This rule severely marginalizes the ability of many professional cyclists to earn a living wage by prohibiting their participation in non-sanctioned events, many of which boast significant prize purses or represent off-season or alternate-discipline training opportunities. It also unnecessarily places these athletes at a distance from aspiring athletes and fans, and by extension damages the growth and maturation of the sport, particularly within the various mountain biking disciplines, which often suffer under the templated rule system seemingly handed down from the road cycling culture without a great deal of thought regarding that rule system's relevancy or appropriateness.
We the base of US and international riders, racers and enthusiasts call for the attendance and participation of Steve Johnson (CEO, USA Cycling), Micah Rice (VP, National Events) and Pat McQuaid (President, UCI) in a joint team, industry, athlete and governing body summit to be held at this year's Sea Otter Classic. Relevant board members, rule committee officials, and whatever other persons necessary to immediately rescind this rule and enact this change should also attend.
Gentleman - you've gone on record as stating that riders must elect between the pursuit of an Olympic berth OR occasional participation in non-sanctioned events. This is your opportunity to defend that position and explain why such a choice is necessary.
Steve Johnson and Micah Rice: you better than most understand the financial difficulties inherent in chasing the Olympic dream, these trials made greater for US athletes by virtue of our sport's limited funding and stature within our country as compared to that of its European counterparts. By electing to enforce this rule you are willingly complicit in augmenting the difficulty of the path any US athlete must tread in order pursue that goal. You knowingly sabotage your own athletes. Shame.
The time for change is at hand. The opportunity to prove that you truly represent the wishes of your constituents (as opposed to blindly supporting a universally unpopular bylaw) is at hand.
The choice or whether to address this issue or not is yours, but be warned - should you choose the latter, the next petition issued will call for:
- a general boycott from all riders of USA cycling individual licensing
- an appeal to the promoter community to seek alternate insurance vendors
- a side-by-side product comparison of available insurance options including an explanation of true benefits and costs (believe us, this comparison DOES NOT place your organization in a favorable light)
- a detailed list of where promoters can find those very same vendors offering identical policies for less than half the cost of the product you offer.
Included in that petition will be a general call for brands, sponsors and potential sponsors to "buy local" in lieu of underwriting an erratic, shortsighted, and overly regulated and hidebound bureaucracy. The option described above will also include a legal component on behalf of the riders and events affected.
Turning a deaf ear to the demands of your base is NOT a sustainable business model. Electing to play pure power politics with the foundations that form the very underpinning of your sport is a dangerously risky business.
Without question you are intelligent men and women. Consider this your respectful warning to not fall victim to the hubris often associated with such intelligence.
Pride cometh before a fall. On behalf of the same riders, athletes and brands referenced above, please take steps to avoid a revenue and public relations disaster on the very same scale your two organizations along with all of cycling continue to navigate and endure as a result of your most recent PED debacle.
Details regarding meeting venue are forthcoming.