Sunday, January 04, 2009

A rant, of sorts

None of us have anything critical riding on racing our bikes, well, 99.9% of us don’t . The desire to win is not a critical need in our lifes (if it is for you, well then maybe you should check the counselors covered by your health insurance). Food, Shelter, Love, that is all critical.

We are all pretty passionate about our sport, yet sometimes this passion gets ugly. Elbows, Curses, Thrown bikes, Personal attacks, etc..

Another thing we seem to have a hard time with, collectively, is being excited for someone else’s success, especially if it messes with our desires for success.

Bike racing has category systems, which is a great thing, because it allows participation by large numbers of people in categories they can feel competitive in related to their DNA and ability to ride or train.

The risk in every race or series of races, regardless of whether or not there is a governing body, is that some people will not move up to the next category when it is appropriate that they do.

Some governing bodies have set forth ‘rules’ that direct people to move up based off of result and/or experience. Some series have one or 2 people who just tell racers when they nee to move up. Still other series don’t care.

As in any system it will only work if someone actually takes the time and energy to regulate it. Yep, that’s all we need is some forced upgrade committee, sitting around, deciding who goes and who stays, In reality it would end up as arbitrary as it currently is.

For bike racing to grow and sustain itself it needs to be inclusive and allow for the enjoyment of the masses. Some argue that forcing upgrades is one main way that this happens. I do not disagree that people upgrading when appropriate is critical to the sport. I do argue that the reverse is true as well. Forcing riders up, when done arbitrarily and without consistency risks losing that rider and others as well. Both sides need to be looked at before a decision is made.

We as riders should do our part.

1. Upgrade when appropriate.
2. Don’t jump to conclusions about your competition, do not assume you know how hard they are trying
3. Be nice to each other, celebrate each others successes.
4. Don’t bother the promoters with complaints; it puts them in an uncomfortable position that they have no way out that will have a positive outcome.

USA Cycling does not force upgrades either on the Mountain or on the MTB. Actually after the easy Beginner to Sport (now 3 to 2) mtb upgrade and the 5 to 4 road upgrade, all other upgrades have to be petitioned for.

We do not need more rules and regulations. We need to be adults and be happy for success of others.

Winning a race or 2 or 3 does not and should not require a rider to move up, If every rider who won more than one race would be forced up there would be few people racing. (Play the tape all the way through)

1 person wins each race, I personally have won 1 CX race in my life, a B race. This year I was close to last in every CX race, even though I was faster than the year before, with the mob forced upgrade philosophy, that should mean that I should be able to downgrade.

But, even if Ohran would let me, I won’t.


primetime formerly known as slyfox said...

forget the categories, just have everyone line up all at once. 1 first and 1 last place. "ya today i scored 88th at the wheeler opener!!!!"

Eat Sleep MTB said...

I am curious what prompted this post.

StupidBike said...


KanyonKris said...

Racing will never be fair, not even close, but as you noted, you can still have a good time.

Fox has a good point, are categories worth the hassle?

A big problem is expectations and appearances. These local races look serious. There is a marked course, a start/finish line, timer, number plates/tags, prizes, etc. So racers take it serious. Hard for them to realize it's a just-for-fun racing business. The races are run well and they try to encourage racers to move up, but they don't want to alienate customers. Perhaps the promoters should better communicate to racers that they shouldn't expect fairness because racers self-categorize and it won't be policed.

Anonymous said...

why dont you knock it off with the negative waves and say something righteous and hopefull for a change

flahute said...

Ed may do things a little differently with the Intermountain Cup, but USA Cycling does do mandatory upgrades in mountain bike races.

For 2008 (I've not yet received my 2009 officials rulebook):

Beginner racers MUST move to the appropriate Sport category after placing in the top-five in five races in a given year.

Sport riders MAY move up to the Expert category after two top-five finishes and presenting an upgrade request to USA Cycling.

Sport riders MUST move up to the Expert category after five top-five finishes in a given year.

For cyclocross:

From 4 to 3 (CX doesn't go down to 5 like road does), experience in 5 races or 7 points in 12 months.

From 3 to 2, 10 points in 12 months. 2 wins is an automatic upgrade.

From 2 to 1, 20 points in 12 months. 2 wins is an automatic upgrade.

Again, Matt does the UTCX series differently than what the rule state, which he can do because the races are not sanctioned.

In the men's "B" this year, Tanner Cottle won the first two races of the season. If these had been USAC sanctioned races, he would be automatically upgraded ... if we used licensed categories, for him to be in the "B" race, he would have to hold a Cat 2 CX license, and would have gotten bumped up to the "A" field and an auto upgrade to Cat 1.

With the realization that our series is supposed to be fun, we do let people self-select; but a lot of people do stay down when they should be moving up.

My men's "C" field was a nightmare to score this year, because so few people upgrade to "B" ... and we've had some riders stay in the C category for multiple years.

The B fields really should be the biggest ... C flite riders should be upgrading up into the Bs, and B-flite riders should be upgrading to the As ...

The field sizes should be much more evenly spaced. There shouldn't be 100 people racing C, 60 racing B, another 60 racing masters, and only 25 racing A on a given day, there should be about 60 people in each field.

Bob ... you race the 35+ As in CX ... and where you are is where most people should be be; getting their teeth kicked in week after week, and fighting to improve; not staying down in a category because they know they can place well (if not win).

And that's my thoughts on the matter.

KanyonKris said...

pat :-)

flahute - Good info. Not sure why the local races don't adopt similar category/upgrade policies. It may tick people off at first, but they should realize the groupings will be more fair that way.

My first year MTB racing I'd see this strong racer at half the races. He took 1st a lot. The next year I moved up to Sport but he was still in Beginner. I asked him about it and he said he didn't want to do the longer distance of Sport. Valid reason, I guess. It did annoy some other Beginners. Back to my point above, perhaps these beginners wouldn't be annoyed if they understood there will be sandbagging so just get over it and have fun.

Anonymous said...

I came to the realization that I may never win a race because of sandbaggers, I take racing seriously and would like to win, however, with the knowledge there will always be faster riders in the wrong catagory I decided its ok for me not to win a race.
Also, my oppinion is that if you don't want people to stay in "C" you should not keep track of season points for that catagory.
I know that I as well as several other top point c riders would have upgraded had we not been chasing points.
anyway, if I didnt tell you... Thanks for watchin us go round and round this year. It really is appreciated. Also get that last race posted on utah cx Im still stoked

Daren said...

Good discussion and I agree with most of the points made by Bob and Steve. Ultimately, the A and 35+ A groups should not be the smallest groups. How to get that to happen is the challenge.

For example,Tanner and I had many discussions about when he should move to the A's. After the first two races, we decided he'd move up after one more win. He didn't win again during the season but we still debated moving up each week. As a junior, I decided racing at the front of the B's was better for his confidence than in the middle of the A's. In addition, there was good competition in the B's. However, after Nationals, we both agreed racing the A's the second half of the season would have better prepared him for the speed of frist lap of the 17-18 group at Nationals. He got overwhelmed at the start, but battled back for a top 20 finish.

Season points play into this as well, both individual and team. Honestly, season points helped keep Tanner in the B's. He had a battle for the overall points with the Cyclesmith crew and the Brothers Glenn. All those guys could have moved up midyear, but they all had a good time battling to the last race. That's not a bad thing.

The top guys in each group can be competitive in the next group up. I think they just don't realize it. Look at Bo Pipkin and Rich C. Both moved to the 35+ A from the B's for the last couple of races. In the last race, Bo finished just ahead of me and Rich right behind me. Both told me they were surprised how well they did. Hopefully, the top ten or so in each group will move up next year. I know Tanner will.

Finding your correct class is not always easy. I raced 45+ for State Championships because I knew I had a good shot at winning. Honestly, winning was pretty cool. However, I raced the 35+ the rest of the year and got worked. I will stay in the 35+ for at least a few more years because it's more fun to race with the fast guys, even if they kick your teeth in. Everyone should have a chance to win at some point, but for the long haul we should all error on racing in a group a little above our comfort level. Racing shouldn't be easy or comfortable.

Enough rambling.