Thursday, November 19, 2009

Local Cycling Support in the USA...

I dont know what prompted me really to write this, but something did. I was reading and article earlier posted by one of the more excellent brains in the cycling BUSINESS these days, over at Competitive Cyclist. He talks about just that, the lack of support among the USAC for anything that remotely resembles a grassroots, or local program to enable young riders to achieve the type of success that would put us on the map again vis-a-vis Europe. Since I can't seem to link to the page correctly, I will post the text of it, I hope they don't take huge offense to me reposting it here.

"- This week USA Cycling made public their plans for creating membership growth: Having Lance Armstrong race 'til he's 67 years old. What you won't see in this article are the words "grassroots", "developmental", or "significant corporate sponsorship". When contacted about these concepts, USA Cycling suggested we contact USA Luge instead. Uttering these words at USAC, apparently, is a firing offense. Other forbidden language includes "world-class track program" or "awareness that cyclocross exists."

The lack of vision at USAC astonishes -- that is, if you're old-fashioned like me and measure "vision" though (a) measurable results (like, e.g. "high-school club racing has grown by x%" or "we have increased corporate sponsorship by $x" or "membership numbers from ages 11-21 has increased by x%"); or (b) by substantive communication. But as we all know, the membership is furnished with no data. Communication occurs as we cite above -- USAC-to-cyclingnews, aka Politburo-to-Pravda. But visibility to a strategic plan with an actual strategy (i.e. more specifics than saying "we strive for excellence")? It'll never happen. At USAC jocksniffing runs amok: They ceaselessly fawn over world-class riders, but provide no proof of interest in cultivating the superstars of year 2030. Where is the outreach to kids who've never ridden a bike outside the neighborhood? Why doesn't anyone there understand the future value of today's novice? For the average American amateur bike club, USA Cycling licensure expense is just that: An expense with no apparent ROI."

Its definitely an accurate argument, and its something that has been in my thoughts lately too. My daughter is coming along really well in her own cycling, (I mean, admittedly, shes still young, and just beginning,) but why should she pursue it at great cost, and devotion, and have no hope of real, long term success? It's hard for any woman in cycling, so even if it were my son who was developing well, USAC's policies give them no hope of future success. It makes it necessary for a cyclist to either live as a pauper, or be basically a playboy, able to support his own habits.

I wonder where things are going in the US, cycling wise.

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