|If you can't spot the sucker at the table ...|
Did you get email from USA Cycling today? I did. The governing body of American bike racing invited me to renew my license for the 2021 season, with this guarantee:
“Any member of USA Cycling who purchases a racing membership (Junior Membership, Collegiate Membership, Standard Membership or Racing Add-on) between November 15, 2020 and February 28, 2021, and is unable to start a (one) sanctioned USA Cycling event by December 31, 2021, will have their Standard Membership and Racing Add-on expiration dates extended until June 30, 2022.”
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out every race I wanted to do in 2020, and despite the promise of the new vaccines there is no good reason to believe there will be a 2021 season. USA Cycling understands that, but I’m not risking my money to keep it limping along. June 30, 2022 may come and go and take my $100 with it. Yes, $100: a base membership of $50 and an additional $50 for being ranked higher than novice level. Would I use $100 worth of member benefits over the next 18 months? Not a chance. The USA Cycling guarantee is worth nothing to me without a guarantee that there will be races.
So, I’m not planning to renew for 2021. I might never renew. I still want to be a competitive rider, but it’s time to think about other ways to compete. The appeal of Strava and Zwift is becoming more clear to me. Whether in the real world or in a virtual one, competing in isolation might be the only way forward. I’m sure it is replete with fraud—e.g., guys using e-bikes, lying about their weight to exaggerate their power numbers, and so on—but at least it’s something. And it’s available year-round with no weather worries and with events that would accommodate my weird work and sleep schedules. Imagine me tearing up the trainer at 3 a.m. on a Saturday in January, racing a bunch of Europeans around Watopia. Plenty of people like it and maybe I would too, but it would be a capitulation of sorts, a surrender to full-time roadie status with no more cyclocross or mountain bike races. Could I live with that? I might not have a choice.