Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Incompetence? Power Grab? Lunacy?

Well,  well,  well.  Our friends in the Springs (and France/Switzerland!!) have struck again.  After blackmailing at least 51% of the Colorado clubs into going for the "Borg Assimilation" deal last year,  they seem to have gotten bored,  looked around for some other unsuspecting aspect of cycling to "help" that had managed to survive without the astute leadership of the UCI and USA Cycling.    That poor,  never to be the same new target is mountain bike races and Pro MTB racers.

After seeing the success of the "Forbidden Race" rule as a stick to whack Colorado bike racers over the head with
UCI on Right,  USAC on left.
BAD bike racer.  BAD!  (Whack, Whack, Whack) 

The UCI & USAC have turned their UCI rule 1.2.109 sticks on Mountain Bike race prompters and UCI-licenced pro racers.   "Forbidden Races".....  god,  that sounds,  well,  Sexy.  Makes you want to go do one,  huh?  I know I do.  (and I WILL......)
Stolen from Drunk Cyclist

Basically,  using the same stick they hit the ACA with,  The UCI demi-gods,  with the help of the USA Cycling mafia have said that ANY UCI licenced rider who participates in a NON USAC or UCI sanctioned race will be fined and suspended.  With a LARGE portion of MTB races in the U.S. NOT being USAC permitted,  including most of the "big time" races (Whiskey off Road,  Breck Epic,  Teva Games,  etc,  etc...)  falling outside of the USAC permit universe,  it puts a pretty big dent in the ability of any pro riders to promote themselves,  their sponsors,   earn any prize money,  or really do most anything a pro racer needs to do.  It also removes a big draw for race promoters,  getting the big name riders in their races to boost their race's profiles.

Lots of Press around on this issue,  None of it supportive.  While this latest salvo by itself might well just look like more posturing and attempts to assimilate any successful cycling programs,  when you also look at recent UCI decisions on such earth-shattering issues as Socks and lawyer tabs,  you start to see something that looks,  well,  either bizarre or desperate.  Maybe both.  Control issues?  yea,  kinda looks like that.
More Genius from the Brilliant Drunk Cyclist crowd

I see this as one of 2 things.  Either they really do care about NOTHING but snatching up every possible revenue generating sliver of the small money world that is cycling (Desperation??),  or the people running the show are just plain incompetent.  How could the people charged with running a $10 Million Plus dollar National Governing Body NOT see that you would piss off just about EVERYONE by suddenly "enforcing" such an asinine rule in the U.S?   Really?  If Steve Johnson and his staff could not see this coming,  I have to question their ability and fundamental understanding of the organization,  it's perceived mission and it's members.  The UCI?  Sure,  I believe them having no clue. With their pure Euro-centric view,  what harm could they see?  But The USA Cycling folks?  Sorry,  if you could not see the ramifications of this,  you should NOT be running the show.

It is obvious that MANY race promoters in the MTB world are not seeing any benefit to USAC sanctioning.  You can see why,  more insurance choices,  Riders NOT needing to have a $60 annual USAC licence to race,  not having to pay USAC permit fees,  Not having to pay officials,  etc.   In Colorado I see a grand total of **SEVEN** USAC sanctioned MTB events for 2013.  Wow,  that matches what the Winter Park Series has for it's series alone.  Not to mention the MANY other races & series in Colorado.    MOST MTB promoters are choosing to NOT sanction with USAC.  The USA Cycling folks have tried to address this in an interview with Cycling News,  coming up with this gem:

"The only reasons not to sanction an event with USA Cycling are if the organizer is: 1) under-insuring the volunteers and/or participants, 2) avoiding the requirement to have USA Cycling licensed officials at the event and the athlete protection policies they enforce or 3) avoiding the USA Cycling RaceClean program."

Really?  Avoiding Doping Controls it one of the three best things you can come up with as to why SO many quality race promoters choose to NOT use your "product"?  Wow.  Back to that Desperation or Incompetence question again.  I know I've always felt "unprotected" racing Winter Park Series events.  Their over the top willingness to address results issues,  fix safety issues and run a fair and popular series MUST be hiding a darker motive,  maybe the all knowing USAC folks can tell me what the evil "non-sanctioned" promoters are REALLY up to.   Some of the national level team managers & race promoters are also calling BS on the USAC party line.   I have yet to see ONE comment supporting the "new" rule enforcement.  

A somewhat conciliatory tone started coming out of the Springs after one of the largest Pro MTB teams put out a press release basically telling the UCI & USAC to get bent.  Hat's off to Sho-Air for standing up to this nonsense.  I hope notice gets taken by the UCI and it's puppet master,  Pat McQuaid.  This guy is big on rules NOW that he "runs" the sport,  not so much when he raced.  Is Sho-Air's "FU" to Pat & the UCI's stupid rule on morally higher ground than little Patty sneaking off to race under an assumed name in South Africa while racing there was banned due to Apartheid?  Yea,  I'll give the win to Sho-Air on this one.
Yet more staggering insight from Drunk Cyclist

So,  after a deluge of negative press,  scathing comments from their own members on their own Facebook page,  there are now some hints of a "solution" coming from the powers that be (Initially it was 100%,   It's the UCI!  Out of our hands!!,  Not our fault!!).  I just can't WAIT to hear what kind of "solution" these guys come up with.  If nothing else,  you can count on it being entertaining.

When Mr. Steve Johnson,  leader of the Borg,  uh,  er,  USA Cycling made the trip up here to "sell" the old ACA clubs on what a GREAT deal rejoining USAC would be,  he made a statement he might want to remember.  When asked what the benefit to the average rider would be to rejoining USAC,  he basically said that he "could not define the value,  only the riders could determine the value of USAC membership".    Wonder if he sees that his "customers",  the riders and race promoters CAN tell what the value of the USAC is,  and are walking away.  Basically SCREAMING that the value is not there.  Maybe they will listen to that very obvious feedback,  and rather than the usual tactic of telling their own customers how wrong they are,  look at the product they are offering,  what it is missing that drives promoters and racers away,  and what they are bringing to the table.  Maybe even change tactics.  Likely?  Not very.

Pure Money Grab or Pure incompetence?  I kind of see a toss up.  What they come up with to "fix" the mess they have painted themselves into should reveal the true motives,  once one peers carefully into the guts of the "solution".    God this sport needs some better people running the federations.  Both at the UCI & at USA Cycling.  Needs it BAD.  <Rant mode OFF>

LATE BREAKING NEWS (4/11/13 some random time)
The UCI,  under pressure from our savior,   USA Cycling have taken the heroic position to.... Wait for it....  Put off a decision on enforcing the "Forbidden Race Rule".   

So never mind,  next year they will do it when nobody will notice.   I'll give credit to USAC for at least doing something,  and taking on the UCI,  which is WAY more than I expected.  But modeling your earth-shattering decisions on such weighty matters Bike Race Rules on the workings of the U.S. Congress may lean toward the "Incompetence" option above.  

Kick that can down that road (MTB course....) boys,  kick it.

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