Cow Pasture Tails

Letter & Truth part 2

More of the letter, and the truth.

This is racer feed back concerning this particular race. I could go on but I think the point has been made. On a larger note, Many of us in the local racing community have concerns regarding the current east coast promoter Taylor Sullivan. Many of the local bike shops and race promotes in the area have refused to work with Taylor due to his character and personal nature. According to one of the best organized racing promoters in this area (and in my opinion the east coast) Taylor has in the past threatened people associated with the Cowbell challenge with physical harm. Many in the local cycling community at a promoter level or who are “in the know” feel he is “unstable” or a “hot head”. A quote from the afore mentioned promoter: “Basically Taylor cannot find people to work with him because of his attitude and he has burned bridges with everyone associated with the Cowbell”. Many in the area can appreciate Taylor’s efforts but feel he does it in an unprofessional manner and feel he may “stain” the reputation of promoters in the area. Personally I believe the USCUP or ShoAir for that matter could only benefit from having the most reputable and qualified promoters there are to offer to represent a great national series such as yours. Basically, Taylor cannot hold the Cowbell challenge at the USNWC because the executive director refuses to work with him due to his attitude and lack of professionalism. From what I understand he was confrontational to the director (who is a cyclist himself) and refused to clean up garbage left in the parking lot after the event. There were other issues as well but the promoter did not elaborate. “If you want an event to gain in momentum you need to have positive feedback and Taylor is not getting that at this time” according to the promoter.

This is at the heart of what’s wrong with this kind of complaint, and a number of points need to be made clearly, the most important of which is:

I have never threatened anyone that has ever been directly involved with the Cowbell race.

Many”– who are the many? Or , is it just a handful of people that qualifies as “many” in these guys opinion? Who are these people “in the know”?  This “many” is unsupported by facts.  There is no survey of Charlotte-area USAC members, no data on the opinions of even the most active mountain bikers in the area.  For every person who doesn’t like me, there is at least one who has written or called with positive feedback EVERY YEAR.

 It appears that this whole section parrots the points of view of Neal Boyd, Bart Stetler and Jeff Wise, whose name is never mentioned–he’s the “john doe” mentioned only by his title of Executive Director.

I have worked with four other bicycle shop owners in the past. In the early years of Cowbell, Bart Stetler, who owns SouthPark Cycles was considered the primary sponsor, and refused to even discuss the possibility of having any other shop involvement, at one point calling the ethics of one shops’ co-owners into question.  When it became apparent that his support was just verbal (some product support), and involved no monetary commitment,  I took it upon myself to approach one or two other shops to get their participation. Stetler claimed in numerous emails that he had provided extensive cash support to the race, but there were no checks, no receipts and no payment for anything outside of his store to support the claim. The last year that Bart was going to be involved I ask for 5,000 in cash up front if he wanted to be part of the Cowbell race. His response was, he would only donate product and wanted to meet face-to-face.

In discussions with promoters in other areas, I have found that the typical amount that a store owner will spend for a race runs from $2,500 cash up to $10,000 cash, plus about another $2,500 to $5,000 in product.

 I can only assume that the anonymous promoter that he refers to is Neal Boyd, since there are no other race promoters doing cycling events in the Charlotte area. In fact that bridge WAS burned, but not for the reasons this author seems to think.  Boyd himself acted rather unprofessionally by sort of committing to timing and officiating without a solid price at the 2008 Cowbell .  After numerous calls and emails with no response, we found another provider for timing services. Neal called me the week of the 2008 Cowbell race, asking questions, I reminded him that I asked for a commit and price from the timing company that he was sub-contracting-and never received any response from my emails and phones calls.  Neal, proceeded to say “I got others to work on and have better things to do that weekend” and hung up.  I believe that there  is a huge conflict of interest here– because Bolyud works for Stetler at SouthPark Cycles.  And the bridge is in fact burned because Boyd did not receive the money from Cowbell that he was used to receiving.

 It’s pretty astonishing to have someone that I’ve NEVER worked with on a professional or volunteer basis call my character, professionalism and personal nature into question. This my approach to potential supporters:  I call to try to set up a meeting, I call three times, send three emails, and if I happen to have time, I go into the store to drop off the info about sponsorship. If I hear back fine, if not, that’s OK too– I do not chase down shop owners.

I have never threatened anyone associated with the Cowbell Challenge race at all. I have stood up for myself after many times to say NO nicely, then “No, sorry I can’t do that”, and finally just flat out “NO, sorry we cannot work together.” I stood up for myself  in refusing to be taken advantage of after years of paying the start-up funding for the race. Some people we talked to about supporting the races wanted to ride the coats tails of hard work without giving any funding for the race–this happens in a lot of fund-raising/volunteer areas, but doesn’t make it any less distasteful for a common occurrence.

Standing up for myself is doesn’t make me “unstable,” in fact it signals greater emotional stability–being aware of others attempting to take advantage of me.  As for being a “hot head” to some people around the local mountain biking community, again this probably refers to Bart Stetler and Neal Boyd, neither of whom would I ever work with again. Both of them took pokes at me and I never said anything back at all. In fact, Stetler sent out three email blasts to his email database about the Cowbell after he wasn’t going to be part of it, implying that he was somehow the victim, stating that he was going to not support it, and making fun of the trail system at Fisher Farms. During the Cowbell race of 2008 (first year at Fisher Farm Park), Neal Boyd paid an employee of the name Greg Powell to distribute flyers for a race at USNWC that Boyd was promoting, and Stetler was sponsoring. When I discovered him, I asked Powell to stop distributing the flyers. He started yelling at me, I asked him not to make a scene as I told him why he could not to continue the distribution of the flyers. I pulled them out of his hand, he started poking me in the chest, cursing me with every word he knew and I ask him to leave again. I finally had to call for security to get him to leave. I did call both Boyd and Stetler to let them both know how disrespectful and low this was to do during the Cowbell race. Out of pure anger and frustration, I probably used a few strong, but correct, words about dealing with both of them, but this was out of range where others could hear.

As to being confrontational to the director of the USNWC, this situation occurred in 2007, and was during the last Cowbell race that was ever held out at the center. The director’s assistant, Lance Kinerk after threatening to tow racers’ cars, yelling at racers what a mess this event is, rode a bike down to the staging area taking pictures, right before the race began. Throughout the day, I and other volunteers collected trash in bags WE provided. I picked up the trash that I could load into the back of my pickup. I gathered up all the rest of the trash made a small pile. Troy Rutten, the Activities Manager at the time, told us to leave the rest of the trash there at the kiosk and that the staff would take care of it in the morning.  I came back out the next morning the trash was removed, while I continued to pick up the rest of the small left bits of trash and clean up the course. Apparently Jeff Wise (the executive director) did not know at the time that Troy “okayed” the leaving the trash and the staff would get it.

There are other reasons why I left the USNWC, including the difficulty of working with Wise and his Marketing Director, who publicly stated at least once that mountain bikers were not the kind of people he wanted to attract to the center. Apparently my opinion was shared by other cyclists posting on the local forums.

 The only “confrontation” that occurred with Jeff Wise happened at an arranged meeting following Cowbell at the East Boulevard Bruegger’s Bagels.  I was sitting having coffee, waiting on Kinerk to pay him the race fee per rider check, when Jeff  Wise cornered me with 2 other guys, one of whom closed his fist at me and the other pointed hisnfinger in my face…  I did not initiate the confrontation, during which Wise publicly questioned my business skills.  After telling him we’d never return to the USNWC, I left.

 There were also many times that Stetler, while serving as President of the Tarheel Trailblazer, used the growing prestige of the Cowbell race to force Jeff Wise to have the race there while the the center was being built. Throughout this timeframe, Stetler got many local politicians involved in protecting the trails at the center. With this type of action, Wise apparently had a growing dislike for mountain bikers. Boyd also complained at this time about how he was being treated by Jeff Wise. including several calls to me complaining about Wise and threatening to pull all of his races at the center when the USNWC start charging for a parking fee.

 I get a lot of good feedback , and I get some not so good feedback as well about the race each year. I pay attention to both and I do my best to improve the race each year to make it more racer friendly.

So the bridges burned were in fact with three people, whose actions, attitude and motives are questionable at best. Outside of these three, officials, timing company, volunteers, some sponsors, and many pro and amateur racers continue to come back time after time.


5 Comments so far
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Moderator’s Note: Oh good, someone wrote in that once worked at SouthPark Cycles and was employed by Charlotte Sports Cycling, from his point of view.

Taylor, you need to watch that mouth of yours as you obviously have lost your mind. I went out there to set out some fliers (as everybody gets when theyre at a race) at a PUBLIC PARK and you decided to come to me telling me that I needed to leave. Granted, i guess you were putting on the race but that gave you no authority to banish somebody off of a premises that YOU DO NOT OWN! Thats number one. Secondly, you know perfectly well that i did not become irate with you until you told me INITIALLY that “you need to get the fuck out of here” I tried to ask what was going on but you got mad and then eventually slapped the fliers out of my hand. I got mad at you and then we had words. You know full well that i didnt poke you at any point so i dont know why you said that. Oh yea your a liar!

And oh yea you forgot to mention how you saw me riding out at the booty loop and threatened to kick my ass out of nowhere? Thats pretty mature for a 40 year old liar to go try and whip somebodys ass after they so “nicely” asked them to leave…

Long story short, you need to quit complaining about how nobody can stand you and pick another sport. Youve already burned all the bridges that you possibly could in this one.


Comment by Greg Powell

Good day to you Mr. Powell,

I am so glad you wrote in. First let me explain the whole “booty loop” ordeal to you. That day I received a letter from Bart Stetler’s lawyer with a threat to sue for speaking my mind about the truth. I went for a ride to get away from the day and rode up on you. The previous weekend you were at the Cowbell race putting out fliers for your employer Neal Boyd, and with an audience around you as you treated me with disrespect, saying how you were going to kick my ass, how I needed my ass beat, and using a lot of other foul language towards me. When I saw you alone on the booty loop with no audience around you, I came up on you and asked you “how tough of a guy are you now?” You laughed and seemed to have no idea what I was talking about, so I reminded you about the weekend before at the Cowbell race, still you had no idea what I was talking about. Then all of a sudden you remembered and said you “were just doing the job you were being paid to do.” All I was trying to get you to understand was that one day you are going to smart off and use foul language towards somebody and that somebody is going to harm you. So, I am sorry Mr. Powell, for insulting you and sorry for taking my frustration out on you, which was really intended for Bart Stetler.

Now as for the situation with you, the Cowbell race and distributing fliers, Yes you are right I don’t own the land that the race was held on, it’s a public park. However, when I noticed some fliers on cars, I picked one up and read that Charlotte Sports Cycling, owned by Neal Boyd, was promoting a race sponsored by Southpark Cycles and held at the USNWC. Now when I want to put out fliers about a race, I ask the promoter or race director out of respect to them, check in to make sure it is alright to put some information out. if the promoter says yes, great and if the promoter says no that is fine too, and I put the fliers away. Other promoter and race directors have contacted me before put out any race info at the Cowbell race. It is just a common courtesy to do that. I explained to you a couple of times of why I did not want to you to continue to put out the fliers and asked you to stop. You, Mr. Powell continued to ask why, kept saying you were working for Neal Boyd and doing your job for him and mentioned at one time working for Southpark Cycles.

During a race weekend a director has a lot of different stresses to deal with during the day. After a couple of time asking you stop and asking you leave, yes I did take the fliers out of your hand and had to use some foul language that you would understand. Then you really started in on me using more foul language, throwing you hand up in the air, pointing at me and touching me. I took a step back from you thinking that I must be in your personal space. At this point you had a good audience, causing a scene and I had to call security.

Mr. Powell, you were paid by Neal Boyd to become an annoyance at the Cowbell race, you were used and manipulated by Neal Boyd to do his “dirty work” for him in much the same way Rick Pyle was. I had seen Neal Boyd put out his fliers at other races that year, both before and after the Cowbell race, so why didn’t he come out and do it himself? Why didn’t the main sponsor Southpark Cycles put out fliers? Why didn’t someone from the USNWC come out and put out fliers?

Mr. Powell, I wish you the best of luck in life, hope you graduate from college and have a successful career. Be safe on your bike rides, good health and God bless you.

Comment by cowbellchallenge

deleting my postings will not change your plight!

Comment by Greg

From the moderator: It’s a moderated blog, not a forum. We didn’t delete anything, we just have to approve the posting and we don’t sit by our computers 24/7. Now both of your posts are up for all to “enjoy.”

Comment by cowbellchallenge

Hmm, Greg seems to have some anger management issues

Comment by Ridezilla

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