Who needs Pescadero?

June 10, 2015 § 55 Comments

Two days ago I ran a little thing about the NCNCA rule that prohibits outsiders, aliens, foreigners, ineligiblers, and anyone south of the Calmason-Caldixon Line from competing in the Elite District Championship Road Race, which is the state championship road race for the State of Northern California, the 51st star sewn onto Old Glory.

I was shocked that my nasty, rude, mean-spirited, offensive, and vitriolic post could possibly upset anyone, but it did, and the unhappy comments poured in, along with a new nickname, “Sparky,” bestowed by one Timothy Burgess, an NCNCA board member, non-racer, and Official Nickname Bestower. He also blessed the comment section with the phrase “penis wagging,” which was frankly a classic. It made me think of a dog, only standing up, sort of.

What was more shocking than the outrage was that anyone in NorCal agreed with me, but apparently two or seven people did. I will have to find out who they are and block them.

After the electrons settled, a couple of things became clear. One, I was wrong about the rule. NCNCA can do whatever they want and no one can stop them. One of the things they want to do — since 2013, as I was told on the phone — is to exclude every P/1/2 rider who doesn’t have “California–NCNCA” listed on their license from competing in their State of Northern California Elite District Championship Road Race, a/k/a the Pescadero RR.

I was wrong because apparently the USAC rule that defines eligibility for state championship road races (US citizen, resident of the state) doesn’t actually mean “state” in the sense of one of the states that makes up the USA. What “state” means, I was told is “racing district” (supporting documentation for this claim was provided by an official who claimed USAC “forgot” to put it in the rule book), which can sometimes be a state but other times can be a “racing district.” There is nothing in the rule book that says this, or that defines a racing district, or that equates such a district with a state, or that says a state championship is an elite district championship, but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that NCNCA does it this way, and as the promoter so eloquently put it, SoCal riders are *NOT* welcome in the P/1/2 race at Pescadero.

So, I was wrong.

But that’s okay because my post was really about something else. It was about actions that depress rider turnout at races, and many commenters focused instead on whether or not the exclusion was fair, or legitimate, or founded on the USAC rules. Let’s punt the point for the sake of discussion and return to my real motivation, which is to have more people race their bikes in road races. The promoter and others pointed out that Pescadero is just one race and that there are many others in NorCal that anyone can enter. One commenter exuberantly claimed there were “hundreds of race days.”

I doubt that there are hundreds of road races in NorCal each season, but perhaps there are. What I doubt strongly more is that a business model based on insulting, abusing, and excluding potential customers is really very much of a business.

Let’s imagine that a grouchy, irate customer with a blog and a leaky prostate wrote a vitriolic letter to Wal-Mart complaining about lousy service and being made to feel unwelcome. Do you think that the customer service department would tell the person that he was *NOT* welcome at that store, but that there were hundreds of other stores to choose from? Would Wal-Mart call the customer a lousy shopper, or a drug user, or suggest that the customer’s mere presence interfered with the shopping of locals from the neighborhood?

Of course not, and Pescadero is no Wal-Mart. The road racing in NorCal has a bit of the mythical about it, at least when viewed from down here in the SoCal ghetto. People speak about the courses, the aggressive racing, the spectacular scenery, and the high caliber of riders in something close to hushed tones. “This,” they say, “is real road racing.” [Disclosure: They say nothing of the sort about the crits.]

Much of it may be hyperbole, or that hard courses are harder when you’re far from home and don’t know the route, but many guys I respect have vouched for the brutality of NorCal road racing–and always in a good way. It is the hard racing that keeps this tiny cadre coming back, the kind of hard racing that lots of people never even aspire to try. To summarize, it is hard, very hard, and filled with hardness. I don’t know for sure, but would not be surprised to find lots of 100% carbon made fully of carbon there as well.

Whether NorCal is better, or less doped than any other –Cal is beside the point. It’s different, and lots of good riders live and race there, and word gets around about the excellence of the road courses. My own attraction to Pescadero was simple. It’s billed as one of the best and most beautiful and most challenging and most flat-fucking-awesome races in a state (the State of Northern California) that is already known for setting the bar high. On a tour a few years back we had lunch in Pescadero. I’d say it was beautiful but that word is much too poor to reflect the place.

Plus, all-around stud Kevin Metcalfe had a very cool race description of the event.

There was another reason to nut up, book a room, and make the drive, which would have started at 7:00 PM on Friday and required another rider to spell me at the wheel. That reason is simple: SoCal doesn’t have anything comparable this late in the season. In fact, Pescadero breaks a six-week road racing drought in the State of Northern California and the State of Southern California. If you want a tough, 75-mile masters road race, that opportunity ended here in Bakersfield back in April.

SoCal’s calendar is of no concern to NorCal, but maybe it should be. Not everyone here wants to race crits every weekend. There are riders who would make the trek north if there was a bit of momentum, and even the addition of five racers in an event can “affect the outcome of the race.” I can see groups from south of the Calmason-Caldixon Line making the trek north, especially as the epicness of the racing gets broader exposure. I even have connections with a bike racing blogger who has been known to trumpet the awesomeness of a venue as loudly as he excoriates poor sandbox behavior, doping, and cycling “advocates” who support helmet laws.

Yet the current nontroversy has trumpeted to one and all that SoCal riders are *NOT* welcome at Pescadero in the P/1/2 race. Sure it’s beautiful, epic, challenging, and unforgettable, but hey, sucks to be you. As Tim Burgess suggested with a twist of either cutting sarcasm or blase stupidity, this sounds like a great opportunity for an enterprising promoter to put on a race!

[Note to Tim: That enterprising promoter is *NOT* welcome John, and the race already exists. It’s called “Pescadero.”]

There is of course the whole issue of why any self-respecting bike racer would want to win a championship jersey against a weaker rather than a stronger field, but as the TV show was called, “Diff’rent Strokes.” In my case, I’m sorry to have missed the race although there was excellent circuit racing in Chula Vista that day and I got an undreamed-of fourth place in the 50’s and a miracle 10th in the 40’s on a tough, windy, hilly course. Had I gone to Pescadero I would have been lucky to have finished.

So, really, who needs Pescadero? Well, I do, but Pescadero obviously doesn’t need me. Yet all is not lost. What’s this place called “Leesville”?



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§ 55 Responses to Who needs Pescadero?

  • sibex9591 says:

    Had a feeling that what they meant by “State” wasn’t quite what the average Joe would think was meant by “State”. The larger point of having the best racers at a race was lost, and it is good that you brought that back to front.

    • fsethd says:

      This definition is, of course, completely made up by NCNCA and is “stated” nowhere in the Rulebook or anywhere else. There is also no geographical definition of the State of NorCal and the State of SoCal. So funny!

  • Johnnie Lee says:

    You AND the friendly folks running the NCNCA are both still screwing up the definition of “state” by omitting the second N in NCNCA. Our “state” is Northern California AND Northern Nevada, but get this… the coveted jersey actually says “California Republic State Champion.” So in addition to you SoCal racers, the NC(n?)CA folks are also telling a bunch of guys from Reno to eff-off. Haven’t I read about some guy named Greg who was from Reno?

    Also, “Leesville” is now “Ladoga.” And registration is now open.

    Another also… there’s a cool dude from Reno called Bubba that puts on cool races. I’m doing the Little City Stage Race for the first time this year because last year’s Tour de Nez was such a blast. (Unfortunately this year’s Nez is only one race.). I hear little city has some hills.

    • fsethd says:

      I’m glad you posted this about Nevada. I considered including it to show how stupid the NCNCA’s definition of “state” was, but it’s already convoluted enough.

      Yes, Nevada gets the shit end of the stick, but on the other hand they voluntarily link up with NorCal/SoCal, so it’s hardly a surprise.

      And there are numerous NV riders who come to our SoCal races and kick ass, Louie A. being the most well known.

    • I would assume that the first “N”, Northern applied to both California and Nevada. Northern California, Nevada Cycling Association. Isn’t SCNCA the same? Southern California, Nevada Cycling Association?

      Re: Sites Lodoga.


      This discussion in general has been an amazing display of whining BTW. Two categories of one race in a whole season of racing were restricted to NoCal riders and this bitch fest has been the result.

      I am NOT a fan of championship races with non-championship riders BTW. There IS a difference between being able to beat your peers and been able to go with stronger riders who are not championship factors. As examples I would use the old Core States/USPro and the period of time in the 90’s when USAC made the elite amateur national championships open to Pro’s (who couldn’t win the jersey). In both cases as a spectator it probably improved the racing. Frankly a 150 miles USPro race with 30 US Pro’s would never have happened. I get that. But anybody who believes that the non-championship riders didn’t influence who won is crazy. I remember the amateur championships one year when Saturn brought like 10 or 11 pro riders to support their ONE amatuer rider. It was a total joke.

      I don’t like 35/45 combined, picked separately for the same reason. The person who crosses the line first should be the winner.

      By some of the logic in this thread we should maybe allow 35+ guys to race at the 50+ race at districts or nationals. Or maybe let the men race with the women, hell maybe elites and juniors.

      Pescadero is a great race and it’s too bad that the SoCal guys didn’t get to race it. I did the race and am glad it was only eligible riders. From my point of view, going for a championship it makes life much simpler to not have to worry if that guy is a threat to my chance at a medal or not. Of course, realistically I wasn’t there to medal against the kids, but that’s how I feel.

      I also think that there has been a shit ton of NorCal bashing that was frankly retarded. What one promoter does for two groups of one race does not define NorCal any more that Rich Meeker defines SoCal. Can we please pull our heads out of our asses and cut the hyperbole and use a little logic?

      We get it. You’re bummed about not racing Pescadero. But for fuck’s sake can we please get a grip and put it in perspective.

      Thank you.

      • fsethd says:

        The “perspective” is that by excluding racers from your championship you would rather beat an easy field than get beaten by a harder one.

        NCNCA likes that, apparently. Better to be a big fish in your backyard than to slug it out with people who might be better than you on that day, because once you pull on the jersey (which says State Champion, not Elite District Champion), no one knows who you beat. They all just assume that, you know, you beat the best guys in your class in the State of California.

        And your argument that it’s just one race proves our point. If it’s just one race and doesn’t really matter, why not let us race it?

        You of all people should welcome the competition, nay, demand it. Watered down events mean watered down results.

        And you’re wrong about Meeker. He does define our sport, a very important segment of it. People who think he’s a one-off are delusional.

        In the same way, people who lobby for a cheapened district/state championship define themselves as insecure competitors who, at day’s end, prefer the trinket to the accomplishment.

      • Uncle Jam's Army says:

        Your palmares indicate you won numerous “state” championships, not district championships. Wouldn’t you have liked to race against racers from the entire state to earn the title of “state” champion.

        • fsethd says:

          It’s a state district elite championship limited to people who live above the Calmason-Caldixon Line. It’s in the rule book, or would have been if they hadn’t forgotten to put it in there. Anyway, you wouldn’t understand.

          Plus, all of the jerseys have an asterisk where you can read the disclaimer and participant regulations inside the left shirt sleeve.

        • Replying to Uncle Jam’s Army, and others, so this is a long one. Sorry.

          Frankly I preferred it when the title was “District Champion” and this little commenting pissing match is a perfect example of why. USAC is the one who changed it from “District” to “State” championships. I have no control over that so my Palmares uses the current term.

          That’s the thing. Everybody is getting so worked up over the title of the championship which EVERYBODY knows is a bullshit title in the case of NCNCA and SCNCA. What does the SCNCA “State Championship” jersey say on it BTW?

          Take a look at the 2013 SCNCA “State Championship” jersey…


          I would love it if there was a true “State Championship” for California, but the reality is that California is just too damn big for that to be realistic or at least executed in a way that got ALL or at least most of the good riders in CA. I know for a fact that there are USAC racers living in Arcata, CA at Humbolt State. From there to San Diego by car is 772 miles. Frankly for those guys it’s probably hard enough to get to Pescadero if they are so inclined for the NorCal championship. There’s no way any of them would get to the race if it was in SoCal near LA and if the next year it was held in Redding, how many down in your neck of the woods would make the 600+ mile trip?

          I think splitting the state (and Nevada with it) makes the most sense, but that labeling these races as “State Championships” was dumb. But we are stuck with the name that was given to us by USAC in Colorado. Getting hung up on the title is a total red herring I think.

          BTW2, I checked and the Master’s RR championships back in March was limited to NCNCA riders only in the championship categories. I didn’t pay attention to that at the time.

          People seem to be confusing the difference between being “State Champ” because you were the first NorCal or SoCal person respectively to finish vs getting to be the NorCal champ because no SoCal guys were allowed. If they ran the NorCal Race like they used to and like SoCal does, the first NorCal guy would still be the winner so comments like this from Seth make no sense:

          “NCNCA likes that, apparently. Better to be a big fish in your backyard than to slug it out with people who might be better than you on that day, because once you pull on the jersey (which says State Champion, not Elite District Champion), no one knows who you beat. They all just assume that, you know, you beat the best guys in your class in the State of California.”

          1. No one would know who you beat if they did it like you SCNCA does either! If nothing else we KNOW that Nate English came across the line first at Pescadero to claim his championship. For all I know every SCNCA “State” champion finished 4th behind a bunch of out of “state” riders.
          2. Your SCNCA championship jersey says “California Republic Champion”.

          I will forgive most of the posters to this thread as I’m sure my web link is as close as any of them have gotten to one of those jerseys. (See, I can be a dick too!)

          BTW, back when I starting racing in 1985 I’m pretty sure that District Championsips (wish they still used that name) were limited to in district riders as that race decided who got to go to nationals. In NorCal at the time you had to finish in the top 20 or so to qualify for nationals. In some small states you had to win.

          • fsethd says:

            All you’ve done is proven that the titles are named equally badly in SoCal and NorCal. That’s not the point.

            The point is that if you want a state championship or district championship race, and the rules allow citizens licensed from that U.S. state to enter, they should be allowed to enter.

            No one cares if NorCal comes here and owns us in our district race. Why so insecure about letting us come and have a go at a race like Pescadero, or at the NorCal masters race?

            Answer: The winners want to keep winning, and the losers want to enhance their already minuscule chance of prevailing.

            SoCal racers want to come up and race against you in your “bragging rights” race. Apparently none of them have gotten close enough to a jersey to threaten anyone, so why the sandbox mentality?

            It’s easy to open the door and welcome us, just as we’ve welcomed you — per the rules. And you can keep the State of Northern California NCNCA District Elite Masters Championship Asterisk Jersey, because once you allow us to race I have a solution for that problem, too, one that the strong and successful and confident NorCal racers will absolutely love. The others, not so much.

      • Uncle Jam's Army says:

        OOOOOHHHH, next time I’m in the Bay Area, can I take a picture of one of those jerseys?

  • Uncle Jam's Army says:

    They must be butt hurt from all the times Mitch Meyer went to El Norte and handed them their asses in their road races.

    • fsethd says:

      It sucks having other riders show up and “affect the race’s outcome.” Bummer!

      • Uncle Jam's Army says:

        In a bit of unintended irony, it turn out Mitch went up to do the Pescadero Road Race quite a few years back and took off right before the ceremonial flag had dropped from the escort vehicle, with one man in tow. Mitch dropped that solitary comrade and soloed in to apparent victory the last three laps or so. Not once did the officials tell him anything was awry as he crossed the finish line each of those laps. After finishing the race, he was informed he was DQ’d for going before the flag dropped.

  • plywood says:

    What I doubt strongly more is that a business model based on insulting, abusing, and excluding potential customers is really very much of a business.

    They have a monopoly and you’ll like it.

    I’m imagining a NABRA sanctioned race on the same course the day before.

    There’s no way the SoCal region would sanction a race outside their region, but the politics would be fun!

  • Bruce says:

    The word “state” is they are in a state of poor sports, it appears. Also that word gets thrown around alot in N. Korea. Is that a State? ..”Communist State” only good to them when they really need you.

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    NoCal, where racers would rather wag their own dicks than stomp the dicks of the competition.

    Enough with the penis wagging. May we now get back to regularly scheduled tales of dick stomping and baby seal clubbing? More THOG and G$, please.

    Bought your book to read on an upcoming trip. Did you call it obliquely feminist, or did Amazon add that?

    • fsethd says:

      My words …

    • fsethd says:

      And THANK YOU!

    • BTW, I just looked at the entry list for Elite road nationals in Lake Tahoe. So far out of 89 entries there are 6 guys from SoCal and 28 guys from NorCal (including 2 from Reno). Yeah, it’s an easy commute from NorCal, but come on up and stomp some dicks if you like. We’ll be there.

      • fsethd says:

        So you actually do like the idea of a full field with the best possible competition? Then why only for nationals? Why not for districts/states/State of Northern California races?

        What about a national championship jersey that excluded everyone from California because they could, you know, affect the race?

      • Couldn’t reply to your post Seth. You said:

        “So you actually do like the idea of a full field with the best possible competition? Then why only for nationals? Why not for districts/states/State of Northern California races?”

        But… You’re wrong. I am all for races where all of the riders eligible to win the title are allowed to race. I don’t see any Canadians or Mexican’s or French riders entered in the United States Elite cycling championship. Sounds exactly like the NCNCA District/State championship to me…

        If you can find one of the 6 brave SoCal souls who’ve entered the US Elite championship race you might ask them if they thought it would be a good idea for riders from other countries to be allowed to enter the race as long as those other riders couldn’t win the stars and stripes.

        If I see one of them during the race I’ll ask.

        • fsethd says:

          This gets back to the rule book’s definition of eligibility. It says US Citizens licensed in the state may race the state championships.

          Your promoter then claimed it wasn’t really a state but rather a district championship. But there is no such distinction in the rule book, nor is there any such race.

          SCNCA riders are eligible and they’re being excluded. So some of them say “Hey, okay, it’s your sandbox, we get that, we don’t want to wear your jersey, but we pay the same license fees and your event is USAC sanctioned, so we should at least be able to race because that comports with the language of the rule.”

          Foreign riders do not have US citizenship by definition and are ineligible, per the rule.

          The main point is that everyone’s racing is enhanced by letting California racers race in California races, provided they are in the proper category, are licensed, and are not suspended.

          Carving out exceptions for one race seems to be at odds with the nature of the beast. Put it this way: Would you rather beat a stronger field or a weaker one?

          I got second this year at Tuttle Creek RR. There was one other rider in my category. Impressive stuff.

          That’s how it looks when NCNCA tries to ban us from its races. All we want is to pay your promoter money to race in his race.

  • dangerstu says:

    It’s there party and they’ll cry if they want to…

  • Worldchamp says:

    So funny, I just replied to my comment on the last blog (and you missed a day!?!? For shame!) Making the same comment. They forgot to define “state”. Well, I’m glad they realize that they’re following rules that aren’t stated for the membership to see. Jesh! I wouldn’t be surprised if they update the rule book and we can call it “Seth’s Rule”.

    • fsethd says:

      I really like that name. I’m sure they will, too.

      • Um, regarding “State” Championships and whether or not that is a good name…


        and deliciously, this:


        “The following outlines the full 2015 SCNCA State Championship schedule!”

        Hello Pot, this is Kettle, You are black. Over.

        • fsethd says:

          You’re violating the Rule of Holes: When in one, stop digging.

          You’ve lost sight of the issue, which is that NorCal excludes everyone else in California from their championship race.

          This is arbitrary and not based on the rules.

          As an example, you confuse the district and the state nomenclature and use it as a justification to exclude riders.

          SoCal is equally stupid, and SCNCA and you should get along great. However, as your ethics teacher should have told you, two dumbs don’t make a smart, and the key is that NorCal racers are welcome here, no matter what the races are called.

          In your district, racers are *NOT* welcome and the board uses contradictory language to justify the exclusion.

          It’s complicated. I will draw you a picture if you let me race your masters State of Northern California/District Championship Race next year.

        • fsethd says:

          PS: Thank you for posting under your real name. The more people that do it, the more genuine the dialogue.

      • Worldchamp says:

        I don’t know why I can’t reply to Metcalfe’s reply, but what does any of that have to do with anything? I’m confused. SCNCA has a “state” championships that should include anyone in California, since it’s not stated anywhere in the rule book that they need to be SCNCA members. The unwritten rule that you have to be a SCNCA member to win the jersey will be followed, but anyone can race in the races. So what’s the point being made?

        And Seth, I’ve noticed people in holes LOVE to dig (probably why they’re there to begin with) and typically make them bigger and bigger with time.

  • R. White says:

    Seth, I feel your pain. Having grown up in the NCNCA “district” and being familiar with the cultural differences between the North and South Districts, it doesn’t surprise me.
    The NCal superiority complex is infused subtly in the subtext of conversations and observable in outward actions(as you have experienced), and sometimes an individual, feeling especially superior that day, will blurt out some outward put-down not realizing whom he/she is talking to. But then we all know the genesis of complexes…
    SCal isn’t perfect, and since NCal isn’t either, it’s a wash. SF is very “clique-y”, and if you don’t carry the “proper pedigree” be prepared to have eyes cast down on you. LA, for the lack true blue-bloods, defaults to money(or the appearance of) and sunglasses, leading to even more confusion. But the cool thing about SCal is that you can be recognized and rise up on the success of your performance, regardless of your surname.

    Maybe they’re using you to get back at SCal for having scooped the Mt. Shasta watershed water rights decades ago. That’s an enormous sticking point with them. Water quotas flow to Los Angeles BEFORE they are allowed to open their diversions. Yeah. Ouch.

    • fsethd says:

      I’ve never raced in NorCal and don’t know what the racers there are like. However, they are reputedly very, very good road racers, Judging from the course profiles and the number of them, it wouldn’t surprise me.

      I do know that in the South Bay we generally like to holler, yell, stomp dicks, and laugh after all the bleeding has been stanched. I also know that wherever I’ve ridden, and that includes three continents, if you keep showing up and don’t act like a complete dick people will eventually accept you.

      It’s too bad that they’re so protective of their State of Northern California Elite State Championship Road Race. The accomplishment of winning it depends on who you had to race against, and by excluding people because it’s your sandbox diminishes the race.


      They’re always welcome down here. We have a handful of road races that will put anyone to the test.

  • KDH says:

    Here in our podunk land of Idaho (potatos not corn) awe have the Southwest Idaho Association, the Utah Cycling Association and the Washington State Bicycle Racing Association that all have a little piece of the land mass represented by the star on he US Flag

    Doesn’t matter which one is on yer license.

    “In order to be recognized as an Idaho State Champion, a person must be the highest placing finisher who holds an annual USA Cycling Road License, be a US citizen or permanent resident and a resident of Idaho (please provide your proof of Idaho residency at Check In). Non Idaho residents and one day license holders are allowed to race but are not eligible to win the Idaho State Championship.”

    Ain’t that hard. Wonder why so many Californicators keeping moving here and waning to add rules and stuff.
    Come race here we have fun courses and los of mediocre racers so you can raise your hands often if ya wanna

    • fsethd says:

      What an awesome post and and even more awesome attitude. Sounds like real bike racing to me.

    • I was in Idaho with my wife who was doing the 70.3 triathlon in 2009 and it just so happened to coincide with the Idaho state road championships so I did the P/1/2 race. There were like 12 starters and almost half were from one team. About 10 miles into the ~80 mile race we were down to a front group of about 6.

      So, of course you let others in. US Pro used to be open to foreign riders until we got a critical mass of US based pro’s and now it’s US only.

      • fsethd says:

        So NCNCA has the critical mass now, but didn’t two years ago when the rule changed? Critical mass for what?

        And if the point behind exclusion is critical mass, why not apply it to all races?

        This is post-hoc justification for a bad rule that exists solely to water down the field and to guarantee jersey winners the ability to say “I won the championship AND I crossed the line first.”

        The idea that this rule somehow develops critical mass is not true.

        Example: NCNCA 2014 masters 40-44; 28 riders.

        2011, before “critical mass” was achieved: 31 riders.

        Why not just admit that NCNCA wants a less competitive championship event and doesn’t want to go head to head with SCNCA racers and be done with it?

  • Waldo says:

    You know you are doing well when popular reaction to a blog post requires a follow-up post.

    Well done and keep stirring the pot.

  • Waldo says:

    in response to the question that is the title of Wanky’s post, apparently Southern Californians need it. Very much.

  • TomH says:

    These last few days of bickering are perhaps a good example of Sayre’s Law :
    “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.”

    Or perhaps Parkinson’s law of triviality, which amusingly sometimes goes by the name “bike-shed effect” :
    “Organisations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues”

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