I woke up kinda early this morning and thought maybe I'd see what all my racing buds over on the east side were up to. I'd run into a couple of the St. Louis crowd at Jingle Rock and heard that Bubba was non USA Cycling now. Those of you that know me are aware that I pretty much live in BFE Missouri and have a strange hobby for the area I live in. I live closer to KC and Iowa than St. Louis, but I've been racing long enough that I know about 99% of the "hardcore" racers in the Midwest, regardless of state/region. Racing on the west side of the state is different than racing on the east side of the state. On the west side, the KCA (Kansas Cycling Association) is the big broker in road and cross and a majority of the racers live on the Kansas side of the Metro KC region. All the road and cross is USAC affiliated. On the east, St. Louis and MOBRA is the driver in road and cross. Columbia tends to lean East, although those guys have their own thing going on and I always enjoy racing in their area also. UFD pretty much rules the MTB scene and gives the promoter the choice of USAC or non-USAC.
In my opinion, St. Louis has always did their own thing and tends to be more a local/area racing scene and not many racers travel to the bigger regional races or national races so "cheapest and closest" has been the big criteria. I think there were many more racers, at least MTB, that use to travel to the old NORBA events. I know St. Louis has a strong road scene so those racers should already have a USAC license and be set for cross if someone chooses to promote a USAC race. I race MTB, cross, and a little road so it is a no brainer for me. I also do a lot of the large regional and national races so it is also mandatory and necessary for a good starting position. Anyone reading this post know's how important start position is in cross and the last thing you want at events like Jingle Cross, Montrose Harbor (think passing in sand), or nats, is a back of the pack start and having to negotiate passing while your competition is riding away. If you are just a local weekend warrior out having some fun fitness at the grassroots level, that is no problem and the local promoter can even semi rank starting positions using results from previous series races. If you are serious about racing and traveling to larger races, ranking points are very important. If you start back row, it's real hard to earn the points you need and the "rich get richer" with their privileged, albeit earned, starting positions. I guess it all comes down to what the masses want for what they are paying. I've promoted races for years and I have to remind promoters that they are selling a product and racers are consumers. On any given weekend, I can load up my bikes and drive about any direction on the compass to go race my bike. I will chose the race that will give me the best bang for my dollar and satisfy my individual needs. I will race non USAC races if it is a good race. I'm a old codger masters racer so I like to go to races that have classes for racers for "old farts" like me that allow an equal/fair racing field.
If you follow the suggestions of some of the posters about using some of the Saturdays for racing, which could be USAC events, the hardcores will possibly do both days of racing. More recreational riders that are time challenged with family, work, reality, are going to pick one day of racing and they will go the cheapest/closest route that is probably part of a series. Smart promoters have a clue about these details and most do it to support their love of cycling and the cycling community. Guys like Mike and Rich that have promoted endless years of race events, should be canonized in the "Cycling Sainthood" and probably have take it in the pants financially on more than one occasion. You won't know if people will race on Saturday and Sunday unless you try. If it is just one USAC event and racers don't have an annual, they could buy a one day and maybe the promoter could keep the entry reasonable enough to absorb the one day fee. I think USAC is still trying to figure out the best way to encourage participation and yet not run in the red as an association. There are more "hoops to jump through" when you permit an event with USAC and some of those items have been mentioned-permit fee, official's fees, paperwork, results submitted in timely fashion with rider fees, etc...
So, I'm not sure if all this "typing with two fingers" settled anything but allow an old man to share his opinion. I will guarantee you one thing for sure, if you don't get out and support these events, whether it be as a racer, volunteer, sponsor, etc... and regardless if they are USAC or not, don't whine when they go away. Say thanks to anyone that allows you to play on your bicycles and act like kids on the weekends. There is nothing wrong with making constructive suggestions to promoters when it is done in the right way and not just "whiny noise!" Smart promoters will listen.
I think I've about used my limit for characters but I want to finish with an observation. As I stated earlier in this post and several on this forum in the past, I am an advocate of masters racing and adding classes that give masters a "age physiology" equal competitive opportunity. It did my heart good to see the results from the first Bubba race and see the numbers in the "40-49/50+ combined masters classes. I remember when Bubba added the 50+ and those racers started with the "Virgins" and it was a shorter race. I stated at the that time that this class would grow and the addition of the 40-49 and longer races would encourage more racers and make those classes competitive. Fast guys that want more competition can always do a second race with the A's or B's as you call them in St. Louis. On the west side of the state, the masters classes are large and help pay the bills. Many pay for that 2nd entry and some racers would probably not be there at all if they didn't have racers their age to line up against. When it's all said and done, we are all just grown up kids riding around in circles wearing lycra,and no one really cares about our results more than we do. USAC, non USAC, it sure beats watching tv!
doloMember Since 30 May 2006
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