USA Cycling's response to ACA Relationship


From Steve Johnson
President and Chief Executive Officer
August 22, 2011

To my fellow cyclists in the great state of Colorado! 

As many of you know, I have been actively involved in competitive cycling for more than 30 years.  During this time, I 
have met many wonderful people, made many friends and accumulated countless memories that will endure for the
remainder of my life.  Like most of you, I spent much of this time in the sport just worrying about my own racing 
experiences, never giving the process of managing the sport a second thought.  My how times have changed!  

Today we find ourselves embroiled in a discussion of the relative merits of USA Cycling versusthe ACA as 
a preamble to some sort of “vote” by the clubs to determine whether or not Colorado racing should join USA
 Cycling and the national family of 33 other local bike racing associations, or remain an autonomous organization 
without any affiliation to the national or international sport structure.  Based on discussions I have had with
 many of you, I suspect a large number of Colorado racers really don’t care much one way or the other, while
 an even larger number can’t figure out what all the brouhaha is about.  However, for those of you who find 
yourselves wondering how we got to this point and are actually concerned about the future of Colorado bike 
racing, I would like to take a few minutes of your time to discuss this important and timely issue. 

Read the full statement from USA Cycling

This is in response to the ACA Position Statement on USA Cycling Relationship



News Item: 


Nothing new?

Sure, there'd be something new for juniors if ACA goes away. My seven-year-old has been champing at the bit for two years to go road racing like his older sister. If USAC takes over, what will be new for him is that he'll have to wait another two years to start, since USAC has no 8-9 category.

Thanks to ACA, junior racing is probably stronger in Colorado than just about anywhere else in the country. Joining USAC will only raise the barriers to entry for juniors and their parents.

Stronger how?

I'm curious as to how you are defining "stronger"? If you are talking about the juniors in the Denver metro area that are racing internationally then yes, we have some area juniors that have true international talent. However, on a whole, I wouldn't say that Junior racing is stronger here than other parts of the country. There were two Junior only stage races put on this year. One had 44 participants and the other 68 participants spread out over seven categories. For the State RR and Criterium there were 111 and 101 participants spread out over roughly ten categories. The abilities in the races are pretty vast.

I've had a junior that I've mentored over the past three seasons. Last year he upgraded to Category 3 after being strong enough to win Cat 4 races and placing consistently in the top five. He went to nationals this year as a last year junior and had a much different experience, finishing in the back half of the field and riding among 125 riders. In my opinion ACA junior races don't adequately prepare these riders for national level competition simply because the fields are very small and break up quickly. Thus it becomes necessary for them to upgrade and race with the senior ranks to develop as a rider.

I think that the ACA is doing all that it can to develop Junior racing. It has good programs, (free racing, camps, junior only stage races) but honestly, the numbers are pretty anemic. The top junior riders in the area are attending USAC developmental camps and having opportunities to race abroad under the USAC program.

I'm not sure what to make of

I'm not sure what to make of a single data point with that data point contained within a field of 125 riders for a crit! Has he raced outside of Colorado with more "reasonable" numbers for a crit? How did he do? Look at the kids who have come up through ACA at the Valley of the Sun, for example: Hecht, Dessau, Gould, Rathbun -- all top finishers among a strong group of kids from the western U.S.

I agree with you, the overall abilities in the various categories is variable. They're kids! And they have a wide range abilities and hormonal levels. Of course it is going to break up quickly. This would be no different under the USAC.

As far as your "anemic number" statement. Look at the Nicole Reinert Stage Race; smack dab in the middle of the most populated region of the United States. It had about 85 kids. Similar in number to the Mini Classic in Silt.

Pick any three races on the LAJORS calendar and tell me how many Juniors are in the race. I'll bet that on any given date, there are more Juniors racing in an ACA race than in the LAJORS race.


No need to make anything of it. And I don't really think that as far as juniors go that being with ACA or USAC makes any real difference for them. As they progress in ability USAC is what will take them to the next level. But if the Nicole Reinert Stage Race had only about 85 kids then they've got much of the same problem. Bottom line is that there really aren't that many kids racing bikes these days. But as we're seeing the top echelon of the sport worldwide still rocking it in their early thirties perhaps it isn't necessary to start as a 13-yr-old.

California does pretty well

California does pretty well with that. Some even transition into outstanding track riders. If USAC really cared about Juniors entering races, they'd discount the annual to $20 and one day to $5, so that parents won't be discouraged from trying it out. Grassroots? That's still up to each LA. Those USAC road camps have requirements attached to them, which means typically the "elite" juniors qualify. And they're pricey.

So many thoughts after reading that

The first thought is: what in incredibly rambling document; a document that is supposed to be a position paper. I'm still shaking my head. There was too much fluff, too much cotton candy, and not enough hard information. Maybe an editor should have been consulted.

Here are some questions I hope someone can answer:
1) Is this whole thing predicated on the inability of elite racers to race in ACA races?
2) Did ACA approach USAC to rejoin or is USAC "blackmailing" and forcing this issue?
3) Why is USAC pushing this now? (I have a feeling it is $$$$).
4) Is USAC pursuing OBRA (Oregon) as well? How is Oregon responding?

I'm sure I will come up with more questions after I re-read this thing a third time.