Sunday, January 22, 2006

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death!

Sometimes I think we take it for granted that we have it sooo good here in the ol' U.S. of A. check that!............I know we do! Take the recent news that the Dutch Cycling Union handed down the other day. 29"ers are outlawed in cross country races! Yep! Too bad if you invested heavily in the 29"er, they do not care! It's a stifling ruling, and very counter productive for a few reasons that we here in America, or elsewhere, may find a little difficult to understand.

Essentially, the cycling unions in Europe are the only game in town for organized racing at the highest levels. You do not have large, well organized, independant race series like we do here in the U.S. You either tow the company line, or go home! Unlike what happened here when several groups of race promoters decided that NORBA wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and set off on their own path. Racers here were not cowed, and came to the independant series in droves. So much so, that NORBA had to start issuing single day licenses to entice racers back into the fold. That's not happening in Europe anytime soon. Rules and proper procedure are pre-eminent, and any rebellious types, are not looked upon kindly.

Speaking of rules, the Euro's have got reams of them, and they are very confusing, to boot. Which usually means that the interpretation of the rules is really at issue. That almost always ends up being a very bad situation. But, how can you argue when they get the results? Take a look at the top place finishers in most any XC, marathon, or downhill event these days, and Europeans dominate the results. Well, whatever you may think of their results, I think it's fair to say that their policies leave a bit to be desired!

That brings us back to the grassroots level movement here in the States. It's very alive and well, thank you very much. Several cross country races are happening where the wheel size of your bike is the furthest thing from anyones mind, and everyone is having fun.....well, for the most part! Rules are there, yes, but only to keep things organized, safe, and most of all, fun!

The big thing for me, at least when it comes to wheels, and what is a cyclo-cross bike and what isn't, yadda, yadda, yadda......... is what is your course like? Is it something that you could ride fast on a cyclo-cross bike? And you do not want cyclo-cross bikes?'s a thought, your course so that they do not have an advantage! Let people ride what they have! And don't make the club so exclusive! Lighten up already, and have some fun. Sure, I like 29"ers and I think that they are better in a lot of ways to the 26" wheeled bikes, but would I exclude one or the other from competition? No way! That's just plain ignorant! Got a single speed? Bring it on! Direct drive, or gears? Okay, let's see what'cha got! Mix it all together, and have some fun. It's all about bikes and riding them in a competitive atmousphere.

If they start getting all prickly about rules and sanctions here in America.....well then, I hope racing dies!! What fun is it if you have to comply to a ream of rules, and find out that the bicycle you love is out of bounds? No thanks! I'll be riding on my own, somewhere with the wind in my face, and a long road ahead of!

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