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.

Summary
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

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110 Comments

In some ways, I get the

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

This is the feeling I get as well, but I also believe the current administration doesn't see it that way, and will vehemently deny this. They feel they are catering to their demographic majority (which they are), but I also think to some degree they're putting all their eggs in that particular basket, because it's what's pays the bills, without much concern for what happens in the next 5-10 years when that big demographic all starts to retire from racing and/or go on to other things.

The thing is, over the past 5-10 years, there hasn't seemed to be a whole lot of crosspollination or development of the collegiate ranks, or much attention paid to making mass start racing at least somewhat accessible to novice riders ages 19-34. There's a lot of talk about grassroots development here, and there's been progress in certain areas, however the lack of a true entry level category for men sets the bar so high for the guys who are just getting into racing that a lot of them never make it past their first mass start event. I'm sorry folks, SM Cat 4 is not entry level in this state, or anywhere else for that matter. Continuing to simply break down by arbitrary numerical age designations ignores the fact that many, if not most, beginner and intermediate amateur level racers are just as fast at 45 as they are at 25.

The focus on adding age group split fields rather than merit-ranked splits maybe beginning to show. There seems to be a bit of a hole developing in the middle of the racing demographic, and it seems to be comprised of twentysomething guys who, for whatever reasons, aren't making the jump from junior/collegiate to local senior amateur racing. The SM3 field is collapsing in numbers, when in reality it should be one of the biggest and most dynamic fields, where the bulk of your amateurs reside. True there are the age group splits bleeding numbers off. However I think the real question maybe why the post-college demographic isn't at least as large, if not bigger, than their masters-with-kids counterparts, especially when you consider that the 19-29 age group is typically the least hampered by lifestyle constraints, and generally has most individual discretionary income (by that I mean they probably have less net income than your more established career guy, but they usually have more "play money" to spend on things like gear because they're not yet supporting a family + mortgage).

for reference, I'm a 35+, Cat 3 woman. I have no personal stake in advocating for these guys, except that I think it maybe important to keep in mind where your next batch of masters racers will come from.

ACA is not a Mafia

I'm sure to be missing something here in this long thread but many are blaming the ACA for x, y and z and saying how USAC would be much better. The ACA is not the Mafia, nothing is preventing USAC from coming in this season or any season and "taking over" All USAC needs to do is get on the calendar, meaning promotors switch from ACA to USAC. No politics, no lawyers, it just happens. If USAC is a better deal then market forces will win over, right? I know it takes a critical mass to make this happen but if USAC wanted to make it happen they could really market and flirt with promotors and racers and in one year be done. Imagine if USAC said, "No fees for promotors in 2012 and all ACA license holders automatically get a USAC license in 2012" They might be able to afford to market that way. I'm missing something right, it just seems to easy.

Good Point on SM4

I completely agree, that the lack of a true entry level category may hinder the racing for guys / gals just starting out. As I said in other posts, Road racing, more so than any other cycling related endeavor is a "in-it-to-win-it" event. There is no belt buckle for completing a crit, or being off-the-back and finishing alone at Deer Trail.

The level of training necessary to enjoy road racing on a consistent basis is much, much higher than it is for other disciplines. Note - I am not saying that the elites in those events do not train hard, but that for some weekend warrior who just want to go out, have a good time, and have something to keep him/herself in relative decent shape, the current road racing scene is the least favorable for those individuals.

This is why I wish the ACA would realize that in 10 years, road racing may be in serious trouble. With the Lance effect gone, and cross/tri/mtb (not to mention charity events) offering all sorts of outlets, what is the ACA doing to continue to promote road racing, encourage more variety in the events held and grow the sport.

My concern is they have been more concerned about setting the table so to speak (i.e. - web-site design, technology at the races) than they are about what is going to be served for dinner (i.e. - who cares if the fine china has been set on the table if all you are getting is re-heated meatloaf).

This is where I wish the ACA would work with promoters at trying top put on 3 - 4 top-notch, A rated events, and figure out the economics for this.

For example - Elephant Rock is a huge success charity ride wise. Has anyone at the ACA thought of contacting that promoter, and seeing about integrating an ACA race into that event that weekend? The marginal cost to the promoter would be small (since they need to get all the permits and aid stations anyways), and if done correctly (i.e. - start the fields like Deer Trail, with the pros going first, then down the ladder from fasted to slowest to ensure little if any categorized overlap. Then once the last categorized group goes, have a "Citizens race" to attract potential new racers, and then after they go, then the mass start "Gran Fondo: style charity riders can go along their way.

And this is where you can attract new racers to the sport. A citizens race is a perfect opportunity for people not familiar with mass start racing to enter into a race where the pressure and attitude are dialed down a notch, and because it would already be a popular non-racing event, the chance at exposing Colorado cyclists to the sport is increased exponentially from where it is now.

Where is the attempt at making Colorado a place where there are a few destination races, such as Tour of the Dairyland or Elk Grove? (Part of this may be the direct result of the fact that this would require a race held under USAC if you ever wanted pro teams to show up at all).

Again - maybe it has been tried, but I want to know what the ACA is going to do when the #'s at almost all races are declining, promoters are losing money on some of the better races around, and the outlook going forward is bleak (i.e. - office park crits galore).

Duhh - eRock Crit

Dud yes there was a ACA race associated with the Elephant Rock Weekend. Just "tagging along" a Road Race with a Ride is a whole lot more work and permitting with Sheriff and State Patrol. They treat Rides and Races completely different as they are completely different.

E-Rock was a criterium held

E-Rock was a criterium held on a different day from E-Rock. But this misses the point of exposing more to racing, and using an existing closed road course to hold the race (we were discussing trying to increase road races to replace the plethora of criteriums).

I agree - there are logistics which need to be sorted out. But I am also trying to think "outside-the-box" on this, as the current approach seems to be resulting in smaller fields, declining race options, and the risk that racing in the front range is going to be reduced to crits and hill-climbs.

Where is the prize list?

I think you make a bunch of worthwhile great points. I simply want to post this question to the promoter of the FOCO Cyling festival sinc eyou mentioned it here. (I did already send him a personal note). What the hell happened to your prize list? Did someone already run off with it?

um wow...

I take it you don't actually do triathlons or race mtn bike?

Many triathlons and duathlons are in the ~$35 per race category. Those that are in the hundred plus offer a full pre-race day, and a venue during race day often including entertainment etc so that it is a full day of entertainment for the entire family; not only that, but it is 4-8 to 11+ hours of supported racing, not 1-2 sometimes 4 or so hrs of mostly self supported racing. The comparisons are in completely different categories.

Why some races went away?

Why some races went away? Nothing to do with ACA or USAC.

Carter Lake - Increased Sprawl and Traffic
Estes Park - Lost Money and Laramie County Sheriff Issue.
Stazio Crits - City Permits & cost - Had to rent Softball Fields. Impossible to get now, as the course has businesses in the middle of it that are open on Sundays.
Other courses have come and gone over time. Not sure one went away because of the permitting body. It usually has to do with money, county/state permitting, Sprawl moving in or a promoter moving on.

Dead Dog - Never had 100 person fields. Was actually a smaller race before it went to ACA.

When where Cat. 3 crits more than 60 minutes and had Pros in them? I never remember having a large amount of fans out at Cat. 3 crits.

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