Over the last couple months, I've read many articles written by pro cyclists and cycling media about the UCI's rule 1.02.019 that forbids UCI license holders from racing events that do not fall under their umbrella. I will admit that I've paid little attention to it until lately, thinking it didn't apply to me so why add more stress and frustration to my day... but I can't stop thinking about the injustice of it all.
Yes, according to CyclingNews.com, the UCI has post-poned the rule for the 2013 race season, holding off on fines and disciplinary actions, but threats still loom over the 2014 season and full enforcement of the rule. Per their article: Rule 1.2.019 states, "No licence 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." Related rules 1.2.020 and 1.2.021 provide additional details, including specifying punishment via fine or suspension for all UCI licence holders who violate the rule.
I don't race pro, and I'm not interested in a UCI license any time soon.. but I find this passion deep inside me to stand against it, and join the fight. Especially having started a new team and trying to coach my teammates on the rule and what limitations we face, my decision to be Pro-Choice about my racing should not have fines looming over it.
By definition a LICENSE is "a: permission to act, b. freedom of action; c. a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity". It seems quite peculiar that the antonyms of LICENSE include "prohibition" according to Webster's Dictionary. Where is the "freedom" in the UCI's rule? Last I knew, a license PERMITTED you to participate in something, not LIMIT you from something else. I have a driver's license that allows me to drive a car.. doesn't mean I can't ride a bike or boat or skateboard. My library card can't fine me for BUYING a book rather than renting it.
I've heard that in many European countries, most if not all cycling events are UCI events, but it's just not the case in the US. We have grassroots races, fund raising race/rides, and even simple tours about town to encourage more people to ride bikes. Who is the UCI to tell any license holder that they can't participate in something like the MS150 or Tour de Cure because they support a family member's struggle? Or that they can't do the local mountain bike race near their cabin on a warm summer day?
Why should someone be fined or worse because they want to participate in their favorite event of the year? The answer, sadly, resides with an entity so far from reach, I can't just shake the stupid out of them.
Lucky for me, I'm sure I'm low enough on the totem pole to avoid any fines (other than the threatened ones from a kit we've worn for years)... but it pains me to know that some of the men and women I love to race with and watch racing could be affected. And the fear it instills in others causes my jaw to ache as I clench and grind my teeth at just the thought. Sadly, USAC doesn't seem to have any power of their own to stand against it.. and I can only foresee large drops in license renewals next year to accentuate it. It's still 8 months away, but I can honestly say that renewing my license is gonna take some thought...
I ride to be free. To feel the wind on my face. To feel my heart in my chest. To see the world around me so many take for granted. I race because I love to push myself harder. I race because I love to be on the trails and roads with others. I race and ride because it has brought so many wonderful people and experiences to my life. I don't care if an event is this or that or licensed by some national institution or not.. I do it because I love to be on my bike. Period.
And I live in a country outlined by "land of the free, home of the brave"... I will not let anyone dictate what I can or cannot do on my bike. We are different. We are unique. Not every rule can apply to all situations. What possible reason is there to keep such limitations active in such a diverse world? All it does is drive people away, not encourage more to try their hand at the greatest thing that ever happened to my life.
Even still, in this rant that maybe a handful will read, I'm sad to say it lies on the UCI to abolish such a limitation on cyclists... but I will honestly wait, on baited breath, for them to pull their heads out of their asses and do the right thing.
I vow to ride when I want, where I want, and for whatever reason I want to. I love my bikes and I love my life. No license will limit me.