This is a draft of a post I wrote yet never published in the summer of 2012. Erring on the side of political correctness, and still wanting to race in the Marathon Mountain Bike World Championships, I felt I should refrain from damning my own National cycling governing body. Now, as I do not hold a license, and due to recent events(UCI* licensed Pros may not race in non-USA Cycling events), I am releasing this piece. Please enjoy this short, Op-Ed of my experiences in Mountain Bike Racing.
One man can bring a ship down, but can one man save it from sinking?
The answer is “Yes,” and his name is Todd Sadow.
I first met Todd Sadow when I raced the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo in 2002. It was my first 24 Hour race, and I was racing solo. I won the women’s division alongside Tinker Juarez who won the men’s. It was by far the most fun I had ever had racing a bike, and the most memorable and well-organized bike race I had ever seen.
Little did I know that this man would hold the Ace up his sleeve to salvage what little was left of American Mountain Bike racing.
Mountain bike racing has suffered at the hands of poor marketing and promotion for the past several years. USA Cycling continually toots its own horn about how much they have done for cycling and mountain biking in the USA. You can tell people you have the greatest show on earth, but keep in mind some of your audience have a high enough IQ to realize this is wool. To all but the neophytes, mountain bike racing has become a joke. USA Cycling has become a joke, and a nuisance.
Among the problems with mountain bike racing in 2012 are no or low cash purses for Pro categories, lack of related and unrelated activities and festivities at the races, and in general, poor community relations. While cyclocross racing has far eclipsed mountain bike racing in the past 3 years, largely in part to people like Dorothy Wong in Southern California, mountain bike racing has continued its backwards slide into anonymity.
The blame for the regress of mountain bike racing in the country in its mother country is not too difficult to pinpoint. Is it the promoters, USA Cycling, the bike industry, the racers themselves? Likely it’s a value combo of all parties, but no matter.
The only way forward is not to blame, but to exploit those who have made a difference.
Todd Sadow had a bright idea one day. Gather the largest cash purse for a one day mountain bike race, and invite the best to battle it out for not only bragging rights, but a giant check large enough constitute income from moutnain bike racing.
This is where I left off. And I want to leave it here since this piece has the emotion of the day.
Todd Sadow is the founder of Epic Rides, and his races include 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, the Whiskey Off-Road, the Tour of the White Mountains and the all-new Grand Junction Off-Road. Todd’s races pay more money to first place than USA Cycling races pay to the entire field. It’s astonishing. Is money everything? Well, who would bother entering the Kentucky Derby in order to win $250? And consider most “Pros” are paid in parts, not cash, a cash purse can make the season more enjoyable, even livable, and even help a Pro make a living.
Fast forward to April 2013. All USA Cycling members holding a UCI license received an email letter this week describing in detail the UCI rule which prohibits a UCI license holder from racing in non-USA Cycling or UCI sanctioned races.
Blackmail, manipulation, and other egregious words come to mind when you read and begin to consider the “whys” of this rule. It comes down to a lack of self-esteem and fear that someone else is doing a better job. Good. Because they are.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my Op-Ed where I talk more about the USA Cycling and UCI rule of disallowing licensed Pros from racing in unsanctioned races.
2013 Whiskey Off-Road Pro Cash Purse (Bolstered by SHO-Air)
50 Proof – Pro Purse Allocation
The $40,000 cash purse for pro riders will be split in half between the top ten male and female competitors.
*UCI, Union Cyclistes Internationale, or International Cycling Union is the governing body of all cycling disciplines for the World. USA Cycling is the governing body of all cycling in the U.S.A.