Every bicycle race has its characters, either in the field, or more often on the side of the road running alongside the peloton (especially on a mountain climb) cheering the riders.

In Utah, we’re no different. Our character is Cris “Sly” Fox, also known in some circles as Slyfox Moonwillow, who has established himself as the cyclocross super-fan, providing the Ghillie cash zone at most of the local CX races over the past few years … blasting techno and handing out dollar bills with the occasional larger denomination bills slipping in; most of the time, you’ll only grab a dollar as you roll past, but every once in awhile, a $20, $50 or even $100 has slipped into the cash zone.

On occasion, Sly has made appearances at road races, as shown in the image below, from the Prologue time trial at this year’s Tour of Utah. Nobody really expected any cash to be grabbed during the time trial, but it was an announcement of sorts that the cash zone would be out at this years Tour.

Ghillie Cash Zone

Ghillie Cash Zone, image copyright © 2010 VeloImages

Unfortunately, at the first appearance of the Ghillie cash zone roadside on Big Mountain during the Ogden to Salt Lake City stage, the USA Officials threw a hissy fit and are threatening to relegate or disqualify any riders who grab cash for taking an unauthorized “feed”.

3B9. Feeding. The passing of food or refreshments to competitors shall be at the discretion of the Chief Referee. Riders may not discard materials that are not biodegradable; they may pass or throw such material to support personnel in places far from any bystanders [relegation or disqualification for littering or unauthorized feeding].

Now, as a USA Cycling official (albeit with a currently lapsed license), I understand the need for rules, and also understand that there is enough leeway built into the rules that the officials can choose to recognize that a cash hand-up is NOT a feed, and thus not make a big deal out of it.

Think about it … during the Tour de France and other major European stage races, there are spectators and fans on the side of the road with bottles of water, and riders grab those bottles all the time without fear of relegation or disqualification. Typically those bottles of water aren’t drunk (since the water could be doctored), but are just used to dump over riders heads/jerseys to cool off.

Everyone recognizes that the fans are showing their support for riders, and not trying to affect the outcome of the race; and a cash hand-up is the same thing.

But, unfortunately, the USA Cycling officials in Utah continue to prove that it’s all about them and asserting their control over all aspects of the race … I know some of these officials; and when not working a race, they’re nice people; but I have to tell you, when you’re working, your “official” personality really sucks.

It’s about the riders and it’s about the spectators … it’s not about sucking all the fun out of a race for everyone.