Derek Bouchard-Hall Blog

Highs and Lows
Post: Mar 31, 2016 by Kevin Loughery under category "default"
I learned years ago as a cyclist that in any given season, you hit highs and lows. At one point, you can feel strong and confident, ready to win any race. At another point, you can feel drained and doubtful, in need of a break.
 
Just over nine months in as CEO of USA Cycling, I have learned that the ups and downs of leading a sports national governing body are like that of a racing season. I have experienced some incredible highs and some discouraging lows.
 
Take the last four weeks, for example:
 
On Feb. 27, Evelyn Stevens broke the women’s UCI Hour Record in Colorado Springs, under the awesome new dome of the U.S. Olympic Training Center Velodrome. Given the timing of her season and logistical constraints, we had a very short timeline to pull off the event. Our staff in less than a month worked to receive approval from the UCI, secure the venue, produce the live stream and organize all of details necessary to put on an international record attempt—half the time recommended by the UCI. The best part of all, of course, was that Evie smashed the record and represented her country with distinction. She put women’s cycling in the spotlight, which was our primary goal, and the conversation around the cycling world for days after was about her astounding performance. I was proud of our staff for the role it played in helping Evie accomplish such a feat, and I was honored to be there to witness it.
 
Just six days later, Team USA won the women’s team pursuit World Championship in London. The win was a watershed moment for American cycling, as it was the first team pursuit title ever won for the U.S., and I hope signals a rebirth of American track cycling. Coach Andy Sparks and the riders worked toward this goal for years, and their victory came at the same venue, Lee Valley VeloPark, where our women earned silver at the Olympics four years ago. This time, Team USA was dominant—they were fastest in qualifying by four seconds and broke the U.S. National Record by more than eight seconds. Our team finished what they started in the final against Canada, where they took gold in convincing fashion.
 
This event was particularly special for me for a few reasons: the team pursuit was the event I was honored to represent the United States in at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney; I was also able to share the experience with my wife and two daughters, who still live in London; and, I often ride with the team in Colorado Springs, so I knew the women personally. It was absolutely thrilling to watch them win – one of the greatest moments I’ve ever experienced as a spectator of sport.
 
But with the highs, however, come the lows.
 
Two weeks ago, a hacker illegally obtained access to our website and member database, and we believe that person stole some portion of our member data, potentially including names, addresses, phone numbers and USA Cycling passwords. While no highly sensitive information like social security numbers, bank account details or credit card information was accessed (we don’t store such information), we were devastated to learn a criminal was able to access any of our members’ information. In consult with cyber security experts and the FBI, our staff has worked incredibly hard to assist members in understanding the situation and changing their USA Cycling login information, and our IT team has rapidly implemented enhanced data security measures. We have had many long nights and stressful days. This incident has weighed heavily on us.
 
How did it happen? USA Cycling’s current IT systems were developed in house over more than a decade without using best practice programming techniques that facilitate upgrades and changes. They are complex and difficult to modify. Data security issues were among the many IT concerns being addressed as part of a complete IT overhaul we are in the middle of now. I made IT investment a critical pillar of USA Cycling’s future direction and obtained approval from the USA Cycling Board last year to replace virtually the entirety of our IT infrastructure within the next several months. But in hindsight, I wish we had made increased data security a priority ahead of the IT overhaul. This breach has caused enormous heartache for our organization and has been the most difficult incident of my tenure as CEO, especially as we work each day to regain the faith of our membership and improve their experiences.
 
This last month has been a microcosm of my experience as CEO of USA Cycling—there are plenty of reasons to celebrate, but we certainly have areas to improve. As I look ahead to my one-year anniversary this summer, I have never felt more motivated to drive this organization in a positive direction. Our massive IT overhaul, combined with an enhanced focus on amateur racing, makes me extremely optimistic for our members’ experience in 2016 and beyond.
 
Ride often,
 
Derek