Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Which license is it today????

The Victorian Female Masters Cyclist of the Year has just raced World Cup in Manchester this last week.

Jess Laws is living the dream, and all kudos to her for putting it on the line, stepping up to her goals, dreams and ambitions and doing what most of us just fantasize about while at our work computers. This post is not about Jess, but about process, and those who govern our sport, and transparency.

The selection process for Victorian Cyclist of the Year is usually straight forward. A selection panel composed of a number in the know would count how many wins/placingss Victorian cyclists in each category (JW/JM/EW/EM/MW/MM) had in a designated time frame, within the state for road, and for track. Apparently World events used not to count (although Steve Sansonetti won Male Master a few years back based solely on his World Masters Track Champ wins, because he didn’t win or beat any other male masters athletes at the local opens).  Nationals are contentious but are sometimes included. It is assumed that eligibility for each category is dependent on the license held by the cyclist. Ie a master’s licensed cyclist is not eligible to be considered for the elite category, even if they race elite at some events.

So this begs the following questions in regard to selection of Vic Cyclist of the Year:

1.      Who is on the selection panel?
2.      What criteria are used? Ie what events, results etc?
3.      Is each category governed by license type? Masters can change categories once during the year – how does that impact their eligibility for a category? Are they eligible for both categories in which they raced then? If so, is that fair and reasonable?

I suspect the recent selections were without clear criteria, which resulted in Jess’s award. If Jess is on an elite license (and I would gather this is the case, considering the international and national events she raced in 2010) then the criteria used for her selection should also apply to the likes of Helen Kelly etc. It certainly makes a bit of a mockery of Cyclist of the Year award in the masters’ category.

Lack of clear and transparent process results in a situation that leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths, and in the current climate of women’s cycling being slapped around the face with a dead fish, it does nothing to engender faith and confidence by female cyclists in our state sporting organisation. Add to this the fact that only ONE elite woman was selected for the Victorian track team to race elite nationals (the same woman who was Masters Cyclist of the Year), it says a lot about the approach CSV has to women’s racing, and team selection. Why would women train hard, spend hours of time, energy and money competing when they know they have very little chance of being recognised for their efforts (via Cyclist of the Year) in their respective categories, let alone being selected to represent the state to compete at nationals (despite any wins/placings at state titles, and major open events). Better off riding down Beach Road for a coffee, or even yet, doing CSV’s rec rides!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Max Stevens - please explain

Max Stevens is looking like a bit of an embarassment for Cycling SA. Poor man has been in the news a bit of late, with his latest efforts at being unintelligent consisting of driving the Cycling SA van whilst disqualified for, of all things, drink driving, as well as loss of demerit points (lost before the drink driving charge apparently). A little bit hypocritical in light of his statement re: Dale Parker's drink driving charges. Pot, kettle, black anyone? Obviously Stevens thinks that identifying cyclists on the road will provide greater protection from drink drivers, such as himself.

Perhaps Stevens is a bit under the pump at the moment with domestic issues?

That might explain these comments he made recently about women's cycling in SA?

It would appear Max Stevens has helpful friends in convenient places so it's unfortunate for him, they were not able to assist with his lack of demerit points.

Or is it simply a case, as Stevens claims, of being harassed and persecuted by Adelaide news media?

How to get funding....

Equestrian Australia's High Performance Plans were released today. What's this got to do with bikes? After reading the first few lines, I was struck by the similarity to the structure and pathways surrounding Australia's new pro team GreenEdge Cycling. (Cyclingtips is as good as any to read about GreenEdge). If one cares to take a look at the pathways structure around GreenEdge, it's incredibly similar to that prescribed by EA, needed to meet government funding requirements.

When I saw GreenEdge's pathway, with all it's links to NTID programs, State Institutes of Sport etc, I smelt ASC money. Now that smell is stronger, with EA's version of how they will spend their government money. There is nothing wrong with that, but let's call a spade a spade. Just because Shane Bannan said the team wouldn't be using government money, doesn't mean it isn't a viable prospect because of government money. I'd bet on my hunches with this one anyday. At least EA is up front and transparent about their bucket of money and how they plan to justify spending it.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Let them eat cake

It is with great glee I read this via a tweet from @csv this morning.

It brings a sense of closure to me, after butting heads with a stone wall ever since I failed to regain Board membership at last year’s AGM, I have been a persona non grata within CSV ranks. This includes no longer receiving notifications, agendas and minutes of Race Commission meetings, despite being advised I was still a member of that commission.. Well until last week that is, when I was told the Commission had been dissolved some time ago. Funny, as members of that Commission were asking if I was attending meetings in January, and the Commission Chair seemed to think the Commission was still in existence a just under a month ago. But apart from those verbal discussions, I’ve had nothing but silence, and last week complete denial. How do you get rid of people you don’t want from a Commission? You restructure, change the name of the commission, and tell the people you don’t want on board that the commission no longer exists. In business such restructures happen all the time. The process fails in credibility when the advertised new position looks and sounds just like the old one, with a minor tweak to the position title.

Anyway, I feel a sense of closure, and that it is time to move on from cycling governance and politics. It’s been a funny week, with women copping a fair blow in track racing, losing the diamonds from the Ladies’ Diamond Stakes, junior women failing to be acknowledged in racing lists in the fixture, and dumbarse, patronising comments from Max Stevens of Cycling SA in regard to the type of women he wants racing in particular events in that state. Mothers, aunts and bunnies do not qualify, need not enter.

It’s frustrating and bloody annoying to look back on the time and effort and work put in over the last 4 or so years, and realise that the dent made is invisible, quickly puttied over when you turn your back for a moment. Ground hog day. What did I achieve in that time? Nothing.  An omnium that will be non-existent in its current format as of next year (including being a girls only day out if the new format Race Commission has its way). As I won’t be there to argue the case, the format WILL change, guaranteed. The boys win, nothing changes and the System keeps grinding on.

What do I see as the main issues with Cycling governance in Victoria?
·         Poor communication
·         Lack of transparency
·         Lack of focus (core function guys!! What is it?? )
·         Poor communication (oo did I say that?)
·         Lack of understanding of grass roots racing (ie club level, not marginal groups that attract Vic Sport and Rec funding grants)
·         Egos (personal and between individuals)
·         Lack of acknowledgement, true, genuine meaningful acknowledgement of the volunteer base that actually does the work of running races
·         Burnout of those volunteers
·         Lack of support for those volunteers – many pay their own way the whole way to officiate at races, provide their own resources and equipment to do their job properly
·         Patronising lip service only to issues of importance to club racers ie all talk no action, no real care

I had a nice chat with one of my mentors over the weekend and it was clarifying. It made me realise it really is time to move on. The sport administration/governance is not ready for women, not ready for shifting too far from what it is comfortable and familiar with, which is looking after its very own, and doing its own thing in what is actually a highly dysfunctional manner. If cycling governance was a small business, it would be broke and without customers. Currently it survives because people want to race, and they make it happen.

As for me, I’ll race when and where I feel like it, and enjoy my chosen sports. I have a full time job, part time study, a new business to get up and running, two horses to look after and work. I think one race this season is pretty good going, and I achieved more than I had planned. As for those who govern our sport, I wish them luck, because they are going to need it.