look at what they are wearing!
These are from the 2013 National Championships. Over three days of racing, the weather fluctuated between a breezy 98 degrees Fahrenheit and a balmy 100. Not only are they wearing a manteau, they have their jerseys on over that! Now, your amateur cyclist tends to be picky about attire because if we can’t ride like the pros, we can damn well dress like them. But fashion faux pas aside, this get-up is potentially lethal. Once you get moving, the body produces a lot of heat on the bike. I generally don’t break out the cold weather gear until the temperature is below 60. I would probably pass out just standing on the track in that much clothing. Even the European pros start to grumble and moan when it gets that hot and, really, they’re pretty much in their underwear.
As a result, a proper road race would be impossible. Someone would die. I’m going to presume they are confined to the track out of a concern for the riders’ safety and not because men aren’t allowed to watch them compete. I mean, come on, look at them, they’re bundled up like Inuits.
So, here’s my point. Here’s a sport which does not get a great deal of recognition in general. As a women’s sport, it gets almost no recognition. In order to participate as an Iranian woman, you have to wear an outfit the exact opposite of what is required to perform well. No one is going to come watch you race. It’s friggin’ hot.
I’m willing to bet that most of the men’s peloton, Asian or European, would never have even considered entering the sport under these conditions. These riders really, really, really want to be on the bike and compete and they deserve some attention. So, here are the results from the 2013 Women’s Cycling Championships (courtesy of the Iranian Cycling Federation (www.cfi.ir), which also deserves kudos for maintaining an excellent website and posting photos and results from all these races – even if I had to dig through a few menus to find the women):
According to the CFI, the Women’s National Championship in Youth and Adult categories took place over three days beginning Saturday 15 Tir on the cycling track of the Azadi Sports Complex.
By the end of the competition, Zahra Khalili Khosrawshahi from Team East Azerbaijan was named champion of the Youth division and Atusa ‘Abbasi from Team Tehran was crowned Iranian National Champion in the adult division. Team Esfahan led the adult team competition.
The last day of racing looked like this:
Youth 2 kilometer: 1. Zahra Khalili Khosrawshahi, 2. Parastu Bastani from Tehran, 3. (tie) Nargis ‘Abdi from Tehran Foruzan ‘Abd Allahi ‘Arab from Khuzistan.
Points race, adult:
1. ‘Adilah Nuri from Esfahan, Maryam Jalaliyah from Esfahan, 3. Delaram Zakerani from Kirman.
500 meter, adult:
1. Atusa ‘Abbasi from Tehran, 37.42 seconds
2. Zahra Najar Sadeq from Esfahan, 39.10 seconds
3. Rayhanah Talebi from Kerman, 39.79 seconds
500 meters, youth
1. Zahra Khosrawshahi from East Azerbaijan, 38.93 seconds
2. Fatemah Hudavand from Khuzistan, 39.87 seconds
3. (tie) Furuzan ‘Abd Allahi ‘Arab from Khuzistan, 41.30 seconds
Parstu Bastani from Tehran, 41.30 seconds
(Apologies from butchering any names)