Sunday, April 21, 2013

News From WORS And The USGP

Late last week there was a lot of news for the Wisconsin cyclist and it wasn’t good. WORS announced on Thursday that its season opener in Iola would be moved to May 19 because the venue won’t be ready by May 5. There’s still snow on the ground and the area needs more time to clear up and dry out. If you were at Iola last May, then you know how badly we tore up the trails and the parking/camping area during a rainy weekend. The decision to postpone this year’s race is the right one, but some people within the WORS community are unhappy about the new date. May 19 was to be the date of the second race of the season, but right now Rhinelander has even more snow than Iola. WORS is betting that the venue won’t be ready even a month from now; tentatively it’s hoping to hold the Rhinelander race on May 26. All of this is unwelcome news to people who already have made hotel reservations and/or have secured vacation days from their employers. If May 19 turns out to be a nice day in Rhinelander, WORS is going to attract renewed criticism for rescheduling two races when it might have rescheduled just the season opener.

All of that begs the question of why the series holds its first two races in Iola and Rhinelander instead of in Lake Geneva and Franklin, the southernmost race venues. Rhinelander is about 250 miles north of Lake Geneva. Of course it’s more likely to be compromised by a late blast of winter weather. I guess the wildcard with Rhinelander is that the venue is a busy Boy Scouts camp whose facilities are booked solid during the summer. To hold a WORS race there probably demands a weekend during the school year, but why May and not September? The answer might come down to the availability of race director Elvis Bauman and his volunteers. They do a great job and the Rhinelander race—if it still existed at all—wouldn’t be the same without them.

So, it’s wait-and-see time for everyone in WORS and that includes me. I still believe my first race in this year’s series will be at Wausau on June 2, but that’s far from certain.

On Friday the USGP of Cyclocross announced that it would disband, effective immediately. You might remember that only a big injection of cash by Trek kept the series afloat in 2012, so Friday’s news didn’t come as a huge shock. But it certainly is disappointing that the premier professional cyclocross series in America couldn’t attract enough sponsors to sustain itself, especially in the afterglow of a successful UCI World Championship weekend earlier this year. The sport continues to grow here but it hasn’t found a way to monetize its fanbase. USGP officials said on Friday that they expect the local organizers to hold races in Sun Prairie, Fort Collins CO, Louisville KY and Bend OR as scheduled … just not under the auspices of the USGP. We’ll see whether those races operate as independent events or get folded into other series.

The Wisconsin Cycling Association historically has not scheduled cyclocross races on the same weekend as the Planet Bike Cup in Sun Prairie. Will that weekend now be part of the WCA series? Time will tell. If it is, then I expect to be there with a number on.

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