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Thread: Sandbagging

  1. #1
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    Sandbagging

    I'm curious about what the prevailing opinions are of sandbagging. Does it seem right to have the top 6 finishers in a "sport" race be faster than the 5th place "expert"?

  2. #2
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    They are cheating. It's simple.

    It would seem a pretty hollow victory to win sport class if you are truly an expert. And you're cheating.
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    I did my first XC race not long ago, so I entered Cat 3, won by several minutes and moved up to cat 2 for the next race.

    The 2nd and 3rd place guys (on the same team) that I beat in the cat 3 race said they had been 1st or 2nd all season and I broke their streak. I asked them why they didnt move up a class if they were dominating their division and they said "because we want to win".

    Some people seem to care more about winning than fair sportsmanship. To me it's like a pro baseball player playing against little leagues. "I struck out 22!". Yeah, but it was 12 year olds.
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  4. #4
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    here's a question...i used to race in the bud light california state championship series in the late nineties.

    if you're supposed to move up from the beginner class to sport after winning a race or earning a podium finish, why even have a points series for the beginner class?

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    I don't think you need to move up or should move up after one good finish. But if you are consistently winning in your class you should or at least take a very close look at your numbers and compare them to the next class up. I certainly wouldn't want to be on top of a class and then move up a class and start finishing at the bottom all the time. But if I'm winning all the time and my times compare to at least the top half of the racers in the next group up then it's probably time to move up. I'm not sure really if it's cheating per say but it's definitely a douchebag move to sandbag.
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    if your top 5 thru the season and win here or there that's one thing, but if your blowing everyone away every by several minutes each race, then it is pretty douchy to stay in the class.

    that first race I did had several people finish within a minute of the winner in each group, but I won my group by over 4 minutes. It would not have been very cool for me to just race that group all year and blow everyone away. I moved up to cat 2 and finished top 8 and didn't get a medal or stand on the podium, but I didnt feel like I was cheating either!
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    Thanks for your replies, one point I want to reiterate though is that the top six racers were faster than the fifth expert. That seems pretty aggregious to me.

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    Same distance? Or are you comparing lap times?

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    Taking the long view.....

    Quote Originally Posted by ksechler View Post
    Thanks for your replies, one point I want to reiterate though is that the top six racers were faster than the fifth expert. That seems pretty egregious to me.
    So, are these top six racers racing in your Category and age group and you feel like they are keeping you off the podium?
    Most (all?) of them will be forced to cat up in the next race season and once they move up to Cat 1, the glory days will be over.
    As you age out of one group and into another, as you are forced to cat up, there will be brutally faster racers with a large time spread between fastest and DFL. That does not change.
    Just go race your race and enjoy that; let the rules take care of it (they will) and then you can stop worrying about whether it is fair or foul.

  10. #10
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    June Bug's totally right. It sorts in the wash. Typically a race director will upgrade race winners (or series winners) if they don't do it on their own accord. I know guys who will stay in the same cat full season, and then upgrade once the series if finished. If the sandbagging is painfully obvious more than one racer will complain.

    The higher the Cat, the greater the gaps can be. Just race your race, have fun and enjoy it. If you sincerely care about your results, worry about how you're gonna train better, suffer more, and race harder.

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    I won a cyclocross class C collegiate race and a high school XC skiing race in a low class, because I was clearly in the wrong class by mistake in both cases. But I did go all out, had very little previous experience, and certainly had to compete against the other top few guys. When I raced DH, went straight into Expert and was mid pack the whole time.
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  12. #12
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    Sandbagging

    I would race cat 1, but they won't sell a one day license for cat 1, you have to buy a full year at a much higher price. I only race once or twice a year, so I'm stuck in sport class.


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    I have been quick to call out sandbaggers in the past but after becoming more familiar with the rules I understand the point raised by icecreamjay. Many winners in Cat 2 would have raced Cat 1 if they had been allowed to. The Cat 1 race ends up not being as competitive as it could have been.

    There is a cascade effect because true Cat 2 guys see they will be racing Cat 1 guys, so they end up "catting down" to Cat 3. The result is that true beginners have no where to go. Unintended consequences of "the rules"?

    The solution may be to revamp the licensing process. Perhaps a sliding scale for number of races entered?
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by shekky View Post
    here's a question...i used to race in the bud light california state championship series in the late nineties.

    if you're supposed to move up from the beginner class to sport after winning a race or earning a podium finish, why even have a points series for the beginner class?
    I do think offering series points in the Beginners' class is a bit silly. I feel like the purpose of beginners' should be that people can figure out wtf they're doing in a context where they won't be lapped and run over by 40 highly competitive racers. Once people figure out how to race effectively, they're not beginners. Some people's fitness might keep them in the class for a little longer, which is fine - learning to train and building a bigger engine is part of becoming what I think a Sport class/Cat. 2 is. But I'd say once someone gets his clean race and his podium, it's time to move up.

    I'm looking at the Cat. 2 to Cat. 1 thing now. My region's having a lot of trouble with its XC scene. We lost what was our main series, and it's left a bit of a vacuum. Some of the guys who've been in the XC scene for ages and ages tried to put together a series to fill that void, but it's taking a little time to gather momentum. Ended up just being two races (was supposed to be three.) I managed to get myself onto the podium in the second one. It was on a course that's basically my back yard, so I practice it a fair amount, and things have been clicking more for me this season. I race because I enjoy it, like the challenge, and like the idea of moving up through the categories. I also have promised myself I'd start racing Expert/Cat. 1 before aging up into the 35+ Sport class, because those guys race like barbarians.

    Anyway, I made a spreadsheet that figured out average lap times for everybody in my category and in Cat. 1 in my same AG. It was interesting. I actually only raced straight XC three times this season - like I said, it hasn't been doing great in my region.

    The first time, the top four guys in my AG had faster lap times than last place in Cat. 1 and the winner had a better lap time than the average for Cat. 1. To be fair, Cat. 1 did another lap, 50% more distance in that race. I would have been DFL. :-P

    The second time, the entire Sport podium was faster than Cat. 1's average, though 4th place on down, including me, would have been DFL.

    The third time, also the one where I managed to get third place, 1st place was slower than the average for Cat. 1, but not by much. He'd have been "below the fold," but middle third. I wouldn't have been last, assuming I could maintain my pace for 50% longer, but I'd only have gotten by one guy.

    In the second two events, Cat. 1 was bigger than Cat. 2 for my AG.

    I think I'm going to stay in Sport for another season. But I'll probably make this spreadsheet again, and decide based on that. Because it's pretty obvious from looking at the way the fields overlap, and also from looking at the series points spreadsheets, that there are some people who hang around a lot longer than they should in Cat. 2. I don't want to be those people, and I have to be them to get consistent podiums. So instead, I think it makes sense to look at when I think I'm ready for the next field up, rather than when I'm done with the current field.

    On another of these threads a while ago, someone commented that it's not really racing in any category below Open. I have mixed feelings about that - certainly I'm trying to beat a few people in my category. And I'm happy I managed to podium in my category. But at the same time, the entire Cat. 1 field is faster than me. Since none of us get paid to do this, really what we're paying for is an experience, and I think the experience of racing one's peers is more compelling than the experience of getting dropped right at the gun and then riding around for a couple hours. As long as we're trying to limit field sizes, this seems like an okay way to break them up.

    USAC doesn't mess with the mountain bike racing in my state, so there's no licensure issues. It's got to be pretty hard to come up with a licensing system that works right both for people who make it to a couple races in a season and people who do a full calendar of a dozen or so. So I don't know if there's a great rules-based solution. Race promoters could maybe police it a little more, but I think in the end, we just have to recognize when we don't really belong in a category, and move up.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by spsoon View Post
    Same distance? Or are you comparing lap times?

    ^^^^This......

    Lap times may be the same, but the higher class generally runs an additional lap.

    So would the top 5 in Sport be competative(same lap times) if they had to do another lap.
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  16. #16
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    I think sandbagging has to be looked at from a multi-season standpoint.

    In my local race series, 30-39 Cat 3 has over 40 starters.. and the top 5 guys are often 15 minutes a lap faster than the bottom 1/3rd. Its so competitive that, despite being USAC sanctioned, they created a Cat 4 which doesnt accumulate points or have age groups. Getting to the podium is no easy feat, and if you worked your butt off in the off season to get there, even in Cat 3, you deserve to stay there through the season for a series win.

    Typically, our Cat 3's do 2 laps, Cat 2's do 3, and Cat 1's do 4. While there are some people in Cat 3 can do the same lap times at Cat 2's, you cant assume they can keep that pace for an additional lap or two.

    So, unless someone is repeatedly (season after season) staying in the same group without upgrading, then I dont see it as sandbagging.
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    To clarify, From the USA Cycling Rulebook re: Mountain Bike Category Upgrades:

    Mountain bike categories begin with Category 3 (beginners) and move to Category 2, Category 1 and finally Pro.

    Riders may advance as quickly as they wish up to Category 2.
    The USA Cycling official at the event may record the upgrade of a rider to Category 2.
    The official will then contact the USA Cycling Regional Coordinator to record the change.
    A rider may also contact USA Cycling by email or in writing, or their My USA Cycling page to change categories.

    3-2: Five top-five finishes is a mandatory upgrade.
    2-1: Riders may choose to upgrade with two top-five finishes

    1-Pro: Riders are eligible to be upgraded to Pro after two top-three or three top-five finishes in Elite/Open category 1 races at USA Cycling National MTB Calendar Events.

    Upgrades will be based on a rider's placings in a riderís category. Overall finish times are factored into upgrade requests. Riders must submit their upgrade requests through their USA Cycling online membership account.

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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    To clarify, From the USA Cycling Rulebook re: Mountain Bike Category Upgrades:

    Mountain bike categories begin with Category 3 (beginners) and move to Category 2, Category 1 and finally Pro.

    Riders may advance as quickly as they wish up to Category 2.
    The USA Cycling official at the event may record the upgrade of a rider to Category 2.
    The official will then contact the USA Cycling Regional Coordinator to record the change.
    A rider may also contact USA Cycling by email or in writing, or their My USA Cycling page to change categories.

    3-2: Five top-five finishes is a mandatory upgrade.
    2-1: Riders may choose to upgrade with two top-five finishes

    1-Pro: Riders are eligible to be upgraded to Pro after two top-three or three top-five finishes in Elite/Open category 1 races at USA Cycling National MTB Calendar Events.

    Upgrades will be based on a rider's placings in a riderís category. Overall finish times are factored into upgrade requests. Riders must submit their upgrade requests through their USA Cycling online membership account.
    and not to forgetting the additional:

    (c) Riders who are more than halfway through a series may
    request a waiver of a mandatory upgrade so that they may
    finish out the series under the conditions below:
    (i) The series is covered by a single permit and one
    race director.
    (ii) The request is approved by the race series
    director and USA Cycling.
    (iii) The waiver is granted for a maximum of three
    event days.
    (iv) Such a waiver may only be used once per rider
    per category.
    Note that for MTB series, subsections (i) and (iii) are not
    applicable
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  19. #19
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    Excellent, Sand Spur, I didn't catch the second part. However, at least in Texas, each race has its own director, so I don't think these rules would apply.

    To check out the very active Texas race scene, go here.
    There are separate spring and fall race series (5 or 6 races for each series), and a winter marathon series. There are no summer races; it is too damn hot.

    Our club puts on a race in the Spring series. We typically have 500+ racers, but have yet to break the 600 mark.

    Race venues are spread all over the state. Some races in East Texas are non-technical and favor roadies and pick up many racers from the Houston area who don't otherwise race mtn bikes. Other races in the Hill Country in rocky limestone country are much more technically demanding. This means that racers who might be dominating at one venue are at a disadvantage in another. This evens things out a lot.

  20. #20
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    I don't think the point is really what USAC's rules about upgrades are. They're clearly somewhat flexible and while I don't know what they're like about enforcing for MTB, in my region, they're somewhat notorious for not paying much attention to when people hit mandatory upgrades, allowing people to sandbag for a good long time after they hit mandatory road upgrades. My velodrome's a little better, though after looking at some points spreadsheets showing people's road categories the other day, I think they could stand to boot some people from 4 to 3 before they hit mandatory.

    I think it's more that given we're operating in a patchwork of imperfect systems that are open to abuse and various behaviors that seem to violate the spirit of our category systems are possible, what do people think? I do wonder what got the OP to post this time 'round, but it's always a hot topic.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksechler View Post
    I'm curious about what the prevailing opinions are of sandbagging. Does it seem right to have the top 6 finishers in a "sport" race be faster than the 5th place "expert"?
    The above scenario isn't Sandbagging. Participating in the wrong class perhaps, but not sandbagging.

    This happens in moto as well, and people, mainly those who finish behind said "sandbagger" are quick to call it out.

    My experience with true "sandbaggers" has been someone who doesn't give their best effort because of not wanting to compete at a higher level. The most common reason has been fear of getting hurt.

    If someone does mediocre during a season, and then catch fire after a no bump point in a season, they were probably sandbagging.

    A friend of mine has raced d36 twice, won both races with ease, and is now aging up to a new class (50c). He doesn't have enough points to bump to b.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yzfrider View Post
    The above scenario isn't Sandbagging. Participating in the wrong class perhaps, but not sandbagging.

    This happens in moto as well, and people, mainly those who finish behind said "sandbagger" are quick to call it out.

    My experience with true "sandbaggers" has been someone who doesn't give their best effort because of not wanting to compete at a higher level. The most common reason has been fear of getting hurt.

    If someone does mediocre during a season, and then catch fire after a no bump point in a season, they were probably sandbagging.

    A friend of mine has raced d36 twice, won both races with ease, and is now aging up to a new class (50c). He doesn't have enough points to bump to b.
    I disagree. I think it is the very definition of sandbagging. I'm in the 40-45 age group. These guys have been racing for years and several of them are sponsored by local shops. If you've been racing for years and are turning lap times that would allow you to place in expert, then you should race in expert. Not to is....sandbagging.

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    The Texas series does not require an upgrade until you have a series locked. If you win every race odds are you will have the series locked away after race 4 assuming you did your pay dirt. The other year when they ran one series for the whole year I upgraded to Cat 2 without ever winning a Cat 3 race. I went from top 5-8 with a couple podiums in 3's to middle pack Cat 2.

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    USAC also has field size rules for upgrading... maybe not an issue on the men's side, for for women who usually have way smaller field sizes, meeting the 10-15 racer rule is hard sometimes and therefore there's gals that get away with some pretty serious sandbagging for a long time because the field sizes are too small to enforce mandatory upgrading. And trust me, women can be some of the most hardcore sandbaggers out there...

    I actually really enjoyed upgrading to cat 1/open/expert (I race a mix of USAC and non-sanctioned stuff). The chances of sandbaggers are zero when you're racing in the highest category offered, and for USAC races I don't have to deal with one-day license sandbaggers like I did in cat 2 & 3. Sure, I may not win ever, but still more satisfying.

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