Thursday, August 18, 2011

USA Cycling

If you want to stir up the local bike racer population even more than changing the Colorado Cross Cup rules around, I guess that the idea of reconciling the very long standing American Cycling Association vs. USA Cycling feud would do it. That managed even MORE comments on 303 Cycling than the Colorado Cross Cup Changes. We have a new points leader!

It looks like the Big Cycling chiefs in Colorado Springs have decided enough is enough, and wants everyone under one big, UCI-sanctioned family, or they just want all our money. This year they started to play "hardball" with the few tools they really have to bring the breakaway factions (ACA and OBRA, Oregon Bicycle racing Assoc...) back into the tent. First they suddenly decide to enforce some typically lame UCI "rule" about pros not being allowed to ride in "unsanctioned" events for the roadies. Then they pretty much lock out 80+ percent of the National Cyclocross Championship podium for this years "frigid-fest" Nationals in Madison by doing call-ups by some new, and quite possibly mythical "National Ranking System", someone in the springs is probably still trying to come up with. Wow, a weighted national points system. Brilliant invention, but almost seems familiar in some way. Anyway, THAT little gem would lock out any Colorado & Oregon riders who don't travel to race USAC races this season.

Kinda sensed what was coming next. Once again, USA Cycling has asked the ACA to rejoin the Borg as a USAC "Local Association", bringing peace, joy and happiness to all the pesant folk in the kingdom. Turns out this does not seem to get universal acceptance as the best thing for cycling. LOTS of opinion and general ranting on the 303 comments section, spanning both sides of the story. ACA put out a "position paper" and some information for the racing community to look over, and is planning on doing a survey of the clubs to get feedback on what the riders think about a potential merge.

USA Cycling has been quiet in public about this offer, and not seeing anything from their side, I E-Mailed a slew of folks off the USAC contact page who would seem to care, and asked if they had anything to share with us from the USAC side. I heard back from Sean Petty, Chief Operating Officer for USAC within an hour. His reply was "Thank you for your note. We are planning to provide to ACA and its members the USA Cycling viewpoint on this topic. " SO, hope to get the presentation from the other side here soon, to help with such a monumental decision.

Wow, Is it not nice to be SO popular? Everybody wants you. (well, or your money...)

For anyone who was around in the PRE-ACA days, you have a pretty good feel for what it would be like wiht ACA as a Local Association under USAC. WAY back there was the United States Cycling Federation (the USCF, predecessor to USAC...) and the colorado Local Association, the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado, or BRAC. One paid your bucks to the "feds" in Colorado Springs, then if you wanted to participate in BAR/BAT, or for that matter even find out what the schedule was in those pre-internet years, you also shelled out a smaller chunk of change to join BRAC as well. BRAC did a lot of the same things the ACA does now, race Kits, race schedule, provide officials and act as the local contact. What it did NOT do was rider licences, insurance and the high level administration. This continued untill some typically stupid things were done by the "feds" and drove the revolution and the split of BRAC into what is now the ACA. Whew.

Where does that leave us today? Well, not that easy to tell, as the ACA has been kind of unclear about exactly what that transition to a "LA" would look like or cost. Mind you, you can't expect them to have such a plan on the table, and they seem to be scrambling to put together the potential scenarios, given the QUITE recent "offer" from USAC. You can see parts of it in their comparison spreadsheet under the "Local Association" option, and suspect a lot more based on how things ran in the past.

I shall wait for the dust to settle, and to get the ACA club survey, as well as see what the USAC has to say, but my feeling is that it is going to come down to a "Grassroots vs. Elite" grudge match. The USAC is FIRMLY in the "what's good for the elite is good for all" camp, and the ACA is at least somewhat more grassroots oriented, or at the least can be prodded in that direction.

Once all the stuff is in my hands, I can then pontificate here on what is best for me, cycling, and the world. What fun. Till then, 20 days till the first CX race of the new year, and 21 till the second!

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