Local Politics: The ACA vs USAC

If you have a good memory, you’ll recall that I wrote in detail about some of the local issues with race sanctioning and how it related to my racing.  There is a big vote by local teams and promoters on Friday which may resolve these issues.  As always, 303Cycling’s has gone haywire on this topic.

First, I’ll summarize the situation: In the US, the internationally recognized ‘National Governing Body’ (including by the US and International Olympic Committee) is USA Cycling.  USAC Cycling oversees most road racing in the US, receives US Olympic Committee funding, and oversees elite athlete development.  Although USAC oversees most road racing nationwide, in Colorado an organization was formed about 15 years ago in response to various local disagreements with how USAC operated, called the American Cycling Association (the ACA).

The ACA has become a great entity.  They oversee a successful racing calendar, growing membership, and local junior development, while charging low fees to riders and promoters.  While the ACA has been doing a terrific job, USAC has decided to increase pressure on the ACA.

First, there was the enforcement of a rule which barred riders from Pro teams from racing in ACA events.  I think the effect of this change is under-estimated by many.  The ability for a fan to go watch local race and see some high profile racers is one of the unique aspects of bike racing.  This attracts spectators to races and new fans to the sport.  Fans, spectators, and racers bring sponsors, and more money for better events.  Yes, I am an elite racer now, but when I was a Cat 4 I was be interested in who showed up for the ‘pro’ race, and would frequently watch.

In response to Pros being unable to race, some races in 2011 were dual sanctioned, with the ‘amateur’ categories through the ACA, and the ‘pro’ categories through USAC.  Again, USAC is increasing the pressure and will not allow dual sanctioning next year.

Also, my upgrade to Cat 1 was severely hampered by the fact that I could only race USAC events to earn upgrade points.  As of next year, there will be no reciprocity for any category.  If you’re a local Cat 3 and you want to race out of state, you could easily be stuck racing the Cat 5 race.

We have already started to see some conflicts in the calendar, where there are USAC and ACA events held on the same date.  While racing in Colorado is successful overall, the numbers don’t support multiple events on the same date.  I can only expect date conflicts to increase as USAC continues to increase the pressure, especially if a new Local Association is formed (a USAC Local Association would take $10 from every USAC License in Colorado, and possibly use the money to further undermine the ACA next year)

Rock – Hard Place

To summarize: The ACA has been wildly successful in promoting grassroots growth of amateur bike racing in Colorado.  Unfortunately USA Cycling has always seen this as a threat and is increasing the pressure to reintegrate.  While there are some benefits to reintegration on its own merit (no need for dual licenses, national rankings/events), the potential downside from an increasingly hostile relationship with USA Cycling makes reintegration necessary.

I don’t believe I am acting purely in my own self interest with this opinion.  Yes, I am elite racer who may race Elite and/or Master’s Nationals next year (USA Cycling events), and I also pay for both licenses.  But if I were acting purely in self-interest, I would probably like to keep the status quo and keep Pros out of the races.  Big prize money attracts big names, but last year the pros were gone, yet at many races the big money remained.  I won over a thousand dollars this summer, which I will have to work much harder for after reintegration. I also have a ‘stick it to the man’ personality and feel angry about USA Cycling exerting political influence in their own self-interest, putting racing in Colorado at risk. Nevertheless, I believe reintegration is our best option.

About Russell

I have been racing bicycles for a decade. This blog will chronicle my efforts as a Category 2 road racer and lining up with the PROs.
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4 Responses to Local Politics: The ACA vs USAC

  1. RRR says:

    Interesting article…
    Maybe I missed the compelling argument for reintegration. Other states are in similar situations.
    Right now I can’t imagine why anyone would wish to give their money to USAC.

    • says:

      Mostly my concern for the fact that USAC has shown they will continue to make racing in Colorado a hostile environment for racers and promoters. If we could keep the situation we’ve had in the past few years, I would be happy have it continue.

      Either decision we make, we are going to have significant changes next year. Unfortunately, I believe a increasingly fractured calendar and other changes that we will have next year will continue to decrease the influence and viability of the ACA to the detriment of local racing.

      I’m not happy with USAC or their tactics. I just think it is the best choice for the sport at the local level in the long run.

  2. says:

    Thanks for the informative explanation of the current situation with ACA. I read that they’ve voted to reintegrate with USAC for 2012. I’ve also read a ton of comments on peoples’ personal experiences with both ACA and with USAC, and a great deal of those who dont race road DO seem to be getting the shorter end of the stick.
    All of this makes me very glad that I race in Oregon, and that there doesn’t seem to be a snowball’s chance of OBRA ever joining up with USAC. (Of course, if that ever does happen, that will likely mark the end of my sanctioned racing activity; I’d rather risk life and limb in a renegade race than pay $90 for a USAC license when they obviously care nothing for weekend warriors like me.)

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