Last week I made a personal resolve to stop being a whiner. So when the Bear Lake results came out and I quickly saw that on a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 1 being "Slightly Off" and 10 being "What Are You Freakin' Kidding Me?-Off" -- the so-called "results" were a perfect 10, my instinct was to be totally Zen and to not whine. After seeing the results, I quickly assumed the lotus position and began meditating, focusing on breathing, and detaching myself from the impulse to whine. Although not really Zen, I even applied positive thinking techniques like, this is just bike riding. It's a game, it's relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things, there are kids starving in China, and so on and so forth. My non-Zen, self-affirmation techniques even extended to me standing in front of a mirror and saying, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me." These techniques were quite effective with disposing of certain thoughts, which, if entertained, would surely lead to whining. Using my Zen-Stuart Smalley techniques, I disposed of thoughts like, I paid $35, raced my guts out for 100 miles, finished in or very near the top 10, but was given 26th place. I told myself that UCA points don't define my capabilities as a rider, and that it doesn't matter that forever and ever as long as the World Wide Web and the Logan Race Club Website exist that people will think I finished in 26th place at the Bear Lake Classic. I refused to criticize the race directors and the officials and told myself that they weren't incompetent, but just challenged. And I didn't give the time of day to thoughts like man, with the gazillion Asian dudes hanging around the finish, you'd think that the techy equipment would be functioning right (ok ok, look at the title of this Blog and look at the color of my hair and note that I can get away with that -- you can't). Given my personal resolve, I resolved that I wouldn't whine.
A few hours after Zenning away all my whining propensities, I made the mistake of looking at the "results" again. Let me just say that the Cat 3 results are way off, and not even close to being accurate. Being the loop-hole-finder-hair-splitter that I normally get paid to be, I convinced myself that my resolve only applies to self-centered whining and that it doesn't preclude me for whining on behalf of others. Problem solved.
So, on behalf of the many Cat 3 riders that got shafted in the so-called "results," let me officially whine. Take Connor O'Leary for example. Connor is 16 years old. He is the current Cat III UCA leader and he raced hard on Saturday. I'm sure that UCA points mean something to him. Even though Connor finished somewhere around the top 10, he was given 22nd place. If UCA points are assigned using the "results," then Connor will miss out on points that were legitimately his, and others will illegitimately get points they don't deserve. I'm certain that Connor finished well ahead of some of the people in the top 10 and nearly all the people in places 11-20.
Take Bill DeMong and Ian Tuttle as other examples. It's an honor for me to race with someone like Bill DeMong who is a three-time Olympian and who is a world class athlete. I want to keep Bill coming to the races and he should be treated right. Bill raced hard all day, doing a substantial portion of the work in reeling the break in. Likewise, Ian Tuttle was a major contributor. Both Ian and Bill weren't even given placings. They appear at the bottom with the placing "999." Nice. I know for a fact that Ian finished in or near the top 10. I was on his wheel.
I wouldn't whine without a purpose. My purpose for whining is to express first of all that the results are egregiously inaccurate. I understand that often there are relatively small errors in the results, but in the Bear Lake case, the errors in the Cat 3 placings are anything but small. At best, they represent a random attempt to assign riders placings, based on a few officials' observations and notes as 40 riders came flying across the line at 30 mph. Sure, the results for the top 5 might be correct, but what about the rest of the 40+ riders? Which brings me to my second point.
My second point is that because the errors in the "results" are so large -- because the "results" really aren't the true results -- it would be unfair for the UCA to award points based on the inaccurate "results." Advocating this may very well get me attacked at the next shootout (actually, that happens anyway), but face it, it's simply not fair to give points to undeserving riders and deprive deserving riders of their hard-earned points. Yes, it's unfortunate that the top 5 riders may be deprived of their points, but it is equally unfortunate that people like Connor, Ian, and Bill will be deprived of their points. It simply would be irresponsible for the UCA to award points based on results that may well have been obtained by using a powerball machine. Perhaps the best the UCA can do is award everyone some "participation points." And since the UCA bylaws don't address this issue, the UCA should consider including a rule like this: if the results suck, no UCA points can be given. Didn't that happen with the Sundance Hillclimb last year?
My third and final point is that the UCA should not award points based on the faulty "results" because to do so would condone and turn a blind eye to the recurring results problem. It would be to essentially make a statement that it's ok for race promoters and race officials to take racers' money, encourage participation in the race, promise prizes, but then utterly fail to have the procedures in place to insure accurate results. To be dramatic (think the last scene of Braveheart), the UCA should use the day that riders raced for 100 miles but were deprived of accurate results to promote and insure accurate results in the future. The sting of racing 100 miles and not getting UCA points will be enough that promoters who must ultimately answer to the UCA and the riders will take special care to have the right people and equipment at the finish line. And to be majorly dramatic, here's to hoping that the day that racers raced for 100 miles but were deprived of results and the fame and glory attendant with such results will be remembered as the last day of its kind.
(And for the record, none of the Zen/Stewart Smalley stuff really happened. Give me some credit, I'm not that lame.)