Meeting with Derek Bouchard-Hall – CEO of USAC

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Last week during the Pro Challenge, in Colorado, I got a personal invitation from Derek Bouchard-Hall, newly appointed CEO and President of USAC, to meet up and talk for a while. It was a nice idea and I was looking forward to it.

It took a little back and forth, but we finally got together in Breckenridge, before the finish of stage 4 on Thursday.

I hadn’t seen Derek in a long time.  I can’t remember the last time, actually.  I raced against him for a few years, but he was doing a lot of stuff not on my list, track, etc. and I didn’t run into him that often.

I asked him what he had been up to and he said he had spent the last 9 years in England.  That he was running Wiggle, an online cycling store that does amazing business overseas.  Plus, he has a MBA.  Seems like a good choice for the job.

So, he was just doing a fact finding trip.  I was more interested listening to him talk, trying to get a read on his vision.  First of all, he is a super smart guy.  So he understands, at least at this point in his short leadership position, some or maybe even, most of the problems he has to address.

He and I agreed on lots.  He is adamantly against drug use and thinks it needs to seriously be addressed.  He understands that USAC has been negligent in the past, for a lot of reasons, and hopes to regain the trust of all its members.

Velonews did an article about meeting up with him last week.  They cover most of his agenda much better than me.  They must of had a recorder, I was just chatting.  Here is a link.

He didn’t talk to me so much about anti-doping, which the title of the Velonews article is.  He stated his position and we moved on.

In the Velonews article, he says – “We are network of volunteers that put on races, local associations, race promoters, officials, and I’ve just been surprised by how complex the ecosystem really is,” he said. “There are so many different groups, different parties, different entities, all involved in the execution of our sport. Ours is not a cohesive sport that is centrally run, there are a lot of different groups. It’s been surprising to me how many individuals and parties are involved. It’s a complex challenge.”

I thought that was a correct statement that I’d never considered.

Anyway, he wanted my input on MTB racing, realizing that the racing scene, here in the US, has some serious problems.    I told him that I really hadn’t done enough elite racing to know how to fix the problems, but recognized them.  I don’t think that UCI MTB racing works here in the United States.  Short races with pits doesn’t attract many riders and virtually no spectators.

Anyway, Derek seems to be a super reasonable guy with super good intentions.  He said he took the job because he said it was important and that he thought that he could make a difference.

From my short meeting with him, I agree, if he addresses half of what we talked about, he will make a positive difference for our sport.  I think we should all give him a chance to do just that.

Derek Bouchard-Hall at Breckenridge.

Derek Bouchard-Hall in Breckenridge.

I ran into Dave Chauner in the VIP tent.  Dave has started a new track endeavor to  bring track racing to the masses.

I ran into Dave Chauner in the VIP tent. Dave has started a new track endeavor to bring track racing to the masses.  He is always doing innovative things.  Dave is one of those guys that Derek was talking about, an individual that contributes a ton to our sport, but is doing it on his own terms.

 

14 thoughts on “Meeting with Derek Bouchard-Hall – CEO of USAC

  1. Bolas Azules

    Seems like a good / capable guy. Good luck to him it’s a big job.

    But from the Velo News story –
    “He has taken over leadership of a federation that has struggled for years to connect with many of its members. More gravely, it is also still reeling from accusations that outgoing CEO Steve Johnson knew of doping practices at the U.S. Postal Service team as far back as 2006.”

    When the world knew about it in 1999 it took the Federation seven more years to figure it out? And knowing the fact that the Federation had an in-house doping program going back to the late 1970’s let’s not act like these were any kind of revelations. So maybe he should schedule a meeting or two with those involved over the past 30+ years.

     
  2. NJRoadie

    I raced with Derek locally in NJ when he was going to Princeton. We were in winning breakaways together. He was a strong rider, smart and a class act. He is a great choice to head USAC and I wish him all the best.

     
  3. Ex-Roadie

    I didn’t know him super well but was close enough to enough of the Shaklee guys in the 90’s that I crossed paths with Derek frequently when I was racing. The anti-drug stance is no BS from what I know and was even present back then. He was always a good guy in any of my interactions with him and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard he was chosen. I wish him well and think that he could be a real positive influence.

     
  4. channel_zero

    If he tries to change anything regarding anti-doping at USAC, he’s going to run into conflict with his boss Thom Wiesel and his pals on the USACDF Board of Directors. Anyone else remember the post-Armstrong matching funds USAC was supposed to provide for anti-doping and never did?

    Let’s be fair to the guy, anti-doping is crazy expensive to do half well and the way the sport operates, the money vanishes into the USACDF.

    We are network of volunteers that put on races, local associations, race promoters, officials
    This isn’t even halfway true. Everyone but race-day volunteers is paid.

    Interesting that they picked Steve out as a part of their media strategy.

     
    1. bill luecke

      In the Mid-Atlantic I am unaware of any road races being put on by anyone who is not a volunteer. That includes everyone from the promoter down to the people holding the flags and driving the follow vehicles. The promoting club might take a few thousand in profit out of an event, but for a lot of them, that profit represents their operating margin for the year, so it’s all funneled back into the racing community in the end. No one in the MidAtlantic is paying his mortgage by promoting bicycle road races.
      Furthermore, no one in the local association (MABRA) is compensated either. And to believe that the compensation awarded officials elevates them to non-volunteer status is indefensible–a couple hundred dollars for a 12 hour day is barely more than minimum wage. Or, it’s as defensible as the idea that the fact that you won $25 at an industrial park crit makes you a “professional” bike racer.

       
      1. Mike Rodose

        There are mostly all volunteers. But.

        The USAC official(s) get paid. If you promote a UCI race (CX C1 or 2) the UCI officials get paid, room and boarding. The race announcers get paid…or they are terrible. The potrable potty companies get paid, the fencing company gets paid, the brodcast internet company gets paid. USAC gets paid for each rider. Some venues get paid. Security and Police are paid. The racers get paid if they finish in the money. The drug-testing costs were previously borne by the race promoters…not sure how that works now.

        There is never any money for volunteers or promoters or anyone doing all the real work. That can change, but money comes from entry fees. And sponsors. And spectators. But in our sport, Spectators aren’t paying, and neither are most online Streaming viewers.

         
      2. chanel_zero

        Bill,

        Thank you for posting information from your region.

        I’d also like to point out that USAC gets paid well for sanctioning races. They nickel-and-dime you guys to death, so, the suckers in this deal are the people putting on races for nothing.
        Some examples of USACDF nickel-and-diming you guys:
        -“insurance” They make a good money a few dollars per entrant X the number of races entered X the number of days.
        -online registration. Good money per entrant per day.
        -tax on prize purse. Most of the events you all ride don’t qualify.

        Mike Rodose posted about how there is no money for the promoter. That’s intentional. That’s how the UCI/USAC has structured the sport. Take Leadville as an example of the money that can be made in cycling without USAC.

        The sport can be much, much larger. It’s not, and it hasn’t, grown at the grassroots with USAC/UCI administrating the sport.

         
  5. Bolas Azules

    channel_zero shhhhh, you forgot the eastern European gymnastics coach / cycling expert too.

     
  6. Larry T.

    One hopes for the best with a new guy, but as others have pointed out, if the board is the same old gang of, well…..rather shady characters from the BigTex era… will anything really change? I hope he can stand up to the board when push comes to shove but the money-men there are not used to taking orders instead of giving them. Good luck Derek!

     
  7. Jim Ochowicz

    If you think I’m still not in control you are sorely mistaken. He’s nothing but a patsy. Why else would we bring a guy in that is unable to walk into any bike shop in the US? Once they figure out who he is and where he used to work they will string him up

    You should have asked him about the cheap euro Shimano thing, that’s what people really want to know

     
  8. BILLSTEVENSON

    The cheap euro Shimano thing is about two level (euro) vs. three level (US) distribution.

     
  9. Big Bill Brown

    Look at NICA for how to set up an organization and get people excited at a grass roots level. I’m guessing there’s a reason they chose not to be associated with USAC.

     

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