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Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Readers comment on the UCI

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Jun. 29, 2011

Dear Lennard,
I don’t know if you’re familiar with women’s cycling on the East Coast. There is a racer in the Northeast by the name of Kerry Litka who stands about 4-foot-10 who writes on her blogs occasionally about her travails with the UCI rules. She has a nice blog about her experience at Fitchburg last summer.
You might enjoy reading about the troubles the UCI rule is imposing on women racers.
— Dan

Dear Lennard,

UCI Commissaire Randy Shafer, right, with a Quick Step team mechanic discussing the shifter measurements at Tirreno-Adriatico. Photo: Brad Kaminski © VeloNews

As a tall guy I echo your complaints. As a racer, promoter, and faculty advisor to collegiate cyclists I feel the need to point out that the UCI seems to be worrying about these little details and missing the big ones. Even if a deeper fork blade saves seconds it pales in comparison to the rampant doping that’s out there. It’s hard for me to enjoy watching pro cycling anymore and now the UCI is doing everything it can to keep me from racing. What a bunch of BS.

Stay on their case.
— Adam

Dear Lennard,
I am in full agreement with you against the overreaching of the UCI and their damage to the sport by putting money ahead of sporting interests.

Please keep the articles coming, and I would also be in favor of seeing some sort of petition/ultimatum crafted by those in the press, those in the industry, and from the professional teams and race promoters.

We need to stand up against the UCI as it operates currently.

I am not always opposed to the UCI mandate, but it is most often controversial, and more importantly, as you mention, is immune to outside criticism.

Race radios, domestic racing (U.S. especially), the Olympic Track program, the frame certification program, and the newly unveiled “points” system are all examples where the UCI could have benefited greatly from outside feedback.

Even the Hour Record, which, as soon as the UCI tamped out any technology newer than 1970, lost all of its allure. What used to be a hallmark event is now too obscure to care about. There used to be several top professionals vying for the title at any given time. Now the record is challenged once in a blue moon and is currently held by … who? (No lack of respect for the achievement. Just sayin’)

I’m not a big fan of technology per se. TT bikes are really “out there” in my opinion. But the mandate of the UCI should be one of guidance, not governance. Governance should administered by all of the shareholders, so to speak. The Industry, the Participants, and the Press who can do their part to remind us how this sport is supposed to be.
— Olivier

Dear Lennard,
I agree the UCI is ridiculous. I look at it going even further back. Imagine if instead of banning the recumbent because it was faster, they had allowed progress in the design of the human powered vehicle we call the bike. Although I like riding a standard bike, it was a huge disservice to fix the standard to the early 1900′s. If the UCI had just said it has to be human powered with no energy storage, I think that most of us, and most people living in cities and suburbs, would be riding fast, comfortable, low cost, light weight, fully faired recumbent bikes rather than driving cars. Instead the bicycle is a relic and we all ride at great risk in automobile traffic. The world would be a better place if the UCI never existed.
— Rick

Dear Lennard,
Is it really wrong for the UCI to impose rules regarding bikes? I know this sentiment is unpopular, especially among those who are interested in the equipment side of cycling, but I can’t see what’s wrong with rules governing what cyclists ride. In auto racing there are very strict rules regarding weight, aerodynamics, tire size, fuel used, engine type and size. This still doesn’t make things entirely equal from car to car, but the playing field is a bit more level than it would be otherwise.

Regulating bikes for the hour record gives us a little better idea of the actual athletic performance of riders whose efforts are separated by years (I recall the heated arguments between my friends after Moser’s rides in the eighties). Personally, it doesn’t really bother me that the technology was reigned in, as I like to think of racing and record performances as more of a function of physical strength and conditioning than technology. The thing that I find irritating is changing rules back and forth or variably enforcing the rules (like the praying mantis TT position controversy).
— Mark

Dear Mark,
As you say, a rule is a lot easier to deal with if it is enforced consistently, which has not been the case with bike rules. A moving target is just cause for irritation, as when a rider is told he cannot ride a bike with which he has been passing the UCI checks all season and now suddenly, with no change in rules, it is now declared non-compliant.
— Lennard

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Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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