With nominations for the positions available on the USA Cycling Cyclocross Committee closing in just a few days, we’re bringing you the first candidate statement, from Chris Jensen in Chicago. Voting begins July 15, so read up!

Jensen loves all things cyclocross, and wants your vote for the spot on USA Cycling's committee. © Ali Engin

Jensen loves all things cyclocross, and wants your vote for the spot on USA Cycling’s committee. © Ali Engin

I’m Chris Jensen, and I’m running for the “At-Large” position on USA Cycling’s Cyclocross Committee.

What is cyclocross to you? I can’t claim authority on your answer, but I want to hear it.

After six years of racing around the country and five years of promoting cyclocross races in Chicago, I’ve seen this sport mean something different to just about every rider. It’s business at the front, a party in the back, and it brings everyone from roadies to dirtheads to triathletes to family cheering sections together to do all the right things on all the wrong bikes.

USA Cycling’s Sporting Committees give more opportunities for stakeholders in amateur competitive cycling to participate in the leadership and decision-making of their disciplines. There is representation from promoters, officials, the pro fields, and finally the riders themselves, who make up both the largest and  most important stake in this sport. I wish to be the voice of the major stakeholder—of you.

Here’s where I stand on a few of the issues at the forefront of the sport:

We need to push to level not only the playing field, but the finish line. The US is a world leader in providing better and more opportunities for women in cycling as well as better pay, but there’s more to do. The paradigm needs to continue to shift to grant more equality for those that put in just as much effort and rely on  just as many of their own resources to race. As a race director myself I know what it means to balance payouts and income, but there’s a higher purpose to work toward.

Cyclocross has an excellent capacity not only to bring different disciplines together, but to extend bike racing to places that are otherwise challenged to participate. There’s a significant opportunity to increase access to underprivileged youth without an undue cost or travel burden. I want to see USA Cycling recognize and support programs that are introducing new riders and different perspectives to the sport.

Race Quality
More than sponsorship or grants, it’s our money that fuels the sport and its growth. We deserve to have the best race experiences possible. By voicing our concerns and ideas to leadership we can have a better channel by which to improve the amenities, safety and organization in our races.

We are at a tipping point in US cyclocross. We have our own “brand” of cyclocross, and there’s an opportunity to continue to bring this to the world stage and produce world-class events. It’s critical we push toward this goal, as it will allow our sport to grow, help improve our top riders, and provide more opportunities for young American talent.

Perhaps just as important as top-class racing is the top-class enjoyment cyclocross offers. We need to ensure that we pay out smiles all the way to last place. Rules are rules, but we would be remiss to forget that no harm is no foul. It’s important for the USAC Officials’ leadership to offer guidance that will support all of us coming home with great stories about 500 of our closest friends.

But enough with the stump speech.

Here’s a little bit about me: I’ve been racing cyclocross for six years after getting into USAC-sanctioned racing at the velodrome. My first love is mountain biking, and the prospect of racing road bikes on the dirt had the same appeal most of you have probably experienced.

Currently I’m the “President” (according to my clubmates) of ROBOTS <3, a cyclocross-focused club in the great ’cross hotbed of Chicago. I’m the club’s Race Director, and we host not only the second Chicago Cyclocross Cup race, but also The Afterglow race, Midwest Regional Cyclocross Championships (new for 2013!) and The Gravel Metric. We collaborate and bring together lots of different clubs in the area to produce some of the best events around. I sometimes wish I was the adopted child of Joan Hanscom and Mitch Graham.

I race singlespeed categories almost exclusively, except for those other categories in which I just race my SS bike. You may have seen me on Sporza. I travel a fairly decent amount to race, and will probably see you at Las Vegas Foam Party 2013, Planet Bike Cup, Jingle Cross, Derby City Cup and SSCXWC among others. Look for the space wheels and the megaphone.

Follow me on twitter: @ChrisforCX or my personal account @grocerystorebar

Are you running for one of the open spots on the committee? Send us your position statement!