Coffee Talk, Death of the Occasional Racer

Racing takes dedication, training, practice, sometimes requires teamwork and acceptance from the field. For a racer to just "jump in" and race a few seems lazy or sandbaggy (if they are cat'ing down). But all that comes to an end this year as USAC will stop selling one day license to anyone who has held a license in the past. It's unclear what problem this new rule is trying to solve but this new rule will cut down on a lot of peopling thinking, "ya I might do the Koppenberg and Lookout Hill Climb this year" Either commit or don't commit to racing seems to be the objective.

Thanks to a reader for bringing this to our attention

This information was in the BRAC newsletter for March. If I'm interpreting
it correctly, if you ever held a USAC license, you will never be allowed to
race again on a one day. That seems really harsh. I have friends who did
not buy license this year, but still thought they might pick up a race or
two. What about individuals who raced years ago and are just getting back to
the sport, same problem, they have to buy a full license?


USA Cycling has changed the rules regarding ONE-DAY (Beginner) licenses
ONE-DAY USA Cycling licenses are $15.
ONE-DAY USA Cycling licenses are no longer available for any riders racing as
a men's 4,3,2,1, or Pro or for women 3,2,1, or Pro.
ONE-DAY licenses are also no longer available for anyone who has ever
possessed a USAC license.

News Item: 


Suzanne, to clarify you may

Suzanne, to clarify you may have missed the bottom section: this rule does not apply to the entry level categories like SM 5 and SW 4 as it appear they definitely do not want to discourage people from entering the sport or participating at the entry level on occasion.

I agree with Kris that the motivation behind the rule is unclear, though it would seem to go in tandem with the "one license, one fee, for all disciplines" change this year.

One potential, possibly unintended side effect it may have is to slightly discourage one-off entries into the mid cats by national caliber athletes in other endurance sports (plentiful around these parts) who feel like getting a bit of cross-training in by coming out and crushing a field of 3's or 4's, soaking up the upgrade points only to then never be seen or heard from again until the following year. At least if that happens now we'll know they'll have paid to play just like the rest of us.

Unintended consequences...

Scenario One:
So 12 years ago "John" tried out racing, and because it was more cost-effective at the time, he bought a USAC license for the season. Then real life happened - he became a father, moved out of state, stopped having time for anything but babies, diapers, and parental responsibilties. If he wanted to come back to racing now, as his kids are finally old enough to play freely with less supervision, he'd have to buy a full license, because he had one once - no one-day experiments.

Scenario Two:
"Joe" raced one MTB race last year, had a great time, but can't really commit to the sport. He wants to do it again, but this year, he can't buy a one-day license, because the beginner's category in MTB is 3 - and if you've ever raced Cat 4 or higher as a man, you have to buy a full license. Just to ride that one race.

So what USAC has really done is put the nail in the coffin for one-off CX and MTB racers. Road is less impacted (I think) because Cat 5 isn't a new designation this year (as it is for CX). It's a money grab regardless of how they spin it - and whether that is an unintended consequence, it's still wrong.

Wrong in what sense? You have

Wrong in what sense? You have to admit: it must be tough for an organization like USAC to cater to such a range of athletes, from elite pros representing at world championships and such, all the way down to athletes such as "John" and "Joe" who wish to dip a toe in.

On this forum alone, there seems to be two extreme schools of thought: 1. The recreational model: everybody should get to race race whenever they want, for cheap, in a wide variety of categories suited specifically to their ability and level of commitment. 2. The elitist model: commit fully or die. 20 hours of dedicated training a week, minimal categories, blood sport and an arms race of gear.

There's a middle ground in there--the silent majority around here--who do the best the can with what they have. So which of these groups should USAC/BRAC cater to? Is it possible to cater to all successfully? These are not rhetorical questions as the answers will ultimately affect the future of the amateur sport.

Wrong in the sense that what

Wrong in the sense that what they are doing, in the name of "simplified" licensing, is making it harder to justify doing this just a little, and raising prices without raising services. If you want to race more than once in a season you are dropping $70 for a USAC license, and then $25 for a BRAC license/membership, and then you have your entry fees. Want to race twice? $95. Want to race once, but you raced once last year? $95. You have to pony up your $100 commitment fee before you even pick an event to race in, and pay the fees for that event. It's money grubbing (USAC more than BRAC).

Yep. This is what irks me the

Yep. This is what irks me the most about racing.

I was in line behind a women racer who wanted to race CX for the first time. She filled out the forms, waited in line, got up to the counter and they asked her for $50. "it's a 40 minute race" "really?" She paid it and raced. She either never came back or succumbed (because CX is awesome) and bought USAC, BRAC licenses. It's a racket.

I suspect relatively few

I suspect relatively few people use the one-day rule to sandbag, if for no other reason than CO does a poor job, generally, of attracting riders from other states, making the fields largely homogenous. You race the same folks every week, and it's not too hard to tell when someone is abusing the system. Those people are easily identified and called-out by racers in their respective Cat. The bigger issue, I believe is the implications for womens' racing. Here we are, working to bring women into the sport...and then making rules that create barriers to competition. I raced ten years ago quite successfully, and then took time off to have a couple of kids. The learning curve was steep all over again, and it was impossible to dedicate myself to a full season of racing with two toddlers at home. We should be creating policies to expand racing in this state, and bring in new competitors with different histories in the sport.

If I had a dollar for every

If I had a dollar for every person who has admitted/confessed to my face that they bought one-day mtb races so they could race sport/cat 2 without fear of a forced upgrade because one-day license holder's results aren't tracked, I'd have $7.

It happens. A lot.