USAC revives bike racing with dynamic masters fields

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.



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and learn all the secrets of bike race marketing. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!


22 thoughts on “USAC revives bike racing with dynamic masters fields”

  1. And all this time I’d thought we learned tantrum throwing from teenagers. Meantime, I am picking up awesome tips from my three-nager who can throw them like nobody’s business.

  2. You so funny…what is interesting is how MANY serious recreational riders (nice kit, great bike) we have in SoCal, and how they scrupulously avoid racing their bike, except in ‘fun’ rides. The pace and difficulty of real races at the Masters level here (all age groups) (due to the profamateur approach to training, couch sleeping, and no or part-time job status) literally prevents the ‘fun’ but serious recreational cyclist in getting a license, Even out here in Timbuktu, there are at least 100 40-70 year olds who go on hard rides for fun, but wouldn’t dream of racing. Racing just isn’t fun at all…I mean…have you seen the legs of some of these animals? Yikes!.

    1. Are those legs? I thought they were Michelangelo sculptures. From marble.

  3. Wow! He really “gets It”
    It’s an exciting time to be a prof amateur! I don’t know what to be more excited about, Donald or USA CYCLING?! It’s a great time to be alive! Whew!!!

  4. Last year there were 73 men in the national amateur P/1/2 road race

    53 of which are sponsored by the Bank of Mom and Dad. 10 work for a living despite being ranked national elite. The last 10 are on pro teams with the chances of being paid by the team < 50%

    BTW, no explanation ever given for how the federation suddenly lost over a million dollars in less than 12 months. When is USAC publishing a 2015 annual report?

    1. I lost a million dollars a couple if weeks ago, I think it fell out of my wallet while gassing up the car.

  5. Runners have races with hundreds if not thousands of participants, and there is no shame in finishing way back. I think the categorizing in bike racing sets expectations that discourage participation. The expectation is that you should be about as fast as the leaders, or you’ll get dropped. What if there was one big massive race with everybody in it at once, like in running races? The Tour de Tucson is like that, and look at how popular it is. I bet racing would increase in popularity if we had more races like that.

  6. Michael Cloidt

    I think you need to admit that you were paid very well by USA cycling to be able to express their POV on your well run news site. Fess up. Stop selling out to the man! Well done.

  7. Here I am wishing for only the second or third time that I had taken pictures of the Citizens race in Moline, 1980. Big pack, no lack of experience or speed, and definitely some Cat II’s in there, maybe even a few I’s, some pretty deadly fast and most deliberately not USCF’d. And willing to risk life/limb on that course, where people crashed on the straights. But, real officially sanctioned bicycle racing, not a weekly pimp-sandbagger ride.
    Where did it all go so wrong?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: