Voting for USA Cycling’s Cyclocross Sport Committee is open through August 15. USAC license holders are eligible to vote for candidates depending on which type of license they hold. Cyclocross Magazine reached out to each of the candidates and offered them the opportunity to fill out a candidate questionnaire to give our readers a better understanding of what they want to do on the Cyclocross Committee.
Today we will be providing responses from the At Large candidates, whom a majority of our readership will be eligible to vote for. We will have responses from the three candidates, posted throughout the day in alphabetical order. Up second is Christopher Mumford of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Name: Christopher Mumford
Residence: Chapel Hill, NC
Local Cyclocross Scene: NCCX & BHB Cross Central
Cyclocross Magazine: How long have you been participating in cyclocross?
Christopher Mumford: I have been racing for five years and leading a youth and adult team for three years. I love the sport for the friendships, community and energy. I love trying to crush my frienemies and hanging out with them after the race. I love helping teammates and youth be the best version of themselves.
CXM: Why are you running for the ‘Cyclocross Sport Committee?
CM: Cyclocross is stuck; we are a niche within a niche that is flat. Our local soccer club NCFC has two times more members that there are cyclocrossers nationally even though the number of people with bicycles is in the millions. Cyclocross ought to be the gateway for youth into cycling.
Innovation in a member organization happens when solutions are found by constantly engaging members, stakeholders and experts to really understand needs. It comes down to being one thing: member centric. This is the only way to grow our narrow base for the good of the entire membership which will dramatically improve the top end.
CXM: What makes you a strong candidate for this position?
CM: I am a professor of Innovation at UNC-CH. I have been involved in startups for the last 20 years where the key driver was change. I am a 50+ year-old Masters who co-founded HammerCross, a fast growing youth cyclocross club focused on building diversity rather than just podium spots.
I appreciate different perspectives being an Asian American. I was a partner in a cycling apparel business with the fashion icon Alexander Julian. I am a former D1 soccer player who understands the dedication in pursuit of excellence. I have spent the last 20 years making things happen.
CXM: We have seen your bio, but what’s your vision for the sport?
CM: We need to change the mindset to “member centric” rather than “organization or elite centric”. Grassroots growth should be the number one priority.
We need to grow our base by 5x. This means more recruitment – including broader awareness building and lowering barriers to entry – and better retention – keeping new racers and our Cat 3/4/5 base happy to come back. These goals can only be achieved by regularly checking in with members and stakeholders and creating better solutions. Our elite development will naturally follow the base building.
The engine has to be in front of the caboose.
CXM: What are the most important issues USA Cycling needs to address right now?
CM: Key issues in order of priority:
1. Really understand member views by getting their opinions before making significant cyclocross decisions.
2. Lower the USAC barriers to entry for first-year racers to grow the sport.
3. Increase, not cut, the number of youth competitions at nationals. At the very least, engage a wide range of youth clubs and get regular input on growing the youth movement. Put real effort into growing this segment. They are the future.
4. Better understand and cater to Cat 3/4/5 racers needs, particularly Masters. Identify ways to retain the one-and-done racers. They are the now.
5. Provide more guidance on an increasingly chaotic regional racing schedule. The goal is to increase the number of break even and better events. Race directors have got to put food on the table to sustain races and the awesome community.
CXM: What changes would you like to help make as a member of the Cyclocross Committee?
CM: Real change rarely occurs when the elite are the only voice in the organization. I want to be a voice that represents 85% of the membership who on are not on the podium. I want to represent youth and Cat3/4/5 racers on a committee that is already very well-represented by current/former pros and masters champions. The primary tool is member engagement and building solutions which reflect reality.
CXM: Limited resources force tough choices between elite talent development and grassroots growth. What are your opinions on how USAC currently splits resources between these two priorities?
CM: I don’t see the answer as an either or. The reality is that elite talent development has yielded limited international results in the last 10 years. The US seems just good enough to be possibly be really good in a few years. There are only a couple of internationally successful outliers (i.e. Katie Compton). So we keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. It hasn’t worked.
Let’s call a spade a spade: our base is way too narrow to have an internationally competitive elite. We need to grow our base, which means committing to grassroots growth. We are a nearly all caucasian, male sport which does not reflect America. Let’s play to our strengths. We need to broaden our reach into include diversity and more women and girls.
I am confident if we grow our base by 5x, the elite level will take care of itself. The required actions is helping all youth, not just those on the podium. We have to cater to the needs of the Cat 3/4/5 for sustainable grassroots growth. They create the community and provide the resources.
CXM: What are the biggest success and failures of the current ’Cross Committee?
JH: In my opinion, the greatest disappointment was when the committee cut the number of youth races at Nationals. They cited support from youth teams and overtraining research. None of the youth clubs we know – which are most of the largest in the country – were consulted. In addition, after a literature review, none of the overtraining research had any specific cyclocross or cycling studies included.
Youth races at Nationals are a way for kids to validate their interest in CX irrespective if they podium. The sport feels real after they race in Nationals as it feels bigger than themselves. Kids move away from cycling around 13 years old. Cutting all competitions before 13 years is shortsighted. It was the lack of consultation – understanding reality – which was such a huge disappointment.
The greatest success is how the CX Nats dates have changed. CX Hairs did a great job encouraging(prodding) for this change. After surveying membership, the committee made a decision based on member needs. This was the exception, but the method – getting input from users and stakeholders – should be the rule. There is hope, but, we need more. I would be most grateful if you vote for me as a vote for innovation and change.
See all of our candidate questionnaires:
Cover photo: flickr user justgrimes