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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