All posts by Joseph Kopena

Representatives Election

At least year’s annual meeting, an important step toward ensuring the longterm continuity of the ECCC was debuted: A nascent but formal Board of Trustees. As discussed, this year we’re adding two representatives to that board via an election across all of the membership.

The Board

Like most such structures, the ECCC Board of Trustees has two key objectives:

  • Provide independent strategic guidance, oversight, and decision making;
  • Ensure long term continuity and survival.

Historically most of the overarching, major operational and strategic decision making about budgets, hiring, significant initiatives, etc., have ultimately resided with the conference director. Over time the board will assume oversight of much of this, particularly as/if the conference continues to develop a larger paid staff. One major goal is better sanity checking via peer review, and formal procedures discouraging ad hoc practices. However, the board also makes this decision making institutional rather than individual, able to be made—and hopefully made well—absent any particular person. In that vein, the board also acts as a knowledge repository, capturing lessons learned and institutional experience even as individuals come and go.

These things take time to develop and there are many well entrenched practices and people even as the conference has to continue to operate at full speed with limited human capacity, so the board is still maturing, settling on activities and responsibilities. However, it has been meeting periodically over the past year to discuss a number of topics. Prominent among these, as an example, is taking public input from the discussion at last year’s annual meeting and settling on final criteria and procedures for the first representatives election. As another example of the kinds of topics addressed by the Board of Trustees, a major topic for the near future and our incoming representatives is a developing proposal that’s been under intermittent discussion for some time to open ECCC racing to all youth, not just full-time students.

Trustees

As currently architected, the ECCC board consists of nine volunteer members in two components:

  • Seven trustees appointed and confirmed by the board itself and serving indefinitely;
  • Two representatives elected from and by the full membership and serving for two years.

The current trustees are all longstanding leaders of the ECCC community:

  • Emma Bast: Former Mt Holyoke rider, collegiate road national champion, and USAC Collegiate committee athlete representative; currently outside Burlington, VT.
  • Christina Birch: Former MIT rider, collegiate cyclocross national champion, and general rockstar; in Boston, MA.
  • Shane Ferro: Former Columbia rider, team leader, and race director; in New York, NY.
  • Joseph Kopena: Former Drexel rider, team leader, race director, official, and conference director; in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Michael Rea: Former Dartmouth and UVM rider, team leader, race director, longstanding conference advisor, and former NEBRA collegiate liason; officially in Washington, DC but often Hanover, NH.
  • Rob Rowan: Former Columbia coach, race director, official, and longstanding conference advisor; in New York, NY.
  • Ian Sullivan: Former UVM and Vermont Law rider, team leader, race director, official, and assistant conference director; currently splitting time between Pittsfield, MA and Rutland, VT.

The two slots for representatives are to be filled for the first time by this election.

Representatives

As a whole the board is formally committed to maintaining gender parity in its structure. There is thus a representative for women and another for men, according to competition gender. However, all current members (currently defined as full-time high school and college students with at least one ECCC scholastic start this year) will vote on both positions.

The other eligibility criteria for the representatives are:

  • Must have 4 starts in any discipline or category in a scholastic field at an ECCC event  within the past year, i.e., was an active collegiate or high school racer this year;
  • Must be at least 18 years of age at the time general voting closes;
  • Must be approved by the trustees, with significant cause to be given otherwise.

Note that the representatives need not necessarily be full-time students at the time of the election or afterward. Racers that just graduated, are taking a break, etc., all have much to contribute. However, especially for this first year we strongly encourage nominees and votes for representatives that will be active racers in the coming year such that they may be more easily acquainted with how the conference works behind the scenes.

Responsibilities

Participation in the Board of Trustees is explicitly and critically not intended to be an overwhelming commitment. It is a significant, serious commitment but not on the critical path for ongoing operations. Expectations include:

  • Attending the annual fall conference meeting if possible;
  • Attending some ECCC race or races annually;
  • Quarterly voice or video call with trustees;
  • Ongoing but light/bursty email discussion;
  • Taking lead on a particular area or project of special interest.

Once elected, the representatives will each serve 2 year terms. They need not be active racers throughout, nor even be committed to staying in the geographic region.

Election

The timeline for our inaugural representatives election is:

  • October 21: Call for nominees (this post!)
  • October 28: Nominations close at noon (to provide time for collation & board review)
  • October 29: General voting opens
  • November 12: Voting closes at 11:59pm
  • November 14: Representatives announced and introduced at the annual meeting

Nominations are to be made by the candidates themselves via this form:

Nominate yourself!

If there are any questions about eligibility, the election process, or any other issues, please contact Joe Kopena.

Policies Are For Progress

Very recently, months after it was published to no doubt much impact, some friends finally noticed Ellen Samuels‘ column article Cycles of Gender Testing, published by the NYU Press blog. It attempts to critique the new-ish transgender athlete policies in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC). The crux of Samuels’ argument is that the policy represents a throwback to medieval policies of yore, developed with a biocentric focus and no understanding of gender or sexuality.

Hilariously were it not so frustrating, the post is actually a great exemplar of exactly the type of mindset at which it hopes to throw much snark and scorn: One crippled by assumptions and an inability to have a serious discussion on gender and sports. Further, it’s just poor scholarship and writing: No attempt to contact anyone involved for clarification or discussion was made beforehand, no chance for response given afterward—regrettably, the comments are closed—and it’s very clear that no independent effort was made to understand how that policy might have emerged, or its very nuanced components.

It’s just a short blog post that doesn’t particularly matter, but the piece is worth some commentary from the conference leadership. This is a good point from which to discuss and archive some of the design intent and background of this ECCC policy. More generally the post is also worth looking at as an example of how even people very informed and aware on this kind of topic can hinder their understanding and the debate through their own flawed assumptions.

Policy

The ECCC’s transgender athlete policy is incredibly permissive:

The ECCC particularly recognizes the challenges facing transgender athletes. Such members of the community should compete in the gender category most appropriate to their unique personal situation. They are invited and encouraged to discuss this with the Conference Director(s) and other ECCC leadership.

Competitors may be asked by the Conference Director(s) and/or their designee(s) to furnish two pieces of documentation from relevant legal, medical, or academic authorities documenting personal sex, gender, or gender dysphoria supporting their selected competition gender category.

Particularly for college sports that’s an extremely open position. A very good read here is the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network‘s report On The Team: Including Transgender Students. Though we only found it afterward, the ECCC transgender policy tracks very closely with the report’s recommendations for high school sports, notably much more so than its collegiate suggestions. Similar goes for other reports and existing policies. Compared to typical approaches for college and beyond, the ECCC formally embraces much more of an attitude of “Do whatever makes you happy, everything else be damned.”

That shift in attitude comes in large part precisely from not being biocentric, completely counter to Samuels’ utterly flawed understanding. She writes:

Such [documentation] requirements show how assumptions about the necessity for biocertification can both underpin and undermine even the most well-meaning of policies directed toward people who do not fit neatly into gender binaries. It is likely that, just as in international female athletics, the cyclists most likely to be asked to provide documentation are those who appear suspiciously “masculine,” yet identify as female.

The last sentence is unfortunately probably true, but not in the sense it was written. Samuels fails to envision all of the many likely circumstances that might prompt such a request. More critically, she completely misses the fundamental fact that the “requirement” is there for the exact opposite reason: To protect transgender athletes, and to enable their self-determination and choices.

Clowns

One of our primary motivations for that provision is some regrettable cretin trying to make either an actual socio-political point or merely negative comedy by competing in the “wrong” category. Particularly in some regions of the country, given a completely wide open policy all of us could easily envision, based on previous actual incidents, some cis-male jackass ostentatiously opting to race in and disrupt the women’s fields, either to underline how supposedly ridiculous is the concept of transgender athletes, or simply to be the class clown.

Without the documentation request or some other requirement, there’s little the conference could do about that. If athletes could truly simply elect which gender category to compete in with no restrictive formal policy, then there’s no basis upon which to stop that clown. That would be highly unfortunate, as such a show would be deeply hurtful to actual transgender athletes and broadly supressive of their participation and open welcome, as well as being very disruptive to the competition and disrespectful to all of the athletes. So, in one direction, the requirement is there to protect trans athletes by creating a tool to help shut down very conceivable, very negative demonstrative actions against them.

Legitimacy

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it is unfortunately just as conceivable that at some point opposition will be raised to a “legitimate” transgender athlete. Any open or suspected transgender athlete is going to face a wide variety of challenges in competing, irrespective of how accepting their community may be. They don’t need to also continually face questions about why they’re racing in their chosen gender category, quiet doubts and whispers about the validity of that selection, and so on. The documentation proviso gives conference leadership a tool with which to also shut down all of that negative atmosphere: Community members start raising concerns or complaints about someone, conference leadership privately asks that person for some documentation to show they’re not just some clown or a cheater, they show it, conference leadership affirms to the community that everything is on the up & up and ends those questions and whispers. So, in another direction, the “requirement” is there precisely to provide a formal basis for validating and supporting a transgender athlete’s selection of gender category for competition.

Documents

In doing so, one of the obvious key points Samuels misses is just how slim and broad is that documentation requirement. To repeat:

Competitors may be asked by the Conference Director(s) and/or their designee(s) to furnish two pieces of documentation from relevant legal, medical, or academic authorities documenting personal sex, gender, or gender dysphoria supporting their selected competition gender category.

There’s a lot of nuance packed in there alongside practical understanding of the challenges facing transgender people in our college and high school demographic, enabling a great deal of personal freedom and privacy.

On the one hand, presumably no clown and nearly all cheaters at our level would be unwilling to or have a hard time actually producing any such documentation. On the other hand, nearly all transgender people could meet that criteria, and with minimal intrusion on their privacy. By explicit design it is essentially as close as you can get to a formal version of “Please just give us anything, anything, which we can use to justify your category selection.”

For example, in an amazing and amusing display of massive, pompous self-absorption, Samuels misreads the policy point about “academic authorities” as a reference to the scholarly work of herself and other academic gender theorists. Skipped in that interpretation are important adjectives like “personal” and, most especially, “relevant.” Any less egotistical reader with experience competing in scholastic sports or enforcing gender regulations should immediately understand what that’s actually saying: Any kind of note from school is fine.

In particular, as discussed in previous blog posts, in our demographic of young adults and even juniors starting out on life outside their parents’ homes and shadows, many people are just beginning to think about and potentially recognize an affinity within themselves for non-traditional, non-biological ideas on gender and identity. Many of our transgender athletes won’t have government ID or medical records verifying or tracking their newly formed self images. They could quite likely though come up with something between all three options, especially given the wide latitude granted as to what kind of document is required. School and medical authorities in particular are generally likely to be flexible and swift, with few lifelong effects.

Regarding government, even setting aside universal bureaucratic hurdles and significant consequences of changing identification, many students will have a tough time or be unable to do so simply by advent of living at school, far from home. ECCC policy says that’s fine, get some documentation from the much easier and less consequential avenues of your school or doctor. This is a particularly relevant point because previous national policy in competitive cycling until we forced a change was to compete in the gender given by government ID. We in fact know that to be too rigid, from concrete cases of actual people.

Unusually for the current conference leadership’s typical inclinations to extremely formal and highly delineated rules, this policy is also very specific about not being specific as to what kinds of documentation might suffice. This is an intentional bit of vagueness to enable maximal privacy and options, particularly regarding medical authorities. For example, unlike policies frequently applied at higher levels of sport, the ECCC does not want to see a transgender athlete’s recorded testosterone level history. It also does not care if a rider is undergoing or has undergone a biological transition. Any documentation from a medical authority saying that the athlete’s chosen gender category is appropriate will suffice.

Choices

Of course, the question there of what category is “appropriate” is also intentionally unspecified. For example: Suppose an athlete was born and remains biologically female, but presents formally and socially as a man. What gender category should they compete in? If they race as a man they’ll be socially most comfortable but competitively most disadvantaged. Racing as a woman they’ll compete on level ground but be personally uncomfortable as well as potentially facing any number of doubts and misunderstandings about the fairness of them doing so based on the community’s inevitable assumptions.

On this question the ECCC takes the decidedly not biocentric approach of not taking any stance at all. Either direction they take that athlete is facing a hard decision, and we hope they talk to us about it, but we purposefully ultimately leave that selection where it should be: With the athlete.

Notable here is the explicit reference in the policy to sex, gender, or gender dysphoria. Any but the laziest reader should immediately be disinclined to believe that this policy is backed by simplistic notions equating sex with gender. We specifically recognize the differences between but don’t care about, in a positive sense, anybody’s sex or gender, or how the two may or may not match traditional assumptions and norms. The inclusion of gender dysphoria is a particularly subtle point. We are unaware of any other policy making such an allowance, rather than being based solely on sex and/or gender. Again, the intent is to afford maximal options and privacy. Can’t or don’t want to show documentation of a history supporting a particular gender or sex for competition category? Then any selection could be supported by any medical authority, including a physician, psychologist, or even a counselor, based on dysphoria.

Assumptions

Again amusingly but disappointingly, Samuels’ piece explicitly attacks the ECCC for its assumptions and entrenching bad ones, even while it is she who is actually trucking a great many of them into the discussion, fatally wounding her understanding.

On the surface, no one who actually read and thought about the ECCC policy rather than applying rote assumptions about the treatment of transgender athletes in sports could have possibly viewed it as advocating draconion or even mild biocertification regimes. Further, as discussed above, even setting aside its incredibly unrestricted and wide open criteria, the documentation “requirement” is actually there to protect and enable transgender athletes, providing a basis for them to do whatever makes them happiest.

People

More fundamentally, Samuels’ post is founded on the insulting and grossly prejudiced assumption that the people writing such a policy and involved in the governance of our sport could not be familiar with and understanding of gender theory and associated topics, let alone sympathetic to transgender athletes, nor could they themselves be following non-heteronormative lives.

On the one hand, as conference director and the lead face of policy creation and enforcement, it’s pretty much true that I personally am a cis-male whitebread honkie, and by actual profession an engineer to boot. I absolutely reject though that this necessarily means I don’t have some familiarity with or understanding of gender theory, nor that I can neither emphathize with nor understand and actively support our transgender athletes. In general it patently cannot and should not be the case that only transgender people and gender theorists may participate in this discussion. As Samuels’ post ably demonstrates, formal training in gender theory is clearly neither necessary nor sufficient to make actual contributions to this topic.

On the other hand, Samuels unfortunately and quite incorrectly implicitly assumes that this policy has been neither informed nor crafted by gender theory, let alone actual transgender athlete experience. That is again insulting on several levels, in assuming both that such people are not actively engaged in the sport as well as that their advice and input would not be sought out. It’s also impressively wrong. My understanding is that more than half our committee involved in drafting this policy have non-heteronormative sexualities. More than a quarter are either working on or already have PhDs in gender or queer theory and related topics. Several live everyday, in one way or another, with all the consequences and challenges associated with being transgender, in sport and otherwise.

Despite Samuels’ assumptions that people in sport could not be familiar with gender theory and that transgender athletes could not be engaged in developing the policies affecting them, in the ECCC at least nothing could be further from the truth.

Engagement

In recent years, driven by various mass calamities, there has been occasional general debate about the limited impact the liberal arts have on daily life. History, political science, economics, etc., all have important things to say about critical issues of government and society that are routinely ignored. This is a major driver of movements toward open access scholarship and increasing respect within academia for blogging and other popular writing. Quite obviously, gender theorists, queer theorists, and others might have useful things to say to the general population on topics like transgender athletes. In line with the better points of traditional academics’ suspicions of pop-academia movements though, drive-by hits with lazy blog posts not only don’t accomplish that, they actively retard progress. Nothing will be accomplished if the gender theorists are the ones coming in with crippling assumptions and a failure to recognize and put the effort into addressing their own limited understanding. If Samuels’ post is indicative of what the NYU Press means by “curated content” and “original scholarship” then that particular academia outreach blog effort actually does not have much to contribute and is little different from any number of scrawling-screed sites out there.

Complexity and Progress

Returning to the actual substantive point at hand, this whole topic of transgender athletes in sport is incredibly complex, both broad and deep. Most discussed are of course the top level concepts of biology, policies, and fairness—in multiple competing directions, and with much still developing and even more poorly recognized science.

For the people actually going through these experiences though, and the sports authorities trying to enable and support them, it’s mind-bogglingly pervasive. An eye-opening realization from our experiences this past spring was that a nuts-and-bolts but nonetheless consequential task the conference needs to do to help transgender athletes is to start identifying in race flyers whether restrooms at races will be gender neutral portajohns or gendered built facilities, and if the latter whether they’ll be on private, local, state, or federal ground because of the varying laws associated with each. That’s a whole new level of detail and area of concern we’ve never considered before, and the sort of detail never addressed in high level debate.

Even with very progressive leadership and an overwhelmingly supportive community, these participants face a whole constellation of obstacles. A significant part of overcoming those is policy. As Samuels focuses on and briefly recaps, transgender policy in sports has a long and largely iniquitous history, rife with dubious biocertification programs and unacceptable tests. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Policy can also be a tool to enable these athletes, as we hope it is in the ECCC.

None of this is to say that current ECCC policy is perfect or optimal, though it’s unlikely any policy could be either. There is much room for clarification, formalization, and multiple strong tradeoffs have been made that warrant ongoing debate. For an example on the process side, a tradeoff has been made between the freedom afforded by ambiguity versus potentially unfortunate future decisions under other leadership stemming from such subjective policies. On the more substantive side, the policy implicitly prioritizes the pursuit of happiness for transgender riders over the biological fairness concerns of other competitors. This is a strong stance on the particularly potentially explosive issues surrounding female-to-male biologically transitioned and male-to-female non-transitioned transgender athletes. Our group has also been very clear that we don’t feel this policy should necessarily be applied at all levels. For example, even to us it is not clear that professional, Olympic, and similar elite sport should be as completely biology agnostic as this policy strives to be.

However, all told, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference’s current policies represent a decidedly progressive stance on sports participation by transgender athletes, and one that we hope other organizations adopt. We hope that everyone looking at them will do so without being burdened by their baggage of assumptions, in addition to recognizing all the many possible live circumstances and the need to have formal policies directing the actual conduct of those sports.

Horses and Cubes

Earlier today, Craig Richey from the brand new Bentley University team (and elite rider for Trek Red Truck Racing) made a great comment:

As fresh eyes on the scene one possible improvement would be to have some sort of weekend omnium podium after the race on Sunday. Yesterday it was clear people wanted to hang around for a bit of socializing and wrap-up of the weekend’s events, a podium would do this and would give some photos for universities to brag about, which in turn would drive awareness for collegiate cycling. Without some sort of official end to the weekend’s events, it seemed like things kind of fizzled after the race on Sunday. It would also be an opportunity to officially thank the event organizers and cadets (maybe this is just a Canadian thing).

All of those points and ideas are absolutely spot on and insightful, touching multiple dimensions toward growth in numbers and quality: More exciting events and a better social experience, building prestige and support within administrations, outreach to potential recruits and sponsors, acknowledging the volunteers making it all happen.

So, the question is: Why doesn’t the ECCC have podiums? It’s a simple thing, but actually a deep question that hits on a lot of fundamental traits and critical current projects in the conference.

Horses and Cubes

One answer is that we do! Of course at Easterns we hold big semi-formal presentations each day for the race and season winners. Sometimes it’s pretty emotional.

Ben Grass (Dartmouth): Cancer survivor, doctor, green jersey winner.  Photo by David Berg.
Ben Grass (Dartmouth): Cancer survivor, doctor, green jersey winner. Photo by David Berg.

Lots of other races have special trophies and ceremonies. Last year featured two of the very best in ECCC history: The golden stallion from the Shippensburg Scurry Horsekiller Road Race, and the pink & metal cubes from the RISD/Brown/PC Rhode Race.

For the accuracy inclined, Horsekiller Road actually killed horses on the descent, as brewery carts lost control on the steep pitch. But the riders found the ascent just as deadly.
For the accuracy inclined, Horsekiller Road actually killed horses on the descent, as brewery carts lost control on the steep pitch. But the riders found the ascent just as deadly. Photo by Nathan Goates.
All will be assimilated into our post-modern vision of bicycle racing. Resistance is futile.  Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
All will be assimilated into our post-modern vision of bicycle racing. Resistance is futile. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

An important fact to understand is that other than Easterns, the conference in terms of the entity and leadership largely leaves this whole aspect of our events up to the host schools. Our role is to ensure the fundamental conduct of the races. Though important, trophies and podiums are essentially polish or frills on top of well run events that we leave to the promoters to individualize and accentuate their events, or not. The conference could potentially have stacks of medals and drive standardized ceremonies, but they would pale in all meaning to a RISD/Brown/PC cube, Shippensburg horse, East Rock jersey, Boston beanpot, Army black and gold, UVM chainring, Northeastern woodcut, UNH rocks, PSU pint glass, or all the other unique awards that have memorialized promoters’ hearts and efforts over the years.

Have Weather, Will Travel

The question still remains as to why more races don’t have podiums.

One superficial but paramount fact is just that the weather faced by collegiate road racers in the great northeast is more often than not… less than welcoming. Nobody wants to stand around for a podium when it’s 20 degrees out or, worse, 35 and raining. With indoor facilities rare and hard to come by, podium ceremonies frequently get literally flooded or frozen in our unreliable, spiteful road season weather.

Similarly, travel is a fundamental imperative concern. Each weekend, nearly everyone is looking at a long, long drive home. Many attempts at holding some sort of podium ceremony are marred by absent riders. This past Sunday, UVM actually had really sweet, professional looking chainring medallions for the A race podiums. But by the time results were in, protest period over, and the organizers ready to do awards—not an overly long process—much of the podiums had already hit the road, let alone the rest of the crowd. Even at the national level people often don’t stick around for awards; I have a whole box of unclaimed national championship medals from years past.

Excited as they were, none of the survivors of the 2014 MIT X-Pot Crit were going to wait around for awards. Photo by David DeWitt.
Excited as they were, none of the survivors of the 2014 MIT X-Pot Crit were going to wait around for awards. Photo by David DeWitt.

Joie de Vivre

In general though there are fewer podiums, trophies, jerseys, etc., for our races than there used to be, and those two factors have always been there. They don’t account for that decline.

There are undoubtedly multiple reasons, but I believe a large part of that dropoff is the sheer crushing difficulty of putting on races these days. Last year’s RISD/Brown/PC debut event was actually really satisfying to me personally because it felt exactly like the very first year my closest friends and I put on the Philly Phlyer: Ambitious, extravagantly expensive courses; over-the-top race flyers and posters; oft-overlooked touches like support cars or pit support; marshals from the entire community; and an overall joie de vivre toward race promotion of which the standout cube podium trophies were just an outpouring.

That zest is hard to come by. It’s amazingly difficult to put on a bike race, particularly the complicated full slate of events and great courses that are the hallmark of every ECCC weekend. That first year of the Phlyer was the largest, most organized, and most committed the Drexel and UPenn teams have ever been, we had half a dozen core committee people working on the event, financial and procedural supports from the clubs and schools, and I still wound up dropping my classes to make it happen. Every promoter of the simplest business park crit will testify that it’s a lot of work no matter how many years they’ve been doing it. Here in the ECCC we’ve got first time promoters from tiny clubs putting on 2–4 distinct events in a weekend; logistically challenging downtown circuit races, campus crits, and long road races; and all of it in the worst weather on the tightest of shoestring budgets. Every year costs go up, townships and school administrations get less enthusiastic, procedural work mounts, the weather grows wilder, and the boom of automatic growth in youth cycling continues to fade.

It’s hard to remain hyper excited about your event when looking at heavy cash losses year after year, months of grueling stress, and days of frantically pulling together just enough marshals to prevent chaos. Of course awards and podiums get dropped as a forgotten afterthought and unnecessary expense. Other things fall by the wayside too, some of them more critical to actual event conduct: On the one hand it’s great that our racers are understanding that the majority of our road races at this point don’t have wheel vans behind most of the fields because its so difficult to come up with vehicles and drivers, especially for so many fields. On the other hand that’s really unfortunate for the quality of our events, and it’s sad that the expectation no longer exists.

Ernie Lehman (PSU) discovers that not all race day crises are covered in the ECCC Promoters' Guide.  Photo by Tianle Chen.
Ernie Lehman (PSU) discovers that not all race day crises are covered in the ECCC Promoters’ Guide. Photo by Tianle Chen.

Do It For Love

We can do something about all of that. We have to do something about all of that. Addressing the existential challenges to grassroots competitive cycling in general and collegiate racing in particular is the entire purpose of our multi-year ECCC 2015: Go Big or Go Home initiative. Along the way we’ll manifoldly expand our capabilities. We do that by thoroughly reworking the whole model and mechanisms of race promotion to make our races more sustainable; to grow our events bigger and more dramatic; to empower our development of beginner, women’s, and elite cycling.

Some of the specific ways we’re working toward those ends include:

  • Fundamentally shifting the financial model and risks of race promotion from single clubs and individuals to a community cooperative, with everyone collectively shouldering the costs and liabilities of the events we all enjoy and from which we derive so much.
  • Similarly expanding the peoplepower responsibility for race production from single clubs and individuals to the community, fostering and mechanically enabling coalitions of host teams and an espirit de corps in which the entire community contributes critical human resources.
  • Aggressively developing and training on new best practices and systematized procedures to reduce workload and improve product, such as simpler approaches to coordinating marshals.
  • Building a conference backbone of professional staff, ensuring quality events and continuity while guiding and developing student leadership and mitigating unsustainable volunteer tasking.

All of that is extremely lofty, ambitious, and an awful lot of work, but it’s also feasible and necessary. The factors behind a decline in podiums and trophies are all the same factors challenging the overall sustainability and growth of our events and the conference as a whole. If we can address them we’ll put ourselves on a totally different path to a much more upbeat, manageable, exciting future.

As a byproduct, maybe there’ll be more horses and cubes down that road…

Make it happen. PennState sweeps the 2013 conference championship criterium, weekend, and Men's A individual season omnium on their own frat row. Photo by Joe Kopena.
Make it happen. PennState sweeps the 2013 conference championship criterium, weekend, and Men’s A individual season omnium on their own frat row. Photo by Joe Kopena.

Headline photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Women’s Meeting, Gender Identity Policy Study

Alongside its exciting, high speed course through frat row, this week’s Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord will feature an important ECCC event on women’s cycling, and the next step in an ongoing project on gender identity policies in collegiate sports.

Women’s Meeting

At the start of Saturday’s criterium, right after the first Men’s D race begins, all of the conference’s women cyclists are invited to meet by Turn 2 of the course, at Main St and Clement Rd/Maynard St:

ECCC Women’s Meeting
Saturday, April 12, 2014
10am (start of the criterium, after the ITT)
Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord Campus Criterium
Turn 2: Main St & Clement Rd/Maynard St
Hanover, NH

There is two hour block in the schedule at that point without women’s races, yielding plenty of time to meet. The hope is to have a free ranging discussion among all of the conference’s women, collecting input and generating ideas on multiple fronts, including:

  • General feedback, e.g., on the new Women’s D category;
  • Ideas for riders, teams, and the conference to recruit and retain more women cyclists;
  • Empowering women to better push back on negative culture, and approaches to combatting latent sexism and actual harassment.

As a concrete example of the latter, the conference is currently planning for 2015 to require all teams to have a designated contact go through the US Olympic Committee’s SafeSport program, much as USA Cycling officials do currently. However, all observations on existing issues and ideas for future progress in women’s cycling are welcome, needed, and fair game to discuss in this meeting. The intent is to gather wide-ranging input and proposals  in order to determine priorities and develop new plans.

Announcements will be made about alternative plans for the meeting in case of inclement weather.

Betsey Pettit (UNH) in the 2013 Women's A/B Rutgers circuit race.  Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
Betsey Pettit (UNH) in the 2013 Women’s A/B Rutgers circuit race. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Transgender Policy Study

In addition, this Saturday the ECCC is going to be visited by Kristine Newhall from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, a prominent researcher on gender and inequality in sport. Dr Newhall is well known as a contributor to the Title IX Blog as well as TED Talks on that subject. She is currently beginning a study of gender identity and inclusion policies in collegiate sports outside the NCAA, and is looking at the ECCC as one example.

To that end, Dr Newhall wishes to interview current ECCC riders, coaches, and officials. She has already talked with a number of people at the MIT X-Pot criterium, and will be at the Dartmouth crit as well as possibly the RISD/Brown/PC Eastern Conference Championships to do the same. In addition, she is interested in potentially traveling to nearby teams to meet and conduct interviews outside of race weekends. The official recruitment letter for this study is as follows:

Dear ECCC riders and officials,

I am a lecturer in the McCormack Department of Sport Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Currently, I am engaged in research about the creation and implementation of gender identity policies in non-NCAA collegiate sports using the ECCC as a case study. I am looking for potential interviewees who would be willing to discuss their opinions on the new gender identity policy implemented by the ECCC this year. In order to participate you must be currently participating in ECCC events as either an athlete or administrator and of legal age to consent (18).

Interviews would likely last one hour or less and will be arranged at a mutually convenient time and location. Interviews will be recorded but only I will have access to them. You will not be identified by name in any publications or presentations which result from this research.

If you agree to participate, I will contact you to arrange a meeting place at which time you will receive a detailed consent form that further outlines this research. In the meantime, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for taking the time to consider participation in this research.

Sincerely,
Kristine Newhall, PhD
knewhall@isenberg.umass.edu
McCormack Department of Sport Management
Isenberg School of Management
University of Massachusetts Amherst

By participating in this study, the conference hopes to both learn more about itself as well as push its open, inclusive worldview to other sports and cultures. Anyone specifically interested in talking with Dr Newhall about the ECCC’s new gender identity and inclusion policies should feel free to email her in advance, or find Joe Kopena or Ian Sullivan this Saturday to be pointed in her direction.

Headline photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Black Inc Wheels Support

blackinc-logoThe Eastern Conference is happy to announce new support from Black Inc wheels, offering discounts to ECCC teams and neutral support at the upcoming races in the 2014 road season.

History

Black Inc is a carbon wheels manufacturer led by a former ECCC racer from McGill Cycling, now working with a premiere carbon fiber producer in Taiwan. Its wheels have been tested and raced by UCI continental and pro tour teams for the past three years, both marked and unmarked. They also have a close partnership with Factor Bikes, creator of the Aston Martin One-77 and the well reviewed Vis Vires.

Black Inc’s product range currently includes 35mm and 50mm deep wheels, in tubular and clincher form to suit those riders looking for knockdown drag-‘em-out race day performance as well as the more practically minded. A variety of hub options are available, from the industry standard DT Swiss 240S laced to DT Aerolite spokes to the upcoming proprietary Black Inc hubs made from Ceramic Speed bearings. The Black Inc 30 tubular rear wheel weights a mere 30 grams more than the Lightweight Meilenstein full carbon “wunderwheel,” while employing a more aerodynamic profile, traditional spokes, and retailing for $3,400 LESS per set.

Giving Back

In the spirit of giving back to the community that shaped its founder as a rider, racer, and person, Black Inc is offering student friendly pricing to every ECCC team. The program is designed to get cash-strapped academics riding and racing on top-notch equipment, at prices they can afford. Interested riders and teams should check out biwheels.com and contact Ben Adler, another McGill Cycling and ECCC alumnus, and now North American agent for Black Inc.

Beginning this past weekend at the MIT X-Pot, Black Inc will also be at ECCC road events throughout April, showing off their full range of high quality carbon fiber wheels as well as providing neutral mechanical support to all ECCC riders.  Look for the black tent by parking or staging and swing by to chat up an exciting new range of cycling products, or simply to get some help with your bicycle!

Road 2014: Week 1, Stevens Duck Country Apocalypse

The Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference kicked off 2014 racing this past weekend with the Stevens Institute Duck Country Apocalypse, featuring a Team Time Trial, Road Race, and Circuit Race in northern New Jersey’s Watchung Reservation. With snow on the ground but sunshine and comparatively warm temperatures, many racers made their first outdoors bicycle foray in weeks and were shocked to be reminded what it means to go uphill.

Columbia University and Pennsylvania State University teams took first honors, with their women and men respectively pipping the MIT machine for the first team time trial victories of the year.

Erik Levinsohn (Yale) crushed the Men’s A road race with a solo breakaway from the start to claim the win. On the women’s side, Lenore Pipes (Cornell), Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) and Shaena Berlin (MIT) eventually broke from the pack and rode to a final sprint in that order in the Women’s A road race.

Erik Levinsohn (Yale) wins the Men's A road race.
Erik Levinsohn (Yale) wins the Men’s A road race.

Sunday’s circuit race was a frenetic affair, featuring a short course with a very narrow high speed double chicane, and sprint primes knocking the lap times down almost 20% in the upper categories each time the bell went off. Late in the Women’s A race, Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) and Lenore Pipes (Cornell) eventually broke from the field and rode together to a sprint in that order. However, before that split Shaena Berlin (MIT) was able to take enough prime placings to claim the green jersey as the inial 2014 sprint points leader, in addition to 3rd place on the podium.

In the Men’s A race, Zach Ulissi (MIT) had barely let the other racers warm up before attacking and going on an ~25 mile solo time trial for the victory, along the way claiming the top spot in all but one prime and ensuring MIT took home both green jerseys.

With a victory, second place, and sprint points, Lenore Pipes (Cornell) just barely edged out Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) for the initial women’s season omnium yellow jersey. Coming down from the frozen north, Etienne Moreau (Queen’s) took the field sprints for 2nd place both days, taking the men’s season omnium yellow jersey to Ontario for the first time. Queen’s University just missed being the first Canadian team to win an ECCC weekend, finishing a mere 4 points short against MIT.

Full results are available from the ECCC calendar.

2014 MIT power couple Zachary Ulissi and Shaena Berlin.
2014 MIT power couple Zachary Ulissi and Shaena Berlin.

Everybody Races: Diversity in the ECCC

Heading into the 2014 road season, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference is excited to announce formal diversity and transgender rider policies. These statements render in words the positive, all-inclusive culture of the ECCC, and cement that progressive attitude as a foundation of the conference.

Policy

The diversity statement firmly establishes in writing that all riders are welcome in the ECCC:

It is the goal of the ECCC to conduct and maintain a collegiate cycling community that is free of harassment and discrimination in an effort to promote an environment of respect that will be extended into the broader cycling community as well.

The ECCC recognizes and affirms the equal humanity and identities of all people, without regard to their various characteristics including, but not limited to: Race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, perceived gender identity, religion, or other immutable characteristics. All people are welcome and are to be equally included in all ECCC events. All conference participants, including but not limited to racers, coaches, spectators, officials, and conference personnel, are expected and required to abide by this policy.

Any actions contrary to those beliefs should be reported immediately to conference personnel and will be treated as a serious offense to the community. Potential redress includes but is not limited to points penalties, suspension of riders and teams, and notifying school administrations and/or police.

The ECCC has now also established policy for transgender riders and competition categories:

The ECCC particularly recognizes the challenges facing transgender athletes. Such members of the community should compete in the gender category most appropriate to their unique personal situation. They are invited and encouraged to discuss this with the Conference Director(s) and other ECCC leadership.

Competitors may be asked by the Conference Director(s) and/or their designee(s) to furnish two pieces of documentation from relevant legal, medical, or academic authorities documenting personal sex, gender, or gender dysphoria supporting their selected competition gender category.

This policy is unique and innovative in providing maximal leeway and privacy for transgender athletes, while also having a formal, objective basis upon which to make category determinations. It is specifically designed to account for ECCC demographics and objectives and incorporates modern research.

Motivation

Eastern Conference director Joe Kopena specifically emphasizes that these policies are not reactions to incidents in the ECCC: “The original motivation was actually watching riders and couples racing and at our Kingdom Trails summer camp. It doesn’t occur to anybody in our community that, say, other people might find it awkward traveling with a gay couple. That’s really great, and that positive, live-and-let-live attitude is an ideal I want enshrined in stone as the conference goes on and the leadership changes.”

Meanwhile, Western Conference assistant director and collegiate cycling socialite Virginia Solomon says “Tolerance and equality are still issues in many regions, for collegiate cycling and otherwise, and making statements like these and explicitly advocating for them is still important.”  Eastern Conference assistant director Ian Sullivan adds “It was only in the 2004 road season that the ECCC equalized women’s and men’s points, which eventually became the national standard. There are people still around who raced before that, this isn’t some ancient principle.  There are parts of the country where it’s apparently still very controversial that women racers score the same points as their male peers.”

By placing these formal statements at the forefront of the in-progress updated, comprehensive ECCC policy manual, the conference leadership hopes to ensure that tradition of progressivism and commitment to providing a high quality experience for everyone remains at the heart of the ECCC, and continues to be adopted as the guiding mantra of other conferences and cycling organizations.

The 2013 squad for Yale Cycling, a traditional ECCC women's cycling powerhouse and diversity advocate. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
The 2013 squad for Yale Cycling, a traditional ECCC women’s cycling powerhouse and diversity advocate. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Transgender Riders

In developing that general diversity policy, it quickly became clear that transgender riders warranted particular attention. As society becomes ever more tolerant and inclusive, the conference must ensure it is supporting all its constituents and addressing particular issues to keep pace, and further to help drive that progress. Assistant director Caitlin Thompson observed “In the high school where I teach, as society opens up and these concepts are out there more prominently, we are definitely seeing more kids feeling free and safe to take on non-traditional gender identities, and to rightfully expect that to not have a negative impact on their daily lives. The conference should support them as they enter college and start racing bikes, just as it does everybody else.” That observation was born out after the conference leadership announced it was working in this area and wanted to explicitly welcome transgender riders, as several such members came forward to note that they are already present in the community.

Beyond being an unsettled, evolving topic across sports in general, there are a number of issues unique to collegiate sports regarding transgender athletes. Notably, collegiate cycling and other sports are directly based on a young demographic, one explicitly engaged in exploring the world and self-identity as its members make the transition into adulthood and becoming independent members of society. Many transgender collegiate athletes will have just begun adopting those determinations of their own gender and identity. These athletes will not be at the point yet of proceeding with alterations to their physiology, even if they have the resources with which to do so. Those that are embarking on a physical change will often be in early stages, without the biological record or time passed to comply with the standards of many sporting organizations. Even matters such as updating government identification can be challenging for students juggling and transitioning between living at home and residence at school, often quite removed and in different states.

Regarding the biological standards of many organizations, the ECCC leadership advocate a sense of perspective. Amateur, grassroots, development focused racing such as that in the conference need not, and most likely should not, hold its participants to standards that might make sense in other contexts, such as professional, Olympic, or other elite competition. Former ECCC superstar and USA Cycling Collegiate trustee Emma Bast says “Society being what it is, life is already probably going to be challenging for transgender athletes. While it might make sense at some levels of competition to have rigorous physiological standards, at others the default should be to enable them to just race bikes in whatever way is best for them, and to make sure they have the same good experience as everyone else. Hopefully other organizations look at these ECCC policies as exemplars of that attitude.”

Notably, the conference has received a generally positive attitude to change in this area from USA Cycling. Previous national policy was for riders to compete in the gender category given on their state ID. There are reasonable cases in which a member might not be able to meet that standard, and indeed the ECCC has a rider in such a situation and willing to press the issue. In response, USA Cycling has apparently moved to a more flexible case-by-case basis. Kopena reports “Several people on our team working on this were ready for a huge battle to make progress, but talking with USAC’s legal and other personnel they were very receptive and are making changes. We hope to still help push them to a more objective, transparent policy, but also acknowledge that they have many more issues to address given that they do encompass all levels of racing. It’ll necessarily take time to educate the community, determine consensus, and evolve better policy.”

The ECCC leadership hopes that the community then in turn not hold too strongly to assumed knowledge and knee jerk reactions. Solomon notes “There’s a lot of ‘conventional wisdom’ out there about trans-females having a prolonged advantage from having developed as a male, trans-males getting an unfair boost from testosterone treatments, and so on, that isn’t being born out by current medical research. Physiology is complex, and ideas on gender and identity are often new and difficult for many people to understand at first, so I encourage everyone step back a bit before deciding on some response to the topic, and to come at it with the attitude of letting people live their lives as they wish.”

Ready for Action

With these policies the Eastern conference continues to advance its mission of high quality bicycle racing and personal development for all high school and college students. It has always been doctrine of the ECCC that everybody deserves the best possible racing experience. In the past that meant ensuring equally good events for men and women, then beginners and elites, and these statements continue that thread. Everybody deserves a high quality racing experience, and the ECCC is making that happen.

It takes all kinds. The UVM team struttin', Dartmouth Frat Row Crit 2013.
It takes all kinds. The UVM team struttin’, Dartmouth Frat Row Crit 2013.

Headline photo above by Jan Valerie Polk.

2014 Road Season Arrives!

After a long, hard winter, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference 2014 Road Season has finally arrived! There’s a lot going on this season, so here’s a quick recap of what to look forward to.

2014 Road

On deck are 8 full weekends of collegiate racing, featuring:

March 8/9 Stevens Duck Country Classic Mountainside, NJ
March 15/16 Philly Phlyer Philadelphia, PA
March 22/23 Bard Campus Criterium and RPI Uncle Sam Road Race Annandale-on-Hudson and Pittstown, NY
March 29/30 MIT X-Pot Sutton, MA
April 5/6 US Military Academy Spring Classic West Point, NY
April 12/13 Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord and UVM Mt Philo Road Race Hanover, NH and Charlotte, VT
April 19/20 PennState Nittany Cycling Classic State College, PA
April 26/27 RISD/Brown/Providence Eastern Conference Championships Providence, RI

Racing kicks off this weekend with the season-opening Stevens Duck Country Apocalypse. For the first time in 15 years, if not ever, the opening event will be a team time trial, with five more to follow throughout the season. Stevens will follow that up with both a road and circuit race for an uncommonly high-mileage season opening weekend.

Immediately after that is the now-classic Philly Phlyer, now in its 9th year and featuring its gorgeous riverside TTT, circuit race, and Temple University campus criterium. The Bard campus criterium then returns for its 2nd year, now paired up with a brand new RPI TTT and road race.  MIT will then wrap up March with its challenging X-Pot weekend, featuring the insanely hilly GLV Purgatory road race.

April will kick off with the USMA Spring Classic, once again headlined by the majestic Harriman road race. Dartmouth follows that up with its frenetic Frat Row criterium, paired up this year with UVM and its newly restored Mt Philo road race, featuring a brutal finishing climb. Penn State will echo that action in the south, with its Nittany weekend including both the technical, spectator-friendly Frat Row crit, and the mountainous Black Moshannon road race.

Finally, the season will conclude with the Eastern Championship weekend, hosted this year by RISD, Brown, and Providence College. With a spectacular debut in 2013, this weekend will again feature a rolling, long road course replete with significant dirt sections, and an amazing, flat, hyper-short downtown Providence criterium to end 2014 road racing on a super exciting note.

Colby Samstag and The Men's A field in the 2013 Columbia criterium. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
Colby Samstag and The Men’s A field in the 2013 Columbia criterium. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Go Big or Go Home

Behind the scenes, the ECCC has embarked on a significant program of raising its operations to a new level. The Road Coordinator role has been expanded, with Alan Atwood working closely with all the promoters to ensure even higher quality events as well as helping to control the ever rising costs of bicycle race promotion. Forrest Parsons, recent UVM alumni, will also be following up on his performance as part of the season-long officiating crew in the 2013 MTB season by overseeing all registration throughout the 2014 road schedule. Though mostly invisible to racers, these and other changes are taking the conference to a new level of consistency and stellar execution as part of a multi-year agenda to push one of the best race series in the country even farther ahead of the field.

Women

Another development for 2014 is the exciting addition of a Women’s D category. Roughly half the season will feature 4 fields of women’s racing, from the pros and experts in Women’s A to the beginners in Women’s D and Intro. The remaining smaller weekends will fold Women’s C and D into the same field on course. This makes each ECCC race one of extremely few events to feature category parity between men’s and women’s racing.

The conference is of course also continuing its very successful Women’s Intro program, featuring off course clinics and its innovative coached format in every race. This category continues to be open to all new women’s racers, not just collegiate racers, with many women coming out over the past few years for their first foray into competitive cycling.

Laura Ralston and Shaena Berlin TTT away from the field in the 2013 Providence crit. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
Laura Ralston and Shaena Berlin TTT away from the field in the 2013 Providence crit. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Juniors

Last but by no means least, in 2014 the ECCC is also expanding its fields to encompass all high school juniors. Many young riders from organized high school clubs have participated in the ECCC over the past several years, with great success. This year the conference’s full schedule of great racing is open to all high school age juniors, irrespective of having a formal club at their school. Excitement and interest are high, and many racers are expected to come out over the season for what is now one of the largest, highest quality juniors series in the nation, presenting excellent racing opportunities for young riders at all levels of ability and experience.

Racers to the Line!

With these and many other developments rolling out, the 2014 season is expected to take Eastern Conference racing to all new levels. With a large number of TTTs, challenging road races, and dramatic downtown criteriums on the docket, there is plenty of miles and exciting racing ahead for all our riders!

The full season schedule and nearly all race flyers are already available on the ECCC calendar. Pre-registration for all events is on BikeReg. Much general information is available on the ECCC website, and feel free to contact Road Coordinator Alan Atwood or Conference Director Joe Kopena with questions.

See you out there!

PennState riders Wes Kline, Wyatt Stoup, and Jeremy Shirock, after claiming the 2013 yellow jersey (season omnium winner), the championship criterium, and the championship weekend at the home race in State College, PA.
PennState riders Wes Kline, Wyatt Stoup, and Jeremy Shirock, after claiming the 2013 yellow jersey (season omnium winner), the championship criterium, and the championship weekend at the home race in State College, PA.

Headline photo above by Tianle Chen.

2014 Swag Ready to Roll

With the winter pressing on, the ECCC is here to deliver new motivation! Despite the snow storms, convoys of UPS trucks have been steadily making their way to conference headquarters with new goodies for the imminent 2014 season.

2014 Season T-Shirts

In a shocking display of the conference leadership having its act together, 2014 season t-shirts are already here instead of arriving minutes before departure for the final Easterns weekend. A variety of sizes are available in each of blue, orange, lime green, lemon, pink, and chocolate, seen in the feature photo above and ensemble below. T-shirts will be $10 (cash only), and available on-site at races as supplies last.  Shirt sales will begin by registration at Stevens after the conclusion of the first wave of the season-opening TTT, once the horde of racers has worked its way through bib number pick-up. About 265 season tees are available—first-come, first-served & when they’re gone they’re gone!

2014 season t-shirts front and back.
2014 season t-shirts front and back.

Travel Bags

New for this year, a limited number of ECCC small sport bags are also available. Vinyl and easily rinsed out or washed, these are ideal low-cost bags for shoes, helmets, dirty kits, and other items that should probably be kept segregated from the rest of your clothes lest the funk permanently transfer. About 36 bags are available among red, blue, & black  and will be sold on-site for $10 as supplies last.

ECCC small vinyl sport bags.
ECCC small vinyl sport bags.

Media T-Shirts

Of course, the other way to acquire a t-shirt—and the only way to get a red t-shirt this year—is to contribute to the ECCC Blogosphere! Media t-shirts exclusive to authors and photographers are in, and they are definitely going to stand out at every race. Get involved today!

ECCC Media exclusive t-shirts.
ECCC Media exclusive t-shirts.

Verge Bib Numbers

Even for those that miss out on this year’s t-shirts, every ECCC racer is going to receive a hot new piece of swag to hang on their walls: New cloth season bib numbers, graciously and speedily donated by Verge Sport. Seen in the photo below, they’re visually striking, ultra long lasting, and definitely have that super-pro feeling, regardless of category. All ECCC riders with annual licenses will receive a pair of these at their first race, to use throughout the season and then place forever in their personal shrine to cycling glory.

Cloth season bib numbers, courtesy Verge Sport. From left to right, top to bottom: Men's D, C, B, A; Women's D, C, B, A.
Cloth season bib numbers, courtesy Verge Sport. From left to right, top to bottom: Men’s D, C, B, A; Women’s D, C, B, A.

Hincapie Leader Jerseys

Finally, last but no means least, is the most exclusive piece of ECCC gear: The series leaders’ jerseys. As they have for over a decade, each Women’s A and Men’s A rider to top the season overall and sprint points standings will receive their own leader’s jersey generously provided by Hincapie Sportswear. Many people might say a diploma is the absolute best thing to hang on your wall and show you did something with your college years, but they’re actually wrong. It’s one of these sweet babies, firmly declaring your position among the most elite riders in this region and the country.

Yellow season overall and green sprint points leaders' jerseys.
Yellow season overall and green sprint points leaders’ jerseys.

Less than three weeks till go-time, get on it!

Writers, Photographers, Show Your Stuff!

For 2014 the Eastern Conference is relaunching and rejuvenating the ECCC Blogosphere, which you happen to be reading right this moment! We’re looking for all the writers and photographers out there to join our team producing content for this and all the ECCC‘s media efforts. If you’d like to practice your skills, contribute to the ECCC, become a conference celebrity, and do a lot of talking about cycling, you should contact us and get involved right away!

Outreach

Previously the ECCC has maintained the ECCC News Network and ECCC Blogosphere websites. The News Network carried official conference announcements and race reports. The Blogosphere started as a linkroll pointing to other blogs and then morphed to be a blog of its own with various writers contributing. At its height the Blogosphere had an amazing portion of the conference’s racers reading regularly, as well as a large number of family and friends. Major articles on both sites continue to get a significant number of readers, long after they were posted.

This year we’re merging the News Network into the Blogosphere. Major official conference announcements and calls are going to be made via featured articles here, and several have already gone up. In addition, all writers are invited to contribute articles and posts on a wide range of topics. Any writing related to cycling and the conference is welcome and eagerly desired. Hoped-for categories include Bike Tech, Interviews, Training/Fitness, personal Race Reports, and Storytime—more general musings and observations. Any kind of writing about cycling and racing is welcome and will find here an eager audience of the entire ECCC.

As a particular class of post, we also need a crew of authors to write short weekend recaps after each event. Alumni, family, and friends at home do read and appreciate those as a way for them to follow along with Eastern Conference action throughout the season. Just one or two paragraphs goes a long way to keeping everybody linked into the scene. Those weekend race recaps are also needed and easily reused for the weekly updates on the USA Cycling Collegiate homepage, gathering an even broader audience and putting the conference and our riders in front of yet more people.

To make all of that sing, we’re also looking for photographers to contribute. Road racing especially requires particular equipment, practice, and effort to get great photographs. Those photos though are absolutely necessary to truly capture the excitement and drama of ECCC racing. High resolution, high quality photographs are also critical to maximizing the impact and success of the ECCC’s major outreach projects, including the main website, Facebook ad campaigns, and other upcoming projects.

Contribute!

Contributing as a writer or a photographer is a great way to practice both crafts. They’re also excellent ways to meet new people and make friends throughout the conference. Absolutely no one is as popular on the circuit as our regular photographers and writers. This is also an easy way to make a significant contribution back to the conference and keep it and all its projects moving forward.

Sweetening the deal even more, we’re offering exclusive ECCC MEDIA t-shirts, seen in the artwork proof above, to anybody who regularly contributes writings and photos. There will be absolutely no better way to stand out and be a known personality at all the upcoming races than to be sporting one of these.

The 2014 Road season is coming up fast and we’d all like to hear about your training, advice, new gear, and other thoughts, so all the writers and photographers out there should contact us to get set up with a Blogosphere account and start getting your voice heard!