Women’s cycling pioneer Jim Rabdau passes away

  
  


Colorado Springs, Colo. (Aug. 7, 2013) -- Jim Rabdau, a pioneer for women's cycling and the man behind the formation of the Idaho’s Women’s Challenge (1984-2002), passed away on Aug. 1. The Women's Challenge served as an inspiration and career launching pad for many young women racers.
 
After retiring from the military, Rabdau moved to Idaho and worked as an office manager in the human resources department of Ore-Ida. The courses that Rabdau asked women cyclists to race were hand-picked by him. The former Green Beret, who spent 25 years in the service, including time as a platoon leader in E-Company 506 and who served in Vietnam, charted each race course on maps and then drove the course himself each Spring.
 
Rabdau was a staunch advocate of women being provided the opportunity to race longer distances. Cycling's international governing body deemed the Women's Challenge to be "excessive" on many counts. However, the race, and the 16 other stages surrounding it, not to mention the 22,000 feet the stages climbed and the 1067km (663 miles) they covered, took place anyway.
 
“Jim Rabdau was one of the great pioneers and advocates for women’s cycling," recalls USA Cycling Chief of Domestic and International Affairs Sean Petty. "I remember sitting in a meeting with Jim and the UCI and he wouldn’t accept the maximum distances to which the UCI restricted women’s races. He wanted his women’s-only stage race in Idaho to be on the international calendar and have the top riders in the world, but he always believed women could and should have much longer and harder stages than UCI rules allowed. And he was right.”
 
The growth of talent in women's racing benefitted greatly from the perseverance of Rabdau and he is fondly remembered for all his contributions to the sport of cycling.
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