My name is Molly Cameron and I am a bicycle racer. I happen to live in Oregon and did the majority of my racing in Oregon and Washington this season. I traveled internationally, raced some UCI races and am preparing to fly to Madison, Wisconsin to race the US Cyclocross National championships next week.
I registered for the 2013 Cyclocross National Championships the day online registration opened. I signed up for the Elite race, the Master’s 35+ race and a “non-championship” race. These were, I should note, individually the most expensive races I have ever paid for.
I’m not complaining here, bike racing has never been cheap.
A few days ago, it was brought to my attention that I am listed in last place on the start list and “race predictor” for all of the races I registered for. Apparently I have no “USAC points” so I am listed in dead last place. I kinda chuckled about it to myself, my goals for the Elite race are reasonable, my UCI points should start me mid-pack and I’ve generally entered the Master’s race as a warm up and to pre-ride the course a bunch at race pace.
While I have a decent shot at winning the 35+ race, it has never been a target for me. (I have finished in the top ten every year I’ve done an age group race at Nationals, which is infrequently). I’ve always tried to focus on being the best racer I can be and race against the best I can in the Elite race. I’ve never liked it when legitimate professional talent (not me, obviously!) cherry picks age group national champ races. Not naming names but it happens, UCI licenses or not. I’ve always held the belief the age group races are for the riders with real jobs and stuff other than bike racing to focus on.
So when a bunch of racers also registered in the Master’s 35+ race sent me notes/tweets/etc voicing how my lack of a call-up in the race was “BS” and “ridiculous”. I put a little more thought into it and, yes. Yes it is ridiculous.
I emailed a few people at USA Cycling today (December 31st) to inquire about my lack of USAC points. I’m not going to name any names as everyone I have ever dealt with at USA Cycling has been responsive, helpful and professional. I’ve raced all over the world and only had good experiences with the UCI and USAC representatives and employees. I’m not writing this to incite or perpetuate any anti-USA Cycling sentiment. I don’t think USAC “sucks”. Though maybe some of their policies do.
The response I got from USAC was what I expected. I have read and know the rules myself.
“We have some fairly rigid policies regarding call ups. If you are riding in the elite men race, then the first criteria will be UCI points, so your call up would be based on that. For masters, we use the returning 8 places from last year, followed by USAC rankings.” Which is completely fair. My racing and results should speak for themselves this season!
Here is the catch: USA Cycling is my national governing body yet, USA Cycling does not recognize ANY of the racing I did this year (except CrossVegas, where a mechanical in the last lap ended my race) and that affects my USAC ranking; I currently don’t have one. Zero points. Even though I am internationally ranked by the UCI, I don’t officially have any USAC points. Not a single point. This year, I had a great season. I won races, was rarely off the podium and consistently raced against International caliber competition at every race.
Many of you may know about the non-reciprosity between USAC and the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. You might have read this article on Velonews detailing the current state of affairs, if not, give it a read for some context. Read the comments too. There is a lot of the “blah blah USAC sucks” type but, you can find some intelligent exchanges in-between the USAC bashing. Here is another article.
People jokingly comment to me; “move to Colorado!” or “move to New England” suggesting that, I would not have this problem if I was in a region that had USAC reciprocity and there is a bunch of USAC sanctioned racing. That is not a realistic solution to the problem. If anything these are pretty selfish recommendations, from riders not caught up in this power struggle.
I’d like to also note that I’ve never felt like the USAC or UCI is “evil”. My intention here is not to vilify the USAC or UCI. I’ve never felt the need to trash talk either governing body. Like I said, I am a bike racer, I show up, play by the rules, race clean and do my job the best I can against the best competition available.
I’m not writing this looking for sympathy, special favors or to bend the USAC rules for me. I’m writing to point out how flawed this system is. If USAC is supposed to be my national governing body why don’t they recognize any of the racing I’ve done this season? This is, of course, a rhetorical question.
I represent everything that USAC should be supporting. I am a 30-something year old bicycle racing “consumer”! I love bike racing, I put lots of money into the sport and race consistenty. I travel to races, I’ve been going to US Nationals yearly since I started racing cyclocross. I buy my spendy UCI/USAC license every year and pay my entry fees with no hesitation. I represent many, many of us cyclocross racers; we work full-time jobs, have a lot of other responsibilities in our lives and still dedicate ourselves to being the best cyclocross racers we can be.
But, because of some political power plays between the governing bodies of our sport, my racing does not count. At least not to USA Cycling.
When I asked about my UCI points and UCI ranking superseding any USAC point system for ranking in the master’s race. And, to be fair, I was just pointing out how silly it is that I am ranked internationally but not nationally.
“No because most of the people with UCI points are professionals and not allowed to ride the masters events anyway. If you are on any kind of UCI team, or you have ridden world cup events this year, you are considered an elite and not allowed to ride masters events at any level. That takes care of most of the people who have UCI points. The philosophy is that if you are good enough to earn UCI elite points, you should be riding elites and not masters.”
I’m sorry, you are incorrect. Most of the people with UCI points are not professionals. Not even close.
While I agree with the philosophy; and I too think that if you are good enough to be getting UCI points you should be racing the Elite race but, not necessarily to the exclusion of any age group racing you are able to do. I also like the rules about UCI team members and World Cup participants not being able to race age group races. Makes sense. But in reality it is because the cyclocross community is largely self-policing that most professional-caliber riders with any self respect or self awareness know better than to cherry pick the age group categories at nationals. It is not because the USAC rules are so well written that the categories work them selves out.
You (USAC) are wrong about most of the people with UCI points. The overwhelmingly vast majority of racers in the United States racing UCI races are not professionals. There are hundreds of UCI licensed riders racing UCI races and NOT getting UCI points. And the vast majority of racers getting UCI points in those races are not professionals. Of the currently 87 UCI ranked US riders with UCI points right now, about a dozen are professionals. Maybe. The other 75 something US riders with UCI points, (while some are very well sponsored) are bicycle racing consumers. Grass roots level bicycle racing consumers, that put a lot of money and heart back into the sport.
Let’s consider for a minute: What if my season goal was winning the Master’s National Championship 35+ race? I don’t see why it could not be, I’m 37, I work 2 full time jobs and still managed a competitive cyclocross season. I’m the stereotypical masters racer. If I trained hard and maintained my form through the holidays just to find out that USAC does not recognize any of my season’s race results and that I have to start in the back row of the most important race of the year, I’d be pretty devastated.
Just because I live in Portland, Oregon and race local races.
In addition to all of the race results, I asked about the chance I’ll be fined for holding a UCI Elite license and racing non UCI events this coming season:
“The penalty is a 100 fine the first infraction and a 30 day suspension for subsequent ones. Last year it was only the professional riders but I have heard discussion of all international license holders but am not sure when/if that takes effect”
While this is pretty unlikely to happen to me, it very well could. Again, USAC is just enforcing a UCI rule that has been around for a while. But I hope they pick up on the public outcry. It is a rule that makes no practical sense and bums out everyone.
No one benefits with these kinds of rules. Well, maybe the UCI does.
Where does it leave us in 2013? UCI cyclocross racing is very important to me, important to my sponsors but, the bulk of the racing I do is in Oregon under OBRA. I already have both my OBRA and UCI/USAC 2013 licenses. USAC can potentially fine/sanction me for racing non-USAC races as soon as the local season starts up. I can race as many master’s cyclocross races in Oregon and Washington as I want to and I’ll still never earn a USAC point.
It is a broken system. One would think, that USAC, looking to actually live up to their namesake and represent every cyclist in the USA, would just be gracious and acknowledge OBRA races and results. If anything, just do it for the racers. This kinda stuff only makes our lives complicated and does not in any way improve our racing experience or benefit the national racing scene.
I know the USAC representative I emailed back and forth with about this will eventually read this and I apologize for just copying verbatim your emails here but, I know you are just dictating the current policy and it is nothing personal. I appreciated the quick responses to my questions. I have a lot of respect for every race official, race promoter and everyone involved in the various bicycle racing sanctioning bodies. While I may not always agree with you, I could not race my bike without all of you doing what you do.
I’m really not concerned with my call up at Master’s nationals. It is the damn principal here. USAC does not appear to have a real grasp on what bike racers are actually doing, what is actually important to us. Maybe one of these years I will actually show up with some fitness and contend for the win. But if things stay the same, I’ll still never earn a single USAC point in 2013 regardless of how much racing I’ll do, UCI, Masters, Elite or otherwise.
I can’t breathe and it is beautiful.
This is my third year coming to Japan, staying at Yatsugatake bicycle studio in Minamimaki village on the Japanese Alps. I am here to race cyclocross and am doing rides people write stories about.
I am a part of something special here, this family of cyclists, racers, photographers, fitters, frame builders, workers and friends.
The sun is shining, it is bitterly cold. The riding is brisk and spirited.
This is an experience all of us will remember fondly.
Disc brakes. In cyclocross. OMG!
People seem to have forgotten that disc brakes have been available on cyclocross bikes since the early 2000s (and earlier on custom built cx bikes). The majority of disc brake equipped cx bikes on the market are still using the same mechanical caliper that was available back in 2002. So, they generally work about as well (and weigh about as much) as they did 10 years ago.
Every manufacturer swore up and down that their top PRO cx racers would be on disc brake bikes this year.
Pics or it never happened!
Oh wait, we do have 1 win on them!
And de Euros?
I thought Colnago promised us that Sven and Niels would exclusively riding disc brakes this season? I guess not.
Note: I’m not hating on disc brakes at all here. I love cycling technology and advancements. I think steel bikes are fantastic and carbon is a material you can do amazing things with. I keep an open mind regarding cycling tech and like to try new things out myself. These are not things to get emotional about.
I have a responsibility to my clients to know a lot about this technology, read between the lines in the marketing and not sell them crap.
I am waiting for the day that production-level technology catches up with the marketing hype. When there is zero weight penalty for using disc brakes on a cx bike and we don’t have to use adaptors and one-off prototype parts get fantastic braking performance.
Unfortunately (or not), cyclocross ends up being the testing ground for a lot of new gear and tech that the bicycle industry (and/or UCI) wants to eventually place in the road market.
While I am a critic, this stuff is exciting!
So what are the Euros waiting for? The mud?
How do you cope with losing?
And then this:
And Kevin Pauwels response. Use google translate to get the story:
We all now realize that blogging is somewhat D E A D.
Twitter has allowed me to keep up to date with a lot less effort than finding the time to update a blog. And time is certainly the one thing I do not have enough of the last few years.
Here is to a renewed effort to find time to write more than 140 characters and a link to something interesting.
I think you are freaky and I like you a lot!
This year has been really good and uplifting so far! It has struck me that reading between the lines to really get a sense of what is going on from my website is probably hard as, most of the posts in the last 6 months/year or so have been bummer posts. And, that stuff is relevant at the time; crashing, getting injured, being run-down. That stuff is valid and, important when it is happening and I’ve been forgetting to write about the incredible things that happen in between all of the disappointing and tiring times.
I find beauty in so many small things. And, writing about them has not been on the top of my agenda.
Gonna make the time this year. It is already looking like it is going to be a great season.
Here I am, in Koksijde, Belgium watching CX Worlds. It has been a quick trip, right to the venue and right down to business. I am helping out with some pictures for a documentary in progress. All business, no pleasure.
Been a few years since I have been to Belgium, it is weird not to be racing. It certainly makes the visit a whole lot easier. Less stressful.
I am running into everyone I know here. Even though there are 40,000+ fans in attendance, it is still pretty easy to find the people you are hoping to bump into.
The Junior, U23 and Elite Women’s races have been amazing to watch and the notorious Belgian super fans are being notoriously Belgian. (these guys are Dutch)
The Elite men’s race begins in an hour and the venue is going to be insane. If a Belgian does not win, there is going to be a riot.
Like usual, everything in Belgium ends up being more complicated than it needs to be. So, internet access has been sporadic.
OMG, the race is about to start!
I went out for a spin on the road bike with friends yesterday and got taken down by fluke accident.
A branch or rock, something, got caught up in my front fender on the road bike while riding at speed. Wrapped the fender into the wheel and locked it up. This sent me right over the bars, onto my head. I was not prepared for it in the slightest.
I have not laid on the ground for a couple minutes thinking I might not be able to get up since my skateboarding days. It felt like someone took my legs and twisted them into a painful pretzel. Hyper-extended a knee, bruised up the other leg, re-injured the wrist I broke this summer. My neck is locked up tight.
Holding the handlebars and walking up stairs is laughable. I am fortunate that my Bicycle Studio is partnered up with a great PT clinic in Upper Echelon Fitness so, I do have some resources I may be able to access tomorrow.
Are you f’ing kidding me? How many thousands of miles have I ridden with full fenders? ugh. This is the kind of thing you hear about happening to other people.
I’ve iced and elevated. Both legs are wrapped and compressed. Slept for about 12 hours last night.
I will likely just fly out to Madison for Cyclocross Nationals this Thursday anyways, I’ve got the flight and races paid for, no refunds available, etc.
I’m going to try and spin on the rollers tonight and see how that goes. Tactically, the nationals course does not look particularly technical so, if I can loosen up the legs and move without pain in the next couple days, I will still race.
This is ridiculous. One second you are smiling and laughing in the sun, the next you are on your back.
For a very long time I have been sitting on feelings and emotions… considering writing on past experiences that have left me disappointed, hurt and hell, emotionally devastated.
This blog post from Mike Vallely re-kindled the flame. It is a good read. Though if you know nothing of skateboarding, it may not have relevance.
I’ve been disappointed too many times by too many people and am so bored with people using/choosing their “brand” over their friendships or using the classic: “it is not personal, it is just business” line to make it acceptable to behave like a shit-bag. I am over it. Way over it.
I’m far enough removed from most of these folks now that it might feel good to get it all out; like Vallely dishes on Powell in his post.
Mike Vallely was a hero of sorts when I was a kid growing up skateboarding, it is crazy to read his experiences from 20 something years ago in such a condensed and raw, personal way.
It bums me out to see people with genuinely positive intentions get manipulated and burned. That is something that hits home. Having gone into so many friendships, partnerships and business relationships with positive (and likely naive) goals and communication only to come out of them completely manipulated.
I’ve made it a point in my life to never, ever put business above my friendships. You have to make some tough calls as a small business owner but, I believe you can do good, honest business without fucking people over.
There is something in the way I am wired that does not want to acquiesce to the bullshit in the world. I don’t believe you have to play the game like all of the other motherfuckers play the game. So I’m going to give it to you straight and expect to get the same respect back. No lies, no manipulation.
It often baffles me that people can’t or don’t see through the fake, slimy veneer some people exist in. Yet the longer I live, the more I see the lying bastards growing bigger and bigger. It is a bro-fest out there and well… I am just not interested in being a bro. I want more out of life, more out of people. I don’t do the superficial, I want it raw and real.
(the attack Vos puts down at :40 epitomizes my feeling on attacking. Don’t attack when it is easy, attack when it hurts the most. SO AWESOME!)
Y’know, I probably would have won a few more bike races in my life if I was a bigger asshole on the bike. Yet as many fucking disappointments (and there have been so many) as I have suffered on the bike, deep in the core of my being, I would not be able to live with myself if I played the game dirty.
I truly believe in honesty, hard work, dedication, lots of passion and dreaming big. Bigger than I probably should.
It is how I approach cycling, my business, my lovers and my friends.
Wow. For the first blog post in months, I did not expect this… not writing to toot my own horn here, Vallely’s post elicited an emotional response and I reacted.
Now watch this video of some BMX kid getting all Zef and taking it to the next level. His landings are so clean it makes me want to cry.
I’ll preface this by saying, I had decided earlier this morning not to write anything about getting crashed out. There are plenty of other cx races to do. And plenty of other opportunities to bump elbows and have Reeb put me into the course tape.
An hour ago, I got an email from a spectator that watched it all go down yesterday. So, I’ll just reprint his email un-edited and post a link to the Cyclocross Magazine article that has all the post-race reactions.
John’s email below describes what happened from an unbiased (not a friend of mine and not my words here) point of view:
“Here’s what I saw yesterday. You can quote me as a 20 year ‘cross racing
I watched the Aaron/Molly crash from about 40 feet away.
Molly was 100% right in filing a protest. Aaron was completely at fault and
not only put Molly in danger but also the lapped woman he passed 2 seconds
before. It was obvious to me he was trying to get the woman between himself
and Shannon/Donald/Sean before the right hand corner before pit 2 so that he
could start the long straight without them on his wheel. Molly was clearly
in the lead and it was like a motocross pass where the inside guy uses the
outside one for traction. About 5 seconds after the spot of the crash,
there was the beginning of a long straight where they would have got back
together. With a little bit of patience, everyone would have remained
upright and continued to have fun racing.
Before the crash, there were 5 guys together. After the crash, Aaron was
solo to the finish because the others got gapped with Molly on the ground.
Aaron should have sat up, told the others to ride easy until Molly caught
back up. There were a couple laps to go and 6th was a long ways back.
Again, not my words. I definitely do not think that anyone should have sat up and waited for me post-crash. It just would have been pretty easy not to create a dangerous situation in the first place. Bike races should not be decided by who can run into you the hardest. (though they often are)
I am into full-on aggressive racing but, particularly at these local races with lots of lapped riders, safe and conscious racing. There are hundreds of other racers on the course at the same time as the elite riders. And not all of them are going to feel safe or comfortable getting passed at speed. I pride myself on being as courteous as possible to the lapped traffic while passing and then getting back on with my own race without being a danger or menace to the other riders.
That said, I don’t see much of a difference between something being unintentional and riding with complete disregard for another rider’s safety.
I’ve never protested any race result before, even with punches thrown at me and riders trying to push me off my bike during a race. While I still disagree with it, I absolutely respect the decision (a warning for dangerous riding) that Chief Referee Terri Camp and the OBRA officials came to after hearing my protest.
I’m not angry anymore… I took it all out on the single speeders.