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

Junior $20K went away...

Before... "1- For the first three years in which the ACA serves as a Local Association of USAC, the USA Cycling Development Foundation’s Center of Excellence of Award will provide $20,000 per year to the ACA for the ACA’s Junior Development Program."

NOW ... "6- The Local Association will receive a USACycling Development Foundation Center of Excellence
Award for the ACA’s Junior Development Program. This award is available for annual renewal."

No mention of $20K or three years anymore...

Just Say No!!!

Motion Language

Motion to Operate the USA Cycling Local Association
The staff and board of directors modified the motion after comments to clarify the language. The language of the motion now reads as it was intended.

That the American Cycling Association Club Council directs the ACA Executive Director and Board of Directors to work with USACycling to become the USACycling Local Association for Colorado and Wyoming with the above agreed upon Operational Model items.

This infers that the items listed will be executed by Club Council, staff, and board. It is important to connect the Operational Model to the vote. The Operational Model has a fee structure that is based on the proposed budget. It is clear from the member survey this fall, the town hall meeting in FOCO, and this forum that the current ACA programs and staff are important to the membership. This is why we need to have an Operational Plan linked with this motion.

Budget Motion
The second motion was to adopt the budget as is, and leave the details to the board. This motion was removed because the agenda is already fairly full. Instead, the budget will be ratified at the Annual Meeting December 14th.

Ludicrous operational model

This is ludicrous in every regard. Keep the vote about USAC or ACA without sliding in an operational plan that is full of fat and excess. Let the clubs and promoters first decide if they'd like to rejoin, then put forward options on operational fees for the new LA. It's clear that your passing off costs to clubs and promoters to maintain the same or similar budget the ACA currently holds. The clubs and promoters will in turn pass these fees off to the racer. Once again the only one opening up their wallet is the rider, no thank you.

I understand, but...

I understand what your intentions were here, but you may be shooting yourself in the foot. This is an important decision for membership and making changes this late in the game only adds to everyone's uncertainty on the issue. In fact, transparency and clarity is something that the ACA has had an advantage on over USAC, and this doesn't boost confidence that will stay in tact. My perception is that a good number of us are willing to take a small pill (vote to re-join), but a big pill (re-join with A,B,C to follow) may be too much to swallow. I guess we'll find out tonight.

Jon, Have you seen a proposed

Jon, Have you seen a proposed budget? I've asked Chris McGee for it a number of times this week. He sent me the summary instead. My club president did not receive a draft budget either? How are clubs supposed to vote on the issue if they can't see the whole picture?

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