Thanks to an increase in license fees, the ratting out of several Depends-clad dopers, and a commitment to growing masters fields, cycling in the U.S. now stands at a pinnacle not seen since the 1980’s. Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Derek Bouchard-Hall, the new CEO at USA Cycling, to discuss the special sauce he’s added to spice up the moldy old sandwich of amateur road racing.
CitSB: How do you spell success?
DBH: Same way I spell love. “M-O-N-E-Y.” I think the single biggest indicator for how well we’re doing is pre-registration for masters nationals next week. We’ve got 150 riders in the 45-49 field road race and 110 competitors in the 40-44. How exciting is that? And we’ve got 95 entrants in the 55-59 field. It doesn’t get any better than that, right?
CitSB: Some people would say that massive masters fields aren’t proof of a healthy sport but rather proof that the only thing left to do is cremate the corpse.
DBH: Not at all. Over time it’s going to have a huge trickle-down effect on younger racers.
CitSB: I’m trying to wrap my head around using “huge” and “trickle” to describe something. Kind like saying it’s “giant tiny.” Last year there were 73 men in the national amateur P/1/2 road race, less than half the number of profamateurs in the 45-49 for 2016. There were seven P/1/2 women. That’s seven as in “the integer between six and eight.”
DBH: You’re missing the big picture. Over time, competitive masters fields will encourage youngsters to get into racing. What’s more thrilling than seeing a 52-year-old grandfather with snot dripping from his pacemaker as he sprunts for 45th place wearing a full designer Thorfinn-Dipsquatch kit and monogrammed blood bag?
CitSB: A pile of rusty cans?
DBH: Don’t be cynical. Masters racers are the heart of bike racing in America. These are the people who young people admire and from whom they learn the finer points of tantrum-throwing, post-race fistfighting, and bike-tossing after missing out on a podium in Biloxi. Once you’ve captured the young people’s hearts, their wallets will follow.
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