Little Red Riding Hood is one of the Best Women-Only Events in the United States
By Ellen Guthrie & Lia Westermann — There’s a fairy tale called Little Red Riding Hood that most people have read: a little girl wearing a red cloak goes to visit her grandmother, and, on the way, a big bad wolf finds out from the naive girl where she is going. As she picks flowers, he goes to grandma’s house and locks the grandmother in the closet. When the girl gets to grandma’s house, the wolf is dressed up as the grandmother in bed and tries to eat the little girl. Well, Little Red Riding Hood, the bike event, won’t eat anyone up. On the contrary, it feeds everyone a lot of tasty food!
Little Red Riding Hood is a non-competitive women’s only cycling event held in Cache Valley, Utah. It was started in 1999 by Alice Telford and Sue Schalow and has been held every first weekend of June since 1999 (except for during the peak of Covid). When Little Red was founded, there were only 185 women riding., Over 3,500 women rode in the event in 2022. This event raises money for women’s cancers (specifically breast and ovarian cancer) and a portion of everyone’s fee is donated to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
As a women-only event, we have ridden this together as mother (Ellen) and daughter (Lia) for quite a few years. Not only is it a great day on the bike, celebrating women, but it supports a very worthwhile cause. Here’s our perspectives.
Lia: Little Red is a very popular event and attracts female riders all across North America. As such, there is a lottery to get in. The ride is usually on the first Saturday in June, and Friday evening before the event there is a Theme Party (each year there is a different theme, this year’s theme was Ride Into the Wild) with live music, vendors, great food, a costume contest, and lots of decorations! Saturday’s ride ends with a finish line celebration. The celebration starts with cheers at the finish line, a refreshing cool wipe, lime spritz drink and a cute bracelet to commemorate the annual theme. After you finish riding, there’s always a delicious dinner available, an ice cream bar, shopping at the vendor’s tents for unique bike related clothes, gear, and art. There’s also lots of smiling and laughing!
Ellen: There are five separate routes folks can ride. Because there are varying distances, women can choose whatever route they desire. During the ride, one is able to see various types of locomotion: e-bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and even outdoor Elliptical bikes! There are loops that are 17 miles, 30 miles, 45 miles, 70 miles, and 100 miles long. We like to do the 100-mile route. Little Red is fully-supported: there is mechanical support with mechanics at the start/finish and every rest stop, there are well-stocked rest stops throughout each route and lunch is also provided, and there are roving support vehicles to help with flats and mechanical problems. The choices for snacks are truly endless at Little Red! This year there were Oreos with either Nutella or peanut butter topped with a banana, yum. Lia’s favorite snack at the rest stops is a bunch of Red Vines. She usually has a sizeable wad in the pocket of her jersey most of the day!
Lia: One of my favorite aspects of this event is how many women there are riding and the diversity of all the riders: there are competitive racers, road bikers, mountain bikers, women who don’t compete, women from all over the country, and women who even do this event on outdoor elliptical bikes! Everyone is so friendly, and you end up meeting people from all over the continent. There are women of all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors, and all women are welcome to do this event. The camaraderie is amazing, and all the ladies are cheering each other on, even if they don’t know one another. Everyone is out there to help each other and make new friends!
I also love doing this event especially because my mom and I have always done it together. She is my biggest role model and I have always looked up to her, not just as an incredible cyclist, but as a person in general. She got me into cycling as a young girl and I feel this event has only made our bond stronger to be able to ride together and celebrate having a great day on bikes together. Each time we do this event we show up early in the morning, and even though I am tired, I am still extremely excited for the day ahead. We get our bikes ready and head over to the venue to get coffee and breakfast. Then we start our 100-mile journey that is Little Red! I always look forward to doing this event every year. The event is very low-stress and low-key, and the aid stops with all the snacks that are supplied make the event even better! All of the routes are relatively flat and easy, and whichever one someone chooses to do, I have no doubt that they will have an incredible and memorable experience, without having to deal with the big bad wolf!
If you would like to learn more or are interested in the lottery to get in, go to www.lrrh.org.