Jon Tarkington - Emerging USAC/ACA Vote

My Turn

By JonTarkington

From my keyboard it appears a lot of racers out there in forum land are pretty caught up with a view of the emerging USAC/ACA vote that is equivalent to staring at your handlebars during a bike race. If you stare at your bars and don’t pay attention to the big picture of what’s going on around you with other racers, you’re going to crash, plain and simple. I don’t like crashing and I don’t want to see our local racing community crash either.

First, some background on my personal involvement. I was lucky enough to find bike racing in the post “LeMond Boom” in Denver in the early 90’s at the age of 13. This was back in the height of BRAC as a USCF District Association. For a time frame in there my dad actually helped keep track of BRAC’s books and kept things going while the Executive Director at that time, Beth Wrenn-Estes, was working at the Atlanta Olympic Games. I was a part of a number of different BRAC and USCF development programs; I raced collegiately for four years at CU and have somehow managed to keep going up through today. Having been to many annual BRAC/ACA meetings growing up I can still vividly remember the tension of the club vote to form an independent association. In short, I’ve been pretty entwined in local racing for a long time. I’ve done WAY more than my fair share of bike races, promoted races, sat on the ACA Board of Directors (BOD), and served as the Executive Director(ED) for 3 years. I still currently make my living off the health of the local racing community as a coach for Fascat Coaching and Boulder Junior Cycling.

In my three years as the ACA ED I always knew that the USAC relationship was a ticking time bomb. We’ve got a very diverse and healthy racing community here in CO and that means money to USAC and of course, ACA. The two previous CEO’s at USAC had shown very little interest in CO but the current CEO, Steve Johnson, was showing interest in our organization and its current state during my transition into the ED role. Mr. Johnson clearly had a better handle than his predecessors on how to manage the USAC BOD and run USAC as an effective business. Realizing this, I knew at some point USAC would likely use its competitive advantage of being the true National Governing Body and push the reintegration issue on ACA. Any smart business would take advantage of such a powerful position and I have been surprised it took so long to get to this point. Reintegration became a significant problem when the Colorado Velodrome Asscociation politely declined to be the USAC Local Association(LA) starting in 2010 in order to maintain their focus on their mission of ensuring a prosperous track racing community in Colorado. The CVA had been serving as Colorado’s LA since the LA program’s inception in order to keep other groups from taking the LA funds for the state and using them to undermine ACA. With the LA funds up for grab something needed to happen and thankfully, it’s happening now.

I’m sure many of you are reluctant to support this change as you’re happy with the current status quo. The problem here is that without a doubt, that status quo will degrade in 2012 without this change taking place. If ACA doesn’t sign the LA agreement there will be another organization that does so and those funds will likely be used to undermine ACA’s current success. In addition there are a handful of races that will be USAC next year no matter what the ACA decides to do. The result is a back door exodus of revenue and a fractioned local racing community. There would be distinct and abrupt changes to what has been a relatively smooth racing calendar for the past few years. A fractioned racing community would eventually recover but not without significant set-backs and casualties. The local organizations, promoters, racers and officials would all feel the negative effects of this competition, and likely feel it for years to come.

At this point I could really start boring you with details on finances and programs. I put together a loose budget in mid 2010 before my departure as ED and I can attest that this relationship can work with our current programs and staff in place and little change to the average racer. Should you take my word on that? Probably not, that’s not my job anymore. And to be honest, people can throw around facts and figures all they want but until there is some actual change the majority of it is based on assumptions of how the racing and promoting population will respond. In reality, we’re all guessing at what the future will look like and it’s pretty easy to paint two drastically different pictures of that.

If you don’t quite like the how some of the proposed financial details look, have your club propose a change on Friday. As long as there is a quorum present, just about anything can happen. Clearly, some of us will pay a little more in fees in 2011, some will pay less. Either way the folks drumming up that there will be massive changes to their pocket book should probably examine that $80 tire they just bought for their $1500 racing wheel. I don’t think this sport has ever been labeled “affordable”.

At times like this it’s key to look to our associations leaders for input. In the conversations I’ve had over the past few weeks to months with both ACA staff and BOD members one thing is clear, everyone is hesitant about becoming an LA. No matter how well prepared or informed everyone is, it’s going to be a change and change is not easy for anyone. This is also pretty evident by 303’s readers’ comments on the issue. Fear of the unknown is difficult for everyone. The fascinating part for me is that despite this hesitance, the ACA staff and BOD support becoming an LA. Why should you care about this? Simple, the staff’s livelihood depends on the organization’s success. On top of that, the BOD has not taken this lightly and has given the relationship an enormous amount of time and energy in the past 10 months. If these two groups are supporting this change, shouldn’t we support them?

I cannot begin to count the stressful and frustrating hours I personally spent on this subject over the years. When you begin to add in the time and energy the current and past ACA Staff and BOD spent on the USAC relationship the figure becomes quite concerning. Independence has really taken its toll over the years. When is it going to be enough? I had always wanted the BOD to take time and really dig deeply into what changes can be made to positively impact the sport in our state. Unfortunately, the USAC topic continued to rear its ugly head and sidetrack those efforts. As far as I know that has continued to be the case in 2011. I think the time has come to free the BOD and staff from constantly dealing with this issue and let them finally focus on what can be done to make racing better for us.

Ultimately, over the past 14 years of independence the ACA has learned how to do a pretty good job of being the sanctioning body in CO. The staff and BOD of the organization do a lot for local development and would like to continue to do so. Right now, the clubs have the opportunity to change the ACA outfit from the ragged, tattered and outdated “grunge” of independence to that of USAC’s corporate suit. Our leaders are encouraging us to try this, even if only for a year or two. I am encouraging you to make this change and try it on for a while. If the corporate suit doesn’t fit our organization after a year or two, our old independent grunge outfit will still be waiting for us in the closet. All it takes is a club council vote to become independent again. Underneath the different outfits will be the same internals supporting and operating it, obviously they know how do it well.

I’ve had one overriding goal in my involvement with the local cycling political scene over the past decade. That goal is to provide my kids, as well as yours and those to come, the option of being part of a great, SUSTAINABLE, local cycling community should they choose that path in their personal development. I fully believe that this change is going to happen sooner or later in order to reach that goal. Right now, the odds are in our favor, next year they likely will not be. Thanks for reading; I hope this has provided yet another view to consider. In closing, make sure you have club representative present on Friday and make sure they strongly consider supporting the staff and BOD of the organization that would like to continue to serve the local community as it has since its inception in 1976.

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42 Comments

Anonymous Post?

Firstly, I would like to thank Jon for taking the time to write a well thought message. You do not need to agree or disagree with the message to appreciate it. Jon spoke up publicly about an issue with a pragmatic solution.

My question to 90% of the folks contributing to this forum; WHY DO YOU POST ANONYMOUS? You should offer your advice or opinions in a positive manner contributing to the greater good. However hiding behind anonymity does not strengthen your position, it only makes you suspect. I suggest folks take a look Jesse Goodrich's statement. Jesse proposed a good question in a positive manner. He is great young racer with a solid opinion from the U23 community. In addition he added his name to the posting - Bravo!

Because if someone has a

Because if someone has a controversial opinion that may or may not tie with the views their club leader or sponsor has dictated (this happens), then they do have a right to air it in a democratic fashion without fear of reprisal. You don't put your name on the ballot in the voting box, do you?

This is a public internet forum. Anonymity and pseudonymity is how you get open and lively discussion on internet forums. That is a major reason why the ACA messageboard is dead - there are a whole host of reasons why people may not want their views and opinions on a hobby forum (and that is what this is) tied to their "real life" (work account, business account, etc.)

Anyone who has been on messageboards and BBS for any length of time gets the sociology behind this. It's a public discussion forum. People have the right to speak their opinion without fear of repercussion or dismissal strictly on the basis of who they are. Women have the right to speak up without fear of sexism (this happens, especially on cycling boards). Juniors have the right to speak up and have their message heard for the quality of its content, not be judged on their age. People have the right not to be simply judged as "those squirrely punks from XYZ Race Team". And so on.

Most internet age people get this. I have noticed that it is something that typically only bothers members of the pre-information age (the 45+ set). It's a cultural shift.

You don't have to trust Anonymous. Feel free to disagree with them. Feel free to challenge those you disagree with and ask for citation, clarification and facts to back up the rhetoric. Feel free to ignore trolls. Feel free to state your own opinions, as opinions. Feel free to share anecdotes. Feel free to agree with those who speak articulately and offer verifiable proof of their claims.

That is how a dyamic, sustainable internet discussion board works.

or simply we are propagating

or simply we are propagating a cowardly culture. Too many people don’t hold themselves accountable when they know nobody else can.

We tend to not like it when our opinions are challenged, because the prospect of being proven wrong is unpalatable when our self-esteem is all wrapped up in being right.
So a lot of us shroud our own identities while we tear down the identities of others

The whole ACA/USCF reunification subject has speared great communication, however I see a tremendous amount of negative unfounded rhetoric on both sides. We are asking for transparency from the ACA and USCF, how about a little transparency from the community

Just an observation, no harm, no foul, just active dialogue as you suggested
Peace

Okay, so you tell me - to

Okay, so you tell me - to take a page out of that dude's book up there ^^: how do I (or how does anyone else for that matter) know on this board, or on any 'net board, really that you are "Michael Burton" (I don't even know who that is, actually). You could be anyone.

I have to take it on faith that you are who you're posting as, and not someone spoofing your name, or some bored 13 year old from Tampa (highly unlikely on a board this small). So I have to take some stuff on faith, and roll with what I get. So I frankly could give a toss about people posting under their names or whatever. Most bike racers I know are pretty bright people, and not many of us have the time or the attention span really to bother with typing all this crap to begin with, much less time to create some elaborate hoax scenario, or whatever it is you're all paranoid about.

Discussion is happening. People have opinions that differ from yours. That doesn't make them wrong, or you right, or you wrong, and them right, or any number of shades of nuance in between. And you don't get to howl about policy just because OMG Someone Is Wrong On The Internet. People are allowed, in a democratic, membership-driven operation like the ACA to have opinions (and the next dude's opinion is quite frankly just as valid as yours, whether or not he stuck a tagline on the "name" form). That's why this whole big mess of a thread is here.

Also, everyone here should have a right to speak their mind and not get arbitrarily called out as trolling, or called liars, or have their motives questioned, or get dismissed as just making shit up, because all that does is start a big old fighty "UR STUPID!" "NO YOU ARE!!" flamewar.

This is a discussion on a bush-league cycling internet forum, not a senior level thesis on statistics, or a 2L debate class. People are free to express their opinions on here. Some are truth, some are truth-as-they-see-it, most people's viewpoint is going to be slanted by their experiences and their own confirmation bias, and you'll see a bunch of rhetoric and projection and all kinds of logical fallacies - so you can feel free to politely disagree with those, without resorting to making public slams on the poster's moral character (leave that to the Tea Party; they wrote the book on that tactic). Sure there'll be some flat out ranting, and there's some good well-founded facts and numbers, too. It's an emotional subject, and emotions are messy. Feel free to be smart enough to pick a well-framed post that makes sense to you and agree with it, or frame your own sensible argument in opposition.

To get all hung up about anonymous posters on an unmoderated board is kind of pissing up a rope and derailing the whole discussion, from my point of view. Feel free to have a different opinion. Feel free to go somewhere else to air your views where you have your security net of "identity", too, if you like - I hear Roadbikereview is a good cycling forum. But if you're seeking an echo chamber to surround you with warm fuzzy validation, you might not be looking in the right place, is my guess.

How about them

How about them Broncos!

Anonymity is highly underrated. If you're not calling people names, throwing f-bombs, spreading rumors or false information, I see nothing wrong with anonymity.

Thank you.

Tim Tebow

the bigger question is: why

the bigger question is: why do you even CARE. it's not like this board is moderated or IP traced or tied to any identifiers that I can tell and your posts arent tied to a login account anyhow, so you can say you're Jesse Goodrich or Lance Armstrong, or Barack Obama or Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. heck I could claim to be Teton if I really wanted to (but i won't because that's just lame).

Hold the presses! I still

Hold the presses! I still strongly support becoming a local association, however, there seems to be a significant change in the proposal today. Previously there were two motions on the agenda, one for becoming an LA and one for the associated changes in fees. That has been merged into one motion only a day away from the meeting. After talking with several promoters this week I firmly believe that the "plan" is a major step in the right direction but not something ready for approval on Friday. I will be making a motion to separate those items as previously posted to the membership allowing for more thorough review of the fees being proposed by clubs and promotors. This review should include a detailed budget using the new fee structure and the assumptions used to reach that budget.

From the ACA Bylaws:

From the ACA Bylaws: "Meeting agendas will be posted on the website within three days of the meeting of the ACA Board of Directors to the ACA Board of Directors, all member clubs, and staff." So yes, they can post the agenda (or change it) the day of the meeting.

I support Jon's statement of

I support Jon's statement of splitting the motion. Reintegration and the new BRAC fee structure, if the vote favors USAC, are two separate issues. Clubs and promoters should not be forced with a "one size fits all" package from the potential new BRAC. Let's first address the issue of whether or not reintegration makes sense. Then we can move onto to how the new LA will look. I'm sure some will argue that for a proper decision they need to see an outlined fee structure and picture of the new BRAC. BRAC will look to maintain and create every revenue stream available and who can blame them. However, can we get creative and greatly reduce the budget without passing on the cost to the clubs, promoters, and in turn the riders? Let's look at a couple different options if/when BRAC is formed instead of blindly backdooring a plan onto the same vote. Let's keep this vote about doing what's best for all racers; pro's, elites, 35+cat4's, and juniors. At the end of the day we're all one community racing together because we love our bikes ($9k Cervelo or $250 Huffy).

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