Report from the 2018 USAC Local Association Symposium


Report from the USAC Local Association Symposium

Hello KCA Board.  As some of you know, I was in Colorado Springs for the annual USAC Local Association symposium.  19 LAs were in attendance.  The change from December to September was a contributing factor to the low numbers, but we had a very informative meeting.  This is my report from that meeting.

We led off with a Keynote address from Derek Bouchard-Hall, President and CEO of USAC.  His address was on the ‘State of USA Cycling’.  While his talk was full of charts and graphs…LOTS OF THEM…I can summarize it here:

A) Total membership in the organization is on target to increase between 3-5% over last year.  This is a modest, yet significant number as it signifies the end of the membership decline that has been ongoing since 2013.  While far from the heyday of the ‘Armstrong Era’, bicycle racing in America is beginning to rise again.  

B)   These modest increases in membership are coming, mostly through racer retention.  New racer numbers are still declining but the decline has plateaued, and is expected to begin trending upwards in 2019 or 2020.  Grand Fondo participation is up 33% over last year.  This is an encouraging number as it means people are still getting out and riding their bikes.

C) Our 2018 YTD New Membership here in Kansas is +4%, and our renewal rate is +8%.  Those numbers are SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER than the national LA average of -3%.  To put that in perspective, there were only 4 LAs that are doing as well (or better) than we are. ( Louisiana +11%, Colorado +8%, Idaho +6%, Illinois +4% ).  Most of the other LA memberships are flat, or slightly down.  Missouri, by comparision, is -10%.

D) Financially speaking, USAC is stable, but losing money.  Not at an alarming rate, but the decline is enough that they are re-evaluating the budget for next year.  The most significant increase  is coming from increased insurance costs.  These insurance rates are increasing mostly due to a significant increase in non-merit case litigation.  Derek warns that there may need to be an increase in race-day surcharges in the next year.  They don’t have numbers for us yet, but will let us know as soon as they determine what they are.

The next topic took the rest of the first day.  As you all have seen from the launch of the new USAC website, they are making major changes in IT.  There are still some significant issues, however.  

Frankly speaking, the website isn’t done yet.  The VERY short version of the ‘behind the scenes’ is that USAC is currently running on 3 servers.  Every time you login, it takes you to the new portal, but when you try to click-through to ‘do’ something, the current server has to send you out to the legacy site for the information.

The need for the new server is because the legacy site is buggy, and will not work well with mobile devices.  National studies have shown that 58% of people interact with the internet solely through their phones and tablets now.  Thus, the old site has to go.  

Implementing the new site/servers has been challenging, and is taking MUCH longer than they initially anticipated.  As of right now, the new site is handling Race License Purchases, Membership Purchases, the e-commerce merchandise, and donations.  EVERYTHING ELSE (other than the rulebook and the splash-content) is still on the legacy server.  They target a major change in February, with additional changes happening as certain parts get done.    

Next week, we will see a new Account interface, ‘find a club’, and ‘find a coach’ implemented on the new site.  

October, the Knowledge base (resource tool), as well as all forms and documents will be handled on the new server

November, they are targeting a complete Redesign and refresh of the Official’s section and available tools including the ability to fill-out and file a First Report of Occurrence or Rider Disciplinary Report on your mobile device.

December – They will move the remaining static content over to the new server.

Next year (hopefully before road season), they want to launch the new online Permitting and online Registration tool.   We got a sneak peak at this tool during the symposium.  It will be an adaptive and simplified process now, with a lot of things going on in the background on the site.

That said, it is a new system, and LAs requested that USAC provide VIDEO training that could be uploaded to YouTube (or similiar) in bite-sized chapters.Currently, a Race Director has to answer about 80 questions in order to apply for a permit.  The new system cuts this down to about 25 by adaptively ruling out questions that don’t apply (based on the answers to previously answered questions).  

There are still an number of things they need to tackle before this system goes online, and those of us in attendance had a number of suggestions that USAC will be integrating before they roll it out for us to test:

A great number of the suggestions from LAs were what I call ‘rules limited options’.  All of the LAs in attendance were pretty adamant that the permitting system should limit the choices that a RD has, IF the USAC rules mandate a specific answer.  For example: when an RD is permitting a Criterium, then the RD should not have the option to choose a course that is ‘rolling closure’ since the rules mandate that a Criterium MUST be held on a closed course.  

Similarly, when an RD is defining who can compete in a field, the permitting and registering system should automatically allow for women racers to race in the men’s fields (as allowed by the USAC rules), but Men CANNOT race in the women’s fields.  

By setting up the system to limit the RD choices during the permitting phase, it eliminates problems in the future.  MORE IMPORTANTLY, it allows for the permitting and registration systems to easily evolve over time as the rules of the sport evolve.  There won’t need to be a massive re-coding of the permitting system, just a simple change of a single module.

This suggestion was taken quite well by the development team, even though it means some considerable work to implement this on what they already have completed.

A perk for the Permitting Coordinators is that a permitted race will not disappear from your cue once its permitted.  It stays where you can see it, along with its status.  If the RD makes a change that requires a re-permitting, the event will remain permitted as is, but the requested changes will not be applied until (and unless) they are approved in the system.  Electronic versions of the flyer will be automatically updated once you approve any changes.

Ultimately, the new permitting system is going to be able to automatically generate the Race Flyer based on the information that the RD provides during permitting!!  There will be a couple of templates, and the RD will be allowed to create their own, but the information will populate directly from the permit.

one pont is that a physical address will be REQUIRED as part of the permitting.  This is being driven by Google’s API, and not by USAC.  The LA’s suggested re-tooling that interface so that a RD can provide longitude/latitude OR import a Google pin drop as many road and cyclocross races occur at a place where there is no physical address

Certain changes will be available to be made up to 48 hours before the event, but the RD will know via an alert icon and notice of any proposed change that will require a re-permitting.  LAs retain approval rights, and will have the ability to communicate directly through the permitting system to the RD instead of having to go through direct email if they so choose.  

We asked that they add a text box where a Permitting coordinator or Race Director can copy/paste any verbiage that is required by the Local Association, Localities, or Sponsors…And the ability for a Local Association to setup a LA specific template if we so desire.

We also asked for the Race Directors to see an alert whenever they are inputting a course distance or race duration that is too short for a certain field to obtain upgrade points…as a reminder to Race Directors.  RDs will still be allowed to permit races that are ‘short’, but this will help to educate them, as well as eliminate the “I didn’t know” argument.

The next morning we began with an update regarding RaceClean, and a presentation from USADA.

Race Clean and USADA

John Whiteman – RaceClean  and Terese Cabanting – USADA

RaceClean

Antidoping in Cycling

UCI uses the CADF (universal anti doping federation) – only test ELITE top-tier in Europe

USADA  – International elite level and SOME local but US athletes
RaceClean – local-level domestic racers.  Membership driven

2018 is really year 3

the funding model has changed.  Surcharges on racing licenses is now how this is funded

2016 – wanted to test 135, tested185

2017 – wanted to test 200, tested 300

2018 – wanted to test 215, are on track to test +/- 230

2018 has yielded 13 sanctions announced

6 USADA funded tests

5 from Out Of Competition tests
1 from In Competition tests

6 RaceClean funded tests

4 in 2017 (there may be more, but they haven’t announced yet). This is because of due process delays.  Positive tests are NOT announced until the athletes are granted their due process rights.

2 in 2018

The majority of positive tests in cycling that have resulted in sanctions are from men in their 40s and 50s who are taking testosterone.

The focus is NOT on the testing, but building a deterrent.  We want the racers thinking that it isn’t worth it to even try, because USADA or RaceClean may be there and sanctions DO follow those tests.

USADA – Weight lifting, Wrestling, Track, Gymnastics, Cycling are some of the most high-risk sports for doping.

1-877-752-9253 – Play Clean Tipline

HUGE success

need LA support to promote this

if we want logos to post on website, contact John.

RaceClean asks the LA presidents asking about what local races they should show up atThis has been driving their testing schedule.

USADA

WADA World Anti Doping- international event focus.  THEY generate the NO USE list

USADA _ domestic focus

Coach’s responsibilities

Coaches MUST be compliant, and is held accountable if one of their athletes is caught AND the coach knows about it

KNOW THE ATHLETE’S RIGHTS!!!!!

How can we help 

be positive when they are there

REPORT athletes who show up to the race, but bounce when they hear USADA is there

EVENTS ARE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE::

1 – site coordinator to liaison with USADA.  They really should not  have another responsibility at the event

1 – Athlete Chaperones (one male and one female at least) to chaperone athletes from the finish line to the doping control station.  Racers cannot leave the sight of their Chaperone until after the testing is complete.

It was emphasized that it is the responsibility of the RACER to stay in sight of their chaperone.  If they move out of their sight (because they are on a bike and the chaperone isn’t) then the racer is held in non-compliance.  A cool-down “lap” is fine, but they have to be in sight of their chaperone at all times (can’t go off into the woods or single-track).

1 – a secure location to test.  This can be a large tent with sides,  But it needs to be kept secure and private.

1 – cold WATER

Play Clean tip line

All call personnel have law enforcement backgrounds

they VET every tip

they make sure tips are actionable BEFORE they contact the racer, LA, or USAC

TrueClean

‘stay clean’ program arm focused on Juniors.  More information available.

They are pushing out new info on Tharapudic Use Exceptions. How to use and pre screening.  Stuff that WE can get to our racers

THC is a threshold test.  The thing to remember is that the banned list supersedes the local legality of a substance, and is beyond that discussion.  Athletes are held to the RULES of the sport in which they compete…and they already know that.

At an event, DO NOT ANNOUNCE USADA IS PRESENT, but tell racers that they need to check a location to see if they need to report to the testing area

USADA and RaceClean should not arrive with an invoice in hand.  RaceClean have paid for everything in the last 3 years.

They want to involve the LAs so they can help, but they need to ask for volunteers prior, but they do NOT want to announce that they will be there.  Often they are targeting specific racers and they don’t want them to stop coming to the races.

There should be no costs to the race director EXCEPT for the testing location (building or tent, porta-pottys and cold water).  

They are creating a punch list for recommended supplies (tent, porta-potty, etc) so LAs can obtain those items ( potentially write grants for those items, or somehow help in item availability)

Remember, anyone that is on the posted testing list for an event that does NOT show up for testing is immediately found guilty of ‘refusal to test’ and will be sanctioned for 4 years.  

The problem comes in that they want to keep their presence quiet, but they have to announce to the racers that they need to show up for testing.

Race director responsibilities are MANDATORY as USAC is part of RaceClean.  Race Directors MUST be made aware of this as compliance is compulsory.   At the LA’s request, the language on a RaceDirector license is going to be changed to make sure they know and Agree to those terms in order to hold a RD License.  Additionally, existing RD licenses will be required to re-acknowledge and re-agree to the compulsory nature of this commitment.  

A Race Director OR LA can also request testing at their event (at their expense) by contacting RaceClean directly.  This testing is NOT paid for, and pricing is variable, because of travel expenses, but a standalone event is in the $500-1000 range.  

SafeSport changes

CHANGES

The USOC, Congress, and USAC are involved. 

US center for SafeSport is the single entity in the US that is handling sexual misconduct in sports

They are currently getting over 120 reports a month!!!

the Nassar case has made this a MAJOR issue that has driven major changes.

These changes are being mandated by the US Congress, NOT the IOC, or USAC.

Changes are still happening, plan to see the following at minimum:

Mandatory background screening for every board member of an LA, and every coach

Mandatory SafeSport certification for every board member of an LA, and every coach

SafeSport training program will have changes (again, these changes are being written into FEDERAL LAW by the US CONGRESS and are not finalized yet.)

Some deadlines will be Jan 1 2019.

Some deadlines will be Feb 15 2019

These are being driven by congressional law.  The changes will be announced as soon as the laws are finalized.  RaceClean had a document prepared to present to us, but congress LITERALLY made significant changes on the Wednesday prior to the symposium such that the document was no longer valid.  

New USAC Membership Model 

The new head of membership has learned some interesting things

1) This is a complicated sport.  SO MUCH MORESO than Triathalon

this is intimidating and frightening for enthusiasts, and that is a barrier to entry to the sport

2) This is a vibrant community

Membership ecosystem

We need a robust membership

We have to be a pipeline to support this membership

membership is about 55,000 racers.  Our Retention is over 70% (IronMan is only 26%)

Cyclists are not racers…but they are the membership target.  How do we get these people in the membership pipeline

Where do we find them?

Bike shops, enthusiasts, USAT/BMX/NICA, IMBA/People for Bikes, Clubs, LA, 

Sponsors, Running shops and Running events (running becomes hard)

Objectives for new membership level

Reduce complexity

Build a low cost, low barrier offering (something we CAN give away)

66M people own a bike, 7M identity as a cyclist

But only 55K are licensed racers….there is ROOM TO GROW

Ride Membership was a failure.  It simply cost too much

The offer is expensive, and we aren’t retaining them or converting to racers

New Membership model – Rolled out last Friday

MEMBERSHIP levels are basic, silver, and gold

a Race License is a Race License, and a basic membership is included in a race license, but a race license is NOT included in a Basic Membership.

We want to aspire the non-race license members to become racers

One day license purchases will now trigger a free basic membership offer (this free membership does not auto-renew)

LAs suggested allowing a Basic membership to ‘count’ as a license for the  purpose of attending permitted skills clinics.  USAC loved this idea, but will need to discuss with insurance and legal before approving

ALL one-day licenses purchasers since 2016 will given an offer for a free basic membership via email

That email has already gone out for basic membership redemption.

Randy Shafer – Technical Director

Officials, Assignments, Upgrades

Upgrades, passing over to Justin Evans

Officials Assignment

Currently LA’s assign locally

Nothing works better than this, so we aren’t changing this

NEW assignment goals:

allow easier access to requests and coordination

create nationally accessible database of assignments

See numbers assignment patterns, and practices

Create better visibility and transparencies in assignment process

The current assignment tool is simply BROKEN.  It doesn’t work, and the majority of LAs aren’t using it because of its problems.

Arbiter One computer program (testing on national level in 2019, then onto 

selected LAs)

This handles all the large scale sports assignments across the country

Its ball centric – USAC is working with them to adapt for us

Allows incredibly specific options regarding assignment possibilityeligibility and coordination

Creates Transparency

Allows officials to enter calendars of availability, and restrict based on travel time 

Arbiter Pay is a component that allows RDs to pay the officials through the program.

State of officiating

less than 1000 practicing officials nationwide.

most are aging out (but average entry age is 45)

retention is lacking (1 in 5 year to year is a good national average)

Development and assignment opportunities may not be available

significant commitment barriers: Training, SafeSport, Background Check, MVR, License, anemic pay rate

New Programs

Education C/B levels

focus on rules and knowledge opportunities

allow people to train without committing to become one

allow focus on regional ops in education 

In person CR (B Clinics) available with streamlined B module systems. Should roll out VERY soon.

regional B clinic to be attended after module completion

Benefits – small increase in pay and reimbursements being reviewed

LA’s are Key to Official’s Retention

Provide support education/clinics where needed (Most LAs do their own C clinics)

Provide assistance with costs, first-third years, Moto insurance, background check, or MVR’s

Provide talent ID

USA Cycling to support/provide educational guidance, assist clinics, provide trainers

Streamlining of membership process- one stop

Looking into Free Official for each club ( will work with us on a  renewal in case of financial need)

Category Upgrades 

Complaints

current is either a tool to keep people from advancing or creating favor for those that haven’t earned it

Functional limitations to upgrade riders in mixed category races

Not universally applicable in terms of disciplines

Rogue upgraders

change address in your account to get upgraded ‘rubber stamp’

Some LA’s rubber stamping all requests

Upgrade tool is BROKEN, so the process of review is unnecessarily time consuming and tedious

History of upgrade process

Road and criterium centric

Difficult for track

Not as applicable for CX, or Mt. Bike

Represents a different time, popularity of the sport, access to large events

No longer strongly reflects race opportunities offered

Mixed fields, lack of clarity between RDs and Upgrade 

Systems

Goals of a new system

does it create safer riders? (no, it makes people go to races)

Education, skill building, and etiquette vs. pure race results

Fairer competitions

Standardized advancement

Flexibility in application (Policy vs. Regulation). Move out of 

rulebook and into a policy

Nationally applicable with similar results

LAs suggested field-size consideration when multiple races happening on the same whistle. 

For example, when masters and category race on the same whistle (but in different races), the field size is ONLY the race you are in…even though you can all work together.  This happens a LOT in women’s combined races.  OR when Men and Women have separate races that start on the same whistle.  

This is being taken for discussion with the technical commission.

Wants to create a National LA Forum on upgrades (instead of being in the rulebook)

Some LAs manage very effectively when they talk to each other

create an Ad hoc committee to review upgrade policy

Create recommendations for each Discipline

Review by Discipline specific Sport Committees

Essentially, Randy is proposing taking the upgrade points system OUT OF THE RULEBOOK, and making it a matter of policy.  Personally, I see both pros and some major cons to doing this.  This proposal is in its infancy, and he still has to take it to the board of directors.  

 

So that was the end of what we covered at the Symposium.  There is more information that will be coming out, especially for SafeSport requirements, and I will keep you all informed as I am made aware.

Thank you, and race well.

 

David Sturm – President

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