Monday, March 22, 2010

Everyone’s Lowest Opinion is Confirmed: Begemann and Cycleloft Finally Offer a Flaccid Explanation

While I appreciate the Cycleloft/Palter/Begemann have broken their silence on the matter of the management "transition," this interview confirms the calculated nature of their actions. At one point in the interview, they waffle on whether they are paying more rent to the land owner, stating that the number is "irrelevant." How is it irrelevant that you may or may not have secretly offered the landowner more rent?

Stealing a business out from under someone jut because you think that you can do a better job running it is no excuse for doing so. If this is "just business," as Palter and Begemann claim, I encourage Eberhardt to seek legal counsel to explore the options for seeking financial redress. Furthermore, for most of us, the NEV was not just a business. We volunteered to make it work. We made sacrifices. It was never about money.

But actually, this is all beside the point. Begemann came to the velodrome with a chip on his shoulder, complaining about everything. Seriously, the guy was trying to find fault everywhere he looked. He undermined Tony and the NEV staff at every opportunity. From solid sources, I understand that Begemann had contacted USAC in the middle the 2009 season to complain about the NEV's events. Honestly, I tried to stay away from Begemann, because he was such a negative influence. Coming from me, that's really saying something.

Clearly Begemann and Palter had been scheming before they were presented with the opportunity to "take over" the NEV.

While I support the idea of track racing in New England, I am hesitant to support this venture. This interview has done nothing but confirm my worst opinions of the cabal that has unethically and cynically stolen a viable business from a great guy who put his heart and soul into making the NEV a venue that we all could enjoy.

10 comments:

plum said...

"There are merges (sic) and acquisitions happening every day."

What a couple of douchebags.

As if this is that kind of industry. It's New England cycling you jackasses. We're a family and we're supposed to be supporting each other.

mike said...

i was actually interested in doing some track racing this season - mostly due to the positive things people had to say about the program there: low key, emphasis on fun, everyone gets involved etc... kind of how cross took off in new england.

growing a grassroots program requires a certain touch. martinet adherence to USA cycling regulations isn't what newcomers to the track are looking for. literally everything put forth by the new owners of the NEV regarding their approach to building a program has revolved around "taking things to the next level". that may prove difficult to achieve without the grassroots support the NEV had only begun to generate.

zencycle said...

I can't say I disagree with the assessment that the takeover was at the very least underhanded. Ethics would hard to quantify here, since there is a bit of a grey area with regards to competing businesses...if there were one. If Kurt and Jeff were trying to run a business in direct competition, the 'it's just business' argument would carry more weight. They didn't _have_ a competing business. There was no impetus in terms of the success of their business to prevent the track from competing.

However, you posit that they "had been scheming before they were presented with the opportunity to take over". They actually state that "it was brought to our attention by someone in cycling community – we weren’t looking for it". Whether this is a mischaracterization on their part, we'll never know, but there is little evidence to suggest that they had been scheming to take it over.

That said, there were more graceful, respectful, and ethical steps they could have chosen. The landlord is obviously a colossal douchbag for not giving the previous lessee the right of first refusal. Begeman and Palter are douchbags for not offering Tony the same courtesy. After all, Tony was not competing with them, or vice versa.

There was no point to their actions other than, as you correctly note, "just because [they] think that [they] can do a better job running it ". The "we [didn't] have to let him know" comment was a cop-out - a rationalization to mollify a guilty conscience. If anything, their business benefited from the track, and the damage they've done here will very likely kill the track and drain money away from cycleloft. They may very well have cut off their nose to spite their face.

gus c said...

mcrzy, you are doing a great job on shedding the light on such shady practices. this is scumbag 101, which should be taught at most MBA schools. Hats off to natalia on the interview as well. when i learned of this early last week, i was in dismay. ethics-free, back-stabbing dealings that clearly doesn't benefit the cause. a sad day for the sport.

Anonymous said...

the price of the new rent is "irrelevant" because according to the interview, that was the price offered to Palter/Begeman by the landowner.

From the looks of this interview and Tony's email, the landowner should be the one under the interrogation lamp next...

Keep the rants coming though, it's nice to see someone voicing what most people are being too polite to comment on publicly.

Anonymous said...

Nevelodrome.com no longer has Tony's note up. Legal action over his newsletter? Come on...who's a lawyer that will help Tony out?

RMM said...

Anon:

I have deliberately not mentioned the landowner in any of my publicly stated opinions in this matter. While the landlord may or may not have acted poorly (we may never actually know exactly what happened), that landowner is also not a competitive cyclist. He cannot and should not be expected to act in a manner that sustains our community. That is our job as members of the community.

While there will always be competition within the community, there are certain standards of behavior that we should all adhere to. Palter and Begemann appear to have crossed that line. I'm wondering if any mischievous soul has contacted Cycleloft's landlord yet to inquire about the lease (maybe they own the space?)

The track’s landowner only happens to derive an income from cycling. He would have re-rented the track to the go-cart racers if they had been the ones offering more money than Tony.

plum said...

I have no interests to protect here so I do not mince words.

We are in a small, and yet somehow at the same time, a very crowded industry.

There are many choices, and many options.

The local dollars you invest in cycling are not going into an expansive, faceless void of marketing machinery and corporate profiteering; those dollars support people with the guts to stand up a small business not on the prospect of becoming rich, but to make a living trying to support something they truly believe in.

We cyclists reap all the benefits of the incredible risk these entrepreneurs take, and we bear little to none of the consequence. It's a pretty enviable position and all of us take it for granted.

F*ck the CycleLoft. Don't give them another dollar of your money. They simply don't deserve it. Investing in that venture is an affirmation that what they did is acceptable.

It is not acceptable.

In spite of how they may portray this situation, what Jeff & co. have done illustrates perfectly how truly disconnected they are from what this community believes in.

And that is not worth supporting.

A certain tattooed someone once said:

"I would be proud to stand alone in this life with integrity as my only companion."

I subscribe to that.

plum said...

For those who missed it, here is the letter that was removed from nevelodrome.com:

Dear Fellow Cyclists, volunteers, parents, sponsors and friends,

It is never easy convey disappointing news to friends and the task becomes more difficult when as in this case the news comes without warning and is the direct result of an intentional and calculated scheme by those who on numerous occasions professed to be in support of our project all the while studying our organization and planning to take over control for themselves.



First and foremost, the New England Velodrome & Cycling Park, thanks all of you for your many contributions over the past 5 years. Without you believing in, supporting and in many cases contributing sweat equity to our grass roots project the New England Velodrome and Cycling Park would have never gotten off the ground. It has been our pleasure to meet you all and to have had you as part of our cycling family.

Unfortunately, our collective efforts were brushed aside in the face of few more dollars. This morning, March 10, 2010, I was informed that someone had offered the owner of the property an increased monthly rent to take over control of the track, as well as the BMX and Cyclocross courses. This turn of events is in itself was upsetting to hear, however, it has also just come to light that this planned takeover was orchestrated by Jeff Palter and Kurt Begman of Cycleloft who attended our track and disingenuously expressed their support of what we had accomplished through hard work coupled with a collective passion for cycling. One can attempt to justify such actions on the basis of cold hard economics or in the interests of allegedly improving a product however the true reality is that this act is fueled by bruised egos and the desire to buy a concern after others have done the grunt work in establishing its viability. In short this act is contrary to very atmosphere many of you have fostered and come to expect from the New England Velodrome and Cycling Park and its staff.


Make no mistake about it, this was not a mutual decision nor was it necessitated by our own wish to turn over the cycling park to more "experienced hands". This development came as a complete surprise, one we certainly did not anticipate on the eve of the upcoming cycling season. At this point we had sponsors on board, grants on the way and the schedule was complete. We tell you this only to assure you that the staff of the New England Velodrome and Cycling Park was 100% committed to the success of New England Velodrome & Cycling Park and it saddens all of us to have to deliver this news to you.



It is disturbing and disheartening to know that someone from the cycling community would do this behind our backs and with a vindictive motive. That being said, our sponsors and alliances are behind us in our venture to find a new home for the New England Velodrome & Cycling Park and Velocity BMX.



At this time we have no further information about what these new track owners plan to do and can not comment on how things will be run. We do know that the staff at New England Velodrome and Cycling Park did everything it could to make this work and offered as much as possible, but given the calculated nature and timing of these events it just wasn't enough. Also, the staff of the New England Velodrome & Cycling Park will not be associated in any way with this type of business because it shows a lack of respect for the sport of cycling, the community, and the riders who made it all possible.



In conclusion, on behalf of the New England Velodrome and Cycling Park, I would like to extend my gracious appreciation and heartfelt thanks to all of you for seeing a similar vision, helping to nurture and develop it and sharing the common spirit inherent in this sport. I wish everyone the best of luck in the future and I promise to continue my pursuit of developing an indoor cycling park here in New England.

Sincerely, Tony Eberhardt

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