Riders participating in the first four rounds of the US Cup-CX at the KMC Cross Fest and Charm City have been clear that the new series has added a little extra to the intensity of the racing. Despite the winner-take-all format, currently led by Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b and Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing), all riders have kicked their effort up a notch at each of the races.

Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing) took the win Friday night. 2017 KMC Cross Fest Day 1 (Friday) © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing) is one of the riders leading the way in the US Cup-CX series thus far. 2017 KMC Cross Fest Day 1 (Friday) © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

The quality of the racing has not gone unnoticed by Sho-Air Cycling Group president Scott Tedro, who is sponsoring the series, and his series director, former cyclocross pro Ryan Trebon. After the second day of Charm City, Tedro announced he was starting a GoFundMe campaign to raise additional funds to offer deeper overall series payouts.

When he made the announcement, Tedro said he would personally match up to $7,500 to add an additional $15,000 to the prize purse already at $20,000 ($10,000 to the women’s winner, $10,000 to the men’s winner).

In the interim, after a slower-than-expected start, Tedro has pledged the full $7,500, independent of how much is raised via the GoFundMe campaign.

Cyclocross Magazine’s Andrew Yee reached out to Tedro to learn more about his impressions of the series so far and his decision to expand the prize purses via the GoFundMe, splitting the additional funds and more in the following interview.

Interview with Scott Tedro of Sho-Air Cycling Group

CXM: Thanks for your time. What’s your impression of the US Cup so far?

Scott Tedro: I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. Very happy with the job that Ryan [Trebon] has been doing. Very pleased with the efforts that the promoters have put into it. I am truly impressed with the efforts that the riders have put forth. The racing has been extremely hard and I’m happy to see that.

Both Saturday and Sunday, everyone’s out there racing very, very hard. They’re putting forth maximum effort. It’s what we wanted.

The Belgian-style flyover was a favorite of the spectators. 2017 Charm City Cross © M. Colton / Cyclocross Magazine

Racing has been intense thus far in the US Cup-CX series. 2017 Charm City Cross © M. Colton / Cyclocross Magazine

I mean, we wanted to see both days count and we wanted to see the riders stick around for both days and I think we’re achieving that, and I’ve been very impressed with how hard these women and men are out there racing and competing. I know they always race hard, but I feel like they’re really putting in a huge effort for the fans, for the series and to try and win that money.

That’s why when Ryan came to me and said Scott, “Do you think there’s any way we can find budgets to add a second, third place?” I said, “Absolutely.” Money’s tight, very tight for me. Tight for everybody.

We’ve launched the GoFundMe campaign for 7,500 bucks and I’ve taken a little heat. There are a few people out there that have criticized me for using the GoFundMe, but the industry’s tight, budgets are full. It’s impossible for us to find money from anybody.

CXM: Makes sense. Publications certainly feel that pain as well.

ST: And I feel like when I put up my own money, I have a right to see if there are other fans like me who are willing to put up money. All the money’s going to the riders. It’s not going to me, it’s not going to the promoters, it’s not going to anyone other than the riders.

I can understand how people get GoFundMe’d to death, but this to me is a way for fans to show their appreciation for the hard riding and for fans to know that their money is going directly into the pocket of the competitors, and my ultimate goal was to be able to add more money across the board. Not just to the second, third, but I wanna be able to pay additional money to the first, second and third.

We’re gonna keep the GoFundMe up until the last day. We’re gonna keep it up until the last minute.

CXM: How are you doing so far toward the goal of $7,500?

ST: Well I put in my $7,500. Basically, I said that I would match dollar for dollar up to the first 7,500 bucks, and I saw that money was moving slowly. There’s some great people who have donated, but I really thought I would see a lot of $5, $10 donations. Most of the donations have been more than that. But there have not been as many as I had hoped. I was hoping to get a couple of hundred people donating 10, 15, 20 bucks.

I don’t know why that is. One of the things is GoFundMe donors used to be able to donate with PayPal, and now you have to put a credit card in and I think it makes it harder when people have to put a credit card in. It’s a little scary to put your credit card information and there’s more stuff, but the average donation then is 50 bucks. We’re at $9,000.

When I saw it slow down, I went ahead and just put all the money up. So, I’ve donated the full 7,500 bucks.

CXM: You’ve raised about $1,500 so far?

ST: Yeah. We’ve raised, I don’t know, let me see. Let me do the math. $9,460 minus $7,500.

CXM: About two grand there.

ST: Yeah, we’ve raised $1,900 . We’re gonna keep it going until Saturday probably at five p.m., and I’m hoping that once the racing starts and people are seeing it going, that they get excited and are happy to see the hard racing, and I hope we’ll get a lot more $10 and $15 donations.

It was nice to see Derek Bouchard-Hall, the President of USA Cycling. He donated 100 bucks. I know that George Hincapie, he’s donated, Lance, he’s gonna donate. Peter [Sagan] is gonna try, he’s traveling. Yep, Chuck Hodge donated, from USA Cycling. It’s nice to see. I mean it’s nice to see.

There’s been 136 shares so, it definitely is out there. I’m cautiously optimistic. I think we’ll hit 15,000 bucks by the time we have to write a check.

Men's podium: Hyde, Petrov, Werner. 2017 Charm City Cross Day 2. © M. Colton / Cyclocross Magazine

Tedro and Trebon are hoping to offer payouts to the top three overall Women’s and Men’s riders. 2017 Charm City Cross Day 2. © M. Colton / Cyclocross Magazine

CXM: Awesome. Now you said you’ll keep it going until Saturday. You’re talking Saturday of the final weekend in Louisville?

ST: Yeah, Saturday of the final weekend [November 4].

CXM: How will you break out the money that you raise? Let’s say you raise $15,000, how do you break that out between different prize levels?

ST: We put up $10,000 each for first. When it comes to the $15,000, I believe we’re gonna go $12,500 for first. If we hit our goal it’ll be $12,500 for first, and then I believe we’re going $3,000 each for second, and then $2,000 each for third.

CXM: You’re actually hoping to increase the first prize if you’re successful with this fundraising.

ST: Yep, I wanna raise the money and spread it across everybody.

CXM: And if you don’t, say you raise 10 grand instead of 15 grand, is that just for a second and third then? Is it the same second and third prize but first prizes stay at ten grand?

ST: Honestly, I haven’t decided yet. I wanna see where it comes out at. For me, I think it’s better to spread it out between all of the winners, but I’ll talk to Ryan about it, we’ll make a decision when we get there.

I’m still holding out. I’m still hoping we get the 15 grand. Would love to see $7,500 come from fans and the other $7,500 come from me. I think that would be really a great thing to show the industry and to show the riders.

CXM: When we talked this summer, you had alluded to a potential fundraiser, saying it might be one of your plans, m so we weren’t surprised by it, but you also said you might be hitting up some companies that try to raise more money for additional places. Did you try that and then strike out? And so then as plan B you went to the GoFundMe?

ST: Yeah. Yep, I tried to get money. We tried. Ryan and I tried, and budgets are full. Money’s tight for everybody. Budgets are full.

I would love to see some companies come onboard. I find it hard to believe, to be honest with you, that some of these big bike manufacturers can’t find 500 bucks, 1,000 bucks. There are companies that do well in the industry and money’s tight, budgets are full, but like I said, it would be really nice to see a couple of the companies come on that GoFundMe and donate some money. I mean a few dollars here and there, it’s going to the riders.

As far as one and done, you know what, it’s our plan to continue on with this next year. I wanna see how we finish out, but I’ve been really impressed by the hard riding, and very, very impressed by the assistance that the promoters that are putting on these events are doing a fantastic job. It’s been amazing.

CXM: That was my next question. I haven’t followed everything in mountain biking, but understand that you have decided after many years of offering generous commitments, you won’t be doing the mountain bike series next year? Is that correct?

ST: Well, I said that I did not want to run the US Cup national mountain bike series for another year. However, I did just meet with Chuck Hodge and Derek Bouchard-Hall from the USA Cycling, and we are talking about creating a model that will give great racing for amateurs and still be able to provide some much-needed points for the professionals.

We are looking at options for the next couple of years and what we’re gonna do. We will probably not do a national series. We will do a series that is in Southern California that promotes and supports the riders that we ride with in our community, and we will most likely have a couple of very high-level events that are providing UCI points so that everybody wins, but we’re still looking at where we are.

I mean like I said, money from the industry and out of industry money is hard to get from anyone anywhere, and for many, many years I put up a lot of my own money. I love cycling, and I love supporting young riders and juniors and women and young men and the community. So, I still wanna do that, but it makes it difficult when money’s hard to get and it’s all coming from one area. I have to be a responsible business owner for my companies and be responsible for myself and for the future so we are going to do the best we can with what we have.

CXM: If I were to interpret that, it sounds like you are still committed to cycling, you are open to continuing the US Cup-CX series beyond this year, but a lot of things are kind of up in the air? Would that be accurate?

ST: That would be accurate. We’re committed to cycling. We’re committed to trying, we’re committed to the future. We need some help and I’m happy to say that USA Cycling has come forward, and is working with us and trying to create options and opportunities to help us.

There are things that are happening, but it has to be more than talk. It actually has to happen this time. Historically I’ve said, “Hey, you know I’m gonna look at this,” and I’ve had promises that don’t come through. So, this time we’re willing to do it. We do a great job. We have a lot of great people behind us, and we work hard. If the industry wants high-level UCI races in mountain biking, we’re more than happy and are willing to participate and to put ’em on, but we have to have some help.

What I get out of it is, I love the cycling, and I’m really humbled by the efforts. I mean these women and men are out there racing hard and but I think the added incentive of having some additional prize money is healthy. And, it’s amazing, it’s amazing to see them. It is. It’s hard-assed racing.

Kaitie Keough leads the way up a run-up early on. 2017 KMC Cross Fest Day 1 (Friday) © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

Riders have been going hard both days of the US Cup-CX weekends. 2017 KMC Cross Fest Day 1 (Friday) © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

CXM: For sure. We had talked about the goals of this series, and that part of it was to get people to these races and race both days. So far, have you gotten any feedback from riders that it has changed their schedule and affected the way they’re planning the season?

ST: I haven’t personally. I know Ryan has. What I will tell you is the feedback I’m getting from Ryan is that the riders are extremely happy with the series. They’re very happy with the additional prize money. They’re happy with the additional press. No, we’re hearing a lot of really, really good things. It makes me happy. I’m happy that the riders are happy. I’m happy that the participation is there, and the goal is to keep it going. We’re just doing the very best that we can with the resources that we have, and my resources are not limitless.

CXM: We heard part of your decision for some changes along mountain biking might be because you’re thinking of a new direction in terms of possibly selling the business? Is there any substance to that rumor?

ST: Exiting my business? No. I’m getting a little older now. I mean I’m slowing down a little bit, but no. The main reason with the cycling is, and I’ll give you the on-record answer. I’ve financed stuff for nine years. I spent three million dollars of my own money over the last nine years and there have been some people…

CXM: Three million dollars!

ST: Yeah. There have been some people that have helped and there have been some companies that have helped, but it’s getting harder and harder for everyone to make money. It’s getting harder and harder for everyone to find budgets, and I have to be responsible, and at some point, I have to say if the industry cannot find resources to assist me, I understand, but I also cannot continue to take on more and more of the responsibility. At some point, I have to say, “Enough is enough.”

We’ve built a good product. We’ve put on a good race. We’ve put on good events. We brought great races to mountain biking. We’ve done a lot and I would like to see us be a little bit more of a priority for some of these companies that enjoy the benefits of having the pro racers earn the points needed to qualify for the Olympics in the U.S., and we will see what happens. We will see.

If not, I’m not leaving bike racing at all, but if we cannot find the support that we need from USA Cycling and others, then we will focus 100% on grassroots and on local racing, and non-UCI and non-USAC and we’ll just put on great races for people, and have ’em have fun and lower the pricing to them. Lower the costs. I did have good communication with USAC, they absolutely want to help and get involved, and both companies are looking at ways to do that. And, that’s where we are.

CXM: Got it. Well, personally and for the sport of cyclocross, we appreciate your investment in the sport this year.

ST: Thank you.

CXM: Will we see you at any of the last two weekends? Will you present a big check on Saturday in Louisville?

ST: No, you know, I would love to, but I’m really super busy and Ryan’s running the show. So, Ryan will be there. He’s doing a great job, I did this because of Ryan. We’re friends and he told me this was a good cause and a good thing.

I’m really proud of him. He’s done a great job. I wish I had the time to go, but I just, I can’t. I’ve gotta try and make the money to pay the bills.

CXM: Totally, we appreciate that too. Thanks so much for your time.

ST: Thank you very much!

Fans who are interested in learning more about or donating to the US Cup-CX prize purse campaign can visit the GoFundMe site