Sorry that I'm slacking, but I'm actually spending way too much time looking into this:
I've been busy searching and asking FaceBook friends (because I have some that are way smarter and have better resources than I do) to help me look into this.
My problem with the rule isn't that I'm worried about creating the future generation of degenerates who ride one speeds. It's that NICA is all about being inclusive and this rule does not serve that purpose. A trail-worthy single speed can be a cheap way into the sport, and I know "support your local bike shop" and everything, but this:
Try and find a trail-worthy geared bike for that price. Yeth, that same online store has some geared bikes that are close, but I wouldn't consider them something I'd want to ride off road and expect to last a "season." Component spec goes to shit when you're trying to squeeze shifty/squishies into a sub-$400 price point.
This is a sensitive topic for me. I had no perspective when I was a kid growing up in rural Ohio, but I'm pretty sure that I can look back now and say that I was living in poverty. We were poor as shit, living in a trailer, dad unemployed for years.... government cheese.
So when I wanted to run high school cross country, it's not like my parents could really buy me proper equipment. I got a canary yellow, ill-fitting "sweat suit" from Dollar General and a pair of Trax "running shoes" from Kmart (mine were green).
I can remember how hard it was for me to come up with $100 when I was a freshman to buy my 1984 Olympic Edition 10 speed. It was a hunk of shit, but it was a lot easier to visit my friends (one who lived six miles away.. down State Route 6... and I'm still alive?) than riding my banana seat bike. Imagine that same kid going off to college (the second cheapest college in Ohio) and finding a real love for road cycling... and later mountain biking. Let's just say I had to save some nickels and dimes in order to ride some more hunks of shit from 1987 to 1992. In my last year of college, I raced on our newly formed road cycling team, The Penguin Flyers. I raced the entire "season" on a $249 Yokota that I got on closeout from Bike Nashbar, which was based out of the same shitty city where I went to college.
With all that, I think I have a bit of a right to talk about how money can be a high hurdle that one has to jump just to find their lifelong passion.
I won't get into the ludicrousness of the "five cogs in the rear" thing, because I'm going to argue that as well in an email to NICA. If there truly is some sort of science that shows big gears ruin knees, than they probably need to adapt the roll out rules that the USAC established for juniors... even though that does nothing from stopping a kid from pushing big gears. Yeth, they'll be told by coaches to not do that, but I also remember adults telling me to not throw eggs at people's houses, so...
And yeth, I also have a problem with the fact that they changed to '15 wording from "has been proven" to the '16-'17 "has been shown," because that seems a bit like an admittance that there actually is no proof.
So why keep the rule at all?
Even if this only stops one poor kid from riding his single speed in a NICA event, what if he/she is our next John Tomac or Juli Furtado (dated reference but whatev)? We'll never know. Insert that cute story here that The Pie always brings up about the kid that tosses one starfish back into the ocean and it mattering to that one star fish.
I'm working on an informed email and since I'm not used to taking much of anything very seriously, I'm taking my time composing it. I want to effect a change, so I can't come off half-assed...
Like I do here...