Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Norba and....not Norba

A little catch up...
Last year the promoters of St. Louis Mountain Bike racing scene met and determined that an alternative source for insurance be found. Bobby of the DRJ has been running the NORBA sanctioned series and was looking to hand over the reigns in order to see a true state wide series where all the riders in MO compete in a multi race series. Midwest Fat tire (MWFT) was an excellent choice for the group. MWFT is what one might refer to as one of the "franchises" of the states mountain bike race organizations--one of the three or four organized bodies that provide a consolidated series or multiple races combined into a series statewide or region wide.

MWFT has been promoting awesome races for quite some time and I have always enjoyed competing against new faces when traveling outside of St. Louis, which (in the St. Louis region) has been primarily NORBA sanctioned. Because of the insurance issue, the St. Louis group elected to go with MWFT in 2009, merge efforts, in order to take advantage of what some consider to be a better alternative for liability, thereby building a cohesive racing body with better attendance. What has been the NORBA sanctioned series in St. Louis is now folded into the MWFT group forming an actual statewide series, non-NORBA, non-USA Cycling and consequently leaving the state without a USA Cycling Mountain Bike State Championship. In addition, virtually all NORBA licensed riders are now not licensed (because there is no need). So call me sentimental.

NORBA is part of USA Cycling and sanctions events and programs which include the reporting of earned points for national qualifiers, junior development programs, rider insurance, lots of other things as it relates to the sport. Riders have to be licensed in order to compete in a NORBA event, not the case with the MWFT folks. Licensing requires more out of pocket for the racers, that which helps support USA Cycling, the programs, all the stuff. Let's face it, Mountain biking is a bit of a different bird, loose knit in the upgrading and downgrading, leaving most of the rule making up to the promoters in regard to combining fields at races and managing categories. We need some flexibility and we are a square peg fitting into a round hole in regard to the insurance. Because we don't get the numbers that road races often get.

USA Cycling has a problem; they have not been too helpful dealing with the insurance issue--the fact that an additional 500 bucks is required for the additional coverage necessary to comply with park standards in MO is a tall order. We have been asking for help, not a thing has been done to provide us with solutions. Not until MOBRA just stepped up and agreed to cover the 500 bucks necessary to have this years Missouri State Mountain Bike Championship Race. Otherwise, we wouldn't have it.

I am getting a little bit of feedback on this, nothing too bad but I thought it might be helpful to outline the purpose of MOBRA, the local organizing party for the advancement of cycling in our region. I feel strongly that they made the right decision to help out the promoter in order to have the race, which will be announced soon. I don't see anything that excludes helping out promoters who would like to put on a USA Cycling event but need the help of the local organizing committee to send a message to USA Cycling that it is now necessary to subsidize the races from licensing funds rather than expect promoters to pay for the insurance. MOBRA gets its income from a portion of licensed USA Cycling Members, of which some pay dual for both NORBA and Road Racing. Just a review from the site:

The corporation is formed for the following purposes:
1. To conduct, coordinate, promote and seek the advancement of amateur bicycle racing in Missouri.
2. To create programs to assist riders in the development of their competitive skills and to ensure safe competition.
3. Be organized to provide fair representation, directly or by affiliation, for all individuals and organizations that participate in
the sport.
4. Coordinate an organized and balanced race calendar with minimal overlap of events.
5. To foster effective communication between racers, clubs, race promoters, USA Cycling, Inc. (USAC) and the public.
6. And all other legal powers permitted a Nonprofit Corporation.

This is not Road Race specific.

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