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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
    Endurance Junkie
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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.

  11. #11
    I'd rather be riding
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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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  15. #15
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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.

    Signed - Perennial 4th place finisher Hal 9000

  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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