Loch Miwa “took office” as the President of the Illinois Cycling Association this February. Miwa was a very popular choice, because the Illinois bike racing community has seen him officiating an impressive number of races, always adroit and even tempered. (For those of you who may not race, the Illinois Cycling Association is the Local Association for USA Cycling (USAC), the country’s largest bike racing governing body.)
Mr. Miwa was happy to answer a few questions in this return to The Chainlink’s Pro’s Corner!
1. How are you involved in the sport of cycling right now and how did you get to this point?
I am an occasional racer, a race official, a motoref, and the current president of the Illinois Cycling Association (ICA). I started racing about 12 years ago, ultimately specializing in time trials. I took the introductory officials class a few years ago, added my motoref license, and have worked a number of races locally, regionally, and nationally since then. As an official, I got involved with the ICA meetings and committees and then was asked to consider running for ICA president this past year.
2) How does your organization directly benefit cyclists?
The ICA is the local association of USA Cycling in Illinois. We issue permits for races, assign officials to them, and review rider upgrade requests. We also sponsor the Illinois Cup, which is a series of selected Illinois races that award points towards an overall winner. In addition, the ICA provides support for training and infrastructure initiatives that more indirectly benefit Illinois cyclists.
3) What are your favorite types of races?
Track racing at the velodromes and cyclocross are probably the most spectator friendly. Road races are the most fun to work as a motoref, but there's nothing like the anticipation of seeing who will come around the last corner of a criterium in that furious sprint for the line. Of course, the least spectator friendly event - the time trial - is what I actually enjoy racing. It's that mental discipline of "rider against the clock" that I find most challenging.
4) What is the best part of being an official?
Getting to know all the riders - without having to try to beat them! The goal of all officials is to put on a well run, safe race, and we may sometimes come across as somewhat preoccupied on race day. But it really is hard to restrain ourselves from cheering for the many riders we know. It's very nice to be able to go to races and be "just a spectator". We can then yell for/at everybody!
5) How do you think the cycling community has changed in the last year or two?
One of the most noticeable things is the huge growth in cyclocross. So many people have found that no matter what their level of skill, they can have a great time racing cyclocross. The good news is that that popularity has started to transfer to increases in other cycling disciplines once they've been bitten by the racing bug.
6) What do you want to accomplish with your time as ICA President?
Bicycle racing in Illinois is already at an extremely high level. We have many very skilled riders, we have very well trained officials, and we have excellent racing venues. So our work is now more refinement than reconstruction. We would like to put in place the infrastructure so that all races in Illinois are "national caliber" events. It is a process that has been going on for some years now and that is what we want to continue to build upon.
7. Oh, and Why did you decide to start officiating?
Funny thing - I have no idea!!! For the life of me, I can't remember why I took my Cat C official's class. The one thing I do remember is working my first few races and being REALLY glad that I did become an official.
For more on what the Illinios Cycling association is up to check them out at illinoiscycling.org and their twitter feed: twitter.com/#!/ilcycling.