USA Cycling and American Cycling Association

ACA Statement Regarding our Relationship with USAC, August 10, 2011

From the ACA
History of ACA
Prior to being an independent sanctioning body, the ACA was the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (BRAC). Formed in 1976, BRAC was the USCF (predecessor of USACycling) District that ran road racing in Colorado. Beth Wrenn-Estes was the President of BRAC. In 1994, when the USCF decided to change their district structure, Colorado clubs became upset and disenchanted with the perception that the USCF cared only about elite racers and gave no attention to local riders. Beth proposed breaking from USCF and the clubs agreed.

The ACA in its current form was born. Beth was hired as Executive Director and Yvonne van Gent, formerly the USCF District Representative, was hired as the Membership Coordinator. Beth served as Executive Director until 2007. The ACA’s commitment to quality local racing and junior development was established in this time. During her tenure, because of significant mutual animosity, there was no chance of reconciliation with USACycling (USAC).

In 2008, Jon Tarkington assumed the position of Executive Director of the ACA. Under the leadership of Jon and the Board of Directors, the ACA consolidated and made transparent its finances, grew its membership, created evaluation processes for race promoters and officials, created a dynamic website that is both the organization’s database and storefront, embraced and helped direct the substantial growth in cross racing, and purchased a cutting edge electronic timing system. Jon and representatives of the ACA’s Board of Directors met with USAC leaders four times in attempts to negotiate a return to USAC, but could not find an agreement that worked for both parties.

In 2010, Jon decided to step down as Executive Director. Chris McGee was hired for the job, and began as ED in late January, 2011.

The Situation in 2011 Beginning this spring, our relationship with USACycling has been strained by USAC's decision to enforce UCI rule 1.2.019.

UCI Rulebook regarding 'Forbidden Races"

1.2.019 No licence holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI. A national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.

Attempts by promoters to gain exceptions for specific races, so that they may host UCI
professional racers, have not been approved. The ACA has formally asked for exceptions for specific races that do not conflict with USAC’s National Racing Calendar, and these too have been declined. We have spoken with representatives from USAC, the US Olympic Committee, legal advisors, journalists, and other people who are close to the situation. The ACA continues to explore options to remedy this situation.

Other issues have arisen this year, the most notable of which are new call-up procedures for Masters at Cross Nationals and the difficulty with dual-permitted events.

The ACA’s Position in 2011

The ACA is a fully-functioning, financially solvent 501c3 non-profit organization. We have an accountant who oversees our finances and helps produce accurate, up-to-date financial documents, which are posted on our professionally-maintained website. Our member-run Board of Directors meets monthly to provide oversight on the organization’s finances, planning and operation. We have five part-time staff who are dedicated to creating the best racing experiences for our 3,000 annual members. We believe that we provide the highest quality racing and cycling development product for our members at a reasonable cost, and we believe that we are an asset to both the Colorado and American cycling communities.

Rejoin USAC?

We are occasionally asked, 'Why don't you just rejoin USAC?'
There are many reasons why this is not a simple discussion, but the primary reason is money.
Local racing in the United States is governed by USAC’s Local Association (LA) Agreement. There are 33 LAs the country, totaling approximately 35,000 road/cross/track racers. Each LA receives income from USAC in the form of $10 per Senior license sold in their LA area (no money for juniors, officials, mechanics, or mountain bike licenses). In addition, Las can raise money by charging separate membership fees, $1 or $2 for each race entry in races sanctioned in the LA area (these called race surcharges), and $1 per entry from USAC's online registration service.

Most LAs are run by volunteer boards with no paid staff.
A couple of facts to think about:

  1. Current annual membership prices are $45 for ACA and $60 for USAC.
  2. At this time, approximately 23% of ACA members also hold a USAC license.
  3. ACA members currently enjoy a lower license fee, incredible insurance with a low $1,000 deductible and great customer support, timely results on our website, timely calculations for racing points series (BARBAT, Cross Cup), a comprehensive race kit for our promoters that includes 2 high-speed cameras, laptops, and software, access to world-class timing and results companies at affordable pricing, world-class officials, on-site medical support at all races, neutral support at 17 races by ROL Wheels (paid by ACA), and a full 9 month calendar of affordable, great racing.
  4. The ACA's Junior Development Program is one of the best in the country. We offer Juniors Ride Free, Junior Road Camp, Junior Cross Camp, the Colorado Mini Classic, the 1st Bike Program, and in 2012 will introduce the Junior Race Grant Program. We have a paid Junior Development Coordinator who is a former professional racer. We spend more than $40,000 each year in this investment in cycling’s future.

When we talk about becoming an LA, we have to ask ourselves many questions:

  • If the ACA were to simply agree to the LA model, our income from memberships would fall approximately $100,000 annually.
  • As we function today, $45 from every ACA license goes toward local cycling. If we were a LA, only $10 from the USAC license goes to local Colorado racing.
  • What does the core of our membership (racers aged 35-54 in categories 3 & 4) gain from a realignment with USAC?
  • Would our members pay an additional fee to support the ACA's programs and services? In the past, BRAC used this model to generate income. Approximately 1/3 of Colorado racers voluntarily paid a separate fee to the local association.
  • If we do not have a separate ACA membership fee, how would we provide members with the same level of support with a reduction in staff?
  • How would the ACA continue its extraordinary support of junior development with significantly less budget?

One solution is to charge a separate ACA membership fee after racers pay for their USAC license. The questions: How many riders are willing to pay an additional fee for their racing licenses? What is the value of the ACA’s services to Colorado racing? What could the ACA reasonably charge as a LA membership fee?
To address these questions and get sense of our clubs’ needs, the ACA will conduct a survey of our 95 clubs. As a member-driven non-profit, it is imperative that we receive the input necessary to act in the interests of our membership. This survey will be sent the week of August 15th, 2011.

Colorado has always been a fantastic place to ride, race and train, for beginners and professional racers alike. We are committed to providing high quality events for all bicycle racers regardless of their level. The ACA always has, and always will, welcome all racers to our events. It is important to note that the ACA is not creating any barriers for racer participation, and we will not bend or break our own policy in the interests of one segment of our membership.

The ACA is a grassroots, amateur-based organization. "The mission of the ACA is to expand and develop the sport of amateur bicycle racing in the Rocky Mountain region while ensuring quality experiences for all involved." We continue to pursue remedies to the situation with professional racers and elite level racers, but at the same time must remain focused on our mission. Please know that we work every day to fulfill this mission. Board and staff information is available under 'Contacts' on the ACA website.

If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please contact us.
Bill Barr, President, ACA Board of Directors 303-355-9914
Chris McGee, Executive Director, ACA 303-458-5538

News Item: 


proliferation of cycling events = degradation of venues

from what I've heard it's becoming prohibitively expensive to permit a road event along the Front Range due to saturation, and this is part of what's driving the death of good venues for road racing. Carter Lake was one of the first to go (as I understand it Larimer County enacted some draconian standards and permit costs for road events that no amateur promoter can realistically meet). Niwot crit had to be moved the last 2 years it was run owing to conflicts from a triathlon and/or a charity event. Plus their permit and police coverage fees got so expensive that the promoter had to be able to guarantee 400+ entries just to break even, so now it's gone too. Stazio ballfields spring crits died because the permit authorities tried to jack up the prices there too, and made it no longer justifiable for a $15 entry training race. Hugo is gone because the logistics of staffing a road race at a far-flung venue that's cheap to permit due to being in non-saturated territory (because it's way out in east BFE where nothing ever happens) are too complex and prohibitive to maintain year after year.

By saturation, I mean cycling events total, not just ACA calendar events. The general public and government permitting authorities make no distinction at all between charity rides, triathlons and mass start road races. They're all considered "bike races", and the Front Range calendar is completely full up if you consider it from that angle. In Boulder County alone, there's at least one "road race" per weekend that requires permit approval for road closure / marshals / cops / etc... Thus, the market is saturated, and the city/county is taking advantage of that fact by charging whatever the market will bear on permit costs. Triathlons can typically bear it - if you look at your average tri entry fee they start out at something like $150 per head and go up from there, plus they have huge attendance compared to us (600+ entries is considered a "small" tri). Not to mention the tri culture generally uses a ton better / more positive marketing strategy, publicity and promotions than the local road racing scene does, so in general they maintain better social capital with the city/county officials and the community at large.

This is what expensive entry fees buys you - professional promotion, good publicity and leverage with the government. This is what you see with the Superior Cycling Challenge which is truly the only well promoted event I can think of on the road calendar. Surprise, it's also one of the most expensive entry fees. Inference = you get what you pay for. In this region it seems like the triathletes and charity riders get there first every year by being better staffed, better organized, having better "causes" and more positive publicity.

Road promoters in my experience, generally have this tendency to want to sneak up on their events sideways and in secret, hoping no one notices they're there, or worse yet, they go into the permit process hat in hand saying "but we really won't be that much trouble / no one will even notice we're there". So as long as the standard is to market negatively/not at all, you're going to continue to see a bunch of cheap office park crits, and the road racing scene will continue to have basically zero or negative social capital with the city/county/public.

I hate office park crits and hillclimbs as much as the next person but let's be realistic, they're held on private (business) property where the event permit cost typically involves having someone who works there and is a big cycling supporter / racer making a couple of phone calls, and they often don't involve public road closure / delays. Say what you will but you can't argue with cheap / free / low hassle venues, and so here again... you get what you pay for.

Maybe the upcoming USPro Cycling tour (or whatever it's called today) will begin to change these attitudes, but I don't hold out hope. The Boulder-Breckenridge race died despite tons of professional promotion and support because it was simply too expensive to maintain. These days you couldn't hold it anyways because of Blackhawk's stupid cycling ban anyway, but that's a whole other off-topic rant and I'm tired of typing now.

And what is the ACA doing about this

Here is my problem then with the current ACA:

What are they doing to change this? Are they merely paid website hosts? Or are they actively trying to fix road racing, but working with towns, cities, counties and promoters to figure out how to change the trend.

I think also a core part of the problem is that road racing is all about winning (which is fine with me), but if you look at triathlons, mountain bike races etc..., those events are all about "just finishing." (I hate this attitude). It means that the pool of potential athletes is much larger. It also means a lot of those athletes (using this term broadly) race maybe 2 -3 times per year, and therefore are more willing to pay the higher fees for these events. This puts road races at a disadvantage.

Roadies race almost every weekend, and therefore, fees need to remain lower. I was mulling over whether for quality road races, if roadies would pay $100 race fees so something akin to Carter Lake or Estes Park. Sadly - I am guessing not. Most roadies would opt out of those and wait for the next weekend crit at $30.00.

So at the end of the day - maybe it does not matter who the local organization is....road racing is unfortunately kind of in a tough situation in terms of the market. Too many other events, coupled with too few potential athletes willing to race each weekend, coupled with the fact roadies just are not willing to pay for quality races (due in part to the fact road racing, in order to do it well, requires more than racing 2 -3 times a year) means we may eventually see road racing reduced to crits, 1 -2 solid road races, and mostly weekday practice criteriums.

Good postings

The above two postings are probably the best I've seen on this issue and the ones people should ponder. It seems the crit scene is still pretty healthy in CO, except for the lack of Pro's and prize money, but lets remember that in the higher view of cycling crits are considered side shows (post Tour crits have pre determined winners and UCI does not allow crits in stage races-Tour of Elk Grove changes). With a healthy crit scene I agree that the ACA or USAC needs to help fix the CO problem of the vanishing road races. How will we develop the next Phinney's, Tejay's, Jason Donalds if they can't access road races without extreme traveling?

One solution - not the

One solution - not the perfect one, but maybe the most realistic is to turn the big road races, if possible, into Gran Fondos. If you look at most mountain bike races and triathlons, to be honest, they are more just Gran Fondos in disguise. 20% or less of the participants are actually in it to win it, the rest are there for a long ride in, take in the scene, share some stories and drink some beers afterwards.

The lesson - we need overweight dentists and lawayers and Freds to subsidize road racing. Or alternatively - you need the helmet-mounted mirror set to pay for the events us road racers want promoters to hold.

"What are they doing to

"What are they doing to change this? ... are they actively trying to fix road racing, but working with towns, cities, counties and promoters to figure out how to change the trend"

I'm... not exactly sure. My experience has been that if you corner the leadership on this topic, the typical response is "we leave promotion up to the promoters". And again, this is where you get what you pay for.

You can say whatever you want about the Feds but if you call the local association in any other reasonably active racing region and ask for help, or god forbid, go looking for info on event promotions on the USAC website (which is approximately ten thousand times more informative and useful than the ACA site is) they will give it to you, and point you toward your local and regional professional resources as well. USAC is actively interested and involved in holding professional, well run events because the bigger the prizelist, the better their cut. The flipside of this is that they're also more willing to let the promoter run whatever level event they want, so by definition if you want to hold a marginal event with no portolets and sketchy safety, they won't stop you either. So it cuts both ways in that regard - the Feds do a lot less micromanagement on individual events, so this is where a strong LA becomes an important piece of the puzzle.

which brings me to LOL at those complaining about paying an additional LA fee on top of licensing. Newsflash: there's a bunch of us who already pay for dual licensing, so it's no additional out-of-pocket cost. I'll also bet you $20 that the ones complaining are the exact same dudes who sit around at Vics with their $6000 full carbon bikes and $2000 wheelsets drinking $4 lattes and bitching about entry fees and how the officials didn't record their 37th place finish properly at last week's CSP.

Another issue I'll address from above where someone ranted about how "poorly run" USAC events are in the area is that: what do you seriously expect? There just isn't enough volunteer bandwidth, intellectual capital, or grassroots support to provide for multiple road associations in any region, much less this one (I'd cite a bunch of geographical / travel / demographics and population density issues here, but tl;dr already).

And since there's basically zero support or intellectual capital, thought or time put towards USAC racing because there's this weird collective notion that they are The Evil Empire Who Should Be Obliterated, Or Failing That, Ignored So Hopefully They'll Just Go Away, then yep, you will indeed see a pretty ghetto USAC road scene here, because (duh!) these events are in the main collegiate events that are held by a bunch of 20-year-old undergrads who've likely a) never put on an event before and b)don't know thing one about putting on a bike race. Plus, they don't even have the benefit of a decent local association to fall back on here because all that intellectual capital is already tied up in the ACA, who don't give a wet taco fart about them. It's a huge catch-22, too, because ideally collegiate racing is where a significant portion of your grassroots senior development should be focussed and coming from, but instead they're hung out to dry in CO because through no fault of their own (besides choosing to ride for an alma mater that's been essentially hamstrung by regional association infighting), they are forced to permit through USAC if they want to qualify for Nats. So, divide and... er, get your ass kicked, is basically how I'll sum up that concept.

I have also gotten the impression that ACA are actively and extremely anti-professional promoters. Someone like CG could probably articulate this better, but it basically seems like they either actively discourage high-level races and prizelist events, or else had some bad experience in the past with one promoter (which of course by standard ACA polarised logic means that every single professional promoter and event from that day forward is Evil Personified).

Don't get me wrong, I think grassroots promotion is extremely worthwhile and important; it is, after all, where you get your elite from, and how you develop juniors, women and collegiate racers up through the ranks. Oh wait... I forgot, you have to race USAC to race collegiate here, and now there's no Elite level to speak of, either, so yea, let's just forget about development, we'll stick to fielding a crapload of mediocre Masters Cat 3/4 events because that's where our bread is buttered (but I digress).

I think the notion of including gran fondo events as the backbone for funding higher quality mass-start road events is an extremely worthy one, and one that the Fort Collins Cycling Festival (for example) seems to be actively pursuing. This is what I call the "Sea Otter" mentality, where you provide for all levels and interests of cycling as a big festival affair. Superior seems to be going this route as well. Moving towards this structure may mean fewer events/season, but at a higher level of quality. And, if it means the death of the same-boring-crits-every-weekend deal that's threatening to take over the schedule, well... that's probably not a bad thing either.

On another note, look at how much influence and change BMA have managed to bring about on the grassroots MTB scene ever since they dropped their "beer and baggies" approach to advocacy and adopted a more forthright political lobbying, professional marketing and high-tech communications stance. They lobby, a lot. They talk openly and continuously to their membership about every single issue and how it will affect the membership at large. They rely heavily on social networking, because it works. This is something the road element would do well to consider going forward.

Great Point

Really great points here.

The problem now with the ACA/USAC feud is that so much has been mangled and there is so much confusion as to why we even have a non-USAC affilitated LA, that even agreeing as to the issues between the two groups is full of misunderstanding, much less coming to an agreement as to where to go.

In some ways, I get the feeling the ACA may be more about defending its turf an autonomy versus actually determining the best approach towards improving road racing in Colorado. I agree the Gran Fondo approach is going to be part of the solution, but I think the "Big" events can be worked into the schedule without disrupting the large offering of local crits which make up the stable of events in Colorado.

If anything - what I would like is for the ACA / USAC (whichever one leads in the future), to work on integrating these events into the race calendar but ensure that the races are still maintained with integrity, versus becoming the afterthought of the Gran Fondo / race promoters. The key is to ensure that the race is not hindered by the non-dedicated racers. If this means that Day 1 is purely racing, and they hold a festival the second day, or if it means that the Categorized racers get properly start times such that the non-competitive citizen category does not interfere with the race, then I applaud this approach.

What I do not want to see is this turn into something like the Leadville 100, where dedicated racers who qualified (versus winning the lottery ticket, or paying Carmichael $1,000 per month for his "coaching") have to ride behind those who just want to finish so they can go back to their friends, family and collegues (who do not know any better), and brag about racing the Leadville 100 with pros such asSite Map
Lance and Levi.

If this means we can have a Stage race or 1 day race held in Boulder/Denver, riding up and down the front range, then I am all for it. But I do not want to see racing in Colorado turned into a farce.

Centurion/Gran Fondos

ACA worked with the Colorado Centurion last year. 100 Mile Mass Start Race - Gran Fondo
*Cost vs. turnout was way below breakeven so it did not return to Colorado. Not sure how many tour riders really want to race? or the fact that this was the weekend after "The Triple" and the weekend before Mt. Evans.
Will be interesting to see the break out riders at the Ft. Collins Gran Fondo/UCI Qualifier. It is up against the Deer Creek Challenge. My guess is the Deer Creek ride gets a much larger turnout.

haha "we did that once and


"we did that once and it didn't work (totally ignoring x,y,z mitigating factors), so of course it will never ever work again, so don't even bother!"

standard ACA defeatist polarized thinking. It's all about short term solutions and the worst case scenario.

Maybe if these events were started off conservatively, projected to start off small and grow, then were held more than once in a row, and word got out (a la E-Rock) they might gain momentum over time. But we'll never know because oh, we tried that once, and it failed to break even so it'll never work ever again.

An example of how to grow an event sustainably is how an event such as the Colorado Trail Race has been slowly built up from just a handful of guys getting together to try a crazy idea, into a legitimate annual "event" that is well thought out and organized, and that people are starting to really look forward to. Granted they're not sanctioned, but they're getting positive publicity, they have great tracking and support, and are growing exponentially.

I also submit that if there were fewer silo groups in the Front Range picture holding all their various events, and there was a bigger regional picture/calendar (303cycling is ahead of the curve on this btw, so kudos on that), there'd be less overlap and you'd likely see less of the "oops, didn't consider we'd be in conflict with XYZ Bike Event" event turnout flops.

Gran Fondo is just a fancy

Gran Fondo is just a fancy name for "give me large sums of cash so you can go ride a really cool route you could just do yourself or with your friends". Never will I pay $100+ to do such a ride, just because it's called a Gran Fondo. It would just be a grand waste of my money...O.