Dear Cycling Enthusiasts,
Communication received good spin at this year’s annual Sport Committee meetings, the advisory board pow-wow for USA Cycling. We love the spirit of transparency characterizing correspondence from CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall to membership in his first year! In that spirit, we think it’s important to share what our committee discusses and who we are.
Each committee member represents a role or a constituency. My role is Coach Rep. Here are the other members, all of them have varying lengths of service within the sport and admirable contributions:
Karen Bliss is our appointed Industry Rep. She is VP of Marketing at ASI. ASI owns Fuji and now Performance and Bike Nashbar. She is also closely connected with the famous race up Manayunk in Philadelphia.
Pedro Payne, Ph.D. is our At-Large Rep. He is Director of Community Outreach and Patient Experience at Loma Linda University East Campus/Surgical Hospitals. He directs a large team of para-cyclists.
Gina Kavesh is our Committee Chairwoman, Local Association Rep, and representative to the Board of Directors of USAC. She is involved in event promotion, her Local Association in the Pacific NW, and is the Executive Director of the WAVE Foundation, who brings awareness about domestic violence.
Randy Warren is our Male Athlete Rep. He is a longtime Coach with experience working in many regions across the country and within various constituencies, such as collegiate and elite development. He lives in Asheville, NC and enjoys running skills camps.
Ashley Travieso is our Race Director Rep. She is involved in the USA Crit series and runs Athens Twilight. She also brings unique perspective from her involvement in diverse sports and as the wife of a domestic pro rider.
Bonnie Walker is our Officials Rep. She is an executive leader within the software industry. She works tirelessly through Texas Bicycle Racing Association. She also sits on the National Technical Commission, which provides guidance to the Technical Director of USAC.
Jeffrey Hansen, Director of Member Experience, USAC is our staff contact. We work with Jeffrey to convey our discussions to the relevant USAC departments, and he keeps us informed using data and deduction about the happenings throughout our membership.
Events & Members
Our focus is improving the quality of USAC events and offerings. We learned that fewer race days results in fewer members. Did you know that membership growth is at a plateau but that the percentages in key segments, like juniors and women, are growing? USAC’s hope to expand the sport – Ride Membership – is showing robust growth. This reflects a reality that most sports are experiencing contracting membership within their competitive governance structures, but that more and more people are involved in recreational sport. We are embracing our ride brethren and non- or semi-competitive events, such as gravel grinders and gran fondos and offering terrific benefits, such as insurance and connection with other participants.
USAC is also committed to a high standard within our traditional events. Operating these events puts a heavy demand on human and financial resources. USAC is moving forward with a better experience for event organizers and participants and with a more cost-effective strategy. Our committee – and across most disciplines – decided to support removing some categories from Nationals and to separate various categories to offer improved venues and experiences for national event participants. We recognize that some members may be saddened by this.
In my Coach rep role, I also sit on the Coach Committee: all coaches agreed that kids age 9-10 should be riding bikes for fun; our BMX unit provides numerous opportunities for this age group also. We hope to grow lifetime cyclists, and current research indicates that talent identification under 15-16 does not indicate future potential as adult competitors, and putting kids into high levels of competition yields early burn-out – not senior stars or lifetime cyclists.
For women, we recommended standardization. This means that a Cat5 women’s category could roll out soon. We offer this to provide a truly introductory experience for new and beginning riders in the sport. To ease the burden on race promoters, we offer this as a separate category scored within existing race categories – similar to men’s introductory categories. For both genders, Cat 5-4 upgrades will reflect some changes where participation in a broader variety of ride experiences scores points, such as gran fondos and skills clinics. We hope to encourage skills focus and reduce the perceived risks of being thrown into events with more experienced riders.
Clubs & Teams
We had an exciting brain storm session about our club and team system. Clubs are not currently required to promote events. Our committee recommended that we continue this policy but that we add incentives for clubs and organizations who wish to promote a broad array of cycling-related events. We discussed a ranking system – along the lines of USAC’s Coach or Officials Continuing Education Credit tracks – where clubs can earn distinction through various activities which help grow the sport.
The Committee also had a lively discussion about the importance of acknowledging our winners but also in recognizing supporters. Cycling is a team sport with individual winners, and these individuals rely on others in mass start events. We started a discussion about how to shift our focus and reflect society’s changing behaviors about groups and working together. We hope to report more about this.
We are all weary of our national Election Season, but we want you to be thinking about Cycling’s Elected Representatives.The Road Committee has two spots for Athlete Representatives – and both positions are vacant. We need you to come alongside us and provide your point of view. We discussed changing the qualifications for these roles so that a broader base can participate. Look for more on this soon so you can seek nomination in July Elections.
Until next month!
Road Coach Representative