The West Coast Pro XCT Series?


It’s been a while since I did an xc.cult:ure post here on the blog, but with the Sunshine Cup kicking off last week for the Euros and a good number of domestic races starting later this month, I thought it might be a good time to do one.

With the anticipation of sweaty race chamois’ in the air, and nothing else to do while I am sick with a cold, I checked out what USA Cycling had in store for the 2015 Pro XC season. It turns out they have a nice nine race XC series going down. Bravo! Wait… Forget that bravo. I’m sorry, I can’t get too behind a series that continues to cater to the west coast and mountain states and leaves east coasters contemplating selling a kidney to finance multiple trips westward should they choose to compete for the reported $15,000 purse.

The 2015 USA Cycling Pro XCT Series:

March 14 Bonelli XC #1 (U.S. Cup) — San Dimas, California
March 21 Fontana XC (U.S. Cup) — Fontana, California
April 11 Bonelli XC #2 (U.S. Cup)  — San Dimas,California
April 18 Subaru Sea Otter Classic (U.S. Cup) — Monterey, California
May 8-10 Nordic Valley Stage Race — Ogden, Utah
June 20 Missoula XC presented by Zillastate — Missoula, Montana
June 27 Colorado Springs (U.S. Cup) — Colorado Springs, Colorado
July 11 Boston Rebellion XC— Walpole, Massachusetts
July 25 WORS Cup — Portage, Wisconsin

As you see, out of the nine races on the calendar, only one is legitimately on the east coast (Boston Rebellion) and one (the WORS Cup) that is within a “reasonable” driving distance for east coast racers.

As much as I would love to jump onto the extremely crowded, and justified in many cases, I hate USA Cycling bandwagon, I don’t think that would do much good. And as it turns out, the lack of east coast Pro XCT races on the calendar may have more to do with a lack of interest from promoters than USA Cycling. Sort of… I think…

Below is USAC’s October 3rd 2014 response on Facebook to racers who declared that the 2015 series was the “California Championship Series” and “a pretty disappointing schedule for us east coasters.”

“The Pro XCT is a calendar of the UCI races, therefore any event that applied for a UCI date was accepted. We do not own and operate any races other than our national championships, so we can only put races on the calendar that apply for it. As to [name deleted for privacy] comment, Mellow Johnny’s did not apply to be included this year. The east coast will host several non-Pro XCT big events this year, including the only UCI World Cup in the U.S. in 2015 at Windham, N.Y., our Marathon MTB National Championships in Georgia and Collegiate MTB Nationals in West Virginia.”

OK, that clears it up… I guess if I understand correctly there just weren’t any east coast XC race promoters who felt the want to fill out an application, pay various additional fees and adhere to the UCI rules and regulations in respect to courses, marshals, drug testing, etc., needed to become a UCI mountain bike race, thus becoming part of the Pro XC Tour?

I am by no means complaining, because A. I’m not a pro, so I don’t race the Pro XCT and B. There IS a nine race series that IS actually [supposedly] paying out cash. Given 99% of America’s long, deep, passionless, non-love affair with cycling there could just as easily be none.

OK, maybe I’ll complain a little bit

It sucks that it’s THIS hard to get a national series going that’s truly a national series and covers more than one–maybe one and a half–regions of the country. I can understand that USA Cycling wants UCI level races as part of the series so our athletes can compete on an elite level at the Olympics and UCI XCO races, but last year there were some World Cup XCO races outside North America that had as little as one or two U.S. racers on the start line. So why jump through hoops to create a series based on UCI races and guidelines?

I’m not saying you don’t go out of your way to make a series that is challenging and adheres to the highest standards, hell I’m not even saying that the races shouldn’t have to be USAC sanctioned events to be part of the series, but I don’t see why USAC should care whether the race is a UCI race or not. Unless this brings us full circle back to more red tape and UCI Rule 1.2.019?

Could the first truly national race series have come from a group of promoters that aren’t even affiliated with USAC? If you are a believer in endurance racing, than it already has come in the form of the National Ultra Endurance Series.

It’s all too much

OK, this is making my brain hurt and nothing I’m thinking really matters anyway. If I was a semi-pro, non paycheck getting journalist and still doing XXC Magazine, I would delve further into this. Maybe send some emails to USAC, talk to some promoter friends and some elite racers to see what they think about all of this or if they even care. But I’m not doing that anymore, so I won’t bother. There appears to be quite a bit involved in putting on the series and just a few looks over the UCI and USAC paperwork had my head spinning.

Parting thoughts

I can’t help asking if American mountain bike racers should really even care? Part of me says yes, if you want to compete on an elite level and start seeing Americans on the podium of UCI XCO events or the Olympics than you want a top-notch series that has our best XC racers eager to compete and maybe win a little money along the way. But…

There are so many excellent XC and endurance races and series in the midwest and east coast I’ve come to think that while a national series is awesome, maybe it’s not really needed. When you see longtime favorites like the WORS, WEMS, the Mid Atlantic Super Series, the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association series, the Root 66 series in New England and many of the original, legendary NUE races like the Wilderness 101, Shenandoah Mountain 100, Mohican 100 and the Lumberjack 100 it’s pretty easy to get blissfully distracted from the idea of a national XC series or even think about racing west of the Mississippi. And I didn’t even get into the races in the south-east US!

I’ll end this by saying that yes, I am disappointed that our national race series isn’t all that national but American mountain bike racing has quite a lot to offer racers all season long.

While I won’t be racing more than one or two local races (doing my best to finish mid pack in the uber competitive Male, 43-45, Vet Expert, Clydesdale class) I do look forward to watching the season unfold. Best of luck to everyone who lines up to race this season, wherever it may be, whoever you may be, seasoned pro in search of the podium or a first timer hoping to finish.

Note: Pardon the ranting and lack of cohesiveness in this post. This was written under the influence of a variety of medications over two days of illness. Thanks.


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