Sunday, August 28, 2011

USAC-ACA the "summary"

The immediate hue & Cry about the potential ACA-USAC reconciliation has died down a bit finally. With that, I've tried to break down the costs and proposed benefits of he ACA rejoining USAC as a Local Association (LA) into a small (ish) package. And with that, will add a poll for a few weeks.

Here is my take, starting with probably what is most important, what it costs us stiffs just to get a license and race. Just the PAPERS to race, not little things like bikes, entry fees, and those other little things.

Stay ACA only, yearly cost:
$45 base license - Practical for Road & Cross only
$12 for ACA timing chip ($35/year, good for 3 years)
$57 a year

Your Club ACA membership per year $100 (Renewal, $125 to start)

Some of us "non-sponsored" teams need to come up with this each year...)

ACA as a Local Association under USAC, Yearly Cost:
$60 base license (Road/cross or MTB/Cross)
$25 for ACA LA membership
$12 For ACA timing Chip (have to assume that program will continue... makes sense)
$97 a year

Your Club USAC membership per year $150

This one has to go to the ACA. Easily a 40% increase for a "local only" rider to get licensed with USAC. This of course is assuming you are NOT one of the 23% of ACA riders who also hold a USAC card, then your cost would go down $20 a year. It also assumes you would buy the "extra" ACA LA membership. The ACA will likely bribe you by making Cross cup/BAR available ONLY to ACA members. Your Club will also pay more with USAC.

Notes & assumptions
- The ACA would only get $10/year from USAC per year per rider. My guess at a "L.A. Version" ACA dues cost assumes the ACA sells "add on" L.A. memberships to make up the revenue. $25 a year just seems a guess, but could easily range up to $35 a year to "make up" the full delta in "lost" ACA revenue. This was also the rough cost ratio when BRAC was the USCF State association.
- USAC also allows the Local Associations to levy a $1-2 race fee add on.
- To race MTB AND road under USAC, add in ANOTHER $30 a year for the add on license
- AND should you ever want to race outside the US... $150 for that international license.

The arguments and benefits from the USAC note (The "so why Join USA Cycling" section), and my take on them:

Online registration - So what? there are MANY online registration outfits, and a LOT of riders like race day registration. Ever heard of

Save Money - Well only for about 1/4 of the current ACA membership.....

National Results and Rankings - again, so what? Ever heard of and I've seen nothing but complaints about USAC online results. **IF** you are a national championship contender in Cross, well, yea you care. I'd LIKE to help our crop of hard men, but not sure I want to pay for it.

Grassroots Investment - Well, that $2.8 Million dollar number going back to Local racing since 2003 SOUNDS good, but wait...... 35,000 USAC licenses sold per year, $10 from each back to the Local Association is $350K a year. 8 years from 2003 to 2011, $350K x 8 years is... you guessed it. $2.8 Million. maybe not all that generous to the grassroots after all.

Junior development - Sure all the young pros come from the USAC program. how else would they get to the national team? USAC = $600,000 per year in funding. $600,000 per year divided by the 33 Local Associations in the country is.... About $18,000 per LA per year. ACA had $45 K in their Jr. fund. Outside of that, I can't really say, neither group is getting kids out in droves.

Professional development of coaches, Officials & Race Directors - Not sure it matters, a good portion of the ACA officials are also USAC officials. They are all pretty good. How many Beer-drinking-dads hire coaches?

Local Association annual summit - OK, sure, a good thing. Learn from other areas.

Anti Doping - I'll just refer to one "event"...... Sure, a good thing.

Attracting Riders From surrounding states - Yep, would be easier if we were USAC, but hey, BOTH have one-day licenses for the lower catagories.

Experience the excitement of regional bike racing - see "one day license".....

Brand-new, modern governance model - Whee. Both organizations have a history of near criminal mis-management. Now both are better. At least now your money might have less chance of just being outright stolen.

The arguments and benefits from the ACA position paper, and my take on them:

Not terribly well defined. Lots of questions and discussion of lost revenue for ACA in the position paper, not a lot of "sales points". The table helps a lot, but is rather involved (Use the ACA and "ACA Local Association columns...). I'll try and paraphrase here:

Keeps local Control and paid, local staff (one full time) - How many of you KNEW the ACA had a full time employee? How many of you call the ACA office?

More money stays in Colorado - Always good

Better Junior & grassroots programs - Well, maybe

Keeps ACA funding at current levels - Not sure that matters to most of us.

Now for my own take. I'll put it in bullet form, based on "lets Rejoin USAC". I would keep it in mind that as the USAC noted, and with the same organization "running" local racing in Colorado, VERY little would change for racers at the local level and events.

- a 40% Higher yearly license cost for "recreational" racers
- ACA revenue decreases
- Maybe loose some or all the paid ACA staff. (Chris & Yvonne do a GREAT job...)
- Somewhat less "local Control" of some issues.
- Less local funding for Colorado programs
- Rule Changes and policy gets harder to change (Probably would not have gotten the call-up count moved back to 40 as fast as I did if we were USAC....)
- Less Grassroots emphasis

- ACA would loose some overhead management (Licenses, Insurance....)
- ONE Licence, especially for "serious" riders , and portability across the country
- Regain better National & Elite participation & upgrade path (get the Pros back in ACA races...)
- Participation in national rankings for CX call-ups at nationals

So, what to do?

I do NOT believe that the USAC really gives a crap about "recreational" racers or grassroots development, outside of harvesting our cash. The USAC CEO, Steve Johnson is quoted in a Cyclocross Magazine interview (issue 7) saying "That's the key for all our cycling disciplines to succeed is to have these professional capstone opportunities" and in the USAC sales pitch his #2 question of what people ask themselves about taking up a sport being "can I make a living at it?" shows pretty much the attitude of the USAC. They really are focused on the elites, and the elites only. ACA is at least a bit more responsive to us hacks. I't going to cost us more to fund that national & elite focus. After the Strange, rambling, and borderline condescending missive from Mr. johnson, I'm even LESS impressed with their "vision" for my participation in this sport.

It DOES make sense to have ONE organization to administer the sport. Having Colorado doing our own thing really does not make sense. With the USA Pro Cycling Challenge now gaining SUCH wide and popular response, it's going to look even sillier to try and justify 2 sanctioning bodies. You might even be able to understand a UCI/USGP race flyer if we merged.

IN the end, I'm not sure I can justify the added cost for the "fuzzy" benifits of those going to nationals and the common sense aspects. It really seems to come down to how you feel about "grassroots" support versus "elite" support.

Click away on the poll at the upper right, easy yes or no. Like to hear what you all think.

Monday, August 22, 2011

USA Cycling - The view from the Springs

For brief period of time today, I thought I'd gotten the scoop ahead of 303 Cycling the ACA, and everyone else. Brief visions of journalistic greatness were dashed when I had some housework to do, and dinner to cook. By the time I sit down to reveal the "inside information" 303 Cycling had already posted it, and the comments start coming in. See, after spamming pretty much the full USA Cycling contact list asking what the USAC position on the ACA Coup-de-e-tat was, I was forwarded the link to the USAC position paper from Andrea Smith, USAC Communications Director, at the direct request of Steve Johnson USAC CEO. Wow, what power I wield now-a-days. Oh well, snooze and you are not the first on to put news on the web.

Anyway, here is the link to the full, 8 rambling pages of history, psychology and strange, corporate diagrams (oh, and maybe a few justifications about why ACA should rejoin USAC, too...)

I'll let you read it, eventually you get down to what the proposed benefits to rejoining USAC are. I think.

I have to comment on a couple of things. One, I have a bit of trouble with the strange reference to voting here:

Today we find ourselves embroiled in a discussion of the relative merits of USA Cycling versus

the ACA as a preamble to some sort of “vote” by the clubs to determine whether or not

Colorado racing should join USA Cycling and the national family of 33 other local bike racing

associations, or remain an autonomous organization without any affiliation to the national or

international sport structure.

Not sure what is implied here, but since the VOTE (No Quotes ...) by ACA clubs is how any legislation or changes are made by charter in the ACA, could I conclude that a democratic process seems strange to the USAC folks? Do they not trust us to make decisions? Quite strange wording at best.


The most important take‐home message from the work of these scientists is that the decision to

participate in a sport is a social process that must be considered in light of the social context of

the participant. Important questions are asked either consciously or subconsciously by

prospective athletes including: 1) does participation in the sport provide meaningful personal

opportunities, 2) can I make a living doing it, 3) are there role models that define things to which

I aspire or would like to accomplish, 4) do my friends do it, 5) will my parents support it, and/or

6) does participation in the sport positively affect my personal “equity” at home, among my

friends, at my school or in my community, i.e., is the sport socially acceptable or “cool?”

Huh? Social Context? Social Process? Subconsciously? Uhhh.... what?
And, I'll ask you all out there.... Did ANYONE out there ask "can I make a living doing it" when they started racing bikes? Anyone? Really? I think this attitude is one of my biggest fears about having ANYTHING to do with the USAC.

And Finally, comments like this:

USA Cycling has just undergone the most profound

governance overhaul since its formation in 1995. Under the new model, the associations and

their boards have been replaced by Sport Committees that will work with designated staff to

manage and grow their respective disciplines. In the process, we have added 20 additional

positions and two entirely new committees so we now have separate committees for road,

track, cyclo‐cross, mountain bike, collegiate, bmx and professional road racing.

and "charts" like these:

This should set off alarm bells for ANYONE who has ever worked in a large, unwieldily, giant corporate "structure". Such corporate-drivel speak frightens me a LOT, especially when it is applied to one of my recreational pursuits. Add 20 Positions! Form a Committee! Split into business units!
And those Charts..... Oh, yea, uh... God, it's ALL clear to me now.... uh, well, uh, whatever it is the chart is trying to tell me......

I for one am pretty much even more confused & conflicted than ever about the whop proposal. Almost like a regular election in our fine country, actual information and solid data is not really forthcoming. Both sides say "it will all be great", without much actual, functional information. While NONE of this will dramatically affect a mid pack old slow guy like me (or really most all the existing riders), one wants to at least TRY and help make a good decision.

Good luck with the "right" answer on this one...

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!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saddle Penetration

So what can you get now-a-days for $600 in the Triathlete saddle market?

Why "Good Penetration", of course. After seeing said saddle, you can see what they mean.

Get yours now while it's on sale.

I think I understand the funny look I see on Tri-geeks faces out on the road now. And to think I thought it was just them being miserable on those silly bikes. At least now we know. Guess that is why it costs $600 for the "pleasure" of sitting on it.