The last time we caught up with Craig Etheridge, he gave us a candid account of his thoughts about the nature of the Singlespeed Cyclocross Race at Nationals. We are not trying to beat the same anvil. Etheridge reached out to us after he saw how the cyclocross community reacted. As our recent poll showed, it was not a reaction fully against Etheridge, as the difference between his supporters and detractors stood at 37% in his favor to 40% against, and the rest didn’t see it in such black and white terms.
Rather than stir up the polarizing topic, he wanted to reframe his argument and offer an apology. The following is the letter he sent us, addressed to the cyclocross community:
I would like to take a moment to clarify and reflect on a few things about my interview with Cyclocross Magazine regarding the 2015 Singlespeed title race at Nationals in Austin, Texas.
I sincerely care about Singlespeed Cyclocross (SSCX) and have some really strong opinions about it as a result. My goal has been and will continue to be promoting SSCX because to me it’s more than just equipment choice. There is a “spirit” to this discipline of cycling that’s difficult to explain.
I can’t make any excuses for the race I had in Austin this year. I had an idea of what I wanted the race to be, and after a frustrating performance and result my emotions got the best of my words. It was the wrong time to say the things that I did in the way they were said. In my adrenaline-fueled interview the bigger picture can easily be overlooked. I do apologize to other racers that I offended. Everyone deserved to be there and no rules were broken. Instead of a blaming others for my defeat, I need to reflect on my own training leading up to SSCX Nationals. To be sure, I will refocus and work with the great support that surrounds me. I also accept that as good as anyone is, there’s always someone better. This race means something specific to me and in no way should I project my frustrations toward other people.
I still want to see the discipline for which I work so hard all year to be treated with the same respect as other championship disciplines at Nationals. If there are race restrictions between age categories and Elite titles, then I believe USAC standards should be consistent in SSCX. The choice racers face to select an age category or an Elite race [Ed. note: a new USA Cycling rule for the 2015 National Championships] should apply across the board to include Singlespeed. My opinion here is for SSCX in the coming National Championships to be a racer’s choice over other options as is required by age category races. This year I competed in the Masters 35-39 race because it was the first opportunity I had to do so for that category. My passion remains in SSCX though, and if faced with a choice I would choose this race over another as I do throughout the season. I don’t believe a person’s ability and support should have anything to do with how much they care about racing SSCX. This doesn’t mean I’m not encouraging other Elite or “pro” racers to enter, but in fact to enter more! I’m lucky enough to be on a team that supports me in the category that I choose.
When I see the popularity at Nationals rise up to maximum category participants I get my hopes up that SSCX will be even bigger next year; and who knows, it may still be!
Some great insight for us all (especially me) to remember is that the biggest result of growth is that it inevitably will change the culture and nature of the racing that riders are currently used to. This is something I will keep in mind as I take the lead, instead of just complaining, in reaching out the USA Cycling to suggest ways to better define the SSCX category at Nationals.
It’s clear to me that from a week’s worth of activity on the subject and responses to my interview that I’m not the only one who feels strongly about SSCX. I’m grateful for the range of comments, from the supportive to the negative and especially ones with problem-solving suggestions. This feedback and the results from the Cyclocross Magazine poll which reflects that there’s no one right answer to this can be used to work toward finding a place where more people are satisfied with their National Championship experience. I’m motivated to see if we can make that happen.
In closing, I apologize to those I inadvertently offended and I sincerely thank my sponsors, teammates, friends and anyone who participated in Singlespeed cyclocross this season.