The SoCalCross Spooky Cross is one of the new Cross After Dark races. © Eric Colton

SoCalCross promoter Dorothy Wong has been at the forefront of Southern California’s amazing growth in the popularity of cyclocross. She attended the USA Cycling Cyclocross Promoters’ Summit last weekend, and checked in with her personal thoughts on the event and the upcoming SoCalCross season. Part 1 of the conversation is below. See Part 2 of the conversation with Dorothy Wong here.

So how did the promoters’ meeting go?
The promoters’ meeting was a great opportunity for us in Southern California to network with other promoters, learn what they do and listen to the growth model of USAC as they see how to deal with the UCI races. Fifty UCI races are currently on the schedule for this season but this will likely be dramatically reduced next season, and these will now fall into a National Racing Calendar structure, which should help prime new races to grow into top notch UCI events in the future. USAC did their part to listen to us and our concerns and their model of growth.

For many promoters, race promotion is not a full-time job and it’s not always possible to get away from those other demands and attend the summit. What motivated you to attend?
As SoCalCross continues to grow, and with the bigger picture of hosting UCI cyclocross events in our region, we felt it our duty to attend as it’s important to do everything we can to take our region and most importantly its Elite racers to the highest level. Also, being an Elite racer at one time who had to travel, and although the sport is so much fun and worth the travel, it does cost, and taking time away from work is difficult. Each year it cost at least $1,000 to fly, rent a car, ship bikes, pay entry fees, plus lose a week’s pay from work. This hits the bottom line, and if people do this all year for road or mountain bike racing, it becomes stressful. As a promoter, and seeing the potential to bring California and West Coast cyclocross up from what is about 75% East Coast of Colorado cyclocross – I really wanted to see the West Coast represented and ease the pressure on Elite racers from having to live out East or travel back and forth to get those UCI points. This matters more and more, as the sport has grown to a point where sitting 80th in the Elite men’s field due to lack of points put California racers at a disadvantage. I felt it my duty to help out West Coast ’cross and help get some regional balance back our way.

Did you learn anything that impacts your SoCalCross series or your UCI event, Spooky Cross?
Well, yes. Sadly our top riders will likely be traveling to World Cup races [during the Spooky Cross weekend], since there is a break in the C1 US events, but it opens the door for U23 riders and others to gain UCI points. On the positive side, being a part of this UCI Cross After Dark night race cyclocross series will bring additional exposure to our most popular event of the season. I’m hoping to gain larger field sizes as we step up the Halloween-themed party, and I’m expecting the Elite race to be through the roof with a larger pool of top riders. Again, I’m hoping that by providing this race for the highest level in a high population area – Irvine in Orange County – we can bring larger crowds to attend and step up the fluff to make it exciting for spectators and not just racers and their friends and family.

Any new decisions or discussions relevant to cyclocrossers that caught your attention?
USAC introduced the new CX National Racing Calendar as I mentioned earlier and a USAC Ranking Points System for all racers, Elite to Masters, that will give points for all USA Cycling sanctioned events, with the NRC to have a higher value. USAC will likely introduce the calendar bid and point system shortly. The cyclocross NRC will have more USAC ranking points and will be a launching point for new UCI events as well as a landing point for UCI races not meeting standards for the 2012-13 season. The UCI calendar will be reduced in number significantly with priority to C1 events and top C2s. Regional balance will not be the priority but rather quality of events. The CX NRC will require a significant cash purse not far off the current UCI minimum scale.

Personally, I am concerned about a National Race/Ranking Calendar as the heart of the sport is its culture, which stems from the sport’s regional structure. Putting pressure on racers to travel the USA hunting points where the NRC races will exist may continue the ranking imbalance based on region. Stay tuned on that.

It’s important to emphasize to your readers that license renewals for Nationals and Worlds should be done sooner than later, starting Dec 1st. Don’t wait until January, or you may not be able to compete.

Also, National Championship bids for 2014 and 2015 will be due July 1st.

Any surprises?
I was mainly surprised and disappointed with the UCI Elite rules regarding Masters Worlds. Most racers compete to finish, not to win the race, but they will think twice about entering if they think they might get in the points. [Any racer with UCI points will be prohibited from competing in Masters Worlds.]

Also see Part 2 of the conversation with Dorothy Wong. You can connect with Dorothy Wong on our Cowbell community site.