Things are changing at the Canadian Motorcycle Association (CMA), and the new boss says he is motivated to moving the organization forward.
But why is change needed to start with? If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a brief run-down: In the US, the American Motorcycle Association is a major player. Not quite the same sort of political force as the National Rifle Association, perhaps, but like the NRA, the AMA has an impact on laws and policy and motorcycle culture.
Here in Canada, over the past few decades, the CMA has not had that same impact. As the national affiliate of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) in Canada, the CMA is expected to promote motorcycling through competition, training and other means, just like the AMA.
Its efforts have been declining for years. It was bad enough that in 2021, the FIM held a vote on whether the CMA should be removed from its position as national affiliate, with the AMA backing that move and a powersports industry-led body (Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada/MCC) bidding to take the role over.
That didn’t happen, but there have been big changes at the CMA in the months since. Most notably, longtime CEO Marilyn Bastedo retired in 2021, replaced by Holly Ralph. Then, this past winter of 2023, Ralph herself was replaced by fresh blood. Ross de St. Croix took over the role of CEO in February, which left a lot of people asking: “Ross Who?”.
Here’s who Ross de St. Croix is, and here’s what he’s headed with the CMA.
A competition background
Given the somewhat, uh, weird ties between the CMA and the trials scene, it should come as no surprise that Ross de St. Croix has a background in trials riding, and was even once a national champion. His father was a very successful car racer from Quebec, and when the family moved to southern Ontario, his boys found themselves in a neighbourhood filled with older guys who rode dirt bikes.
“When my brother and I could afford to buy one, we bought one to share, and joined the neighborhood gang. And we’ve been riding almost daily, since we were 11 years old,” says de St. Croix.
The brothers split their focus as they got older, both trying out all kinds of riding, both on-road and off-road, but Ross ending up focused on dirt and trials as his brother got into roadracing and then vintage racing. But at least the new CMA leader has that as personal experience and in his family, which is probably welcome news to Canadian competitors who have been hoping for a boost in the country’s roadracing scene.
Indeed, de St. Croix says it’s been a “whirlwind” four months since he’s accepted the role at the CMA, learning about connections with the FIA, the FIM, the AMA—and specifically, learning about the organizational side of racing.
“I’m learning, and getting ideas on how to make the organization better for competitors,” he says, adding that the FIM seems to be happy with what it sees coming from the CMA so far this year. For 2023, the CMA is sanctioning the Red Bull Outliers hard enduro competition in Alberta, and the World Supercross series stops in Vancouver. Also, Toni Sharpless’ MiniGP series has gained FIM approval as a feeder program for the Euro roadracing scene.
In other words, there’s a lot going on already, but at this point, de St. Croix is mostly dealing with situations handed down to him from previous leadership. He’s not dogmatic on the future, but he certainly seems like he wants things to be better, telling me “If somebody wants to race in Europe or in the US, I’m not going to stop them from doing that. I’m going to give them a license and they’re going to go go with our full support.”
That, alone, would be a big improvement.
What about the other stuff the CMA is up to—what about training or rider advocacy? Again, de St. Croix says he’s only starting to step into his role as CEO, as a volunteer—thankfully, his day job in the movie industry (LinkedIn here) allows him lots of free time to take care of organizational business. However, he feels the current CMA rider training program seems to be a success, and he has no big plans to change things up. But as for other matters that people want the CMA to tackle: Lane sharing, and other advocacy with government bodies, or other similar issues—de St. Croix says he has lots of ideas for growing the CMA and its activities, and while he’s committed to seeing things go through this year as-is, he’ll examine options in the months to come, and try to prioritize wisely.
“I’ve got these ideas that each idea probably takes a year or two to do. And I’ve got about 50 of them. So I’m going to try and pick and choose where I want to put my efforts at the moment.
“The training site is working very, very well at the moment. And so we’re going to leave it as it is, and then in the new year… we’ll be able to step back and decide what the plan is,” he says.
One important note: He says the CMA has already been in touch with the MCC’s leadership and there are more meetings to come. Does that mean a partnership is coming? There are no promises from de St. Croix, but he does say that if the CMA and the MCC can help each other out and help Canadian motorcycling grow, than that is ultimately the goal of both organizations, and everybody should be happy. He’s not interested in holding on to the organizational grudges of the past:
“I’m not a guy that holds any kind of negativity towards anybody in the past,” says de St. Croix. “It’s brand new, let’s get brand new relationships going. Let’s talk about the past, but not dwell on it and talk about what we can learn from the past, to make the sport of motorcycling in Canada a better place, a safer place.”
That sounds good to us here at CMG!
Good news, I wish him all the best !