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Cyclocross

American Cyclo-cross Foundation mails its final check

The American Cyclo-cross Foundation, which debuted in 1999 with the mission of helping unfunded U.S. racers travel to the world cyclo-cross championships, has mailed its last check. ACF board member Patrick O’Grady, a contributing editor to VeloNews, said the final check was sent November 10 to U.S. ’cross guru Geoff Proctor, who will once again be running a pre-world’s cyclo-cross camp in Europe from December 23 through January 4. “Geoff said he knew of a couple potential U.S. team members who wouldn’t be able to attend both his camp and world’s if they didn’t get a little financial aid,

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By VeloNews Interactive

The American Cyclo-cross Foundation, which debuted in 1999 with the mission of helping unfunded U.S. racers travel to the world cyclo-cross championships, has mailed its last check.

ACF board member Patrick O’Grady, a contributing editor to VeloNews, said the final check was sent November 10 to U.S. ’cross guru Geoff Proctor, who will once again be running a pre-world’s cyclo-cross camp in Europe from December 23 through January 4.

“Geoff said he knew of a couple potential U.S. team members who wouldn’t be able to attend both his camp and world’s if they didn’t get a little financial aid, and since he’s actually out there on the front lines we felt it made sense to write the final check to him,” said O’Grady. “We sent more than $12,000 to the unsupported riders on the 2004 world’s team, and this last check cleaned out our account. We’re all done.”

Since cyclo-cross is a non-Olympic sport, it has had a comparatively low priority when USA Cycling allocates funds, and world’s-bound riders traditionally have had to bear many of their own costs of travel and competition. The ACF was created with the goal of easing some of that burden after Tim Johnson and Matt Kelly won America’s first world-championship ’cross medals in Poprad, Slovakia, and plenty of people and organizations lent a hand over the years, O’Grady said.

“The original idea for the ACF came from Danny Callen, who wondered aloud on the newsgroup rec.bicycles.racing why the U.S. team should have to pay its own way to world’s and suggested taking up a collection,” O’Grady said. “The rest, as they say, is history.”

O’Grady opened a PayPal account and a bank account in Colorado, VeloNews colleague Charles Pelkey set up the ACF website, and SuperCup promoter Lyle Fulkerson offered up considerable financial support and legal advice.

The group set about raising funds over the Internet and at the annual U.S. cyclo-cross nationals, during fund-raising auctions run by longtime race announcers Chris Zigmont of Mavic and Richard Fries of The Ride magazine. Other supporters over the years included Mavic, Verge Sport, cyclocrossworld.com, GaleForce’s Rick Sutton, framebuilder and ‘cross fiend Richard Sachs, Chris DiStefano, the late John Pavlat and cyclo-cross fans from coast to coast who contributed in amounts ranging from spare change to serious dough. Some of the riders who received ACF support as a result included Johnson, Alan Obye, Emily Thorne, Gina Hall, Todd Wells, Marc Gullickson and Jonathan Page.

But the ad hoc bunch never really got itself organized properly – “We never even got it together to arrange for non-profit status, which would have made us more attractive to potential donors,” noted O’Grady – and after five years of predictably chaotic operations, what had begun as a labor of love was beginning to look more like, well, labor.

So, after some discussion, the three board members – O’Grady, Pelkey and Zigmont – decided to send the ACF’s final check to Proctor and then pull the plug.

“The other board members, Charles and Chris, both have families and serious full-time jobs, and I’m just a free-lance rumormonger with all the financial acumen of a bag full of hammers,” said O’Grady. “The best anyone can say about me as a fund-raiser is that I’m too lazy to steal. There’s bound to be a smarter, better-organized group of people out there, and it’s time they got busy.”

For information about Geoff Proctor’s annual cyclo-cross camp in Europe, drop him a line at CrossSportif@aol.com.