Aug 6, 2015

Cycling in a police state

Well, maybe that headline is a bit hyperbolic, but only a bit! I was visiting family in suburban Chicago a couple weeks ago and took the opportunity to rejoin the group, which showed me the ropes of riding years ago, for a ride.

            As we gathered at Deerfield train station at 7 in the morning, a cop car pulled into the lot; a seemingly friendly officer approached the group and engaged in a few minutes of conversation. I must admit, I missed most of it as I was catching up with riders I haven’t seen in over a year. But as it was explained to me when we got rolling, there was a “multi-neighborhood police action” – yep, that’s how the cops there call it – too crack down on cyclists. “Seriously? Are they catching terrorists? It’s Chicago suburbia!” – All those thoughts went to my mind, and some others I’d rather not put down in writing. “Well, at least we don’t have to deal with that crap back in the Bay Area…” Or so I thought!

            Imagine my dismay, when upon my return, social media was blowing up on police enforcement in the Wiggle stretch of San Francisco. With police giving tickets for even minor deviations from the strict letter of the law; and cyclists following the law to the point of halting traffic. And today, and article surfaced telling a story of a woman who was ticketed for “not putting her foot down.” What the hell is going on?

            The struggle among cyclists, pedestrians and motorists is an old one and a contentious one. Just read any comment section on any story about a cyclist involved in any accident.

            I hear motorists and pedestrians lash out at cyclists as outlaws and reckless riders, regardless if they blow a red light at 20mph, or slowly roll through a stop sign while turning right. For some reason, in the eyes of a motorist or a pedestrian, those are equal, meriting punishment. I’m often curious if those pedestrians have ever jaywalked, or if those motorist have ever driven 27 in a 25mph zone? As pedestrians and drivers, we jaywalk and speed all the time, yet fail to see ourselves as outlaws who deserve to be fined for it.

            Perhaps it’s time for everyone, including law enforcement, to come together and have a long hard think about the purpose of our traffic laws, and the direction we want to see our cities go. The overarching purpose is safety. Safety from a pedestrian point of view is not the same as in the eyes of the motorist, and surely differs in the way it’s viewed by cyclists. Let’s do a little standing in each other’s shoes. Most cyclists are also motorists and pedestrians, but the reverse is far from true.

            We shouldn’t be dismissed as reckless kids on bikes. We are students, professionals, parents, siblings, spouses and significant others – people with something and someone to live for. We all want to get safely from point A to point B.  The laws as they are written now do not have our safety in mind as first priority, and they should. Over the last 10 years, there has been a massive push for cycling infrastructure all over the country. Maybe now is time to begin introducing legislation that helps us safely take advantage of that infrastructure.

            I hope this string of incidents starts a conversation that will continue in city halls all over the Bay Area and beyond. I’m not sure what SFPD is trying to achieve with its draconian crackdown, but it won’t build rapport nor help it do its job going further. SFPD’s tactics and antics have painted it in less than favorable light. Perhaps it would behoove Chief Suhr to conduct a few seminars in cooperation and common sense.

Jul 21, 2015

Road to Leadville: Tahoe Trail 100

Welcome back, it’s been a while! Twenty-five months and a bit, to be a little more precise. As you can see, I’ve also redecorated the place a bit, but that is not to say it’s not a perpetual work in progress. This throat-clearing (as an editor I know calls it) is probably the hardest part of writing because it really has nothing to do with the subject matter, so I’ll just give you the tl;dr and we’ll skip to the fun stuff. I raced the Tahoe Trail 100 MTB race on Saturday in an attempt to secure a spot in the Leadville 100 MTB race.

Tahoe Trail 100

After a very lackluster performance in Austin, TX, at the Rattler, due in part to fitness and in part to mechanical issues, I was looking to give another Leadville qualifier a go. Luckily there’s one virtually in my back yard, Tahoe Trail 100. The race had been on the calendar since March, and I continued to put in the miles on dirt to get my body ready for 100 km at altitude. The weekend before the race was my final training block. I put in a near 6-hour ride on Saturday, and pre-rode the course of the race on Sunday. Needless to say, Sunday’s pre-riding exercise was an interesting endeavor. While I got to see the course and the terrain (special shoutout to Conrad of MarkPro-Strava for letting me ride with him and showing me the course), I really couldn’t judge pace because my legs were cooked from the day before.

With some stopping, getting lost (before running into Conrad) and not really hammering it, I did the loop in 4 hours. Accounting for all those factors, I figured 3:15 laps were a good conservative estimate, which would still advance me one corral over my current placement.

Race day morning was cool and calm. For me it was an armwarmers/vest kind of morning, but many lined up in just their shorts and short-sleeve jerseys. Some people don’t like to carry extra clothing because of weight knowing they’ll eventually warm up; I don’t like to lose calories shivering cold at the start line. I think I have my priorities right.

While I typically race long MTB events with a Camelbak, this time I decided to go with bottles. It was the right choice. It was cool enough where aid stations were enough for extra water, and my drop bag contained my other two mixed bottles and more GU. In a course with many extended climbs, shaving substantial chunks of weight was definitely a priority.

The first climb was fairly uneventful as I settled into a pace for the first 3 miles of uphill. My only point of concern was the steep 50-100 yard lip coming up to mid-mountain, which I knew many would have to walk. While that was the case, luckily there was a line in the middle for those able to ride to get through. Once the climb was done, it was time for a long downhill. While the downhill was not at all technical, it was insanely dusty, and due to the crowds of the first lap, the visibility was next to zero. I almost overcooked a corner going into a cloud of dust, but luckily managed to catch myself in time.

Once we hit the long stretch of singletrack, I made a point of catching a wheel, and the miles started flying by, 7, 8, 11, 13, 17, the markers kept coming at me, and I was making great time. Then came Tavis. It’s not too long, and it’s not too steep (although many would disagree), but just long enough and steep enough to really sting the legs and forgive no errors in steering – so picking a good line was important. Half way up the climb, I came to a bottleneck and was only able to move as fast as the guy ahead of me. I looked up, saw the finish and figured I could drive up from about three-fourths of the way up, so I took the rough left line and passed a bunch of people fighting the hill to get to an open spot. After Tavis, it was pretty much smooth sailing to the bottom until it was time to climb up again to the finishing descent.

I made it to the start of the finishing climb on lap one in 2:15, and it looked like it was going to be a sub 3-hour lap. I came through the village around 2:50 and already left mid-mountain (after doing the steep lip a second time) at 3:01 after grabbing new bottles from my grab bag. I was stoked, as this may be a sub 6-hour performance – something I was hopeful for, but uncertain about post pre-ride of the prior week.

I paced the second lap about .5mph slower than the first and made it across the finish line in 6:00:53, chip time. The only thing different on lap 2 was fewer people as the race spread out and all the 50K racers finished and got off course. I wasn’t really that concerned about not coming in under 6 hours, but I was ecstatic that I came in under 6:10, because that moved me up all the way to the red staging corral. Now it was time to relax and wait for the drawing. I felt I had raced a great race against myself: paced evenly, fueled properly, finished faster than I expected, didn’t crash. Something inside told me that it was going to continue being a good day!

I went to my car and changed. Got a beer. Cooled down my system and lined up for some food! There was some room on the stairs in the sun, so I sat next to Merilee (one of the race founders); Ken Chlouber came by a few minutes later (the other "co" of the co-founders). We made some pleasant conversation. I finished my food and went to lie down – it was at least an hour before awards would begin. 

At 4:00PM, the awards began rolling out, and once the last bottle of Champaign popped, it was time for the drawing. Qualifying for a spot in my age group (30-39) is no small task, so while perhaps in a year or two I can make those advances, at TT100 my goals were to get a good corral time, and hope for the best in the drawing. Based on the number of available coins, awards given out, riders opting out and the remaining participants, I calculated the odds to be around 1 in 4 to 5. Good, but very far from guaranteed.

As Dave Wiens got down to the last 10 coins (out of 60 they brought for the drawing), I probably started getting visibly nervous because Ken came up to me and asked:

“What number are you?”

“One sixty,” I replied.

“I’ll be rooting for you!”

Just a few minutes later, the last number was drawn and it was not 160. “That’s all folks, thanks for coming to another great Tahoe Trail 100, yada, yada…..” said the announcer and folks slowly started to disperse. "I guess I'll have to try it again...." I thought.

Something told me to stick around, as if there had to be more! And lo and behold, a few moments later the announcer was back on the mic: “Folks, we just had one coin returned, so we’ll draw one more number!” By that time the numbers were tossed from the drawing hat into a Champaign box. Everyone still hanging out suddenly perked up, he reached in, and called a number that also wasn’t 160. But you have to be present to win, and the owner of the number had already departed. By that time, everyone seemed to be in a huddle (Dave, Ken, the guy calling the numbers), and when the next number was announced, I heard a loud “ONE SIXTY” come over the microphone! Needless to say I was both incredibly thankful and excited. I came up to Dave, shook his hand, grabbed my coin, and made my way to the "Merilee line." As I was making my way to the line, Ken put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I really wanted to see you in that race!"

Leadville 100 has been on my bucket list for a few years, from a vague “I might want to do that some day,” to “how do I get myself there?!” And now I have my ticket. My goal will be to finish the race in under 9 hours and bring back a big buckle back from Colorado. It's time to reconnect with the part of myself that loves to suffer.

The adventure begins!

May 6, 2013

My Boggs Enduro adventure

This is a tale of what happens when you take a roadie and throw him (me) into a three-day mountain bike race. When Isaac mentioned the race to me a few months ago, I brushed it off almost immediately. Then, after some browsing, checking the dates and my sanity, I decided it would be a good mid-road-season break. If, of course, by “break” you mean destroying your body in every way imaginable in just three short days.

So I ogled the race website and not seeing the “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing on an MTB” category, decided to register in sport. Because why the hell not? And I’m always a fan of biting off a bit more than I think I can chew.

Here’s kind of how it all went down. I say “kind of” because the results don’t really count, and categories don’t really matter, so I’m putting the entertainment factor ahead of accuracy.

Day 1 – Hill Climb

We lined up around 5:30 in the evening ready to climb a 1.7-mile stretch of dusty fire road. Having the benefit of every other group going ahead of us, not only was our view of what’s to come partially obstructed by the dusty cloud ahead, but most of the air was also replaced by dust. Because who the hell needs to see or breathe during a hill climb, right? Just go until you fall over!

I lined up in the front row. On the signal, Zach took off and got a short gap. I immediately bridged (a roadie term) and stayed glued to his wheel for a little bit. Isaac was right behind me. “Holy crap! Why did I just go out so hard? This feels just like a cross race! Oh, I remember why I don’t race cross.”

Luckily, while very strong, Zach wasn’t super human either and the pace settled. Then I did one of those famous reverse attacks I’m known for while going up the hill and attacked myself all the way into seventh place. Which for me, up a hill, is frankly not too shabby.

I apparently also lost my mind near the top of the hill because I swear I recall someone yelling, “sprint!” And I did! I then spent 10 minutes hacking up everything I had just inhaled in the last 14 minutes: dust, some pine needles and maybe a baby squirrel, but don’t hold me to that. The best part of the hill climb was that it was over and I could finally have a beer! You can’t even imagine how hard it was to have been in the woods since noon without a single beer!

Day 2 – 8-Hour Solo

The format is simple: ride until you drop! The course was a loop of about 8.5 miles made up of fire roads and mostly smooth single track. Objectively speaking, it wasn’t technical at all, but because I’m as graceful on a mountain bike as a polar bear riding a tricycle in a Russian circus, some of it was probably more challenging for me than for mostly everyone else.

There is one thing I do well, however, and that is pacing. I knew that pacing and calorie intake would be the difference between having a very hard day on the bike and a “fucking kill me now” day on the bike.

For me, pacing is an afterthought, I have that down to a science: leave the ego at home, let everyone go as fast as they want, and find them bonked a few hours later because they went out too hard, or never see them again because they are way stronger. Calories were a different story mainly for two reasons: I pace to ride non-stop, and it’s very challenging to unwrap food on downhill sections of singletrack and chewing solids up steep fire road climbs isn’t ideal either. Intake would have to be in liquid or semi-solid state.

Here was my plan (and I caution all of you to not try this unless you are 100 percent certain your stomach can handle it – I wasn’t, but mine did): I mixed four very heavy bottles of Cytomax, each having about 5 scoops, or 400 calories, and added endurolite powder to each of the bottles (it was going to be warm). I prepared three full Camelbaks of water, two 100-oz and one 70-oz and stuffed some GU gel packs in my back pockets for extra calories and a caffeine boost. The plan was to drink the syrup from the bottles, drink it down with water, and once in a while pop a GU.

I lined up alongside 700 others, with the 70-oz Camelbak on my back, a bottle in the bike cage, and gels in my jersey pockets. We’re off!

The first lap was fairly uneventful other than the part where I wiped out in a switchback and sliced right though my forearm with a sharp rock, but I had eight hours left to ride, so who has the time to take care of that, right? I figured the blood would just dry up and all the dirt flying through the air would make a nice seal for the wound. If this happens to you, don’t be stupid, go get stitches! Unless you too have so many gnarly scars on your body that one more won’t really make or break it for you on the social scene.

On lap two something very unpleasant happened, I started to cramp. I had no idea why. It wasn’t yet warm enough to be suffering from dehydration, my calorie intake was going great, and I didn’t go out too hard. The only possible explanation I could come up with is that my body is just not used to the efforts required to ride a mountain bike and my muscles didn’t take kindly to being thrown off the deep end. 

And so it went on. For the next 7 hours it was a balancing act of steady pedaling to avoid leg seizures, drinking syrupy mix to avoid bonking, and trying to navigate singletrack so as to not go head first into a tree or a rock. I originally hoped to get nine laps under my belt, but as my legs cramped harder and harder, my pace up the hills had to be more and more moderate. On the other hand, by lap four I knew I had eight laps in the bag as long as my “nutritional” plan didn’t go haywire.

The eighth lap. As I passed the start finish at the end of lap seven, I saw the clock at 3:18PM. This meant I had an hour and 27 minutes to do one more lap.  (We had to be done with our last lap by 4:45 for it to count.) Up to that point, my slowest lap was an hour and 10 minutes, so with no pressure at all, I made my last pit stop to pick up the last Camelbak and kept on going. Half way through that lap, I realized exactly how perfectly I had paced – I was just getting to the point where I barely trusted my body to control the bike into turns when the final climb was before me. I looked at my Garmin, saw that I had plenty of time and dragged myself to the top one final time. From there, it was just a few turns on mostly smooth singe track and I was at the finish. Eight laps in eight hours and 34 minutes was good enough for 26 out of 68 who started in the Sport category. I, of course could go on and on about how I felt, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

PHOTO CREDT: Isaac Sparling
Day 3 – Super D

So this is the thing where I was supposed to roll down the hill for about five miles as fast as possible. Maybe on a good day, that would have seemed like a good idea, but after almost 70 miles and eight hours and 34 minutes on the mountain bike, there was not a single thing appealing about it except being done. I promised myself at the beginning of this season that barring a mechanical or a ref’s call, I’d finish every single race I start, and being too tired to come up with excuses, I made my way to staging.

My request to start last was vetoed and having apologized in advance to everyone starting behind me, I rolled off. For some, the goal was to get to the finish as fast as possible. For me, it was to show up to work on Monday. My body felt like I was taking the last run on skis at the end of a very long day in the mountains – muscles refused to do anything I asked them to, but I managed to cross the finish line safe and sound. And all the bitching and moaning notwithstanding, it actually was a lot of fun.

Thanks to Carlos, the guys at Bike Monkey, all the volunteers and sponsors for putting on this great event. Also a huge thank you to Muscle Milk, Cytomax, Ritchey Logic, Felt Bicycles and Enzo’s Buttonhole for supporting me in this and other cycling endeavors!

As I was leaving on Sunday, I wasn't sure if I'd do this event again, but this morning as I woke up, I discovered that every single muscle in my body is sore. I will definitely be coming back next year because as far as I’m concerned, once you’ve found a way to put yourself in the pain box on a bike, you have to keep coming back until it stops hurting. 

Apr 16, 2013

Chico Stage Race report

I’ve eyed this event for a couple of years now, and this year finally decided to give it a go. It would be my fourth stage race in six weeks and I was looking for a solid performance after a few sub-par ones at Madera and Topsport.

The Road Race

The road race is a 45-mile loop out of Paskenta with a 4.5-mile section of gravel that ends 3.5 miles from the finish. The rest of the race is flat with a few rollers.

It was warm and calm, so wind was unlikely to be a huge factor. There were several teams with numbers in the race and I had no intention of doing anything heroic unless a move went up the road with proper representation. As I suspected, everyone was kept on a very short leash and no one was allowed more than 100 meters on the field.

The entire 50-plus field rolled into the gravel section, and I had two thoughts going through my mind — don’t stop pedaling, don’t brake. I wasn’t ideally positioned, but not horribly, in the top third of the field. A few hundred meters into the gravel a guy ahead of me on my left wipes out, takes a few more with him and all I see in a ball of dust is a guy curled up on the ground ahead of me. Luckily there was room to get around and I quickly bridged to what ended up being the selection (with a couple other bridging later).

With the gravel and rollers, we ended up breaking up and after jumping back and forth between groups, I rolled in with a small group in 16th place, but only half a minute down on the winner. Most importantly, however, I gained a lot of time on guys I knew could TT well, and in this stage race, that makes all the difference.

The crit

The course was an L-shape six-corner crit with strong winds on the back side and a tailwind into the finish.

My plan for the crit was to stay safe and lose as little time as possible (none, ideally). The whistle blew and the pace picked up immediately, which I liked. The peloton strung out and we were single file for the first five or six laps. After the first time bonus prime went, the pace slowed down a bit and the field began to swell, with riders trying to move up in position.

As more primes got called, the field stretched out some more, and then came back together again. I looked down at my SRM and saw we were about 19 minutes into a 40-minute crit when the last time bonus prime was called. I knew after the prime, the pace would die down, which I didn’t particularly like because that’s when everyone becomes a Pro Tour sprinter and corner dives into position. To my even greater surprise, the next time we came around, the 6-to-go card was up. “WTF?” – I thought.

From that point on, I was mainly focused on staying safe and finishing in the main bunch for the same time. I was partially successful – I stayed safe, but due to small gaps in the finishing sprit, I lost about 5 seconds (raw time) to the winner, who also got a 10 second bonus. Jesse Reeves, who won the road race and was in the lead on GC, picked up a second place in the crit and another 11 seconds on me (6 bonus and 5 time), and was now ahead by 54 seconds heading into the TT. The race ended up being only 32 minutes. 

The Time Trial

I knew I’d have to ride the TT of my life to pull back all that time and finish in the money (top 5). Luckily, my legs were feeling phenomenal and I was feeling confident I could get it done. I started the TT 15th overall.

Having looked at past year’s results, I knew I’d have to ride the 10-mile TT in under 23 minutes to have a solid shot at the podium. 

Three … two … one … go! I kick and within seconds settle into my aero position. “Shit, forgot to zero out the SRM!”  Instead of getting out of the aero position to fiddle with buttons, I made a quick calculation while my brain still had some glycogen reserves and in my head zeroed out the time and distance.

I caught my 30-second man within a mile, the minute man a few miles down the road, then the minute-thirty man and now there was no one ahead that I could see and I just kept asking myself, “can you push any harder?”

With about three miles to go, I could see I was making good time and that gave me even more energy to push. Then I saw what I thought was the finishing tent, and started driving to the line, only to discover 200m later that it was just a combination of a road sign and a van that made it look like a tent, and the finish line was really nowhere in sight. “Oops!” I settled down, kept it steady and soon saw the 1k to go marker. From that point on I just kept revving up the effort making sure everything is left on the line.

As I crossed the line, I glanced at the SRM clock, tried to do some math while focusing on not puking and figured I rode something in the mid-22s – best 10-mile time I’ve ever had. Now it was just a matter of waiting until the results got posted.

The finishing straight

About 90 minutes later, the results sheet got taped to the table and I didn’t have to scroll very far. I was third in the time trial and gained enough time to earn the third spot on the podium – I was very pleased. The time trial has always been my favorite discipline, and I was glad to finally break a streak of lackluster performances and race to my potential.

Final podium. Jersey short and sandals was clearly the outfit du jour.

More importantly, my performance at Chico was the last checkmark I needed to qualify for a Cat 3 upgrade, and am very much looking forward to racing with my Cat 3 teammates!

Apr 8, 2013

UCI lends a hand to USAC in fight against grassroots cycling

When I began riding my bike, as a kid around Chicago, it had set me free. All of a sudden, I was no longer confined to my neighborhood, but could go see friends who lived several miles away. I’d regularly ride all over Rogers Park, and from there to nearby Lincolnwood and Skokie to visit friends and sometimes just to explore; on my Huffy, in my sneakers and of course without a helmet (something for which I would reprimand my younger self  now).

Over the years, I’ve met numerous cyclists who’ve expressed the freedom they felt when they first got on a bike and how that moved them to pursue the sport in a more serious way. However, as the cycling world recently learned, if you are so good on a bicycle that you get the privilege of holding an international UCI license, freedom should be the last thing on your mind when it comes to how and where you race your bike.

By now, the news of USA Cycling’s aggressive stance toward UCI licensed riders participating in non-USAC events has spread like wildfire, with several misinterpretations, clarifications and even a letter to USAC from the UCI president Pat McQuaid. While USAC is claiming that it is merely trying to conform with the UCI rule 1.2.019, its past relationships and financial ties to the UCI cast substantial doubt over those claims.


UCI and USAC have long been tied in an interesting financial and personal relationship. The lynchpin of which is one person, Thom Weisel.

In 2000, USAC was in financial distress and on the brink of insolvency. That’s when Weisel stepped in and single-handedly bailed USAC out with a $1.5 million check. In return he got to put his people at the helm, like Steve Johnson (a long time Lance Armstrong supporter), and later Jim Ochowicz, who sat on USAC’s board of directors from 2002 until 2006.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting. As reported bythe Wall Street Journal, from 2001 until 2004, Weisel’s firm managed the finances of then-UCI president Hein Verbruggen. The broker at Weisel’s firm handling Verbruggen’s money was non other than Ochowicz. So from 2002 until 2004, an active member of USAC’s board was in charge of at least a part of the personal wealth of the acting president of the UCI. Who, as it happens, is still the honorary president, likely not without some lingering influence over UCI policies.

As best I could determine, rule 1.2.019 predates McQuaid’s ascension to UCI presidency in 2005. However, given the length of time that Verbruggen has been involved with the UCI, the rules were undoubtedly drafted on his watch.*

Current enforcement

Fast forward to 2013, and UCI licensed riders in the U.S. start to receive emails and letters stating they are no longer allowed to compete in unsanctioned events and may face fines and suspension if they do. The rule has been on the books for quite some time, and states:

No license holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI.

A national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.

USAC has not enforced the rule until now, and I’d like to focus on the last sentence of the rule, which, plainly read, gives USAC discretion to permit riders to participate in certain unsanctioned events.

Is this new enforcement implemented to hurt riders? In all likelihood it is not. This all has to do with the ongoing battle between USAC and grassroots cycling organizations like ABR and OBRA. The grassroots cycling association in Colorado caved and in 2013 folded into USAC, but there are many holdouts. Most of them will likely never fold into USAC unless they are financially pressured to do so. What better way to flex some muscle than prohibit the top cyclists from competing in these grassroots events? The promoter will either suffer from not being able to attract top talent, which then draws participation from amateur participants, or fold into USAC like in CO.

What’s in it for USAC? That’s simple: more money. As promoters are forced to get permits from USAC, they have to pay fees, and USAC’s bank account swells. Additionally, as more events are sanctioned by USAC, more racers have to buy USAC licenses, which would also be a financial windfall for USAC.

My theory

I’d like to postulate a theory, which in light of the above, to me appears to be the most likely one.

If I’m the president of USAC and I see that member enrollment has been holding steady at around 60,000, I know approximately how much money USAC will be taking in yearly from memberships. What better way to increase membership than to force promoters to permit their events under USAC, which in turn will not only increase the flow of dollars from promoters to the USAC, but also from new riders who may have never otherwise purchased a USAC license because they were more than happy to race within their grassroots organization.

The only problem with implementing this plan is the amount of backlash USAC would receive in light of the last sentence of rule 1.2.019, which gives it discretion not to enforce this rule. What better way to deal with such backlash locally than to have some high-ranking UCI official provide an overly complicated explanation as to what those 17 words really mean?

Is it so unlikely that Steve Johnson  (hand-picked by Weisel, who took care of UCI’s president’s money) picked up the phone and asked good old Pat to help him out with a stern letter of admonishment explaining what “exceptions for races or particular events” really means? I don’t think it is, and here’s why.

Here’s how McQuaid explains the exception:

For example, an event may be organised by an association that does not have a link to the National Federation, such as a race specifically for members of the armed forces, fire fighters or students or perhaps as part of a national multisport event.

With the exception of these special cases, the National Federation is not permitted to grant an exemption to a cycle event which is held, deliberately or not, outside the federative movement. For example, in no case should an exception be granted to a cycling event that is organised by a person or entity who regularly organises cycling events.

In light of the above, the exception is virtually unworkable and completely superfluous, and had that been the intent of the UCI, the last sentence of 1.2.019 would have never been drafted.

If the event is specifically for members of the armed forces, fire fighters or students, then a UCI holder cannot participate unless he fits into one of those categories. Moreover, reading the two paragraphs in tandem, if the race is created specifically for a certain group, but is created annually, or by a person who organizes other cycling events, UCI holders still cannot participate. According to McQuaid’s interpretation of the rule, the only event for which USAC can give a permission to a UCI license-holder to take part in would have to be a once in a lifetime event, organized for a specific group of individuals by someone who doesn’t organize bike races. Am I the only one who finds that absurd?

This, in essence, narrows the exception to such an extreme as to make it pointless. This fact is what leads me to believe that McQuaid’s interpretation is completely fabricated to aid USAC in its war with grassroots promoters. This could not have possibly been what was envisioned when this rule was drafted, and McQuaid cannot, ex post facto, change the meaning of UCI rules, without an official amendment, in a letter to Steve Johnson. That is simply not how rules are made or enforced in any organization, even one far smaller and less far-reaching that the International Cycling Union.

* Member of the Board of the Fédération Internationale du Cyclisme Professionnnel [UCI’s prior incarnation] (1979-1982), Vice-President (1982-1984) then President (1984-1991); President of the International Cycling Union (UCI) (1991-2005).