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  1. #1
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    Sport = Sand Baggers?

    So over in another forum I frequent, a racer posted about the problem with Sport Category is that people just sit there. They never push themselves to get any better and move up into Expert. But some of these racers could easily place in the mid pack of Expert if they did move up (he included himself in this assessment and in fact DID move up).
    So here is my question to what I assume will be a larger audience: Do you all agree that this really is a correct assessment of the situation in Sport? Is the main difference between Sport and Expert only about serious training (which is usually given as the main excuse for not moving up; "I don't want to train)? Thoughts on this?

  2. #2
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    I think it depends on the local riders. Our sport class riders would finish 15 or so minutes behind the leading Expert riders if they moved up.

    Sand Baggers can exist in all classes though.

  3. #3
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    Some race sport because the expert races are too long for them.

    Others won't buy a USAC license and have to race sport. I have seen "pro" skill level people in sport classes because of license issues.

    The rest are sandbaggers

  4. #4
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    A bit of both. We have some guys in my local series who won't upgrade because they don't want to pony up for a license. Pretty annoying, especially when they complain about it on the start and then blow the rest of the guys out.

  5. #5
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    Age old problem, Norba, now USA Cycling tried to assign a point system, that if a rider had a given number of wins or placings, they would be force to move up, this system works on the road, but for offroad, doesn't seem to work.
    Iv'e been expert/cat 1 since 1990, still see cat 2 riders that could easily finish up high in cat 1, guess they're afraid of failure.
    Cat 2 should be required to carry a license, first timers and beginners shouldn't, but you'll have those guys sandbagging also.

  6. #6
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    Is racing about using yourself or beating others? I race to see how fast I can go, other racers just give me incentive to push myself harder.

    Go as fast as you can, and who cares if others don't race to their true levels.

  7. #7
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    Age old problem. I thinks its worse in the beginner class. I can't believe how many people I see with team kits, $5000 29'ers and a copy of the training bible on the dash of their Subaru racing in beginner. To me beginners have entry level bikes and are thinking about trying out some of those fancy clip in pedals.
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  8. #8
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    My race partner for the last ultra endurance is a Cat 2, but easily runs a Cat 1 pace for upwards of 50 miles. He "can't" upgrade because the quality or quantity of races he completes do not qualify him for an upgrade. Plus he spits his time between CX and MTB. His best finish was 10th at Nationals XC last year, a top 5 is auto bump. He'd loving nothing more than to be a Cat 1 for ego reasons alone. Like many he'd rather be a non-winning Cat 1 than the fastest Cat 2.

    He is not a sand bagger. Fast guy, doesn't have issues about the licensing. But, yes, sand baggers are in every class in every sport.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by westin View Post
    He "can't" upgrade because the quality or quantity of races he completes do not qualify him for an upgrade. Plus he spits his time between CX and MTB. His best finish was 10th at Nationals XC last year, a top 5 is auto bump. He'd loving nothing more than to be a Cat 1 for ego reasons alone.
    Has he submitted a petition to USAC? Five top 5's gives you an auto-bump, but that isn't the requirement to move up. With his pedigree I'd be surprised if they don't grant him a Cat-1.

  10. #10
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    Another part of the issue in New England is that the Cat 1 races tend to be pretty empty at a lot of events. I could race 20 guys in Cat 2 or 5 in Cat 1. I'm still a Cat 2, but this is my first full year in the cat and I've been doing more road than mtb.

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    Yeah it's not that hard to get an upgrade. I just got mine using mostly collegiate races and a bunch of non sanctioned Cat2 races.

    Also to add my 2 cents. I agree with this to a point. There are several people in my local series that are consistent top 5's in sport and seem to stay there all season. I've always tried to move up as soon as I could, I get more racing for my money and better start times. I'm not expecting to do well in expert but it'll deff challenge me and provide a good workout,.

  12. #12
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    USAC is part of the problem. I petitioned to get upgraded from Cat 2 to Cat 1 a couple years ago. I had 5 top 5 finishes with 2 wins that year in an unsanctioned series where the fields were anywhere from 10-30 guys. I also placed 1st in a USAC sanctioned race that ironically had only 3 people in my age group and only two of us finished.

    The response from USAC was idiotic. If it wasn't for that one USAC race, I would have been denied an upgrade. The unsanctioned races weren't even considered even though they were more competitive.

    IMO upgrading shouldn't be an issue in mountain biking. If you want to race expert go ahead. I understand why it is important on the road side of the sport but someone without the skills doesn't create as much of a hazard for other riders in mountain biking.

    Like another poster said, Cat 1 also should have a one day license which could help stop people without a license from racing down.

  13. #13
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    I forgot. Stop giving out prizes for beginners and sports. Give them a cheap medal and tell them good job. Give money or nice prizes to experts and pro. The majority of us who race aren't doing it for prizes. A podium finish in a cat 1 race means more to me than any of the cheap prizes I received as a cat 2 or 3 racer.

    There are no categories in running events and it doesn't hurt the sport.

    The only people who get medals or awards are the top 3 overall runners for male and female and the top 3-5 runners in each age group depending on the size of the event.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by westin View Post
    My race partner for the last ultra endurance is a Cat 2, but easily runs a Cat 1 pace for upwards of 50 miles. He "can't" upgrade because the quality or quantity of races he completes do not qualify him for an upgrade. Plus he spits his time between CX and MTB. His best finish was 10th at Nationals XC last year, a top 5 is auto bump. He'd loving nothing more than to be a Cat 1 for ego reasons alone. Like many he'd rather be a non-winning Cat 1 than the fastest Cat 2.

    He is not a sand bagger. Fast guy, doesn't have issues about the licensing. But, yes, sand baggers are in every class in every sport.
    Maybe it's different for your region, but I'm guessing if he'd submit what experience he has, he'd get the upgrade. I was granted an upgrade from cat1 to Pro based on 2 tiny USA Cycling XC races (like, competing against <5 people in either one) and extensive NUE and Cyclocross experience.
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    It's pretty ridiculous that you even have to petition to move up to cat 1, maybe pro, but not cat 1. I moved up in 1990, even though I won and had high placing in cat 2(sport) I moved myself up, it was difficult at first, really just had to get used to the longer distances, but the quality of the riders were so much better. I believe part of the problem to be is licensing, cat 2 should be required to carry a license, but USA Cycling, should make having a license more worth while. They used to let you have either a road license or off road license and have the other for $10 more, used to have a monthly magazine that featured amateurs and amateur races, now it's take your $60 and don't do crap for the amateurs, everything goes to the pros.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by westin View Post
    My race partner for the last ultra endurance is a Cat 2, but easily runs a Cat 1 pace for upwards of 50 miles. He "can't" upgrade because the quality or quantity of races he completes do not qualify him for an upgrade. Plus he spits his time between CX and MTB. His best finish was 10th at Nationals XC last year, a top 5 is auto bump. He'd loving nothing more than to be a Cat 1 for ego reasons alone. Like many he'd rather be a non-winning Cat 1 than the fastest Cat 2.

    He is not a sand bagger. Fast guy, doesn't have issues about the licensing. But, yes, sand baggers are in every class in every sport.
    It is so easy to get a Cat 1 upgrade that I find this hard to believe. If he hasn't emailed his race resume in to USAC with a formal request then he should, as it's very unlikely he won't be upgraded.

    But my guess is that he hasn't requested an upgrade formally, or he'd have one.

  17. #17
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    In Canada the upgrade to cat 1(expert) to cat 2(sport) is really tough. We are licensed and the fields are close to 50 guys. On any given race there are a bunch of guys that could win. You have to earn points based on placing to be upgraded. So there are tons of guys that get close every year and then don't race any more so they don't get upgraded. These guys are sandbaggers. They don't want the additional mileage or speed or the risk of getting pounded. We also don't separate in age categories except for at Provincials where we then aren't separated by CATs. All in all it means that our expert and elite cats are small and sport turns into the dumping ground for everyone else.

  18. #18
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    In Colorado, (it seems that) the top of the Cat 2 Sport Classes can overlap the middle of the Cat 1 Expert classes regularly. Personally, I have no problem with this... as long as the racers that are on the podium week in and week out move up the following season. If they don't, well...

    As for some "beginners" being sandbaggers... in $5k bikes, etc... is a Cat 3 Beginner a beginner cyclist or a beginner racer? As long as they haven't pinned a number on more than once or twice, they can enter a beginner race no matter how there fitness is... and crush the field. Good on them! But after doing that a few times... if they stay in the Cat 3s, they are sandbaggers.

    Consider: the quality of the Cat 1 field top to bottom is going to be substantially better than the Cat 2 field (where the top half is going to be fast and the quality of racing good, but the bottom half, quite a step backwards). The racers at front of the Cat 2 races are constantly having to deal with the back of the class in front of them, and there is not too much experience at the back of the field. It's a PITA. A Cat 1 race is just so much smoother, with the entire field moving along at a more similar pace.

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  19. #19
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    Where I race I see sandbaggers but I also see lots of guys racing a cat up in sport. It seems that they don't want to be labeled a "beginner" or the beginner course is too short so they race sport instead. Combine this with sport riders that are too nervous to move to expert because the expert field has lots of near-pros racing and this leaves a wide range of abilities together in sport. I realize that this is amateur racing but it seems that we could use another intermediate level category, an uber-noob catagory, or encourage people to stay in beginner longer.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by westin View Post
    Like many he'd rather be a non-winning Cat 1 than the fastest Cat 2.
    Unless your in the PSE class there IS sandbagging in EVERY class there are guys that could race in the PSE class however stay in the CAT 1/Expert class forever.

    Here in Texas and our TMBRA series where we have quite large CAT1/Expert 40-49 class and have to split the CAT2/Sport into 40-44 and 45-49 just to accommodate everyone.

    What you will notice and what other have stated is that more often than not the "winner" of the CAT2/Sport class would be pack fodder in the CAT1/Expert class

    I've known folks who have moved back down to CAT2/Sport just because they didn't enjoy racing/riding for "blownteenth" and next to DFL in CAT1/Expert and would rather get their ego boosted racing for top 5 in CAT2/Sport and have no qualms about it either.

    Yeah life was good back when i was racing CAT2/Sport eons ago (see profile pix and note 26" wheels Ha!) and riding away from everyone just minutes after the start and seeing how many back markers in other classes you could catch. Well...after so many top five finishes i got my automatic upgrade to race with the "big boys"

    Talk about a b*tchslap of reality even when I training my butt off had a coach and was 30lbs lighter best i could muster was a top ten finish and a hand full of top teens in my new CAT1/Expert class.

    Talk about a recipe for burnout!

    However as easy as it would be to ask for a down grade and hit the reset button I'd take more pride into getting motivated again, getting back into shape and losing 30lbs and setting some goals of having a better time in CAT1/Expert than winning a CAT2/Sport race again.

    That's my 2˘ worth

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlmuncie View Post
    I realize that this is amateur racing but it seems that we could use another intermediate level category, an uber-noob catagory, or encourage people to stay in beginner longer.
    Here in Oregon, starting this year, OBRA has broken mountain biking down into four categories, Cat 1, Cat 2, Cat 3, and Beginner to mirror what we have going on in the cross races. The beginner classes are pretty small at the races, but they are really truly beginners.

  22. #22
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    I am a mid-pack CAT 2 guy and I decided to race endurance (3 hour) class this year. I think all of the divisions are pretty silly, especially with getting a medal because you were one of three people in your age group and division to show up and race. I feel that in reality you should compare yourself to everyone who showed up and raced, and not to just people in your age group or division. The endurance race still has super fast (CAT 1) guys as long with some pretty slow people, but the start isn't as sketchy as a CAT 2 race where everyone is going crazy fast in a huge group with some only having mediocre skills.

  23. #23
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    I know a guy who never podiumed one time as a Cat 2 and somehow he lines up with us in the Cat 1 field to finish last every race. What kind of "______bagger" is this.. LOL

    I was always under the impression that you had to earn your stripes sorta thing...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    I know a guy who never podiumed one time as a Cat 2 and somehow he lines up with us in the Cat 1 field to finish last every race. What kind of "______bagger" is this.. LOL

    I was always under the impression that you had to earn your stripes sorta thing...
    Hey I resemble that remark!

    It's FIVE top FIVE'S and you get an automatic upgrade here in Texas.

    And yes it IS possible to be upgraded and never stand on the podium.

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  25. #25
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    I don't think another category is needed. In the last XC race that I did there were 8 pro men, 35 Experts, 65 Sport Riders and 15 Beginners. I would like to see the race series do away with age groups with the exception of U23 and 50+. Then if the goal was to have equal numbers in each group the top 20 Experts become Pros, The top 15 Sport riders become experts and the bottom 15 become Beginners. With all the age groups its just too many categories.
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  26. #26
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    Our local weekly race series has the four category grouping (no SS or age classes):
    Beginner; Intermediate (Just like it sounds; not a beginner, but not super fast either); Advanced Men (Pretty fast and more distance, but not the big leagues); Open (Fit and fast). For the most part, this seems like a good system and the organizers make it clear they will upgrade you if they think you're sandbagging (and have done so).

    I've been doing the Advanced category and usually I'm in the top 25% and would be last or near last in the Open. One guy in the Advanced was winning easily every time, disappearing off down the trail in the first 10 minutes of the 60 to 90 minute race. I asked a mutual friend why he wasn't doing the Open category and he responded "Yeah, he's fast but he can't go long". The Open races were typically another lap, approximately 25 to 33% more time/distance. And it was true -- at the local endurance race I was an hour faster (6 hours). Also, my wife reported in the shorter races that his lead was biggest about midway through the race, and shrank towards the end. Sometimes finding the right category is not about speed or skills, sometimes it's about the distance.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalfaraway View Post
    I don't think another category is needed. In the last XC race that I did there were 8 pro men, 35 Experts, 65 Sport Riders and 15 Beginners. I would like to see the race series do away with age groups with the exception of U23 and 50+. Then if the goal was to have equal numbers in each group the top 20 Experts become Pros, The top 15 Sport riders become experts and the bottom 15 become Beginners. With all the age groups its just too many categories.
    Eh - depends on your area really. If we did that in TX, we'd have massive groups. For example, here are the numbers for the men in a recent race:

    Pro/Cat1: 32

    Expert 19-29: 8
    Expert 30-39: 25
    Expert 40-49: 25
    Expert total: 58

    Sport 19-29: 16
    Sport 30-34: 20
    Sport 35-39: 20
    Sport 40-44: 20
    sport 45-49: 24
    Sport totals: 100

    Beginner 19-29: 26
    Beginner 30-39: 43
    Beginner 40-49: 38
    Beginner totals: 107

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    Our local weekly race series has the four category grouping (no SS or age classes):
    Beginner; Intermediate (Just like it sounds; not a beginner, but not super fast either); Advanced Men (Pretty fast and more distance, but not the big leagues); Open (Fit and fast). For the most part, this seems like a good system and the organizers make it clear they will upgrade you if they think you're sandbagging (and have done so).

    I've been doing the Advanced category and usually I'm in the top 25% and would be last or near last in the Open. One guy in the Advanced was winning easily every time, disappearing off down the trail in the first 10 minutes of the 60 to 90 minute race. I asked a mutual friend why he wasn't doing the Open category and he responded "Yeah, he's fast but he can't go long". The Open races were typically another lap, approximately 25 to 33% more time/distance. And it was true -- at the local endurance race I was an hour faster (6 hours). Also, my wife reported in the shorter races that his lead was biggest about midway through the race, and shrank towards the end. Sometimes finding the right category is not about speed or skills, sometimes it's about the distance.
    Sounds like he needs to up his endurance training then. Not being able to do the longer distance at this point isn't really a reason to let them sit around beating everyone else. I'd move him up. He'll get more distance, and eventually get strong enough to do it.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    Our local weekly race series has the four category grouping (no SS or age classes):
    Beginner; Intermediate (Just like it sounds; not a beginner, but not super fast either); Advanced Men (Pretty fast and more distance, but not the big leagues); Open (Fit and fast). For the most part, this seems like a good system and the organizers make it clear they will upgrade you if they think you're sandbagging (and have done so).

    I've been doing the Advanced category and usually I'm in the top 25% and would be last or near last in the Open. One guy in the Advanced was winning easily every time, disappearing off down the trail in the first 10 minutes of the 60 to 90 minute race. I asked a mutual friend why he wasn't doing the Open category and he responded "Yeah, he's fast but he can't go long". The Open races were typically another lap, approximately 25 to 33% more time/distance. And it was true -- at the local endurance race I was an hour faster (6 hours). Also, my wife reported in the shorter races that his lead was biggest about midway through the race, and shrank towards the end. Sometimes finding the right category is not about speed or skills, sometimes it's about the distance.
    Unfortunately, they don't do the classes like that for women, which sucks. I get that there are less entries, but only having Beginner, Intermediate, and Open leave a lot of us girls in limbo. I really did like how they matched the men's classes at the Gowdy Grinder, I feel it helped the women's field accurately spread out more vs. having open-level women riding along with fairly new riders in an intermediate class.

    I do agree that race length comes into play. I know several people that want to stay Cat 3 for the shorter race distances. It can often be a very big leap between Cat 3 to 2, or to 1 in distance. It's one thing to hammer for 8 miles, another for 30.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by fontarin View Post
    Eh - depends on your area really. If we did that in TX, we'd have massive groups.
    Same here in our local South Florida race series.. Just our 30-39 sport class has 50 racers. No age classes and youd have a starting field in sport of no less than 100 racers.

  31. #31
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    I've actually enjoyed some small but competitive unclassed races just as much or more than the bigger classed races. The problem I see where I live now (I'd have upgraded to expert had I not moved last year) is that I'm in the top 25% of the 40+ sport group, but would be near last in the 40+ expert group. The gap is huge.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by fontarin View Post
    Eh - depends on your area really. If we did that in TX, we'd have massive groups. For example, here are the numbers for the men in a recent race:

    Pro/Cat1: 32

    Expert 19-29: 8
    Expert 30-39: 25
    Expert 40-49: 25
    Expert total: 58

    Sport 19-29: 16
    Sport 30-34: 20
    Sport 35-39: 20
    Sport 40-44: 20
    sport 45-49: 24
    Sport totals: 100

    Beginner 19-29: 26
    Beginner 30-39: 43
    Beginner 40-49: 38
    Beginner totals: 107
    What? Nobody 50 and over racing in Texas?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    What? Nobody 50 and over racing in Texas?
    The poster I was replying to said with the exception of U23 and 50+, so I left those out.

  34. #34
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    I think those totals like like great start numbers. I honestly think that racing against 100 people is way more fun than racing against 25. What's nice about it is that you never end up in no mans land, it's usually head to head against somebody with the larger start numbers. I agree that the age groups should go away...are they relevant anyway? You really want to be racing against people your skill level, regardless of age.

    Quote Originally Posted by fontarin View Post
    Eh - depends on your area really. If we did that in TX, we'd have massive groups. For example, here are the numbers for the men in a recent race:

    Pro/Cat1: 32

    Expert 19-29: 8
    Expert 30-39: 25
    Expert 40-49: 25
    Expert total: 58

    Sport 19-29: 16
    Sport 30-34: 20
    Sport 35-39: 20
    Sport 40-44: 20
    sport 45-49: 24
    Sport totals: 100

    Beginner 19-29: 26
    Beginner 30-39: 43
    Beginner 40-49: 38
    Beginner totals: 107

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by brentos View Post
    I think those totals like like great start numbers. I honestly think that racing against 100 people is way more fun than racing against 25.
    We have a Marathon series here in Texas if you want to race with 100+ people all at once.

    Personally I despise the mass start or even the le mans type of start because your always going to get caught up behind someone much much slower and it clogs up the entire trail for miles.

    Way back when they have had sport classes in Texas that would have 90+ racers line up if you were called up 70th no matter how you try and schooch your way up further your screwed before the race even starts.

    The gun goes off and if your on the 8th row by the time your clipped and rolling the top ten are 200 yards down the trail at top speed exactly how much fun is it trying to fight your way 50 or 60 other racers with another 30 to 40 bearing down on you in a long bike conga line in the singletrack?

    this isn't road racing with a nice roll out start this is mtb racing with a sprint start.

  36. #36
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    I would rather start with a field of 100 then 10 fields of 10.

    In a race where the pros have 40 minute lap times they are halfway done with their first lap before the last group even leaves the start line. This means the pro riders are lapping more then half of the riders in the race.

    In my sport races the first lap is very hectic. I start catching the slowest riders from the field in front 5-10 min into the race, and the fastest riders from the group behind start catching me around the same time. If we killed the age group, and just started as a field of 100 people would sort themselves out and after the first 10 min of the race there would be much less passing. I have done a number of races that have a prologue lap on wide dirt roads or even pavement to get things sorted before hitting the trail. Also the start would not take so long so the pros would not lap as many riders.
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    I have been in races where they do mass starts but score the different groups separately. This works well when the individual groups are small.

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    If you wanted to do a mass start, you'd need to keep track of all the riders to do fair call-ups or row placements (like in the UCI races - the people who start in back are pretty much screwed, but they can move up rows by getting better placings through the series) It's much easier with a field of 40 to call the top 10 for the series. I'd rather pass slower riders from other groups than to have to try to work my way up for 30-40th in the singletrack and have to pass 20ish other riders from the start.

    For groups with like 10 people in each category, I can see combining some. The fall series in Texas in previous years has had stuff like that (19-39 on lower turnout races). If you're getting 20-30+ per category though, I'd prefer to just keep it the way it is and not make it so reliant on getting good placement at the start.

    I think this will vary by geography too. In Texas, we have very few sustained uphills to start on. Most of our starting loops are fairly flat or have a short uphill then are flat/downhill. If we had a 1 mile climb to sort people out at the start, I can see having larger groups.

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    Anyone who "wins" a lesser category when they should be upgrading is absolutely pathetic. There's no excuse, if you can't "afford" to upgrade your license then you can't afford to race. They're nothing but glory hunters. Blaming not upgrading on not having the endurance to ride the next category is even more pathetic. The irony is that they can't let go of that "win" they're able to get in sport/open or whatever, yet the last placed rider in the next category is ahead of them by default, since they're in a higher category. Grow some balls.

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    Utah is clearly in a different arena since there are zero sanctioned races here. Utah takes pride in telling USAC where to go. So the petitioning isn't a problem here. But there are no automatic Cat bumps either. It's basically on the honor system. either a guy moves up where they are ready or they get told to after people in the field complain. Sport regularly has a guy winning by 10 minutes or more who disappeared within the first mile. I don't think the distance is an real issue. Are you fast or not? That's the question. The main reason why guys don't bump up here are: I don't want to train. I don't want to be in the bottom half of expert and I only do a couple races each year. All these excuses are moot IMO. Are you fast or not?
    I look at the breakdown like this:
    Beginner-Just figuring this out. Trying to loose my beer/couch gut. I can't warm up or I get too tired.
    Sport-I can beat the beginners and I don't feel like I'm going to die at the faster pace. Warming up helps.
    Expert-I know what I am doing and I am fast. I warm up by doing a pre-lap or jumping on the training in the parking lot.
    Pro-Bring it. Any type of race. I warmed up by doing a 50 this morning.

  41. #41
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    Ok...new thought to this;
    I am noticing guys who had raced in Expert the previous season that are now showing up in sport. Usually cause, "I haven't trained". Cool or not cool?

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    Cool if they finish off the podium and get beat by real Sports.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    Cool if they finish off the podium and get beat by real Sports.
    I'd have to agree... I've seen this in my local series this year as well. People who use to do intermediate and raced lower in beginner due to fitness issues. Injuries, fitness, life can all factor in.

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    My 2 cents.
    If you are serious and want to be a cat 1 move up, and you should be the only class to get any prizes.
    However, at lot of sport guys 20 - 40 years old have families and can't devote their lives to riding a bike 12+ hours a week. I am competitive in sport and train about 7 hours a week and maybe 9 hours a week on holiday weekends, if I trained more than that I would have to sell my $5K bike to pay the divorce lawyer. I am strong at 20 miles but that is it, if I had to go 30 miles I could not do it because of the amount of time I can devote to training. All of the guys from my class that have had to move up in the last two years simply stopped racing. I have asked several of them what happened and they all say the same thing, they don't have time to train for Cat 1 with family and jobs. From a purely competitive stand point it seams you should move up. However from a reality standpoint being forced / asked to move up kills the sport of mountain bike racing in sport class. However, I think beginners should move up after a few podiums. Think about how competitive the sport class would be if the 6 or so fastest riders were still there from the past several year, there would be a different winner every week I bet you the same guys would not be on the podium every week.
    I just think some of you should think about racing from the view point of the reality of life, families and jobs and not like we are all pro racers.

  45. #45
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    Sport = Sand Baggers?

    Since practically none of us will ever earn a living doing this, lets not forget it's all about FUN.
    Who cares what others are doing, race to race and enjoy the fact that at this point in your life you are awesome. And that there are so many people who couldn't ever do a tenth of what we all do on bikes every weekend.

    In the end, the only person who will remember your race is you! Race for the memories you will exgerate to your grand kids in 30 years. And the memories that will make you smile 25 years later (me right now)

    Bill

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    RD's should be more diligent in booting people up (or out). Sandbagging is cowardly and bad for the sport and purposefully discourages other participants.

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    Open Class for Sport Riders

    Ok, I have been thinking about this for a day or two and here is my solution.

    Make a new Sport Open Category

    When the time comes to have to move from sport to Cat 1 give the riders the option to go into Cat 1 or a Sport Open Class that has no age limits but still races the sport distances. This open class will put all the people that want to stay in sport due to family and work obligations in the same highly competitive class. This solves several problems with the current class structures.
    1. It frees up age based sport classes for the up and coming riders to have a chance to compete and keeps them from filling cheated by people they think are sand baggers.
    2. Gives riders that want to move up to Cat 1 the option to do so
    3. Riders that don't have the time commitments for Cat 1 can continue to have fun and compete with other riders without being forced out of the sport.

    In the end it all boils down to a business decision for USA Cycling and the local promoter. By adding this class you keep more riders happy and coming back to races thus collecting more entry fees and making more money.

  48. #48
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    Why not just make all Cat 2 racers do the same distance as Cat 1? It certainly doesn't take 10+ hours/week of training to be able to race for < 2 hours at a time.

    Why is distance an issue at all? I know plenty of Cat 2 XC racers who do 6- and 12-hour racing (team and solo), and marathon-type racing as well. The distance isn't an issue there...

    Adding more classes won't help anyone, unless the Cat 2 fields are already too big to be manageable. We need less classes, not more.

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    I've talked to race organizers about distance and how sometimes it seems arbitrary. I was told that they often pick class distances based on how long they expect each class to take to complete the specific distance. They base the course or number of laps on this time so that the expected time between the first finisher and last finisher is within a certain period, say one hour so that the organizers can plan for awards ceremonies, food service, trail closure times, volunteer times, etc. Of course not all organizers are same but this is what I was told.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peteuga View Post
    Ok, I have been thinking about this for a day or two and here is my solution.

    Make a new Sport Open Category

    When the time comes to have to move from sport to Cat 1 give the riders the option to go into Cat 1 or a Sport Open Class that has no age limits but still races the sport distances. This open class will put all the people that want to stay in sport due to family and work obligations in the same highly competitive class. This solves several problems with the current class structures.
    1. It frees up age based sport classes for the up and coming riders to have a chance to compete and keeps them from filling cheated by people they think are sand baggers.
    2. Gives riders that want to move up to Cat 1 the option to do so
    3. Riders that don't have the time commitments for Cat 1 can continue to have fun and compete with other riders without being forced out of the sport.

    In the end it all boils down to a business decision for USA Cycling and the local promoter. By adding this class you keep more riders happy and coming back to races thus collecting more entry fees and making more money.
    This is exactly what we have here in Indiana...our DINO series. First wave is Pro/Elite, 2nd is Cat 1, right after that is Cat 2 Open, then the Cat 2 age groups start in their waves. Cat 2 Open does seem to work...though there have been seasons where it seems like guys who really shouldn't be there were signing up just to avoid traffic. But this year the Open guys really are finishing at the front of the Cat 2 class.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteuga View Post
    Ok, I have been thinking about this for a day or two and here is my solution.

    Make a new Sport Open Category
    This works for me. Hopefully, USAC will approve.

    Also, distance DOES make a difference in endurance athletic events, each with different requirements - Marathon vs 10K vs 5K; Road Race vs Crit vs TT, etc.

    As mentioned, USAC officially sanctioning the 'Open - Sport - Cat2' distance will keep people involved...which is good for everybody.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    This works for me. Hopefully, USAC will approve.

    Also, distance DOES make a difference in endurance athletic events, each with different requirements - Marathon vs 10K vs 5K; Road Race vs Crit vs TT, etc.

    As mentioned, USAC officially sanctioning the 'Open - Sport - Cat2' distance will keep people involved...which is good for everybody.
    So at a big marathon or 10k, do the slower runners, maybe with limited training hours, get to race a shorter distance than the elites?

    Or do only the fastest runners attend marathons, while the weekend warriors only attempt 5k races?

    You picked a very bad example.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by westin View Post
    My race partner for the last ultra endurance is a Cat 2, but easily runs a Cat 1 pace for upwards of 50 miles. He "can't" upgrade because the quality or quantity of races he completes do not qualify him for an upgrade. Plus he spits his time between CX and MTB. His best finish was 10th at Nationals XC last year, a top 5 is auto bump. He'd loving nothing more than to be a Cat 1 for ego reasons alone. Like many he'd rather be a non-winning Cat 1 than the fastest Cat 2.

    He is not a sand bagger. Fast guy, doesn't have issues about the licensing. But, yes, sand baggers are in every class in every sport.
    I tend to agree. If someone is an expert level racer, I do give that immediate, "Oh crap, this guy is fast" type of respect in my head.

    As for myself, I could probably get on the podium once in a while in beginner. To be honest, I'd feel a little embarrassed to be up there as a beginner. I race sport because the courses are longer and more fun usually. Driving an hr, racing for 70 min, paying $50, gives me the feeling of "short changed."
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

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    Just having an open sport class does not make sense to me if you still have age groups in expert and Beginner. Kill the age group, outside of under 23 and 50+ age is Irrevelent. The Road system of Pro 1 2 3 4 5 makes more sense to me. The Open sport category could become 3+ if there are big numbers in cat 3.
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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAL 9000 View Post
    Hey I resemble that remark!

    It's FIVE top FIVE'S and you get an automatic upgrade here in Texas.

    And yes it IS possible to be upgraded and never stand on the podium.

    Signed - Perennial 4th place finisher Hal 9000

    Our fields are large enough that the podiums are usually 5 spots deep.

  56. #56
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    On a side note, if a Cat 2 upgrades mid-season in our US CUP series, they may pass up an overall season victory. Perhaps some Cat 2's legitimately enroll themselves into Cat 2 and find themselves knee deep in a series title shot. Let them finish the season and THEN cat up. If they return to Cat 2 the following season and crush everyone again...well...then they are just lame jerks.

    .02

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    So at a big marathon or 10k, do the slower runners, maybe with limited training hours, get to race a shorter distance than the elites?

    Or do only the fastest runners attend marathons, while the weekend warriors only attempt 5k races?

    You picked a very bad example.
    Agree. Everyone needs to race the same darn distance. It will erase SO many questions. A cat2 posting podium cat 1 times in a same distance race = complete and total sandbagger. Simple.

    On the flipside, if a cat 1 was posting times that would leave them mid pack in cat 2, then they need to get demoted...at least by season's end.

  58. #58
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    WORS has a Sport Comp class, that does the same distance as Expert. A stepping stone going up to Cat 1.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    So at a big marathon or 10k, do the slower runners, maybe with limited training hours, get to race a shorter distance than the elites?

    Or do only the fastest runners attend marathons, while the weekend warriors only attempt 5k races?
    No. (Remember, we're discussing race distance, NOT speed or competency.)

    Participants in those competitions voluntarily segregate themselves based on the distance and genre in which they've trained.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    No. (Remember, we're discussing race distance, NOT speed or competency.)

    Participants in those competitions voluntarily segregate themselves based on the distance and genre in which they've trained.
    No, we're talking speed and competency. That's how the categories are determined. Otherwise, you'd have 1) standardized distances for each category (instead of some races where Cat 1 does 15 miles, and some where Cat 2 does 15 and Cat 1 does 20) and 2) no point requirements for upgrades.

    What we really need is to get rid of age classes, and go to a Cat 5-1 system just like road racing. You can make Cat 5, 4 and 3 shorter races if you like. Cat 2-pro will ALL race the same distance.

    And it would work. You know why? Because anyone who is competitive enough in a roughly 1-hour race (current Cat 2) to be forcibly upgraded SHOULD BE ABLE to be reasonably competitive in a race 25-30% longer. It's a very strange person who can win a 1-hour race but would be blown away in a 1.25 or 1.5 hour race.

    Anyone who isn't earning points in their current category shouldn't be worried about being forced to upgrade, because they won't. And anyone who quits because they made the "massive" jump from winning Cat 2 to racing Cat 1 is simply pissed that they aren't winning.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    What we really need is to get rid of age classes, and go to a Cat 5-1 system just like road racing.
    You seem to be very alone in your thinking on this.

    The USAC supports and promotes MASTERS (and Junior) Categories in both MTB and Road Racing, going so far as to sanction State and National Championships for each (w/Cat subdivisions).

    As cyclists grow, mature, age, have families, work, etc., their life circumstances, time availability, and bodies change. As such, the USAC understands this and the overriding value of promoting the sport and keeping people involved and inspired no matter their age.

    The current category system of Junior, Senior, Master, Pro supports this ideal.

    Of course, not perfect, but why be exclusionary?

    It's all relative anyway....

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    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    You seem to be very alone in your thinking on this.
    A few others have mentioned it. I wonder how road cats would work out in mtb.

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    So use the road model of junior, masters (35+) and pro if you like. Still have open Cat 5-1 categories (i.e. juniors and masters can still race categories vs. junior or masters).

    As cyclists grow, age, mature, have more or less time to train... then they move up or down in category, as on the road. No need to assume that a 42 year old will necessarily be slower or faster than a 25 year old. Racing ability is only very loosely associated with age...

    It's just silly to have 3-4 age divisions of each category, and THEN add another in-between category for those who are too fast for a 60-90 minute race, but feel a 90-120 minute race would be the death of them (the proposed "Cat 2 open")

    XC racing is hardly exclusionary... heck, with so many categories, everyone gets some sort of prize just for showing up, it seems. 75+ racers in the crit I did 2 weekends ago, and it paid 5 deep... and it still drew (across all categories) at least 3x the number of participants we get at even big XC races here.

    5 categories would allow for a TRUE beginner category, plus 4 other categories to move up and down through, even without age groups. Maybe even save masters for 45+ only; there would still be plenty of categories.

    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    You seem to be very alone in your thinking on this.

    The USAC supports and promotes MASTERS (and Junior) Categories in both MTB and Road Racing, going so far as to sanction State and National Championships for each (w/Cat subdivisions).

    As cyclists grow, mature, age, have families, work, etc., their life circumstances, time availability, and bodies change. As such, the USAC understands this and the overriding value of promoting the sport and keeping people involved and inspired no matter their age.

    The current category system of Junior, Senior, Master, Pro supports this ideal.

    Of course, not perfect, but why be exclusionary?

    It's all relative anyway....

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    So use the road model of junior, masters (35+) and pro if you like. Still have open Cat 5-1 categories (i.e. juniors and masters can still race categories vs. junior or masters).

    As cyclists grow, age, mature, have more or less time to train... then they move up or down in category, as on the road. No need to assume that a 42 year old will necessarily be slower or faster than a 25 year old. Racing ability is only very loosely associated with age...

    It's just silly to have 3-4 age divisions of each category, and THEN add another in-between category for those who are too fast for a 60-90 minute race, but feel a 90-120 minute race would be the death of them (the proposed "Cat 2 open")

    XC racing is hardly exclusionary... heck, with so many categories, everyone gets some sort of prize just for showing up, it seems. 75+ racers in the crit I did 2 weekends ago, and it paid 5 deep... and it still drew (across all categories) at least 3x the number of participants we get at even big XC races here.

    5 categories would allow for a TRUE beginner category, plus 4 other categories to move up and down through, even without age groups. Maybe even save masters for 45+ only; there would still be plenty of categories.
    Yes, I agree, the amount of categories seems to keep growing with podium/awards often going 5-deep. (Heck, the length of the award ceremonies are now getting complaints. But, people stick around, socialize, and wait for their trinket.)

    Believe it or not, when comparing apples-to-apples, AGE does matter. (Very rarely do cyclists move DOWN in category, and the USAC discourages it - granting in only special occasions.) Do not know your age, but I bet you think differently as you mature.

    Not surprisingly, in Masters categories, you often have aging Cat 1/2's gleefully racing Cat 3/4's -- these are the sandbaggers. They take full advantage of current "age loophole" to collect $$$, prizes, and most important, the number 1-2-3 next to their name. Is this fair? This why the USAC, in their State and National Championships, further subdivide Masters categories by age and category. AND why, in MTB, an 'Open Sport Cat2' category might be helpful in keeping people where they belong.

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flucod View Post
    You cannot in road racing race the the CAT you should be. I race Pro in MTB but when I do a road race have to race CAT 5. In fact, most in this area the race Pro or CAT 1 MTB race CAT 5 road. How is that a "TRUE" beginners group? I cannot move up until I do 10 road races and that will never happen, I do not want to do 10. I think the road model absolutely sucks beyond compare.
    I race pro MTB also, and had to earn my upgrades on the road as well. There's a very good reason to require experience-based upgrades from 5 to 4... there are plenty of people out there with the engine to race Cat 3 right off the bat (pro triathletes come to mind), but without the handling skills to avoid balling up in a turn with 70+ racers around them.

    10 races takes all of 2-3 months of occasionally doing a crit to achieve. After that, if you are strong enough to race pro MTB, the points to make Cat 3 should also be a very quick process.

    That said, there should be some reciprocity between road and XC categories. When I upgraded to pro XC, USAC automatically moved me from Cat 2 to Cat 1 CX as well (without my asking).

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    Yes, I agree, the amount of categories seems to keep growing with podium/awards often going 5-deep. (Heck, the length of the award ceremonies are now getting complaints. But, people stick around, socialize, and wait for their trinket.)

    Believe it or not, when comparing apples-to-apples, AGE does matter. (Very rarely do cyclists move DOWN in category, and the USAC discourages it - granting in only special occasions.) Do not know your age, but I bet you think differently as you mature.

    Not surprisingly, in Masters categories, you often have aging Cat 1/2's gleefully racing Cat 3/4's -- these are the sandbaggers. They take full advantage of current "age loophole" to collect $$$, prizes, and most important, the number 1-2-3 next to their name. Is this fair? This why the USAC, in their State and National Championships, further subdivide Masters categories by age and category. AND why, in MTB, an 'Open Sport Cat2' category might be helpful in keeping people where they belong.
    I'll be 40 next March. I got my pro upgrade at 38.

    I rarely see a Cat 1 or Cat masters' racing against 3/4 racers on the road. They usually race Masters' 1/2/3 AND the Pro 1/2 in the same day (for crits). There is almost always a separate 4/5 masters' race.

    USAC subdivides categories by age at big races to avoid fields of 300+ in a crit or road race. It's that, or limit field sizes and turn people away. MTB could do the same when fields are huge, but at most races the opposite is the case.

    Again, why not just use the road numbering system? Isn't Cat 4/3/2/1 the same as Cat 3/2/2(a)/1, just with a dumb new name?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    I'll be 40 next March. I got my pro upgrade at 38.

    I rarely see a Cat 1 or Cat masters' racing against 3/4 racers on the road. They usually race Masters' 1/2/3 AND the Pro 1/2 in the same day (for crits). There is almost always a separate 4/5 masters' race.

    USAC subdivides categories by age at big races to avoid fields of 300+ in a crit or road race. It's that, or limit field sizes and turn people away. MTB could do the same when fields are huge, but at most races the opposite is the case.

    Again, why not just use the road numbering system? Isn't Cat 4/3/2/1 the same as Cat 3/2/2(a)/1, just with a dumb new name?
    If we didn't divide by age, we'd always have 80+ people lining up at lower turnout races, and 100+ at bigger. It'd be worse in Beginner with roughly 120+ lining up. Considering we have no big climbs in the area to split people up before singletrack, it'd be a huge mess. I'd much rather race against 20-30 people and not have a long line of people in the singletrack.

    We don't generally go with names of categories around here though - you sign up as a Cat1,2,3 or Pro/Cat1.

    It'd be nicer to have the names, I think. Maybe we'd have less people sandbagging the "Beginner" race instead of "Cat 3". My favorite quote i heard from someone watching the Cat 3s: "Is that a Quarq? In Cat3? What are you doing??"

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    It makes sense to use age divisions at bigger turnout races, I agree. Combining classes so that no one has only 4 other people to race against makes sense as well.

    We use the numbered categories, too. I think that the numbers make more sense in that 1) mountain bikers seem incapable of understanding that "beginner at riding" is not the same as "beginner at racing" and 2) it allows for the addition of more categories in the future without having to think of cute names.

    I wish we had your problems (big fields) here. Here, everyone still expects age divisions even though only 15 Cat 1 racers show up at some races

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    I got my pro upgrade at 38.
    So, given your 'Pro' status, I assume this is the only category you ever race, or, will ever race in the future.

    As such, why does USAC's age/master/distance categories matter to you? Do these somehow cheapen your results?

    Seems to me you really don't have a viable interest here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    So, given your 'Pro' status, I assume this is the only category you ever race, or, will ever race in the future.

    As such, why does USAC's age/master/distance categories matter to you? Do these somehow cheapen your results?

    Seems to me you really don't have a viable interest here.
    At any race that offers a pro category I race pro. You have to do that when you have a UCI pro license. If open category is all that's offered I race that, and at smaller races we are usually combined with the 19-29 Cat 1 field.

    If I ever downgrade it will be to Cat 1. Or just get a UCI masters' license.

    I help promote races in this area. I also have been involved in the race scene here for ~15 years, so I guess that's my interest.

    Do I have to race Cat 2 to have an opinion? I was a Cat 2 once, too

    And once again, there are NO distance categories for XC - only experience/ability. You keep saying this, but repeating it doesn't make it so.

    You still haven't explained how Cat 4/3/2/1 is substantively different from Cat 3/2/2(a)/1 (with the exception of making much more sense).

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post

    If I ever downgrade it will be to Cat 1. Or just get a UCI masters' license.

    I help promote races in this area. I also have been involved in the race scene here for ~15 years, so I guess that's my interest.

    Do I have to race Cat 2 to have an opinion? I was a Cat 2 once, too
    1. Why would you ever downgrade? Seriously, please explain.

    2. Helping with promotion, you surely know more paying participants = more $$$ for podium finishers. Or, does this actually bother you? -- having to share $$$ with all the other categories, etc. (assuming you podium....).

    I would say, be careful not to bite the hand that feeds you. If another category is what people want (Open Sport Cat2), and it makes sense, let 'em have it. The more the merrier...(people, that is).

    3. Of course, even as a 'pro' you have a right to your opinion But note, pros are a minority and do not represent the larger cycling community. They also do not pay the bills, and are not the best in determining standards and rules for those that do.

    Oh, I do agree, similar 'graduated experience' category systems for both road and mtb might be worth looking into.

    Cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    1. Why would you ever downgrade? Seriously, please explain.

    2. Helping with promotion, you surely know more paying participants = more $$$ for podium finishers. Or, does this actually bother you? -- having to share $$$ with all the other categories, etc. (assuming you podium....).

    I would say, be careful not to bite the hand that feeds you. If another category is what people want (Open Sport Cat2), and it makes sense, let 'em have it. The more the merrier...(people, that is).

    3. Of course, even as a 'pro' you have a right to your opinion But note, pros are a minority and do not represent the larger cycling community. They also do not pay the bills, and are not the best in determining standards and rules for those that do.

    Oh, I do agree, similar 'graduated experience' category systems for both road and mtb might be worth looking into.

    Cheers!
    I might downgrade if/when I feel I can't be competitive in my current category. Contrary to what you wrote above, it happens all the time, especially on the road side. You simply make a formal request to USAC with your reasons and they approve or deny it.

    I explained above that often my category is combined with Cat 1 19-29; racing 40-49 Cat 1 would not be a significant drop in competitive level at the local level (as evidenced by finishing times across the Cat 1 age groups).

    Please explain how I am "biting the hand that feeds" me. Racing doesn't "feed" me at all. At many races I make enough cash to pay for my entry fee, gas, lunch/dinner. and maybe a few beers. Possibly any equipment I trashed that day. My 40-hour/week healthcare career "feeds" me and my family.

    If there were no money, and no prizes, I'd still be out there trying to rip the legs off of other racers. It is nice, however, to have my hard training rewarded (in a small way). Plus, it makes my wife happier when I come home with cash, unsurprisingly.

    While YOU have been very vocal about a Cat 2 Open category, it's likely a bit premature to say it's what others want, no?

    Why do you use the quotation marks around the word "pro"? It's what USAC calls my racing category. I'm aware I don't make a living from racing bikes (and, in the US, only about 8-10 XC racers do, if that many), it's simply what my category is called.

    Regarding payouts, unless it's a larger race with a guaranteed payout, 100% payout of entry fees for Cat 1 and pro is the standard. Which means that I am only eligible to win part of the entry fees from my particular class. I have only seen one race that had any sort of cash payout for Cat 2 - the explanation being, if you want to race for money, move up to Cat 1.

    Of course pros are the minority. I'd argue, however, that as someone who first raced MTB in 1993, and BMX for years before that, my opinion is at least as valid as yours.

    I'd actually be interested to know your depth of racing involvement, because you seem to know a lot of things - only some of which are true.

    Out of curiosity, what is your racing category? As someone who has worked his way up, I'd be willing to bet I've "paid the bills" quite a bit more than you have, pro or not. You do realize that pros pay (higher) entry fees, right?

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    And to add - how would having a Cat 4/3/2/1 not accomplish the same thing, and much more clearly? This is only the third time I've asked the question.

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    You also haven't explained why someone good enough to earn a forced upgrade in 1.25-1.5 hour races couldn't compete in 1.5-2.0 hour races, but that's expected at this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    A cat2 posting podium cat 1 times in a same distance race = complete and total sandbagger. Simple.

    .
    This is what pisses me off. My first year racing Cat 2 and I wasn't expecting to podium but I was hoping to at least be mid-pack and improve the following year. The guys winning my Cat 2 races are running lap times the same as or very close to the PODIUM Cat 1 guys. In my last race, if the winner did an additional lap and was sooo tired doing it and added 10 minutes to his last lap, he would still have been top 5 in Cat 1. Sorry, small correction, he along with at least one other would have likely been on the podium. Multiple other guys would have been top 10.
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    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    but why be exclusionary?

    ...

    I like being exclusionary. I place higher. Well, except when I'm excluded, then it sucks.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg View Post
    I like being exclusionary. I place higher. Well, except when I'm excluded, then it sucks.
    Ha!

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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    This is what pisses me off. My first year racing Cat 2 and I wasn't expecting to podium but I was hoping to at least be mid-pack and improve the following year. The guys winning my Cat 2 races are running lap times the same as or very close to the PODIUM Cat 1 guys. In my last race, if the winner did an additional lap and was sooo tired doing it and added 10 minutes to his last lap, he would still have been top 5 in Cat 1. Sorry, small correction, he along with at least one other would have likely been on the podium. Multiple other guys would have been top 10.
    If mandatory upgrades were enforced, those guys would only be Cat 2 for a short time. I know that doesn't always happen.

    There will always be those guys, though - the ones just passing through on the way to their final category. When a few cat up, more come in to replace them. If they only stick around a season, they aren't sandbagging, just winning - and someone has to win, right...

    Keep training and you will eventually be the guy people wish would go ahead and cat up . And when you have some success, finish out the season or series and enjoy it, because once you move up it's back to square one again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    If mandatory upgrades were enforced, those guys would only be Cat 2 for a short time. I know that doesn't always happen.

    There will always be those guys, though - the ones just passing through on the way to their final category. When a few cat up, more come in to replace them. If they only stick around a season, they aren't sandbagging, just winning - and someone has to win, right...

    Keep training and you will eventually be the guy people wish would go ahead and cat up . And when you have some success, finish out the season or series and enjoy it, because once you move up it's back to square one again.
    Thanks. I do know what you mean, I won last year which is why I moved up to Cat 2 this year and I feel like I'm starting more than over since I did have success in my first year last year.

    I agree, someone has to win. But checking out some of the guys strava profiles, IMO if your riding 10 - 12 hours per week you can probably handle Cat 1. I'm doing half of that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    Thanks. I do know what you mean, I won last year which is why I moved up to Cat 2 this year and I feel like I'm starting more than over since I did have success in my first year last year.

    I agree, someone has to win. But checking out some of the guys strava profiles, IMO if your riding 10 - 12 hours per week you can probably handle Cat 1. I'm doing half of that.
    It can be frustrating. But if the winners in your class ride 10 hours per week, then you unfortunately might have to train more than you are now to compete.

    You're new to the category, give it time. You'll improve a lot this season and next.

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    To be a true bagger you need to hang out for a couple years. I myself need to be challanged. The winner in my cat is almost 15 min ahead of me an I am a solid mid pack rider. To me it just means I need to work harder to get closer. Each race, I gain a couple spots and that is rewarding on its own. Now to get out more the 2 hours a week!

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    Just fyi because you never know how your own posts sound to others, I'm not trying to complain that I'm not placing higher. I knew that moving up this year would be a learning experience. I'm disappointed in myself because I've increased my workload considerably and was hoping to be at least closer to mid-pack. But that's completely on me. I won Cat 3 last year in my first year racing (disclaimer - wasn't incredibly competitive) and knew Cat 2 would be a significantly different.

    I moved up not just because I would have probably won again and that's true sandbagging but last year I'm not sure I could have handled another lap. I knew I was going to increase my workload both in intensity and hours per week and I felt that, by itself put me at the Cat 2 level. That's just me and obviously everyone has different reasons for why and what category they race.

    Hopefully my previous posts didn't sound like I was being a big baby because I wasn't winning. Kind of sounded like it when I read them again
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    I agree, someone has to win. But checking out some of the guys strava profiles, IMO if your riding 10 - 12 hours per week you can probably handle Cat 1. I'm doing half of that.
    I ride 10-12 hours most weeks, but I'm still not on the podium in Cat 2. Riding time alone doesn't determine placing. 11/12 hours for me are on the road, though, and technical skills are my biggest limiter. I have the engine to destroy most Cat 2s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    Just fyi because you never know how your own posts sound to others, I'm not trying to complain that I'm not placing higher. I knew that moving up this year would be a learning experience. I'm disappointed in myself because I've increased my workload considerably and was hoping to be at least closer to mid-pack. But that's completely on me. I won Cat 3 last year in my first year racing (disclaimer - wasn't incredibly competitive) and knew Cat 2 would be a significantly different.

    I moved up not just because I would have probably won again and that's true sandbagging but last year I'm not sure I could have handled another lap. I knew I was going to increase my workload both in intensity and hours per week and I felt that, by itself put me at the Cat 2 level. That's just me and obviously everyone has different reasons for why and what category they race.

    Hopefully my previous posts didn't sound like I was being a big baby because I wasn't winning. Kind of sounded like it when I read them again
    It didn't sound like whining, you are just going through that adjustment (mental and otherwise) that happens when moving up a category.

    It's a big jump from Cat 3 to Cat 2 because of the distance/time (often double that of Cat 3). It's a big jump from 2 to 1 because of the speed of the field (primarily because there is, by definition, no real sandbagging in Cat 1 - nowhere to go but pro, and it's hard to give someone grief for staying in the highest amateur category).

    I know it's been posted above that some Cat 2 riders could podium in Cat 1 based on lap times, but looking back through our results here in the Southeast, people like that are few and far between. Even backmarker Cat 1 guys are usually ~1 mph faster (over more laps) than winning Cat 2 guys, and the discrepancy is greater on courses with lots of sustained climbing.

    I know it's disappointing at first, but remember that everyone starts somewhere, and you've already made a lot of progress. Take the long view, train consistently year to year, and you will surprise yourself in a few seasons with how far you've progressed.

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    [QUOTE=brushman;10496858]1. Why would you ever downgrade? Seriously, please explain.

    Umm...because fitness is not permanent and neither are some racer's training regimens. The second I stop training to be competitive as a Cat 1, I will get my ass handed to me by fast Cat 2 guys. It is a reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    Thanks. I do know what you mean, I won last year which is why I moved up to Cat 2 this year and I feel like I'm starting more than over since I did have success in my first year last year.

    I agree, someone has to win. But checking out some of the guys strava profiles, IMO if your riding 10 - 12 hours per week you can probably handle Cat 1. I'm doing half of that.
    For must of us who have moved up through the ranks, it has been a humbling experience....especially that first year in a new level. It is normal. It is easy to get discouraged and point fingers. Dial in the training so there is limited wasted miles, dial in the nutrition and up the hours in the saddle a bit. Stay the course and you will be rewarded for your efforts in my opinion. Be patient and remember when racing used to be fun...haha.

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    [QUOTE=rydbyk;10498559]
    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post
    1. Why would you ever downgrade? Seriously, please explain.

    Umm...because fitness is not permanent and neither are some racer's training regimens. The second I stop training to be competitive as a Cat 1, I will get my ass handed to me by fast Cat 2 guys. It is a reality.
    Umm...while not addressed to you in particular, thank you for making my point.

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    [QUOTE=brushman;10498668]
    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Umm...while not addressed to you in particular, thank you for making my point.
    Do you mean your point that it's very rare for someone to downgrade?

    I think everyone agrees that once you get to your appropriate category, cutting back dramatically on your training will render you noncompetitive.

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    [QUOTE=tommyrod74;10498688]
    Quote Originally Posted by brushman View Post

    Do you mean your point that it's very rare for someone to downgrade?

    I think everyone agrees that once you get to your appropriate category, cutting back dramatically on your training will render you noncompetitive.
    Not necessarily...many just quit.

    The point being - -

    With age, people naturally decline in physical performance ability and stamina (it's not just a cutback in training). Once this begins, where are they to go? IMO, for experienced elite riders (cat 1/2) who want to continue to a part of competitive cycling, an Open Sport-Cat2 category may be an appropriate place for them.

    I think we all can agree, nobody likes to be rendered noncompetitve, especially when so much of one's life has been passionately invested in the sport, not just physically and emotionally, but financially as well!

    Granted, it's a complicated issue. But I also believe it is a mistake for those who say the "Masters categories should be done-away with." Even with the natural decline in power and endurance, there is much to be valued physically and mentally by continuing to compete as we age. As such, these folks should be rewarded, respected, and admired for their efforts and enthusiasm.

    If they want another category, whatever it may be, give it to them.

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    [QUOTE=brushman;10498867]
    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    Not necessarily...many just quit.

    The point being - -

    With age, people naturally decline in physical performance ability and stamina (it's not just a cutback in training). Once this begins, where are they to go? IMO, for experienced elite riders (cat 1/2) who want to continue to a part of competitive cycling, an Open Sport-Cat2 category may be an appropriate place for them.

    I think we all can agree, nobody likes to be rendered noncompetitve, especially when so much of one's life has been passionately invested in the sport.

    Granted, it's a complicated issue. But I also believe it is a mistake for those who say the "Masters categories should be done-away with." Even with the natural decline in power and endurance, there is much to be valued physically and mentally by continuing to compete as we age. As such, these folks should be rewarded, respected, and admired for their efforts and enthusiasm.
    I proposed that there be Junior and Masters levels as in road. 40+ or 45+ should be fine. There is no need to divide 19-29 from 30-39, especially when 30-39 is usually FASTER than 19-29.

    I thought we were discussing your Cat 2 open proposal, anyway, not age categories.

    You still (4th request) haven't addressed why Cat 4/3/2/1 isn't simpler or better. Is it an ego thing? Not wanting to be Cat 3 (even though Cat 4 would be the new "beginner"), but instead make all the fast Cat 2 people race a new class?

    There's no such stigma for Cat 3 on the road (or CX) side - it's still pretty darn fast.

    Heck, just enforce mandatory upgrades for EVERYONE. That way, ALL the borderline Cat 1 guys will eventually move up, and there will be company for everyone in the back of the field when they first race the new category.

    No one is rendered noncompetitive, anyway - there is always the option to go to a class where one will still be competitive. Lifestyle changes might impact training, but there is ZERO evidence that endurance athletes decline precipitously before the age of 40+ - quite the opposite, if they continue to train, they will continue to do well.

    Racing is hard. There is always someone faster (unless you are Nino, and even then some days you aren't first). Maybe we should embrace that and stop giving everyone a friggin' cookie just for showing up.

    If you'd rather quit than go to Cat 3 (which would now be an intermediate, not beginner class) or race Masters, then quit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    You still (4th request) haven't addressed why Cat 4/3/2/1 isn't simpler or better. Is it an ego thing? Not wanting to be Cat 3 (even though Cat 4 would be the new "beginner"), but instead make all the fast Cat 2 people race a new class?

    ...stop giving everyone a friggin' cookie...
    Hmm...I think I stated in an earlier post I would welcome a query into a MTB cat system similar to Road.

    You don't like cookies too? Haven't you chosen a (masters) category for said cookie? ;-)
    Last edited by brushman; 06-28-2013 at 01:38 PM.

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    The only people impressed by winning a sport MTB race is you and a couple other dudes. Enter the race to be part of the excitement and race against yourself and maybe a good friend or two to keep it fun.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    The only people impressed by winning a sport MTB race is you and a couple other dudes. Enter the race to be part of the excitement and race against yourself and maybe a good friend or two to keep it fun.
    Agreed.

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    @wmac ^ my stupid internets are not letting me grab others' quotes...

    It is all relative. There is always someone faster....another level.

    According you your logic it seems this would be it then:

    Cat 1's should not think much of themselves because they are not pro

    A local pro should not think much of themselves because they are not racing on a national level consistently and would get crushed if they did.

    A national pro should not think highly of themselves because they don't race internationally.

    An international pro who is midpack/back of pack is just "pack fill"....so they should not think highly of themselves....

    Etc.....

    Where does it end? Gotta podium as an international pro in an important big well known race I guess to impress anyone these days...lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    Thanks. I do know what you mean, I won last year which is why I moved up to Cat 2 this year and I feel like I'm starting more than over since I did have success in my first year last year.

    I agree, someone has to win. But checking out some of the guys strava profiles, IMO if your riding 10 - 12 hours per week you can probably handle Cat 1. I'm doing half of that.
    qdawg.. if you are really only putting in 5-6 hours a week, i don't think you are ever gonna stand on that podium as a cat 2. At least out here in S. Calif, the avg hours for a podium type cat 2 is probably 7-9+ hrs of legitimate focused training.

    the cat 1's who are consistently on the podium are in the saddle 10-12+ for base season and now are doing 8-10 with intervals mixed in sorta thing..

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    You can get on the podium in c2 with less than 6hrs training per week, I did. I also took a downgrade from c1: I last raced c1 in about '93, not a great c1 but respectable for about 3 seasons, then took nearly 20 years off from anything but the occasional ride, got really out of shape and a little bit fat (about 40-50# over race weight, where I'm at now at 6'3" and 175). I started riding regularly almost 2 years ago, just 2-3 hours per week (2 rides a week), raced cx last fall and did ok in c4, then stepped up my training during/after cx season to about 5-6 hours per week all winter looking toward the early series in winter/spring of '13. With the training I was doing and my ok finishes in c4 cx, c1 mtb was out of the question, I hoped for/expected 1/2 to 1/3 pack finishes in c2. A year ago I would have gotten close to last in C3, I was still very slow, 2 years ago I would have puked out and dnf'd in c3. I was very surprised to get a 3rd my first race back in Feb, then 4 more podiums (1 more 3rd, a 2nd and 2 1sts). I upped to c1 for the last race in that series, and have done one more c1 after that and got 'not last'in both, but not by much! c1 is going to be tough next year on about 6 hours a week, but I think I can finish mid pack in my 40-50 group, the winter/spring series around here has shorter courses without a lot of climbing, less than 2 hour races, so that's why I think it will work. Cx will help a lot with staying fit until December, then just 2 months of rain/cold until the '14 season starts.
    Looking back, I think the reason I did better than expected in c2 is that I still push myself in training like a c1. I put those 6 hours a week to good use, I suspect most c2 racers do a lot of easy rides that might not really count as 'training'.

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    Seems like every year the pace of Cat 2 changes. This year our main series was bought out by a guy who already ran a Crit series. We seem to have a large number of roadies who have joined up. I wonder if they are a little confused about which Cat is appropriate for them. Road has 5 possibilities whereas mountain only has 3 (excluding Pro as that one is pretty obvious as to who should be there). So Sport seems to take multiple road groups into one, hence the big gaps between groups this year. There is always a small group of 3 or 4 guys who blast off the line and get a minute gap within the first to 1.5 miles! IMO that darn fast...but maybe after reading what you guys had to say and reading between the lines some it makes sense. So I say again that maybe using consistent categories across the disciplines would make the most sense. Since Utah doesn't cower to USAC rules or sanctioning (boastfully I would say) they really could do it if they felt like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    You can get on the podium in c2 with less than 6hrs training per week, I did. I also took a downgrade from c1: I last raced c1 in about '93, not a great c1 but respectable for about 3 seasons, then took nearly 20 years off from anything but the occasional ride, got really out of shape and a little bit fat (about 40-50# over race weight, where I'm at now at 6'3" and 175). I started riding regularly almost 2 years ago, just 2-3 hours per week (2 rides a week), raced cx last fall and did ok in c4, then stepped up my training during/after cx season to about 5-6 hours per week all winter looking toward the early series in winter/spring of '13. With the training I was doing and my ok finishes in c4 cx, c1 mtb was out of the question, I hoped for/expected 1/2 to 1/3 pack finishes in c2. A year ago I would have gotten close to last in C3, I was still very slow, 2 years ago I would have puked out and dnf'd in c3. I was very surprised to get a 3rd my first race back in Feb, then 4 more podiums (1 more 3rd, a 2nd and 2 1sts). I upped to c1 for the last race in that series, and have done one more c1 after that and got 'not last'in both, but not by much! c1 is going to be tough next year on about 6 hours a week, but I think I can finish mid pack in my 40-50 group, the winter/spring series around here has shorter courses without a lot of climbing, less than 2 hour races, so that's why I think it will work. Cx will help a lot with staying fit until December, then just 2 months of rain/cold until the '14 season starts.
    Looking back, I think the reason I did better than expected in c2 is that I still push myself in training like a c1. I put those 6 hours a week to good use, I suspect most c2 racers do a lot of easy rides that might not really count as 'training'.

    oh..absolutely. you can get on the podium here in S. Calif. with under 6hrs/week. Just make sure there are only 3 guys in your field. It's all good.

    I race Cat 1 fwiw..been there.

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    It's my first season racing a full series at the provincial level (ontario), I entered sport and won all 3 races and received a mandatory upgrade from sport to expert 20-29 male for the next race. I was expecting a mandatory upgrade at the end of the season but ah well.

    To be honest it is a bit intimidating since it is my first year racing seriously, and I am getting thrown in with guys who have been racing since they were early teenagers.

    But at the same time I am excited to have more incentive to train harder and race with the big boys here

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    USACycling slots racers into CAT2 if you lack results in NORBA sanctioned events no matter what cat you raced in unsanctioned event. Our local races were all non NORBA and I raced as an "Expert", my license says CAT2. If I want to race CAT1 I have to request an upgrade. A lot of racers got blindsided by that and found they had to race "Sport" if they wanted to race.

    Quote Originally Posted by criscobike View Post
    Seems like every year the pace of Cat 2 changes. This year our main series was bought out by a guy who already ran a Crit series. We seem to have a large number of roadies who have joined up. I wonder if they are a little confused about which Cat is appropriate for them. Road has 5 possibilities whereas mountain only has 3 (excluding Pro as that one is pretty obvious as to who should be there). So Sport seems to take multiple road groups into one, hence the big gaps between groups this year. There is always a small group of 3 or 4 guys who blast off the line and get a minute gap within the first to 1.5 miles! IMO that darn fast...but maybe after reading what you guys had to say and reading between the lines some it makes sense. So I say again that maybe using consistent categories across the disciplines would make the most sense. Since Utah doesn't cower to USAC rules or sanctioning (boastfully I would say) they really could do it if they felt like it.

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