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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Staying Out of Rome

It's a great time to be an endurance cyclist, with freedom to choose among hundreds of events of all kinds all over the country throughout the calendar year. Freedom. The quantity, quality and even the very nature of events that exist truly depend on you, the cyclist, for attendance and support. Choose wisely, so as to support that which you actually support and not support that which you do not.

Pell Duvall and Scott Redd fording the water crossing in the 2014 Almanzo Royal gravel bike race.
Yes, I took this picture during the event, while I waited for everyone to safely cross.
Here's a recent incident highlighting the stark difference between a USAC sanctioned cycling event and a non-sanctioned event. LoToYa, a 206 mile USAC sanctioned endurance road event marketed as "road race" to categorized, licensed racers and a "cyclosportive ride" to others out for a challenge, disqualified three finishers, at least one of whom was a cyclosportive rider. Two were disqualified for "Selfie at finish line" and one for the "Obscene gesture" of flipping off the finish line itself. Selfie-Disqualified. Cue social media outbursts from all sides.

In the USAC world of sanctioned, licensed road racing, the thick rule book apparently includes a ban against using a cell phone during a race. With large packs of racers often fighting for each position, such a rule makes sense. Applying that rule to a cyclosportive rider documenting the accomplishment of finishing such a ride, with no one else in sight other than his riding buddy, does not. But it's the USAC's world. They set and enforce their rules. Live with it, or leave it.

Start of the 2018 Trans Iowa. In addition to starting in the dark, a finisher of Trans Iowa rode all day, through the night and into the next morning. In contrast, the LoToYa Race Guide says, "Riding after dark is unsafe and creates an intolerable risk." Both race directors have earned the right to create and manage their event their way. You choose what to support.
My take-away is simple.

If you enjoy competing in USAC sanctioned races and rides, know their rules, follow their rules and have fun. You're supporting their rules, their officiating and these outcomes by paying to attend events with USAC sanctioning. If that's your thing, go for it.

On the other hand, if you enjoy challenging yourself in endurance cycling events without the bureaucrats' rule book, instead look to non-sanctioned events, know each event's rules (probably not very many), follow those rules and have fun. And be sure to share all your pictures with everyone.

There's plenty of opportunity for everyone.

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