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What we talk about when we talk about USA Cycling

– Saw this thread on the Velocipede Forum by framebuilder nonpareil Richard Sachs and it was a surprise. Like you, I spend $60 for my USA Cycling license every year. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know, as card-carrying members, what that buys us? Based on my cursory review of the 2007 USA Cycling 990 Tax Return , I’ve learned the following:

$13,323,525: Total annual revenue
$8,252,159: Total annual expenses
$2,960,768: Compensation, salary, and benefits to USA Cycling officers and employees
$3,990,159: End of year savings and temporary cash investment assets
$4,077,991: Short term investment assets
$100,096 : Total cash grants to organizations and individuals
$70,000: Cash grant provided to BMX Program
$16,716: Largest non-cash grant, to BMX Program for ‘BMX Gate’

I wince at this P&L for the same reason why I wince when my alma mater -- with its multi-billion dollar endowment -- asks me to make an annual donation. Stockpiling money with no apparent motive disgusts me. Especially when USA Cycling has proven so incompetent in so many realms. And it was my disgust that got me on the phone to give them a call.

I was bounced between a few employees, when finally I was transferred to an entirely helpful gentleman in the ‘Athletics Department’ named Gregory Cross. Mr. Cross confirmed for me that of the 5 Under-23 riders representing the United States at this weekend’s Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, only 1 of them was ‘funded’, i.e. getting their travel and expenses paid for by USA Cycling. The other 4 not only must pay for their own airfare & luggage fees, but they then must pay an $800 ‘team travel fee’ to USA Cycling for hotel, food, and ground transportation during their stay in The Netherlands. And this is how we cultivate the next generation of champions?

As USA Cycling members, should this depress us? I suggest that it should, because it’s symptomatic of pennywise/pound-foolish upper management who’ve shown no talent in cultivating the sport at a grass-roots level, nor talent in breeding success at the world-class level. Can’t we shrink the $3 million compensation budget by $10k and pay for the kids to race their cyclocross bikes? After all, what’s the point of USA Cycling anyways? Let the kids race. Or take away the goddam BMX gate. Sell it on Ebay. Ridiculous. Where is the visible corporate sponsorship? Where is the eagerness to leverage mass media’s obsession with Lance Armstrong to make cycling relevant to the mainstream? Where’s the initiative to fight childhood obesity through riding bikes? Where’s the leadership? Can the OBRA open up a branch in Arkansas?