Monday, December 6, 2010

ars gratia artis

On cross…
Here’s the thing for me. I feel pretty torn.

For the longest time, cross was the sweet little thing. It was kinda counter culture, the racing was good, the scene was super cool. It was really grass rootsy. USAC didn’t pay much fuck attention to it, so it was bike racing for the people, by the people. In the different regions you had guys like Myserson, Stevenson, Bilodeau, Cline, Auer, Fries, Hebe, Sovek, Albright, McDaniel, Graham, Dugovich building the scene. We all went UCI because that was what we wanted to do to help grow the scene, and grow cross. UCI guaranteed some consistency in race courses, in rules, and on the whole Brought the level of cross up for everyone.

Yeah, we were UCI, but at the end of day, it was still very much grass roots. Regions working and learning from each other. It was people who love cross making it happen. Cross for the sake of cross if you will. It was coming up from the bottom, it was, fuck it, I’ll say it: kinda punk rock.

All of that appealed, and still appeals to me.

It reminded me of my skateboarding days, putting on demos, and weird contests in small parking lots… it was fun, it was cool to be building something and be a part of it.

Fast forward to today. Cross is a big deal. In 10 years of promoting Granogue Cross , we only hoped to break even, usually we lost money. (8 out of 10 years) We only made a small amount of money the past two years. Cross on the whole, makes money now. Money for bike companies, Money for USAC. It’s the golden child and is the fastest growing segment of the sport. Further, as a non  Olympic sport the output from USAC to the riders is very little. From where I sit, it feels like USAC is kind coming to the table now saying : “ thanks for grooming this for us, and we’ll take over from here now that there’s money to be made.”

Did you ever see Corvette Summer? It’s like that: Luke Skywalker builds up an old junker corvette, it gets stolen and then Luke Skywalker has to try and get it back. (never mind the hooker girlfriend)

That’s what it feels like right now. I want my fucking corvette back.

UCI… I feel like that was the deal we made with the devil. Sooner or later we’d have to pay our due. And now, now that we are no longer just those silly guys in America, they are coming for their due… They are holding us to all the standards, monetary and otherwise. I think we all kinda knew that would happen, even if we didn’t want to admit it.

USGP… they are benefitting from all the work of everyone in the regions, and putting on a good show. Problem is they are stepping on the throats of the people who built the foundation that cross rests on. It’s gone from being cooperation between series, to USGP saying “we’re driving the bus now… “ They also seem to get treated differently by USAC than the rest of the UCI promoters. It doesn’t leave a good taste in anyone’s mouth…

USAC… from where I stand, I would expect them to advocate for the UCI promoters in this country, to seek out clarification on rule enforcement, and in short to help foster the growth of the sport here, and support the promoters/regions/races that have worked so hard to get cross where it is today. From my perspective USAC fails on all fronts here. Should I be surprised?

All of that makes me want to say FUCK YOU to UCI and USAC. We had almost 1300 riders at the Granogue Weekend. Charm City was the same. Very frankly less than 10% of the riders were elite racers. What would Granogue look like if we went totally pirate? Our Mountain Bike race is pirate, and we get 600+ riders each year. It could happen. Cross for the People. That’s really always been the goal of Granogue, and I hope we never lose sight of that…

The other side of me is this. I have two friends going to Christmas Cross. I have a number of friends who have gone to worlds, and there are a number of folks that are on the cusp of taking that next step from the Mid Atlantic to National Prominence. If there are no races in the mid atlantic that offer USAC or UCI points, are we doing our region a disservice? Are we cutting our nose off despite our face, and denying the very people we sought to support by going UCI in the first place? Yeah, I think we are.

I want to see LVG go to worlds. I’m stoked that Jeffy and Gunnar will race in Europe this winter. I want to see Sam, Gunnar and Jeffy all go to worlds.

I want to see Bad Andy and Wes and the fucking Swiss Cheese get to race the best in the country here in the Mid Atlantic. I want to see those guys get recognized for the great work that they do.

I’ve been on the UCI national promoters list for a very short time. I am more of an observer than anything else. Perhaps I have been naïve, perhaps I was looking at the cross world through rose colored glasses. At the end of the day, what I read, what I saw just made me sad. This cross game is a business now.

It’s big money in someone’s pocket. Now that we’ve grown it, USAC wants their cut.

And so, I’m a little torn, and a lot sad.

That’s all I have to say about that…



megA said...

heavy sigh

it makes me sad too. i feel betrayed and squashed, and torn. it's just so. damn. dirty, and i hate it.

but i love you, and all the other non-vampires.

velocb said...

Thank you Marc, seriously. You are one of my heroes.

Well said and you know what with all the good people in cross the UCI, USGP no one can kill cross. They have no idea what a bunch of punks from the East Coast can accomplish when we get riled up. They might want to check themselves before they wreck themselves.

We will all be fine but it is sad. The good news? Its like the PE song said "I test a friend with sincerity or consider him an enemy" The love fest may have to end and we may all have to flex our collective muscles but we will know who are real friends when the dust all settles there is no doubt about that. And it will make our cross culture stronger. USAC needs us wayyy more than we need them...

Cheers my brother and keep fighting the good fight!

alliwannadoisbicycle said...


I'm right behind you. As proud of the elites that come out of our scene, I'd rather keep doing races for the right reason- because people have fun at the events. You hit the nail on the head here. Politics and self interest have gotten in the way of why we all do this, and these organizations could care less.



Jason said...

Very well said Marc. While I don't race cross much (I'm on the one CX race every 2 years plan) and never really came close to racing anything UCI when I did, watching how all this stuff has played out has made me sad too.

On the other hand I see some really cool cross races out there that are grass roots by nature, don't take themselves to seriously, but still put on fun races (see Kisscross here in Mich.)

At my day job (and night job) I have been putting together a list of races. The ones that got my attention the most were the ones that had no entry, no prize money, but were about doing something epic and seeing who came in first.

I guess is what I'm try to say is that you're a good dude, with big heart, who knows how to put on a race and make racers happy. UCI, USAC be damned. Just do what makes you happy and feels right.


Judi said...

damn. im just now reading this. i know jack shit about it. i just like to race CX.

im interested in how USGP is treated differently. USGP seemed like the Cadillac of CX racing. the venue, the volunteers, even the officials were high falutin'. one of them even had the balls to tell someone in the hotel to watch their caffeine input.

nice post marc. happy holidays to you and diane.

StupidBike said...

Screw USAC. Lets take it back. Go Pirate. Pirates rawk, will their be harlots?

Our Local series is Pirate, and apparently USAC is sending people to discuss getting sanctioned, it won't work, the promoter hates USAC more than I do. Go pirate.

And please don't blame other promoters, conspiracy theories hurt the sport.

Fatmarc Vanderbacon said...

@ stupidbike...

any promoters that I pointed out are based on facts that I saw with my own eyes...

this isn't a conspiracy theory, this is the truth.

I like pirates too.