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No cameras allowed on race run @ Sol Vista MTB nationals

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7/20/2010 8:56 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:19 AM

my name is Ryan Sholes. i attended the sol vista race this past weekend. i came across the main official there named Tod Manning. here is the story / letter i wrote to USA Cycling. maybe post it for discussion or not, just want to get it out there and say i tried.

Hello Mr. Peterson,

My name is Ryan Sholes and I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 2010 MTB nation championship race at Sol Vista this past weekend. This was a very memorable experience. I had a lot of fun, that was until my very last practice run before the my race. I was told by an official at the start line that I am not allowed to wear my video (Go Pro) camera during my race run. I was very confused as to why. I asked several riders about this and a lot knew nothing about this while a couple told me that when Tod Manning runs the races cameras are not allowed during your race run. When I asked them why, no one knew. So I went and found Mr. Manning. He gladly gave me 5 min of his very busy schedule. When I asked him about this rule he indeed said it was true. So I asked why. I have heard of no such rule in the rule books which from what I have seen and heard are strictly enforced and followed. Mr. manning then proceeds to tell me there are 2 reasons.

#1. “I want no glass on the course”…….that’s it? Now think about this statement for a minute. No glass on course. I can agree with this except the only glass on the camera is the lens. The lens is maybe ½” in diameter and behind a very strong plastic. Also the entire camera is encapsulated in a very durable plastic case which can take some real abuse. What about racers who wear glasses under their goggles, should they not be allowed to wear them. Or photographers on the side lined taking pictures. Look how big those lenses are. Should they not be allowed near the course? This first reason just makes no sense at all.

#2. “People ride differently when wearing a camera”. Now think about this for a minute. This to I feel makes no sense. I was then told by Mr. Manning that when a rider wears those things they tend to focus more on getting “the shot” then the task of riding. The rider will lose focus to try to get a good video and therefore can crash and injure themselves. Mr. Manning said we can wear the camera all we want during practice, but not during our race run.

Now as an avid racer I can tell you that during practice is when I take more chances try new and difficult lines, trying to get that edge over the other racers. Your race run you take chances but you have a race line you are trying to follow and stick with. I wear a camera to document my racing and to share with friends, family, and anyone wanting to watch in the world. I feel these videos help in promoting our sport which is rather small in the U.S.A, compared to the rest of the world. Sponsors like to see these videos to promote there stuff which promotes the sport. These videos help a private racer as I get sponsors. He is afraid a rider will lose focus to get a good shot. What about all the spectators along the lines with bells, air horns, whistles, flags, screaming & yelling at you as you come flying down a rock garden or over some big jumps. Are these not distraction which can cause a rider to lose focus. He is basically saying a camera on a helmet is more dangerous. “Just to get the shot”…. What about the photographers along the lines with big cameras and flashes. Will we lose focus because we know the camera guy is there and we want to make a good shot. This second reason just makes no sense either.

As I am having this conversation with Mr. Manning, pro rider & teacher of MTB riding Gene Hamilton hears what is going on. Gene then asks Mr. Manning where in the rule books does it say you can not wear a camera. Mr. Manning says that it does not state that in the rule books. It is just a rule that he himself enforces at every race he is in charge of. Gene asks why and is given the same two reasons I was given. He was just as blown away and confused as I was. There is NO rule in the rule book that you can not wear a camera during your race run. Yet Mr. Manning has the power to make it so. He is concerned about our safety yet in our sport where really the only mandated safety gear you have to wear is a helmet. Gloves, knee guards, elbow pads, chest protector, goggles are all optional if you want. Every time you ride your bike you know the risks you are taking whether it be downhill, 4x, DS, super D, or cross country. There is always risk. Its part of the reason most of us do theses sports. The adrenaline rush from riding and competing against others to see how good you are.

Some of us like to document this and show what we do. I have not talk to one person who agrees with this personal rule. As a racer when you start your race run all you do is focus on what your doing. The camera has never gotten in the way or caused me to have an accident or ride different. In fact it has aided in helping me become a better racer. Showing me my weakness and strengths. I just don’t see the problem with the camera. We know what we are getting into and we sign waivers.

Mr. Manning said if I have a problem with this rule then to take it up with Board of Directors Bill Peterson. Let him know and have him put it in the rule book that personal recording devises are allowed to be worn during your race run. I feel this is backwards thinking for our sport. What can I, one racer do about this. Hopefully something! I know not everyone wears a camera when racing. But try telling me you don’t like watching it. I know to some this might seem like something small and what am I complaining about, I did get to race. It’s the fact that I don’t have the choice because of someone’s personal rule. This was the biggest race event I have attended all year in the 1 ½ years of downhill. I feel cheated the personal opportunity to show people what I did and how I did it. I actually made podium and can not show the way I made it. I can not show my story of how I got there.

Am I wrong, am I not seeing something or overlooking something? If so please tell me. Let me know what you think. Whether you agree or disagree. Let USA Cycling know.

Bill Peterson – Board of directors -

Shawn Farrell - Technical Director -

Micah Rice - Managing Director of Events -

Kelli Lusk - National Events Director -

Thank you,

Ryan Sholes

thank you for taking a look.


7/20/2010 9:43 PM

Well put together. His reasons seem very far fetched to me, too.


7/20/2010 11:07 PM

The guy has the racer's safety in mind which is nice and I really appreciate that he is concerned for rider safety.

But his reasons for the rule show just how out of touch (and unwilling to change and hear the riders) the people in charge of bike racing in this country can be.

Good intentions are nice but they don't necessarily make for progress.


7/20/2010 11:21 PM

All cameras are welcomed on the NW Cup and Fluidride Cup races, we do not support this ruling by USA Cycling. Until an outside firm researches and proves there's legit safety reason then it will be reviewed again by us at that time. I support in writing the BOD and voice your opinions to this poorly based on ruling.


7/20/2010 11:23 PM

i dont see the point of wearing a cam during your race cant you just wear it in practice. i guess it would be nice to have one if you wanted to protest something but i dont think its necessary to have one while racing. besides youll be more aero dynamic without it and end up going faster overall


7/20/2010 11:26 PM

its great that he has rider safty in mind. but I really dont see that the little cams would be any more dangerous tha a visor, rock or spectators. I would think promoters would be happy to let them run cams , so they could show other people and get them excited to race the next race. but what do I know


7/20/2010 11:45 PM

In Canada it is actually a rule in the rule book that we cannot wear helmet camera's at anytime during the event (practice and race) and if you are caught you are fined and cannot race till you pay the fine. My friend also got hassled from the race officials at a BC Cup race, not for having a camera on but he had two of the Go Pro mounts on the side of his helmet and was almost fined for "modifying one's helmet". Also in Canada you cannot wear any sunglasses, goggles around your neck, hat, or anything else on your head or you will be fined. The fact is Mountain Bike officals are dicks.


7/20/2010 11:45 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:11 PM

Anyone know what the UCI ruling on this is? I imagine if Freecaster or Eurosport wanted to use a camera during a race run then there would be no problem.......perhaps a large amount of cash in a brown envelope would be involved but there would be no problem!

in the UK national races there is a kind of understanding that on board stuff is only allowed in practice. There is no official rule on this though.

To me this is fine as I only use a small part in my edit but I can see where the frustration lies when you get half assed reasons why you can't use them. I mean for fcuks sake you guys could potentially kill yourself with or without a camera strapped to yourself.

The World is going crazy and good luck with your letter and crusade!


7/21/2010 2:38 AM
Edited Date/Time: 7/25/2010 1:16 AM



7/21/2010 4:29 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:11 PM

Ultimately, if there was an obvious safety risk from using a camera then they wouldn't be used at all (for social or race use).

I haven't used a helmet camera ever but I enjoy watching the footage across many different sites and sources. I can't see that I personally would want to wear one during a race run but I can understand how someone might want to.

It could help a racer analyse his practice session and also provide more coverage for the sport via you tube and other sources. I think it has been stated already that mountain biking can be a rough sport at times and there are always risk involved.

The only real problem I see from rider using them during practice and race runs is possible time wasting turning them on and off, therefore maybe holding people up but this is could be not too dissimilar to someone putting their googles and gloves on.

Should the govening bodies decide to ban helmet cams for racing for xyz reason, what is next?.....Bike parks not allowing them? Uplift not allowing them?

Conclusively I fully support the objective and views of the OP and until there is evidence otherwise I don't think that the govening bodies of the sport have much right to enforce a rule that is brought about by clearly flawed principles.


Don't use your brakes.......

7/21/2010 7:30 AM

This is just laughable. Why does anyone care?


"You want a toe? I can get you a toe. There are ways dude, you don't want to know about it. Hell, I could get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon... with nailpolish."

7/21/2010 8:14 AM

I'm with Sage. I hate the look of them. I hate 99% of the footage that has ever come out of them. And as a general rule of thumb, I won't bother shooting a photo or a clip of a rider with one on since I know it's just going in the desktop trash can later.

But for am's who just want to show stuff to their friends and family or whatever, they are just fine. To shut down that excitement for whack reasons like "no glass on the track" and "makes you ride too hard to get the shot" is weak and completely out of touch with reality. When it comes to am class racing, it should be about having a good time and race promoters would be killing off their attendee numbers by trying to police the fun.

Why anyone would care about a guy wearing a helmet cam in a race run is beyond me too, jptree.


7/21/2010 8:25 AM

To add insult to injury, I noticed that although they were enforcing this arbitrary rule, they were not enforcing the rule against mp3 players.

USAC needs competition.


Race Mojo Wheels | Read VitalMTB

7/21/2010 9:17 AM

video producers have their own aesthetic reasons for disliking the helmet cams, and for them there are plenty of other riders who don't use cameras... none of the Pros wear them anyway. The idea that wearing a camera will make someone ride dangerously is just plain stupid. When I wear mine I totally forget it's there, or in some cases it motivates me to ride more smoothly and focused ahead on the trail than I might otherwise. No glass on course makes sense, but polycarbonate is not glass.

In some cases, video can be extremely helpful, if a rider suffers a serious injury or god forbid is unable to communicate the nature of their crash, medics are able to review the footage from crashes to see what happened... if anything cameras are beneficial for rider safety.

If there were any reasonable rules about cameras, they would be something like "cameras must be mounted out of the riders field of view"... and that's it.


BMA Film Festival coordinator

7/21/2010 10:29 AM

terrific letter about a weak sauce "rule". hope USAC people listen up.

however, TSage is right in his explanation: they do ruin the shot.

but the fun should still go on! the weekend warriors need to have something awesome to show off at Mondays staff meetings, otherwise Paul Allen and his subtle Off White, tastefully thickened, watermarked business card will be the coolest talk around the water cooler...and we all know how that ends...


7/21/2010 12:06 PM

Unfortunately, USAC and UCI have rules that are wide open to interpretation and an official at one race can enforce completely differently than another. Until one, the other, or both of the governing bodies sit down and take responsibility for clarifying their rules, it'll always be a wiggle room decision.

I wish they'd come up with a jury format much like in ski racing. 3 people would make the decisions. The Head Official, an athlete rep (coach, manager, etc.) and a rep from the promoter/resort side. This would put the burden of a decision on those three. This would pretty much eliminate the one sided decision making that we see so much of and force UCI/USAC to tighten up their rules.


7/21/2010 6:33 PM

The Story I got from Darner is that you could wear them on your person, just not on your helmet, (this was at the start of super d) and this is due to the fact that helmets are designed to slide and having a camera mount on your helmet inhibits this sliding should you crash, (another way for the lawyers to screw with our sport everytime someone gets hurt) sorta makes a little sense, but this rule should not just be the race run ruling then it should be all the time


If you make it idiot proof they will just invent a better Idiot!

7/21/2010 8:10 PM

here is the reply i got. makes a little more sense now.

Dear Mr. Sholes,

Thank you for your thorough description of your conversations with Tod Manning at the MTB National Championships. I am actually the person that he suggested you talk to as I manage both the officials and the rules process for USA Cycling.

The question of helmet cams has come up more frequently the last couple of years. There are two viewpoints. On the one hand, many people like to use them. They are quite popular in MTB, cyclocross, and even road. I have watched many you tube videos shot from helmet cams.

On the other hand, they can be a danger to the person carrying them and perhaps even invalidate all the checks done to ensure that a helmet is safe. When a helmet manufacturer tests a helmet in the Consumer Product Safety Commission laboratory, it does not have an object attached to the top, front, or side. I have often wondered myself if it is a safety issue to allow a helmet cam. I can envision many scenarios where a rider falls and the helmet snags on the ground or a curb due to the protruding helmet cam, which would injure the riders’ neck.

This is a topic we will be discussing, weighing the popularity and advantages of the video medium against the real and perceived risk to the person wearing it.

In the meantime, it is within the job description of the Chief Referee to interpret the racing rules and to make a ruling on any topic not specifically covered. As such, it was Tod’s call whether to allow the helmet cam. I understand his thinking and appreciate his intentions of ensuring rider safety.

We will do our parts now to make sure USA Cycling decides whether we believe helmet cams should be allowed, and we will communicate that decision once we have it.

best wishes,

Shawn Farrell
Technical Director
USA Cycling


7/21/2010 8:11 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:11 PM

my reply,

Mr. Ferrell,

First let me say thank you for responding to my letter. You make a better argument about the camera being mounted on the helmet than Mr. Manning did. It is an argument though about being mounted on the helmet. I have no doubt his ruling for no camera allowed was for the safety of the rider. But then why allow it during practice and not the race run. This seems like a half hearted rule. Why not make it no cameras then, or what would have been preferred is how bout no helmet camera specific. Then we could wear a chest mounted or bike mounted camera. I understand your statement about testing the helmet with out objects attached. That makes perfect sense. I will follow what rules are in place at your races. I still just find it hard that with all the risks we do take, and rider safety is the concern, that the camera not be our choice to wear. Leatt neck braces are not mandatory, nor are gloves, knee guards, elbow guards, chest protector, spine protector, or goggles. I hope that USA Cycling will come to a decision about this soon. If it comes down to no helmet cams then so be it but at least consider the alternatives like chest mount or bike mounted cameras. Thank you for your time and your response.

Ryan Sholes


7/21/2010 9:00 PM

northwestdhdad wrote:

All cameras are welcomed on the NW Cup and Fluidride Cup races, we do not support this ruling by USA Cycling. Until an outside ...more

I was at the top getting ready for my race run at NWCUP and they said no Helmet cam. Practice is fine, but not in your race run.


7/22/2010 2:04 AM
Edited Date/Time: 7/22/2010 2:05 AM

jasonvelocity wrote:

To add insult to injury, I noticed that although they were enforcing this arbitrary rule, they were not enforcing the rule ...more

This is why I hide my ipod and headphones built into my Helmet.


7/22/2010 8:38 AM

Maybe I just don't care about helmet camera technology (I don't), but aren't those things mounted with essentially two sided tape? If you were to crash on that side of your helmet, wouldn't the mount just be ripped off and let your helmet slide like it's supposed to in the first place?


7/22/2010 12:07 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:19 AM

The Vholdr is held under the goggle strap and will simply tear away in the event of a crash. I think its a lame issue to be enforcing. Let people wear the cameras. USAC is retarded.

Here is some dangerous helmet cam footage. As you can see wearing it was very dangerous. I wish someone had my safety in mind and wouldn't allow me to wear it.


7/22/2010 2:01 PM

profro wrote:

The Vholdr is held under the goggle strap and will simply tear away in the event of a crash. I think its a lame issue to be ...more

Great trail and good shooting.


7/22/2010 7:48 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:19 AM

i am still confused about there thought process. but we can not do anything about it. we do not get to vote or get asked what we think about it. i like all the comments on here the one for it and the ones against it. i understand from a photographer point of view they are unsightly. but i am not riding for you. i am not a pro. i do it because its what i enjoy doing. if they do decide no helmet cam i can only hope the allow chest cam or bike mounted cam. i personally like the look of the helmet when done properly and not pointed towards the ground. profro nice vid. that place looks fun.


7/29/2010 4:21 PM

northwestdhdad wrote:

All cameras are welcomed on the NW Cup and Fluidride Cup races, we do not support this ruling by USA Cycling. Until an outside ...more

While at NWCUP this past week, the man operating the start told each of the riders that no helmet cams were allowed during the race run. This struck me as odd and is the reason I noticed this thread..


1/4/2011 10:14 PM

Just discovered this rule in the AMA rulebook (think supercross):

"The use of a portable music player or an on board/helmet camera (other than the one from the Championship Promoter) is not allowed at anytime during on-track competition, including practice, qualifying and races."

So, we're not alone. MX guys can't even practice with helmet cams.


1/5/2011 7:17 AM

Probably because they know no respectable magazine would run a photo with a doofy helmet cam sticking off a rider, even from practice.

Actually no, probably for "safety."


1/6/2011 11:25 AM

Your emails are really good. Especially your response to Farrell.

You just can't ever account for anything with these guys and their approach to the regs. Not only that, but they have a real problem with listening to good ideas and wholistic problem solving.

In the 90's the regions with the most road racing left USAC over stuff like this and only recently have they come back!

You don't really need them to do an event. Especially when they make you pay all kinds of fees and force you to use more officials than you need and then the officials are inept or a bad hassle on top of it all.

For non uci events I don't see the reason to use USAC. There is no value to the added cost.


Memory Pilot Sox, Mudguards, Custom Mudguards

1/11/2011 7:53 PM

In regard to helmet-mounted cameras, after a great deal of discussion during the fall of 2010, USAC will now allow them to be worn. Here is an excerpt from the USAC Technical Director Update sent to all officials in December 2010: "[I]t is USA Cycling’s position that helmet cams are legal, and officials should not disallow them. Of course, any device has to be fixed securely, and a bike or helmet can always be declared a safety hazard if that is not the case, just as it would be with any part of the rider’s clothing or equipment."

Note that the UCI still prohibits the use of helmet cams, so any event run under UCI rules in the United States may still bar their use.

Regarding the UCI and USAC ban on using mp3 players, once again, it is for safety purposes. Riders wearing such devices can't hear "track", "rider down", "on your left", or other warnings that may be yelled at them. Remember, it is not just your safety that is at risk, it is that of all the other participants at the event, too.

As for my decision regarding banning the use of helmet cams at nationals, one of the helmets that was presented to me when the question was raised had the camera hard-mounted (screwed?) into the side of the full-face helmet. That mount plus camera stuck out to the side several inches and was not safe in that it definitely modified the helmet, could have caught on branches while riding, or wrenched the rider's head during a fall.

I am a fan of the sport and love to watch the videos made by riders and think it is good for the sport. In support of that, I allowed riders to use cameras that were mounted on their bikes as well as on chest packs.

During the 24 Hour Nationals, I came to the realization that banning helmet cams, while well intentioned, would also mean banning helmet-mounted lights -- which would be a non-starter for 24-hour racing. I was the one who raised this point when the USAC board of trustees were having their discussions about rule changes.

The goal of officials is to help ensure that all riders have a safe and fair race. That's what guides us. We're in it because we love the sport, and most of us raced at some point in our cycling careers, so we understand your viewpoint. If you don't like a rule that we have to enforce, tell us about it and be sure to tell USAC. Your voice will be heard, and this thread is a great example of your voice being heard.

Tod Manning
USAC National Commissaire - MTB