The Assimilation is complete.
The deal is done, no matter your opinion on it. The storm of comments on 303 Cycling has died off, the predictions of new found greatness or darkness and doom are back in the closet. ACA has rejoined the Borg, er, USAC. Does it REALLY matter in the long run? Not really, since it's just racing bikes around, anyway.
I had the "pleasure" of attending and placing the vote for the High Peaks Masters team. Being as we are a bunch of not so fast, beer-drinking, NON-elite cheapskates, and given some of my previous ranting on the subject, you can guess our vote. (Oh, that and 100% of our members who replied to our request for feedback wanted a no vote.... Democracy and all, you know.)
It was very obvious from the tone of the ACA Club Council meeting on November 18th that the deal was already deemed done. The ACA seemed to have already rolled over (maybe for a good reason...), and USAC seemed to have decided that no matter what the ACA did, they were going to "retake" Colorado racing one way or the other. I got a distinct "this is what we are going to do, take it or leave it" tone to the USAC position.
Steve Johnson, the CEO of USAC was up first, and recognizing just how happy a lot of people were with USAC, noted that "Usually on a Friday night, I'm out with my friends sacrificing chickens and drinking goats blood", His best line of the evening. He had a presentation to show titled "What's new at USA Cycling", which used the same silly wheel graphic to show how they believe people decide to take up cycling, listed how many age group masters they had busted for doping this year, how many houses they have in Europe for national team riders, and lots of other fun stuff. He did his disorganized and rambling spiel, then promptly checked out on his crackberry, having to be roused to answer questions at times. When asked why USAC "suddenly" started enforcing the "No Pro" rules, as well as no reciprocity or dual sanctions, blame was put on the UCI for the pros, and "12 years of Drift" and not knowing the upgrade standards of ACA, or what the "anti-doping" controls in place were, is what forced the stop to reciprocity. "Liability complexity" was the reason given for no dual sanctions. In other words, we want the 2900+ ACA bodies in our revenue stream NOW.
The ACA folks then had their time, showing what they believed the membership decline for next year, and it's associated revenue decline would be. Interesting data showing how many riders race how many times over the last year. of the 2900+ ACA members, 385 raced only ONCE in a year. Two and three race day years were also very well represented. "Mid Point" of the number of race days was 12. Half the ACA crowd races less, half more. The ACA expected at LEAST half the current licensees would no longer join BRAC after getting their USAC licences. A big hit to their income, but probably about right. Bill Barr, President of the ACA said "either decision is bad, choice is which is least bad", and that the USAC was going to start and subsidize a new Colorado Local Association and would "bleed" the ACA out of existence if it did not rejoin.
Pete Webber from Boulder Cycle Sport noted that Steve Johnson was a "Terrible Salesman" (He was, seemed like he considered this the takeover a done deal....), and gave a very passionate pitch for re-integration. The best question of the night was to directly ask Mr. Johnson what the extra $50 going to the springs would get a "recreational" rider, the response was in pure corporate-speak. "The value is up to you" was the reply.
Finally a roll call vote was forced, as the building housing the meeting was 1/2 hour from being locked up. In the end, 47 clubs, holding 185 votes went with yes, 25 clubs, holding 100 Votes said no. Most of the larger teams, those with at least some elite contingent and about half the promoters voted yes. The other half of the promoters and the smaller, purely lower category clubs were the no votes, as you would expect.
So, now that it is a done deal, now what? In reality it IS a lot simpler to be ONE association. Ever try explaining the old USAC/ACA split system to a new racer? it was NOT easy. From a local race perspective, you probably won't see much difference from today. The promoters ARE expecting a race fee increase from higher USAC permitting costs, maybe a $3-$5 increase. Of course, anyone wanting to get season points will need to shell out more money to join both groups. The clubs will need to put out more money to join both. Is that extra money a BIG deal in the $2000 carbon wheels argument? Not really, but people are not stupid, and the cost of one day licences vs. pulling a USAC/BRAC membership licence pair now takes racing 10+ times a year to "break even", vs. the 5 times for just ACA in the past. For all those one to five race a year people, they will most likely NOT join BRAC, or maybe even forgo USAC licencing. Seems to me you would rather have these people "in the system" rather than giving them good reason not to. This view is NOT widely shared. USAC is VERY invested in the "Hero & Role model" theory of how people are motivated to take up racing bikes, and that by focusing on growing the top of the sport, the bottom will be "pulled" in. Who's right? Who Knows. Maybe Neither.
No matter, some of us will just pony up and continue to do as we have, for whatever our motivations. Bike racing will survive, maybe or maybe not thrive, and that may not have ANYTHING to do with such politics. So, no matter, lets just go race bikes.
Saturday's "Bowl of Death" at the Louisville Wreck Center looks to be trending toward the potential of an "epic" designation.
Looks to be a Chilly, Icy, Snowy, mess. in other words, PERFECT.
I can't wait.