Taken from an email I recently sent to all the US UCI event organizers, in response to the question, "Do we have a saturation point?"
Saturation point of what, exactly? Because one person's saturation point is another's growth of the sport. Do we have too many criteriums in America? Or do you think the Belgians complain the UCI races in France or Switzerland are "soft" as well?
I promise you, for every complaint you've heard about saturation points or soft races I've got 10 riders who are psyched about the prize money they're making, and for the travel they don't have to do in order to compete in quality events. UCI events are job opportunities for bike racers. Further, the abundance of races is pushing every race to improve, at every level. A local race in New England now is the same quality as what a UCI race used to be. And to really stand out nationally, you need to put on a C1 event now. That's positive growth and improvement.
If you want to talk about saturation, are you talking about all of the United States? Because we know all the races in Belgium happen in a very, very small area of the country. Do not compare the US to Belgium. When there are as many UCI races in Massachusetts as there are in Belgium, then we can start to talk about saturation. A much better comparison would be how many UCI race there are in Europe as a whole to how many there are in the US.
The "saturation point" is what's bringing a guy like Valentin Scherz, the best Swiss U23, back to the US for the first half of the season to race again this year, and bringing the 2nd best Swiss U23, Anthony Grand, along with him. It's causing a guy like Luca Damiani to come back to the US for 'cross after his road season, instead of staying in Italy like he did last year. It's causing a guy like Jesse Anthony, who has been one of the riders criticizing "easy points," to decide instead to get his ass in his car, drive to Granogue, and win 2 hard fought and well-publicized UCI events, taking advantage of the opportunities instead to complaining about them. It's bringing a guy like Alex Candelario back to 'cross after leaving it to focus on the road for the past 10 years.
What exactly _is_ getting saturated, then? Points? Of course, we have a limit on C2 and C1 point totals, so there's already a check in place for that. Media? Seems like we're getting plenty of great coverage, and making stars out of the riders at every level. So what's the limiter? All I see us getting saturated with is more good events, more prize money, more press, better quality, more competition, and more growth. More please.
I do not see a situation where the UCI, or USA Cycling, would have any motivation to restrict the number UCI events in the US. This same question was raised when I was on the Commission, directed at Belgium, and the conclusion then was that it was not possible or fair to the riders to limit the number of races there so that the scenes in Italy, Germany, Spain or France could grow. Curtailing growth or strength in one country was not the way to encourage growth or strength in another.
This topic comes up once a year. It came up when we first had more UCI races than the what was just in the 6- or 8-race national series. It came up again when we started to have conflicts on opposite coasts. It's apparently coming up again now, I assume because we've had another big jump in the total number events. The sky was not falling back then, and it's not falling now.
I honestly think we are just scratching the surface of growth of a pro 'cross scene in the US. Until there's a UCI race every weekend in each region at the same time (like there is or was in Switzerland or Italy or France or Belgium), we have room to grow. And until there's a C1 every weekend in the US the same way there's a $10,000 or $15,000 NRC criterium or road race during the summer, we have room to grow. And until more European riders are choosing to come to the US to race (the way they do right now for the US road scene), we have room to grow.
I'm going to save this for next year, and save myself the work of writing it again.
Adam F. Myerson
President, Cycle-Smart, Inc.: Solutions for Cycling
Organizer, Cycle-Smart International Cyclo-Cross
President, Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series
32 Ditson St., #5
Dorchester, MA 02122
(413) 204-3202 Mobile
(512) 681-7043 Fax
There's been some kind of pandemic lately of naming me the "xyz of 'cross." It's been pretty funny, actually. I've heard icon, godfather, professor; I even got a Yoda figurine shouldering a bicycle in the mail from Myles Romanow last year. 'Cross Yoda?
Today, however, I am going to be the Mr. Blackwell of 'cross, considering this post from Heidi Swift, one of my favorite people to flirt with on the internet. Heidi is an example of everything's that good about Portland, Oregon. Passion, intellect, analysis, enthusiasm, sincerity, perspective. She knows what to take seriously and what to let go, without weakening any of her own motivation to be good at life with the Portland poison pill of irony. She's ok if she's not the fastest on the block, but that doesn't lead her to treat cycling like an adult kickball league as so many do. Cycling is important. It's ok to train for it. It's ok to want to be faster, because that's actually more fun than sucking completely. At the same time, being fast doesn't make you better than anyone else, and she knows that, too.
In that Tumblr post, Heidi wrote:
Dear @adammyerson, Can we still be friends?
From the “at least the Giro Ionos helmet and FMB tyres look good” files:
Shit. I think I broke about 70 of your rules this past Saturday. Adam - maybe you should make a new video series to teach all the Grasshoppers your cyclocross fashion basics.
No skinsuit, long-fingered-gloves-with-short-sleeves, kit is a size too big, what else?
And so, in honor of the late Mr. Blackwell, we will evaluate Ms. Swift's ensemble from this past weekend. We'll go with a DOs and DON'Ts approach, starting with the don'ts, since I adore Heidi and want this to end on a positive note.
Pictures, again, are here.
1 + 2. Heidi already pointed out what would have been number 1 and 2: jersey and shorts in a 'cross race, and long-fingered gloves with short sleeves. Horrible. Good driving in 'cross requires touch, and gloves interfere with that. Unless it's so hot your hands sweat and slide off the bars, or it's so cold you need them for warmth, gloves should be avoided. Particularly when it covers up whatever pretty color Heidi has usually painted her nails. We'll give her a pass on the jersey and shorts, since I know her new team kit is still on the way.
3. Quick release position. That front QR has to go behind the fork. Facing forward, it's exposed and more likely to get flicked open in a crash. Plus it's like nails on a chalkboard. The rear QR isn't completely closed and also looks to be outside the triangle. It should always close inside the stays where it's protected.
4. Number placement. Too low. Some sponsor paid good money to be on that side panel (hopefully). Use the top seam of the panel as the bottom seam for the number placement. Your number will still be visible from the side.
5. Canti set up position. The straddle ends and brake pivot should be in the same level plane for the right balance of braking power and mechanical action. Open those brakes up, and move the posts further in. (Straddle cable height is perfect, however.)
6. Hood and bar angle looks appropriate for road, but not for 'cross. Tilt those bars up a little, so the wrist angle is straight, not angled down. You want to hold your hoods in your hands like a pair of baseball bats you plan to smash the course with, not places to gently rest your hands while you think about how good you look in your Rapha kit.
7. Single ring set ups should have two guards, not one guard and a chain guide. The chain guide will work most of the time, but that one time the chain is partially off and you pedal it straight past and under the guide, where you then can't pull it out because the guide is now in the way, you'll wish you just had an inside guard. Plus, some traditions should be respected for their own sake. A chain guide just ruins the lines, and certainly this should matter to Heidi.
8. Shorten up that rear derailleur cable from the shifter.
1. Colored electrical tape on the bars. I debated if I was happy with the red, but because the bike is a flat color, the red matches the tips of fork, head badge, downtube logo outline, and I believe, FMB stamp on the tire. Subtle. Successful.
2. Non-knee high socks. You see what Heidi's got going on here? High socks. Even kind of cute, argyle high socks. But NOT socks pulled all the way up to her balls, making her look like Pippi fucking Longstocking, because 'cross is a joke and I'm a girl and I should be cute and not act like I'm taking this too seriously because I'm afraid of failure AND success.
Whew. Sorry. Got excited. But that's what knee high socks in 'cross say to me. Mr. Blackwell of 'cross says high socks are ironic and stupid and irony is FUCKING OVER, KIDS! DO YOU HEAR ME? IT'S OVER!
3. Unzipped jersey, because it's hot. (Oh, you see what I did there?) If you're a female athlete, you shouldn't have to worry about being attractive while you're playing sports. You're playing sports, and that makes you attractive in the first place. But when is being attractive ever a reason to play sports? If it's hot out, you should be able to unzip your skinsuit or jersey without worrying about what it signifies. And in doing so, it signifies that you're hot, nothing more. And that in itself, the not caring, is hot. You can't escape the patriarchy, you just have to do your best.
4. The dangling necklace. I have always been a fan of those pictures of Italian climbers burying it on some pass, jersey open, crucifix swinging low. It's one of those things you don't think about while you're racing, but is so striking in photos. You don't stop being yourself when you're racing bikes. It's a way to express yourself.
5. Going hard, and reading the course. In both photos, you can see Heidi is trying. She's going hard. She's not out racing 'cross because it's cool. She's trying to go fast. And in one of the photos she's looking ahead, evaluating the course, thinking about her next turn, being focused. DO.
And finally, most importantly:
You're Heidi Fucking Swift. You're a tastemaker. You do whatever the fuck you want, and let people deal with it or not.
For Immediate Release
BIKES NOT BOMBS JOINS ADAM MYERSON AND CYCLE-SMART
Pro road and cyclo-cross racer Adam Myerson and Cycle-Smart have added
an unusual name to their jerseys - Bikes Not Bombs. Adam has granted
this Boston-based nonprofit a free sponsorship to promote the
organization's local youth bicycle programs and international
In a meeting with Bikes Not Bombs staff, Adam explains: "Cycling as a
sport was a way for me to get out of the situation I grew up in and
improve my life. I want my success to mean more than just me getting
to play on a bicycle, and I have a platform I can employ to effect
some kind of difference. Bikes Not Bombs is using bikes to change the
lives of kids here in Boston and around the world. It’s amazing work,
I support the political message for peace that is behind it, and I
want to get the word out so that more people will pitch in to support
what BNB does."
In 1984, Carl Kurz was on a flight from Boston to Nicaragua with two
bicycles, brought south to support health workers, labor unions and
teachers working to rebuild a land ravaged by war. From this simple
action sprung a movement that became the organization Bikes Not Bombs,
now built on the simple actions of tens of thousands of individuals,
touching lives of many more. Over 40,000 bicycles have been shipped to
Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa since 1984. Thousands of
local youth have been empowered by BNB’s Boston youth programs since
1990. And the momentum is growing.
Arik Grier, BNB's Outreach Coordinator, explains, “The philosophy
really is to do concrete, hands-on work on a grassroots level,
bringing bikes and bike knowledge to individual people and groups in
other countries, and also here in the US. We're building
micro-enterprises to help economies, we're educating and employing
teens, we're running a bike shop in Boston, and all of this is done on
principles of local ownership and empowerment, environmental
sustainability, and respect, to work towards a more just and peaceful
Look for the Bikes Not Bombs logo on the Cycle-Smart elite and
grassroots cyclo-cross riders this fall. For more information about
Bikes Not Bombs, you can visit their web site at
http://bikesnotbombs.org. For more information about Cycle-Smart and
the team, visit http://cycle-smart.com.
I'm reposting this private e-mail without JD's permission, mostly because I don't have time to check with him first. But I really wanted everyone to see and understand that there are people behind the scenes who are desperately trying to make sure 'cross happens the way it's supposed to, that it's possible for the participants' concerns to go up, and not just rules to come down. Over the past few years, I've received more and more thank you's and appreciative notes, so I do think the era of riders not understanding or appreciating what it takes to put a race on has faded. And I think efforts like this from JD are part of why that's the case.
This is an e-mail that went up, and has had an impact on what you'll see at upcoming UCI events, and what USAC directs it's officials to do. It has had an impact, and you will see the change. Bring JD a vegan cupcake or something at the next race, huh?