Does bicycle education work?
January 18, 2018 Comments Off on Does bicycle education work?
I cannot believe I am sitting here writing a blog post about bicycle education. If there is anything more boring, I don’t know what that might be. Oh, wait, yes I do: Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance and how it can protect you on your bike. That’s way more boring.
But like the Santa Ana wind dryness of insurance blather, bicycle education blather is a matter of life and death. It is dorky and requires you to slow down and pay the fuck attention, spend some time doing something other than shopping for bike porn. Like taking the time to buy and charge and put on front-and-rear lights, it’s well-spent time.
I sat down with Gary Cziko, bible-thumping evangelist for Cycling Savvy, but the testament wasn’t written by a bunch of goat herders out in the desert, it was written by people who have a lot of bicycling and traffic engineering experience when it comes to staying off the grills of Rage Rovers. Cycling Savvy uses various instructional paradigms to allow riders to ride anywhere. Streets, sidewalks (where it’s lega), you name it. Although lane control is the default technique, the idea behind bicycle education is that people ride bikes all kinds of places for all kinds of reasons, and there should be a way to address their riding with sensible, practical, safe techniques.
Increasing bicycle education
Gary is now in his fifth year of teaching as a Cycling Savvy instructor. The number of actual courses and actual people who have been through his courses is shockingly low; more about that later and why it’s less important than you might think. After about 13 courses and upwards of 130 participants, I asked Gary what he thought the biggest obstacles were to increasing bicycle education in Southern California.
He didn’t miss a beat. “Two main problems, those who think they don’t need the education because they don’t ride on streets, and those who think they don’t need it because they have a lot of experience.”
Gary knows about that last part. “I was an edge rider for years but Cycling Savvy makes it easy and safe and it decreases the risks.”
“How are you going to expand that?” I asked.
“Cycling Savvy wants to exapnd. We have two online courses but need additional funding to market the curriculum. We’ve hired our first full time administrative employee, an associate executive director. We’re looking into partnerships with charity rides, SCNCA, USAC, and affiliation with clubs, much as we’ve done with Big Orange. We’ve worked with Sean Wilson at SCNCA to develop a complete skills system, from racing to training and riding on the road.”
Still, with only a few courses having been taught, along with a few hundred people who’ve taken the online courses, I wondered if Gary was optimistic. Dumb question. It’s Gary, folks.
“I’m encouraged by getting cyclists in the full on-bike training, not just the classroom, where we work with riders of all skill levels to teach them how to surmount challenging situations. What’s encouraging is that people are changed and enthusiastic and they want to share with others. The Cycling Savvy curriculum started in 2011 and reached 18 states in 3 years. But we need increased funding for courses that reach families and kids, courses for fondo riders, and of course for e-bikes.”
With 5-10 courses planned for 2018, the need vastly outnumbers available resources.
Or does it?
The ripple effect
Gary agreed that more instructors, more classes, more online marketing are crucial. He also pointed out that by educating a few cyclists you can education hundreds more.
“There’s a ripple effect,” he said. “When we started the training in Big Orange, people were unfamiliar with it. Now, even though most Big Orange riders haven’t taken the course, every club ride has at least one rider who has, and those riders take the reins and make sure that the group is using Cycling Savvy principles. By changing even one or two people, you can affect everyone who sees this kind of effective riding and who then tries it out. Of course we need training for planners and transportation engineers, too.”
When I asked him about the dreaded PCH, Gary was emphatic that bicycle education has educated drivers, too. “There’s less honking. Motorists are used to seeing large groups of riders out in the lane. Cyclists are less hesitant to use the full lane when it makes sense. One study found that there is more honking the farther you are to the right, which makes sense because they see you from a long way back and can adjust when you’re in the lane. But with edge/gutter riding they don’t see you until the last second.”
Getting your club educated
If you belong to a bike club and you don’t have a club-wide bicycle education plan, now is the time to get one. Cycling Savvy offers online courses and in-person instruction depending on the area. The courses are cheap and can save your life. Importantly, in our own neck of the woods, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, there anecdotally seems to be a lot less hostility than a couple of years ago; I chalk part of that up to the effect of people being more assertive and educated about where and how they cycle.
No matter how much you know or how experienced you are, these classes will open your eyes.
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About SouthBayCycling.com: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.
Justice for Johnny
June 14, 2017 § 169 Comments
I will make this brief. USA Cycling is now “grappling” with whether or not James Doyle intended to knock down John Walsh in this video. Several commenters, here and on Facegag, have argued that you can’t really know what was in Doyle’s mind when he hit Walsh’s bars and therefore it wasn’t intentional.
Newsflash: You don’t understand intent or how it is shown.
- Intent can simply mean knowing the likely outcome of your actions. If you shoot a pistol in a crowded movie theater you can’t claim you didn’t intend to kill someone because in your mind you weren’t trying to kill the specific person who was hit by the bullet. You are presumed to know that firing the gun is dangerous. Therefore you had the requisite intent to be convicted of the crime.
- Proving intent doesn’t require the defendant to sign a confession saying “I intended to knock down John Walsh and send him to the ICU with life-threatening injuries.” You can prove it by physical evidence, by statements, by circumstance, and by past behavior.
- One eyewitness said that during the neutral lap after the crash, Doyle said that he had told Walsh to “give him more room and too bad for Walsh when he didn’t.” There was also allegedly a now-deleted Facegag post on Doyle’s page that intimated that the taketown was intentional. Countless riders have notified USAC that Doyle repeatedly exhibited the kind of aggressive behavior that crashed out Walsh. Admission, allegedly written statement, video, repeated past behavior–and USAC can’t immediately reach a decision?
USAC is already prepping the surgical field for a punishment that is less than a lifetime ban from sanctioned events. Chris Black, an SCNCA board member who has admitted that he has no role in the process but who nonetheless is close to the USAC official in charge of discipline, sent this gem yesterday to an outraged racer:
Wow. Not enough to take substantial action? What would it take? And why would he possibly say “the video by itself” when USAC has received numerous statements about Doyle’s behavior? To top it off, USAC is advising that it is more helpful to have eyewitnesses–sure, just like it’s more helpful to have a signed confession. But absent that there is plenty of evidence to carry the burden of proof here. Why are all these non-lawyers, non-judges, non-bike racers trying to pretend they are the U.S. Supreme Court?
My guess is that Chris Black has no idea what an intentional takedown is. [Note: several readers wrote to correct my misstatement regarding Chris’s racing background. Chris is an active racer with a long history.] What’s even more extraordinary is that Black is a former CHP officer and USAC official, proving once again that a lifetime of law enforcement and officiating has zero correlation with proper understanding or application of the rules.
Instead of making an outraged statement to the effect of “SCNCA will not tolerate reckless or dangerous riding in its events, much less intentional takedowns,” Black makes his unasked for and unprofessional judgment of what the evidence actually means and, more incredibly, how he thinks USAC will behave as a result.
Compare that with Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, whose organizing club, South Bay Wheelmen, is considering whether to ban Doyle from their upcoming race after viewing the video. Unlike Chris Black, non-bike racer, SBW members actually race and they don’t want a jackass like Doyle anywhere near them. SCNCA has lost over one-third of its members in the past year and a half, and with people like Black making absurd and reckless statements like the one above, it’s easy to understand why.
It’s also interesting to note that the promoter of the race where this occurred, Jeff Prinz, has been studiously silent, no doubt hoping that this won’t negatively affect participation in his upcoming July 2 race. Note to Jeff: Now would be a great time to reassure racers that Doyle won’t be allowed to race CBR, in July or ever. If you need someone to cover Doyle’s $35 entry fee so that you don’t suffer personal hardship by losing a race entry, hit me up and I’ll see what I can do.
Also, a criminal complaint has been filed regarding Doyle’s despicable actions. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has assigned DR number 17-022995 to the complaint. Please call (714) 647-7000 if you were an eyewitness or have video evidence that can assist with the investigation. Give them the DR number above so they can route you to the proper person.
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Upgrade points plus DON’T GET KILLED!
June 5, 2017 § 18 Comments
SCNCA president Sean Wilson and CyclingSavvy guru Gary Cziko went to great lengths and expense over the last year to design a class for the SCNCA junior training camp, which was successfully run in January, 2017. They are now are offering a USAC-sanctioned traffic safety class this coming June 11.
One of the bonuses for this class, aside from helping keep you out of the meat wagon, is that, thanks to Sean and SCNCA board member David Huntsman, the class has been approved for USAC upgrade points. There are a lot of needs out there in the SCNCA catchment, but few opportunities to change things at the USAC level. The concept of using actual classes and education to keep junior riders from getting killed is a top priority and the SCNCA board has supported it wholeheartedly.
The class offers two upgrade points for 5-4 upgrades, 1 upgrade point for 4-3 upgrades and 1/2 a point for 3-2 upgrades. All of this for learning how to not get killed riding the edge of a narrow lane. Few efforts by the SCNCA are as deserving of praise and participation as this one.
Of course, many bike racers don’t yet see the value in CyclingSavvy-type instruction. What’s more astounding, actual “coaches” and “mentors” who are responsible for the lives of their charges somehow think that their “common sense” and “life experiences” and “racing with team Bumblefuck sponsored by Bill’s Sewage Treatment back in the 80s” is a legitimate substitute for skills, coursework, and understanding the law.
The location for the clinic is awesome: Redlands, a town with a rich history in SoCal cycling, and a place where riders don’t have to fight with the snarl of LA/OC/San Diego traffic. The cost is also incredibly low considering the benefit of the classes, the professionalism of the coursework, and the effectiveness of instruction: $50 for juniors and U23, $75 for elite and older riders.
If you’re involved with junior cycling in SoCal, if you ride a bike, or if you ever intend to ride one, this is a great time to give your riders and yourself the chance to survive and thrive on the bike for the rest of your life, not just while doing circles in a parking lot. And a “few short training sessions with CHP” will not — trust me– cut it.
The course will also include an on-road component so that participants get to practice what they’ve learned. As a longtime CyclingSavvy participant and class participant, I can assure you that this course can keep you alive. Participants will practice using parts of the Tour of Redlands, where cyclists learn to navigate some of the most intimidating spots in town safely and comfortably.
Now is the time to slow down, take a deep breath, and do some “non-race” learning that will help you ride better, race better, and most importantly, live longer. A lot longer.
Location: Bikecoach.com Fitness Studio, 700 Redlands Blvd., Suite M, Redlands CA 92373 More Information: http://www.gsandiamo.com
Contact: Sean Wilson; email@example.com
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October 23, 2016 § 16 Comments
The Fourth Annual South Bay Cycling Awards wrapped up with hardly any controversy! There are too many people to list for their wonderful contributions. No, wait, that’s not true. This is the Internet and there is absolutely no limit. So here goes!
First off is Diego Binatena, from Base Cartel. Why Diego? Because I fucking forgot to thank him last night, out of all the people who deserved mention. Bottom line? Buy his shit. It’s awesome and he’s a good dude.
This year the event hit the medium-time thanks to the Southern California and Nevada Cycling Association. They kicked in a ton of money and funded the toilets, the lights, the sound, the stage, free food, chairs, tables, pro photography services, and half the beer. In short, they made the event! My only question is this: Where were all the SCNCA award recipients? Jeez! What is it about “free food, free beer, and cash prizes” that you bike racers don’t understand?
The plus side was that there were plenty of SCNCA recipients to come collect their trophies and cash, and no group better represented the spirit of the night than the crew from SC Velo. What fantastic bunch of kids. I think they may have even learned new cuss word or two. I always take pride in mentoring the youth.
Anyway, on to the thanks!
Jan Luke, SCNCA President. Made shit happen. Made this partnership happen. Lugged in the trophies. Lugged out the trophies. Was awesome in every way!
Chris Black, SCNCA Vice President.
David Huntsman, SCNCA Secretary. Lawyer, advocate, friend, guy who has done so much to breathe new life into SCNCA.
Armin Rahm, SCNCA Board Member. Racer, dad, promoter, businessman, friend. Showed up to show the Amis how a Bavarian drinks beer.
Justin Williams, SCNCA Board Member. Racer, cool guy, friend. Ready with a quip and encouragement, hell of a bike racer.
Suzanne Sonye, SCNCA Board Member. Legend, legend, legend. Oh, and legend.
Matt Wikstrom, SCNCA Board Member. Mr. Git R Done. Handed out checks, coordinated everything for two months before the shit show, brought more goodwill, enthusiasm, and execution to the event than anyone ever. Plus kicked the shit out of everyone on the Donut. Except those two pesky juniors.
Sean Wilson, SCNCA Board Member.
Omar Lozano, SCNCA Board Member. Promoter, dad, husband, and part of the “new face” of bike racing promotion in SoCal. Enthusiastic hard working dude who supports juniors, local, and binational racing.
Dan Munson: Simply the best. Pro photographer. Even as I write this he’s putting together a folio of the amazing evening. Prepare to be blown away.
StageOne: Designed everything. Logo, t-shirts, patches, bar tape, banners, posters, and virtually every kit worth looking at in the South Bay.
South Bay Wheelmen: Local bike club that kicked in hard cash to buy flowers for the lovely deserving recipients.
Wend Wax: Chain wax. Look. This shit works. So go get some. Ryan Dahl generously donated 20 sets of Wend Wax, a billion dollar retail value, for the award winners’ swag kits. So frigging cool. He also gives me all the wax I can use.
JoJe Bars: Energy bars. John Abate and Jessica Cera’s amazing energy bars that are organic, wholesome, taste great, and give you an amazing kick in the shorts when you need a boost on the bike or off.
Beachbody Performance: Everything you need to win, to finish, or to prop your legs up on the couch and watch the Cubs win instead of riding your bike. Beachbody has been the number one step up and deliver new sponsor for cycling in 2016.
BonkBreaker: Provided awesome swag bags to award winners containing energy snacks, energy chews, and super cool musette bags. Thank you!
Marc Spivey: Wanky Committee member who filled the venue with the right sound at the exact right time. Marc’s lifetime in the music and entertainment industry, and his passion for music has meant that every single year we’ve had sound that matches or exceeds the most famous award ceremonies anywhere.
Derek Brauch: With the help of Jami, put together the most awesome Wanky Swag Bags™ ever. Provided us with meeting space for our numerous and redundant meetings, the best analytical mind around to improve, question, improve, question, and improve until we were even better than the year before.
Trey Smith: The ghost in the machine. Every year Trey provides us with incredible sound that makes the whole thing happen.
Keedar Whittle: Fantastic comedian who kept people in stitches, hit the great stuff, didn’t shy away from politics, race, and biking, and left us all happy and glad he came.
Michelle Landes: Arranged flowers, total selflessness, and was there with a smile, encouragement, and assistance every step of the way.
Chris Gregory: Truly the Spirt of the Wankies. Whether it was ordering the Hall of Fame figurines, designing and making, the necklaces, choosing and assembling the invitations, recording and double-checking RSVPs, taking photos at the event, making elegant podium presentations, keeping things running smoothly, and always helping me just when the confusion was at its max, “thank you” doesn’t even begin to do it.
Lisa Conrad, Sherri Foxworthy, Stephanie Lin, Chris Gregroy: These four amazing women have been with the event since its inception, if “inception” is what you call a bunch of drunks in a dive bar trying to give away awards to passers-by. From the minute we said “Wankies” they donned their evening finest and showed up with shimmering with beauty, poised, happy, funny, gentle, and they’ve been here every year since. Truly, no matter how rough and sort-of-ready the biker gang crowd is, they give us all the class you can’t get all sweated up on a bike.
Jami Brauch: Jami artfully designed and stocked the swag bags despite having a newborn to care for–the bags were so great this year that people simply couldn’t resist stealing them. Can’t wait for next year!
Kristie Fox: She helped with the swag bags, she set up and managed the sales table (books, socks, bar tape, patches, t-shirts), and she singlehandedly ordered and delivered the most massive and awesome cake in the history of the awards. And cupcakes! And done with a smile and ruthless efficiency.
Strand Brewing Co.: No mere words can thank Joel Elliott and Rich Marcello for this amazing venue, for their support of grass roots cycling, and for providing the infrastructure and support to pull of this best-ever event. Oh, minor detail! FREE take-home growlers of White Sands DIPA, their top-shelf, brew, to every adult who showed up.
Tony Manzella and Echelon Color: Printed and delivered the amazing award ceremony posters. Ansel Adams said it: “The negative is the score, but the print is the performance.” And what a performance by Echelon Color it was!
Tara Unversagt: Tara worked to get SBW sponsorship involved, helped with swag bag materials, and did the ultimate job of Cub Scout Den Mother by keeping me organized and on track throughout the event. So much fantasticness in one person!
Phil Gaimon: Best UCI US pro road racer, attended our event, made us look semi-sort of legit, and promoted what is the best Grand Fondue on the calendar: Phil’s Malibu Cookie Dough Gran Fondo. Register here, register now. Phil drove straight from Clovis, NM, to make the event. How awesome is that? Very awesome!
Daniel Holloway: As if Phil Gaimon weren’t enough, reigning US road/crit champ Daniel Holloway brought the star power and picked up right where he left off. Being a part of the South Bay community. Thank you so much for sharing.
The 2016 South Bay Cycling Awards award winners were:
- 2016 Greatest Advocate: Sarah Barraclough for BMUFL/Master Safety Plan advocates
- 2016 Best Bike Shop: Performance Bicycle
- 2016Best Young Rider: Ivy Koester
- 2016 Best Old Rider: George Pommel
- 2016 Most Improved: David Holland
- 2016 Best Club: Long Beach Freddies
- 2016 Best Event: Dana Point Grand Prix
- 2016 Wanker of the Year: Denis Faye
- 2016 Belgian Award: James Cowan
- 2016 Group Ride Champion: Elijah Shabazz
- 2016 Best Sponsor: Beachbody Performance
- 2016 Best Male Racer: Justin Williams
- 2016 Best Female Racer: Katie Donovan
- 2016 GC Award: Joe Yule
- 2016 Crashtacular Fred: Marvin Campbell
- 2016 Strava KOM: Chris Tregillis
- 2016 Most Happy to Help others: Chris Gregory
- 2016 Most Fun: Sochin Lee
- 2016 Best Spouse/SO: Jeanette Seyranian
- 2016 Ian Davidson South Bay Rider of the Year: Tony Manzella
Until next year, thank you!!!
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Changing of the guard
October 17, 2016 § 12 Comments
If you haven’t noticed, you will soon: The iconic grass roots race series affectionately known as “CBR” or “California Bicycle Racing” or “Pain in USA Cycling’s Ass” is being run by Jeff Prinz.
That’s right, and you heard it here second if you already noticed Jeff’s name on the latest CBR race flyers. Chris Lotts is no longer the promoter for CBR.
When you look up the word “controversial” in the dictionary, there’s a long entry, about twenty lines long, and at the end it says, “for a complete and thorough definition of the word in all its permutations, see ‘Christopher Lotts.'”
Some of Chris’s dust-ups were epic beyond epic, like the time he took on the entirety of women’s racing, or the time he got into a years-long battle with the Schroeder Iron/BBI riders, or the civil war that erupted when he lost control of the Tuesday racing in Eldorado Park. If you wanted to get into hand-to-hand combat, all you had to do was send him an email or, better yet, a Facebook message giving him advice about how to run his races. Add in a dash of complaining about prize money or the start time for your event and you would quickly upgrade from civil war to nuclear.
But Chris’s most epic act was the slow, drawn-out, 20-year consistent promotion of local bike races right here in our backyard. Like him or hate him, and I always liked him, Chris could be counted on to deliver what he promised, when he promised it, at the agreed-upon price. And to do that he had to fight USA Cycling, the local SCNCA organization supposedly dedicated to helping promoters, the disarray of local bike clubs, the petty bullshit of butt-hurt racers, the risk of bad weather wiping out an entire day’s event, and That Which Defines Every Bike Racer Who Has Ever Lived, i.e. “Gimme Something For Nothing.”
Chris could have made things easier, and he could have made his races more successful, but then he would have had to have been a different person, and a different person wouldn’t have persevered through thick and thin for the better part of twenty years to put on hundreds of fast, fun, local races. As people quickly found when dealing with Chris, save your advice for when you’re the one whose ass is on the line.
Whatever else Chris was, he wasn’t a philanthropist. His races had to turn a buck, and this past year not only revealed the writing on the wall, it was revealed in ten-foot, blood-red letters: Road racing in Southern California is on life support and the ICU nurses are out doing shots and meth in the alley behind the hospital.
SCNCA had a 30 percent drop in race entries for 2016. For any legitimate business, you’d fire the CEO and everyone else, you’d board up the storefront, sell the inventory, and get into a new line of work. It’s easy to point the finger, but it proves what Chris has said for decades. Our organizing body is killing the sport, and the people in charge of developing new racers and helping promoters have failed, because in tandem with the death-spiral of race entries we are also losing races on the calendar.
And what promoter would want to continue in this environment?
Answer: An experienced optimist with a new plan. Folks, I give you Jeff Prinz. He has his work cut out for him, but if yesterday’s CBR Upgrade Races are any indication, there’s life in the ol’ gal yet. He drew 200 entrants and has plans for two more races before year’s end. Not having any of Chris’s baggage, and being open to new approaches, being a proven relationship builder and an experienced bike racer who understands what cyclists want out of an event, Jeff is taking on a huge task but he’s taking it on with the tools to succeed.
I for one plan to support him 100% in his efforts with time, resources, and cash on the barrelhead. I hope you will make the “effort” to make sure he succeeds, if only because, you know, if you’re going to call yourself a bike racer, you really do have to actually race your bike.
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Make enemies quick!
January 18, 2016 § 10 Comments
The SCNCA board of trustees election is underway, and you can’t vote. Isn’t democracy great?
What you can do, however, is lobby. The way you lobby is this:
- Find out who on your USAC-registered club is the SCNCA “team representative.”
- Pester that fucker to vote.
- Pester that fucker to vote for the people you want to see on the board.
At some time in the future the SCNCA may allow direct elections, where the actual racers get a direct voice in the organization they fund. This will be about the time that you can buy unicorn farts out of vending machines. Until then, let’s lobby.
This election is an important one because the entire 9-person board is up for election. The candidates have all self-nominated and posted their statements here. Your team rep must vote by January 27, so please begin pestering him or her now. Below are my recommendations.
- Chris Black. He has raced, coached, promoted, and officiated. He’s a thorn in the ass of USAC but has the tools and the vision to improve SCNCA. Plus, ex-cop.
- David Huntsman. He has raced, is an expert in non-profit governance, is a lawyer, believes in transparency, and has played a huge role in getting the current board to resign, hire a lawyer, and hold new elections. He’s also a board member of OC Bike Coalition and has a kid who races.
- Omar Lozano. Omar has promoted some great races, has actual skin in the game, and is a crucial bridge between the mostly white SCNCA/USAC status quo and the massive potential pool of US/Mexico Hispanic bike racers. His Adrenaline GP events are super. Without the needs of promoters taken into account, there are no races.
- Armin Rahm. SCNCA and USAC critic. German bad-ass. Intelligent and has been around the SoCal racing scene forever. Incredibly accomplished athlete. Strong voice for riders and an articulate voice for what it is that riders want and need.
- Matt Wikstrom. Great bike racer. Smart dude. Makes his living in the arena of professional sports management and athlete agency. In other words, a highly accomplished amateur bike racer who works with the finances and mechanics of professional sports for a living. Could we use that at SCNCA? Uh, yes.
- Justin Williams. Young. Great bike racer. Respected voice for athletes and a fantastic bridge for the woefully underserved African-American community, which has huge numbers of recreational cyclists in LA who need to view bike racing as something that is available, welcoming, and a great opportunity for them.
- Dorothy Wong. Racer and promoter. She’s the single force behind the entire ‘cross calendar in SoCal. Incredibly accomplished, puts on an entire season’s worth of races, friendly, deadline-oriented, pro in every respect.
- Sean Wilson. Life-long racer, huge promoter of junior racers and junior racing. Junior team director and advocate who has pulled together numerous statewide events to try and build consensus for solutions that will increase junior racing and therefore secure the future of the sport.
- Jan Luke. Jan is committed to implementing the reforms that were begun when SCNCA hired an attorney, held an election to successfully revise its bylaws, and put the current election process in place. She’s running for a 1-year term and would be a good choice to see the reforms through.
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If it’s broke, fix it
January 6, 2016 § 26 Comments
Two things you can do to help fix the broke-down, dysfunctional mess that is the SCNCA:
- Vote to approve the amended bylaws.
- Nominate yourself or some other poor sap for one of the nine board of directors slots.
- Post this info on Facebag or your club website.
Of course nothing is that simple. YOU can’t actually vote to approve the bylaws. That can only be done by the designated representative of your club, and your club has to be a USAC and an SCNCA member. Sound complicated? That’s because it is.
So here’s what you do:
- Send this link to the boss man or boss woman of your club.
- Although your club should have already received a ballot, if they have not, contact Tom Fitzgibbon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting on the amended bylaws is super important and has to be done by January 9. That’s Saturday. What is the amendment? It will allow SCNCA to communicate with its members (who are clubs, not individual racers) electronically, and will allow them to vote electronically. This means that going forward the SCNCA can reorganize without having to spend huge chunks of its budget on mail notifications as required by current bylaws.
If the bylaws are amended, SCNCA will have an electronic election for its new board of directors. The timeline for this, however, is super short. Fortunately, the self-nomination process is working. Many people have self-nominated, and there are now more candidates than have ever before run, but the deadline is January 10. So here’s what you do:
- Send your name to email@example.com and announce your candidacy. You can even put “I’m a dope” in the subject line.
- Include a brief description of why you want the job and what your qualifications are. (Example: “I like to get screamed at by people; 28 years of marriage.”)
- Your club will receive an electronic voting link after the nominating period closes.
- Wait for election results on January 23.
In case I haven’t made it clear, please make sure this is brought to the attention of your club president. The deadlines are upon us and voting for change is desperately needed at SCNCA.
How badly is it needed?
This reform movement began when local cyclist and attorney David Huntsman sent this letter to the SCNCA. The issues raised in the letter, which basically centered around whether SCNCA’s trustees have been acting in a legal manner, and whether or not they have been fulfilling their fiduciary duties to the organization, led SCNCA to hire a lawyer.
And don’t come pissing and moaning to me about “wasting your money on a lawyer.” If SCNCA had been advised properly in the beginning we wouldn’t be where we are today. And if you don’t like lawyers and law, then there is a spot for you on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Racing Team. And … there’s money at stake. SCNCA has spent (frittered away?) hundreds of thousands of dollars since its inception in 1998.
The attorney retained by SCNCA for peanuts, Tom Fitzgibbon of Velo Club LaGrange, has been racing for decades, served on VCLG’s board for years, and is a person for whom I have a lot of respect. Since he’s been hired by SCNCA, he represents the organization, not the individual interests of the trustees. This means that issues about how the organization is run and how its finances are managed will be examined by someone whose job it is to help make SCNCA better. And if things aren’t being done legally or properly, it’s Tom’s job to deliver the bad news so that SCNCA can start doing what it gets paid to do.
Nimble decision making and a new board of directors are crucial first steps if SCNCA is ever going to fulfill its mission of advancing racing in SoCal. David Huntsman is one of the nominees for the board of trustees, and he’s got my vote; I hope he gets yours.
See-through is best
The current SCNCA way of conducting business is opaque. There are no publicly available financials aside from a drop-down link on the web site’s “About” tab that says “Financials.” I dare you to click on it.
In addition to a steamed-glass approach to finances, which in my mind equates to shoddiness at best, chicanery at worst, SCNCA doesn’t make the records of its meetings public. Although it’s been around since 1998, there are only two meeting minutes posted under the “About” section; both of them from late last year, just around the time that Huntsman began asking pointed questions about the board’s operations.
My estimate is that with about 7,000 licensees in the district, SCNCA should be getting somewhere between $35,000 and $70,000 from USAC every year. Now although that may not seem like a lot of money, oh, wait, YES IT SURE FUCKING DOES.
How that money is spent should be transparent. With Fitzgibbon as counsel and a new board coming in, we can expect transparency. In fact, we should demand it.
Thanks where thanks are due
Although it’s easy to poke holes in the mismanagement and glaring failures of SCNCA, it’s important to also give thanks. There are many board members over the years who have given heart and soul to making bike racing here a fun and exciting sport. People like Greg Aden have done their level best and deserve our thanks.
Don’t ever call me an optimist, but as far as the upcoming changes at SCNCA go, I can say that it’s absolutely headed in the right direction. Now, please go vote. Even though, technically, you can’t.
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Bike Racing Survey Analysis
October 19, 2015 § 17 Comments
It pays to have friends in high places, and barring that, to have friends who are really, really, smart.
I got an email from Heidi Christensen the other day offering to analyze our bike racer survey. The survey had been put together by Joe Camacho at Velo Club La Grange, and although we had the canned Survey Monkey results it was gibberish, which is mostly what you’d expect from a bunch of monkeys.
Heidi, however, is a pro, and she took the raw data (I’m still not even sure what raw data is … uncooked? Does it go with a Paleo Diet?) and put together this eye-popping analysis.
Thank you, Heidi, and CHECK IT OUT HERE!!
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The root of all evil is not enough money
October 16, 2015 § 35 Comments
People wonder why masters racers have hijacked SoCal amateur bike racing, as shown by the incredible explosion of anger over the burning question of the day:
- Should masters categories be 35/45/55? OR
- Should masters categories be 40/50/60?
Wrinkly trinket-hungry cyclists went ballistic over this life-or-death issue and forced the opaque, shifty-eyed, self-serving SCNCA board to hold an emergency late night telephone conference, reverse their earlier vote, and then come up with a new vote that satisfied the angriest of the old people who, by the way, were angry indeed.
So now bike racing has been saved. Horrible declines in participation, non-attendance by anyone other than angry S/O’s and resentful children, fewer races, and a smaller pie to squabble over are all going to be remedied because the needs of several hundred greedy trinket hunters have been shifted down five years. Riiiiiiight.
Showing how inane the whole thing is, one upset fellow posted that since he’s going to soon be thirty, “WHAT ABOUT ME?” This perspective perfectly defines the modern masters racer: The unfairness of it all! 30-year-olds having to race with 20-somethings! Pretty soon the 12-year-olds will be outraged that they’re racing with the thirteen-ers, and so on down to swaddling diaper pre-racers.
None of this is surprising because the only thing on offer in bicycle racing nowadays is the faux glory of a few seconds on an ugly podium, hands raised in a stupid salute, a quick posting of the photo on ‘Bag and ‘Gram, and a 5,000-lb. bag of entitlement.
No one’s fighting for money because there is none. The best racer in America, Daniel Holloway, goes from year to year without any long term security even though he wins more big races in a season than any other elite US pro will win their entire career. What would Rahsaan Bahati’s pro career have looked like if he’d made six figures as a bike racer? Why is Hilton Clarke looking for work?
If there were money on offer for actual bike racers, cycling would be a different game. People who could make a living at bike racing would throw the dice and try it as a career, the pool of athletes would grow, and the ripple effect of more races, more spectators, more sponsors, more fans, and more junior racers would grow the sport. It would take several years, but a million dollars on offer in prize money each year in SoCal would turn the region into a global center of cycling.
“A million dollars????” I can hear the screeching laughter now. What a ridiculous idea! What an absurd amount of money? For prizes that go to actual BIKE RACERS? ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?
Yes, but that will never happen of course. The people who have a million dollars to invest aren’t about to put it into the checking accounts of cardboard box-dwelling bike racers because it’s not an investment, at least in the sense that they’ll ever get their money back. It’s more of a Bernie Madoff type investment, and they’d rather have a new beautiful second home, a new airplane, a new boat, or a new investment vehicle that will turn the million into multiples of a million. And no group of ten affluent cyclists would dream of kicking in $100k each to revolutionize the sport. It’s not for a shortage of dollars, though, you can be sure of that. We ride with stock brokers, real estate moguls, millionaire lawyers, independently wealthy businessmen, super rich doctors, and a variety of people for whom a hundred thousand bucks would mean absolutely nothing at all to their big picture or even their small one.
As a case in point, the suckers who dumped $19 million into the USA Pro Challenge wound up with the same raw assholes of everyone else who tries to fund the sport through the well oiled USAC graft machine. The money goes everywhere except to the one place that matters most: The hands of the men and women who turn the pedals. As soon as you pump money into an event or a team, it gets hoovered up immediately by everyone except the riders, who are expected to ride for free or close to it, and be damned glad of it.
The sad thing is that the donor/investor always has good intentions; he wants the sport to prosper. But as long as the employees who make the show happen are starved, insecure, broke, living at home, and paying for health insurance through Medi-Cal, it never ever will. There may be a sucker born every minute, but they play the lottery or go to Vegas. Hardly anyone is a big enough gambler to stake a career on bikes.
And why should donors pour money into the sport they profess to love? What has cycling as an organized activity ever done for anybody? Because of USA Cycling’s pervasive and long-term support of doping, cheating, and shunting rider funds to programs run from Colorado Springs, the governing body is toothless, stupid, greedy, lazy, and mean. It hates grass roots wankers with big bellies (the guys who fill the lower ranks and pay the salaries in ‘Springs), and it thumbs its nose at any pretend racer who doesn’t hit “the right numbers.”
And that’s why Strava is so devastating. It provides competition and it provides value; USAC provides limited competition, and does so at ridiculous cost with zero financial reward. Our recent survey showed that, surprise, people are afraid of crashing. No fucking shit? You mean people are afraid of falling off their bike at 30 and getting their balls run over by ten other riders? Who’d be afraid of that? Worst that can happen is that you die, dude. Man up.
By choking development, ignoring obvious problems, and by creating a culture that makes any potential investor loathe them, USAC is now having the rotten, digested fruits of its corrupt labor shoved down its throat in the form of lower numbers, lower license revenue, lower salaries for the staff who grew up living on Lance and who are now finding out that in addition to being petty and greedy, the masters racers now calling the shot are all that’s left and they happen to be the cheapest most cantankerous bastards alive. I know I am.
And now the new godfather of USAC has declared that the organization will never hire another doper, but he’s silent about what really matters: How is he going to put money into the hands of the people who race bikes? How is he going to make any rational person want to take a chance on the sport? No answers there, sorry.
So it’s left to a handful of leathernecked race promoters to develop a profitable system with no support, no investment, no safety net, and no incentive to hang onto the few races we do have. The reward from USAC? Paying more fees, of course. Bet you didn’t know that the bigger your prize list, the more the promoter pays USAC, did you?
The other reward is having their paying customers, the cranky and greedy and perennially dissatisfied old farts, clamor and complain when races are set up that don’t revolve around them. Young racers are filled with loathing at the actions of us, their elders, and they either smarten up and go back to school (always the best choice, by the way), or they wait to age-grade up and become the overlords.
Sane parents on the sidelines shake their heads in disbelief and encourage their children to chase his dreams anywhere but in cycling. All of the junior summits and SCNCA board deliberations and age category machinations won’t mean shit until there’s enough money in the sport for athletes to make a living at it. Until then the economic engine will be retail sales of high-end bikes to mid-40-ish people who can afford them, and as long as that demographic powers the engine, USAC and race promoters will do as they’re told.
This bankrupt policy is why so few new riders are coming up. The day’s not far off when the fight over how to split the tiny little masters pie will be a fight over who’s going to promote the three races left on the calendar.
Half of any given masters race has people who make their living through “the industry.” We know where they stand on age categories. What about the same level of activism, backed with money, when it comes to putting dollars into the hands of the young men and women who actually have something called a future?
October 12, 2015 § 17 Comments
The sad, dysfunctional fact about USA Cycling in general, and SCNCA in particular, is that they have failed at their mission to build racing participation for so many years that today no one expects anything less than complete failure. Excuses, finger pointing, and the status quo have become hallmarks of our local racing association, and we have fewer races, declining numbers, and the terrible race turnout to prove it.
On the one hand that’s a great thing. Dedicating your youth to bike racing is like dedicating it to meth without the thrill of a prison sentence and the reward of several coat hanger tattoos on your butt. On the other hand it’s terrible, because in some remote galactic parallax of red-shifted wormholes, bike racing is a good thing. Don’t ask me to locate it on a map or in any known episode of Star Trek.
The latest full blown collapse of representation, transparency, honesty, and democracy came (fortunately) in the one arena of bike racing that is the most meaningless of all: Masters racing. To make a long and boring story into a short and boring one, I would explain it thusly:
Old people got angry about trinket distribution. They are still angry.
The more interesting question for me is not how/when/and at what age the wrinklebags can compete for trinkets, but rather this: How can we lure more unsuspecting kids into bike racing? Everyone can identify the problems and no one knows the answer, except by the process of exclusion, to wit:
WHATEVER THE SOLUTION IS, IT WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH USA CYCLING OR THE SCNCA.
So, to help get the junior gears rolling–and it’s a small start–I’m going to donate a monthly Best SoCal Junior Girl Racer award in the amount of $200.00 cash, and a matching award for the best SoCal Junior Boy Racer, courtesy of the $2.99/month subscriptions that come in via this blog. It feels better using the money that way than on the beer I’ve quit drinking.
You can nominate your racer (so far there are a whopping total of two, proving that it’s harder to give away money than you think) by going to my law firm’s Facebook page and adding your nomination as a comment to the post announcing the awards, which is pinned to the top of the page. Include as much detail as you want; the more you include the easier it will make the decision. And yes, self nominations are fine!
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