Three years in, how is the all-new AusCycling performing? Publisher James Yaffa offers his thoughts here.
Amidst a country in a state of flux with numerous controversies raging – the Yes campaign, Dan Andrew’s sensational Commonwealth Games backflip, and SBS’s ‘our way or the highway’ policy so far as their TDF commentary lineup goes, 2023 certainly has been an interesting year to date.
Notwithstanding the cost of living, volatile Australian and World economies, and of course, the ballsy UCI ruling that prohibits transgender athletes who have transitioned after (male) puberty. This started on July 17, just in time for the Tour de France Femmes – the World’s most important women’s race. Good on the UCI for protecting women’s cycling with this ruling!
So, as the year rockets by and the sweet scent of spring is in the air, let’s talk about the role of Aus Cycling in Australia which is about to celebrate its third birthday. This refreshed and rehashed body formed in November 2020 through the amalgamation of state-by-state cycling bodies. In my view, and that of many others, the all-new AusCycling is struggling.
How so? On several critical fronts including, in my opinion, identity, purpose and relevance. AusCycling presents the Australian cycling community with a multi-faceted headache of sorts. Yes, the organisation has around 50,000 members, but are they engaged with the actual nitty-gritty of the sport and are members getting true value? I think not.
Lessons From Other Sports
Last year I wrote that the head of Australian Rugby and the head of AusCycling should get together for a chinwag. Yes, they’re completely different sports, and both have their unique issues and problems. But full credit to Australian Rugby who do seem to be making some progress – off the field that is, sadly not on the field at the time of writing.
AusCycling should be all over participation and members’ interests like a beagle at a busy international airport! The last time I looked, which was very recently, they are a million miles away from fostering and nurturing participation.
As the promoter of a Crit race – the Bowral Classic Criterium on October 20 – you’d think AusCycling would be saying “wonderful work, we want to get involved! How can we help?”
They could offer something as simple as value for the member base or promote the event to their members.
Perhaps they could offer a prize to category winners, and lead by example, encouraging more to participate in our sport. Yes, it’s a race and requires to be sanctioned by AusCycling.
To date, their standard response has been ‘We don’t do that, or no, that does not fit within our guidelines.’
My message to AusCycling is this … get agile or face extinction. The membership model is not easy, media executives know all too well the challenges of retaining consumers with subscriptions and paywalls.
Every rider and event should be seen as critically important to AusCycling, and each member wants to regularly see value or they’ll simply walk (or in this case, ride).
Perhaps it’s a points system, as members do more events or they help secure another member to join Aus Cycling, they’d gain points with the goal of driving more participation.
Sadly, this latest disappointment from the nation’s peak cycling body isn’t new. They missed a trick with the Wollongong World Championships, they were late to the market in pre-promotion, kept mostly to themselves during the event, and post-event we’ve seen nothing.
Sure, AusCycling members get insurance plus discounts from some supporting brands via Member Rewards, but that’s not inspiring people to get out there and ride or race a bike!
Until AusCycling really gets agile, I see more treading water and sub-par progress. Over to you AusCycling, three years in and members want a pro-active organisation, agility and real action.