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Monday, March 26, 2007

An Idea

Are USA Cycling racing categories designed to a) protect against sandbaggers taking victories from lesser riders or b) protect "better", "more experienced" riders from the great unwashed masses?

If the answer is the former, I completely understand. And there should be something to protect against that.

However, if the answer is the latter, I don't get it. For instance, let's say a Category 4 rider has the skill and fitness to compete in a Category 1/2 race -- why shouldn't he/she be able to? What's the harm? Why, in essence, keep a legitimately strong rider from competing? Does meeting some arbitrary "minimums" suddenly make someone a credible rider? I don't think so.

Thus, why does USA Cycling even bother to have upgrade minimums? If someone is stoopid enough to upgrade to a level beyond their competence, why stop them? They will get shelled anyway, so no one will be out anything.

Thoughts?

39 Comments:

Blogger Skidsy said...

Counter question...Is it in USA Cyling's best interest to keep people in the category they've "qualified" for in order to keep the races cometitive and challenging for other riders in the same category?

At times there's a basic safety worry of a less experianced rider causing a crash in a higher level field. If you're on the rivet trying to hold a wheel you may make a dangerous mistake before the eventual sheling.

Mon Mar 26, 08:36:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

I don't buy into the safety argument.

WiSport runs what are essentially "open category" races, and there are no more or less crashes in a WiSport race. Sure, some people try to argue that there is more carnage at WiSport, but I never see those people at the races. Just like there were an equal number of crashes in all of the categories racing at dOpus last year.

And, like I've said, if lesser riders can't hang, they're usually not there in a position to contest at that point in a race anyway.

Mon Mar 26, 08:41:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger Smithers said...

I think you are giving USA Cycling way too much altruistic credit with both of your options.

I suspect that USA Cycling racing categories are used for a reason c) to attempt to maintain the growth of the sport by trying to assure that riders of each ability will not be so blown out by the competition that they will quit, thus denying USA Cycling of the revenue gleaned from 5 categories worth of racers, plus juniors, women and masters.

I think their concern is that more riders would quit the sport if they did not have a field of riders with similar experience and fitness to compete against.

My personal opinion is: that’s bullshit. They would not quit the sport, they would just start their own racing league to compete with USA Cycling. Wait, isn’t that already happening?

Mon Mar 26, 09:43:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger karla said...

I would tend to disagree. I think the safety argument DOES hold water. WiSport may not have more carnage (I don't know - but that's what you've said), but they also don't promote any crits. Putting guys that don't have race experience, no matter how much fitness and skills they have, on a one kilometer course with a bunch of P/1/2s is just not safe. It only takes one guy who thinks he can shoot up the inside of the pack on a fast, tight corner to take out the whole field.

Also, this doesn't apply everywhere, but here in CA, the races actually fill up and hit the field limits fairly frequently. I think the categories are a great way of making sure that racers are going up against people that are close to their level. When there are 600 guys that want to race on one single day at a single race, you have to split them up somehow, and skill level categories are the best way to do it, IMHO.

Mon Mar 26, 09:51:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger AdamB said...

I buy the safety argument. People (I) do dumb things when they're exhausted.

Maybe there should be a fast track for riders that are already experienced in other disciplines. I'm thinking of the DS and Berg-Man.

Tue Mar 27, 06:04:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger econutjob said...

I think it's for both reasons - maintain good competition at all levels of cyclist and to promote safety.

Now when are they going to institute some rule to stop my entry fee going to prizes outside of my category.

Tue Mar 27, 08:48:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger SickBoy said...

Show me a cat 4 not named Patrick Horrigan who has the ability to compete in a 1/2 race...

Tue Mar 27, 09:43:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Skibby said...

in my experience of Wisport vs MCF races, I've seen a lot more stupid crashing in Wisport races. A couple of years ago at Osceola, there was a crash at every corner. A few years back at Shell Lake, we hadn't gone 100 meters when I heard a blood curdling scream and looked back and saw half of the field go down. Last year in one of the WISPORT races I was in, some clown was just bouncing around like a pinball off of people, I finally asked him if he'd ever been on a bike before! Since most WISPORT races are relatively short, strong guys who are inexperienced can sit in and hang with the field, but they make irregular, crazy moves. I've seen 2 or three crashes from people going UPHILL for lance-sakes. Ask the Donimator, many years ago at Osceola we were going uphill, and some doofus hit a wheel and sent the rest of us sprawling all over the road...

Most of the complaints I get from racers about fields is when I try to combine fields with less experienced riders.

As far as prize lists go? A promoter has a tons of expenses, then there is revenue from entry fees, there is no matching of revenue to expense, so it's not a case of one field paying another field's prizes. If there are only 10 people in one category and 100 people in another, I'm not going to take away the prizes for the 10 people category because they didn't cover their share of expenses? Prize lists are usually set to try and bring in the most riders. You pay more at the top, after all, lots of the incentive is to get better to have a chance at higher purses. In addition, some times the purse/prizes are raised from sponsors so there is absolutely no correlation to your entry fees...

Tue Mar 27, 09:56:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

The post wasn't about prize lists. That's not a can of worms I want to open today.

So, let's get back to "catgories as necessary?" for our topic...

Tue Mar 27, 09:59:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

Show me a cat 4 not named Patrick Horrigan who has the ability to compete in a 1/2 race...

That's precisely my point. Now, go back and read the post for the fine points.

Tue Mar 27, 10:01:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger SickBoy said...

so why make races "open" if very few people (like, 1 or 2 in every 500 or so) are capable of competing in the higher category?

econutjob brought up the prize lists issue, btw....

Tue Mar 27, 10:07:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

so why make races "open" if very few people (like, 1 or 2 in every 500 or so) are capable of competing in the higher category?

Again, not my point. I never suggested scrapping categories, only the "minimums".

The upgrades doled out my USA Cycling are arbitrary anyway, so why not make it a self-policing situation wherein a rider can choose which race to participate in? Category distinctions would still exist, but only to preclude riders from sandbagging. Category distinctions would not limit a rider from racing above their category.

Such a policy -- of holding several races for various categories while allowing for "open upgrades" -- would also probably solve a lot of the safety issues people have spoken of.

Closed-circuit to SB: I realize that Skibby didn't start the prize discussion. I was ending it.

Tue Mar 27, 10:39:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger SickBoy said...

fair enough.

One benefit of the current system is that, to upgrade from 4 to 3, you have to prove that you have some sort of experience being at the sharp end of the race. Even if they were "easy" or lowly attended races, you still have to prove that you knew how to be at the sharp end without dropping yourself. It may not filter out unsafe riders 100% but I do think it increases the probability that an unsafe or insufficiently experienced rider does get filtered out of the faster races.

You may not buy the safety agreement, but USAC's insurance provider sure does. The reason why "open" races (meaning, races that 5's could ride in) were limited to 50 riders was to mitigate the expense of insuring said races. The insurance provider, which sees every medical claim that comes in against the USAC, decided that too many 5's in a race made it crash-prone as a general rule. I would trust their sampling of races (all USCF races) over a sampling of a local crit series.

Not to mention that there are plenty of local examples of dangerous category mixing... i.e. the amateur 2/3/4 crit at nvgp. More crashes in that race than any other race I saw all year, my only saving grace was that I was either up front drilling it or taking my free lap for a flat tire when most of them happened. Mixing a bunch of 2's who had trained to be on peak fitness that weekend with some greatly less experienced 4's was a recipe for disaster, and the medical expenses from that race alone will attest to the fact...

Tue Mar 27, 10:51:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

One benefit of the current system is that, to upgrade from 4 to 3, you have to prove that you have some sort of experience being at the sharp end of the race. Even if they were "easy" or lowly attended races, you still have to prove that you knew how to be at the sharp end without dropping yourself. It may not filter out unsafe riders 100% but I do think it increases the probability that an unsafe or insufficiently experienced rider does get filtered out of the faster races.

While this may be the "ideal", we both are wise enough to know that this isn't really how upgrades are handed out.

Tue Mar 27, 11:01:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger SickBoy said...

Like I said, riders slip through the cracks, but I think it's a better idea to have the upgrade guidelines than not have them at all, or make them optional... maybe it doesn't even filter out half of the unsafe riders, or prevent even half of the incidents from said riders, but if the guidelines are optional, that percentage drops to zero...

Tue Mar 27, 11:07:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger SickBoy said...

btw, you really should have a heart to heart with Matt Anderson if you think he doesn't deny upgrades or if you think he doesn't notice the riders who have slipped through the system.... he'll inform you otherwise...

Tue Mar 27, 11:09:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

btw, you really should have a heart to heart with Matt Anderson if you think he doesn't deny upgrades or if you think he doesn't notice the riders who have slipped through the system.... he'll inform you otherwise...

You're pulling the same shit again!

You take a discussion about an issue and try to twist it to make it sound like an attack on a third party!

You do this all the time; knock it off.

Matt Anderson, or any other individual official, had nothing to do with the points I was making. Nothing at all to do with it. So leave him out of it.

I'm ending my participation regarding this post at this point before you try to create some more local chaos.

Well done.

Tue Mar 27, 11:30:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger SickBoy said...

My intent is not to flame you or Matt, or imply that you were trying to. Matt Anderson does handle the local upgrades and could contribute to this discussion, since the topic is regarding the relevancy of categorization and its inextricable link to upgrade procedures. Invariably, he won't, because he doesn't discuss those types of things on the internet and hardly has time in his busy schedule to check his email. (fully understandable)

I sincerely apologize if you think I was trying to rabble rouse or flame you, that was not my intent.

Tue Mar 27, 11:43:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Homme said...

I will restate my position here. Categories upgrade/downgrade should be optional and free-flowing. If I can't get my fat ass in shape by the beginning of the season, why shouldn't I start as a 3, then move up to a 2 when I'm not as fat? I'm not talking about using the upgrade/downgrade system, just showing up and saying, I'm a 3 today. Who cares about sandbaggers, they are some of the most pathetic people on earth and we should pity them rather than curse them.

I have to say the safety issue is not an issue. 3's are only slightly more erratic than 4's, and 2's only slightly more erratic than 3s. Hopkins used to allow anyone to race the A race and most 4's who decided to jump in just got shelled early. The reason there seem to be less crashes in 2s is because they are more skilled at riding around those who fall off their bike. In the 4's, everyone decides to lay it down if anyone goes down (I think they have a unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno thing going on).

Tue Mar 27, 11:57:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Homme said...

more=less

Tue Mar 27, 12:08:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger Homme said...

Homme=drunk (sorry tuff, i know this is a booze free zone)

Tue Mar 27, 12:10:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger econutjob said...

Well I understand that there are tons of expenses associated with putting on a race.

But all things being equal, and with no "race sponsor" donating money or prizes for the better categories, the prizes should be equal. A Cat 4 racer in a field of 50 shouldn't get a set of tires, while a Cat 1 in a field of 50 gets a set of nice wheels, or a few hundred dollars cash. If you think about who probably really needs to better bike gear.

Who cares about sandbaggers, they are some of the most pathetic people on earth and we should pity them rather than curse them.

Well yeah, but those of us in lower categories want to ride our own races against our rough equals. You can't expect good new cyclists to keep racing if guys are sandbagging.

Tue Mar 27, 12:11:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger Homme said...

Well yeah, but those of us in lower categories want to ride our own races against our rough equals.

The same applies for upper category riders who are either not fit yet or have taken time off. The most competitive racing comes when riders line up against others of equal strength/skill. My point is, real sandbagging is actually quite rare because it is so despicable.

As for prize money, let's just get rid of it. We should be paying the volunteers and promoter who put the races on.

Tue Mar 27, 12:26:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger SickBoy said...

econutjob, if I understand you right, you want "equality" in racing. The issue that categorization introduces is that it's inherently inequal. If you've proven yourself to be a cyclist of some fitness level, the categorization system bars you from racing against people who you could likely all beat without too much problem.

If you really want to make things equal, you'd have to either have
A.) One race or
B.) base races on distances only and permit anyone to enter any distance they feel like regardless of category (ala Homme)

Wisport doesn't offer prize money, so all the gripes about prize money are effectively nullified - but if you did have prize money, it'd almost always be won by cat 1, 2 or 3 riders. You'd almost never see a cat 5 win anything. The categorization system is inherently inequal, so making the prizes equal doesn't seem to make a lot of sense... (unless they're all zero). Having a cat 5 race with *some* prizes ensures that some riders get rewarded for their success at an entry level. the alternative (much like how Europe is) is that everyone races together, and "entry level" riders get zilch...

Tue Mar 27, 12:39:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger econutjob said...

As for prize money, let's just get rid of it. We should be paying the volunteers and promoter who put the races on.

Well that's fine with me. I'm not concerned by money / prizes, rather the unfairness of it all.

Tue Mar 27, 12:40:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger Skibby said...

Apparently the prize money discussion being over only applies to me, how fair is that NutJob?

Tue Mar 27, 01:36:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger econutjob said...

Your judgment of equality can differ based on your goals and assumptions.

I only commented on the fairness of prize monies, not on the categorization. There's no objective fairness in sports, there are simply rules that define the sport with subjective fairness. Categories are not necessarily fair, nor is one race. But those are the rules. Heck it’s just the same for every sport, e.g. changing the strike zone in baseball it favors 1 type of play over another, and some players over others. It’s based in part who you want to appeal to – if you want appeal as a sport that nearly anyone can do, categorization is a good idea. If you want cycling to be only for the elite, then 1 race is good. To continue the example, if you want to favor hitters over pitchers, etc. I know I wouldn’t race if there were not categories, I'd have to enjoy some other sport or aspect of cycling.

Why do the higher categories deserve more prize money? If I put in $25 and the Cat 1 put in $25, why is it good for cycling that I pay for their prize money? Maybe they could have beat me, but I wasn’t racing them. I was racing my own category. Maybe they wouldn’t have beat me. Honestly, there’s no way I’d beat a Cat1-3 at anything so don’t everyone get all pissy and think I am being cocky, but there’s no way to know who'd win unless by direct competition. I’m not opposed to them getting larger prizes, but not out of my pocket. If it is out of a sponsor’s pocket than I don’t care. Alternatively, I don’t care about splitting prize money, every category gets the same amount of prize money regardless of how many riders. I’m not opposed to no prizes either.

I apologize to Tuffy for bring this debate onto your board. I won't comment further on here, if you want to comment go to my board.

Tue Mar 27, 03:14:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger Jake said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tue Mar 27, 09:20:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger Jake said...

Why don't you just come out and say it? You want to race cat1,2 but you don't have shit for results.

Wed Mar 28, 06:45:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger AdamB said...

Ha, yeah, it kinda seems that way.

Cuban, how about this:
It really is equal because anyone can get the results and upgrade. Once you do that then you have the same access to the 1/2 prize lists as everyone else who did the same thing.

In a way, the unfair thing would be if some 1/2 did all that work to upgrade and then found that he could have gotten the same prizes without the work!


As for me, I'd rather just have a cheap trophy or medal in 4/5 races. It lasts longer than cash or new tires.

Then again, as far as I know neither of us has ever finished in the money anyway...?

Wed Mar 28, 07:18:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

Why don't you just come out and say it? You want to race cat1,2 but you don't have shit for results.

I'm come out and say it:
Jake, I think you're a bitter, washed-up, ex-semipro who thought of himself as a lot better than he was and who feels the need to maintain his erroneous self-image even in his semi-retirement by being an ignorant antagonist on various blogs, including this one.

You don't know me, Jake.

If you did, you'd know that I have no intention of ever even trying to race Category 1/2 road. I don't even know that I would be able to be truly competitive at the Category 3 level.

And I don't care, Jake.

I ride my bike because I like to. I compete because I want to. I have nothing to prove to anyone...because, unlike you, I haven't spouted my mouth off for the past half-decade about how good I am.

That's not why I'm here, brotha...

Wed Mar 28, 08:05:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Jake said...

So getting denied a cat 3 license had nothing to do with your post?

My record speaks for itself. I've never been denied an upgrade. I'd suggest you look at the minimuns, which I'd guess that most likely have, and do whatever youhave to do to reach them.

Life is full of instances where there are minimum requirements that don't seem to make sense to everyone. There are a lot of jobs out there that require a college degree, but when it comes right down to it, most people could perform that job with some on the job training.

As far as you never spouting you're mouth off about how good you are....You never come right out an say it (not in a public forum anyway), you phrasse it in a way that makes it seem as though you're just posing a question. How about your post about the bike shop calendar? That shop has a lot of customers and did quite well for itself long before you're team ever came around. How much publicity do you think they got from your team? I've never seen the calendar and haven't been to that shop in over 5 years, but I would guess that they wanted something that would appeal to their customer base. Could they have put a team picture in to raise awareness of the club? Probably. If it were a club that had over 100 members like a certain one in the twin cities, I'm sure they would have.

Washed up ex-semipro makes it seem like the highest level I ever achieved was semi-pro. I'll have you know I'm a washed up pro. Both on the road and in the dirt my license said pro. I was asked by super-rookie last fall if I would ride for your club, so maybe I'm not too washed up. He must have wanted me to be your lead out man.

Wed Mar 28, 09:03:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Super Rookie said...

i hated it when that one Cat6 guy showed up in cat4/5 races and raced as a 5 with a $10 license and won all those races.

That was bullshit.

He should have been forced to upgrade or not allowed to race.

How many times did he do that? 3 or 4?

Seriously, that pisses me off. If you consistently win and ruin all the fun and can't afford a license, or are to much of a wuss to get one get the hell out of the way.

Thankfully, I am hiding behind an alias and you don't know who I am.

Cat5s that have won multiple races are not cat5s. They are asses.

Wed Mar 28, 09:14:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Super Rookie said...

Both on the road and in the dirt my license said pro. I was asked by super-rookie last fall if I would ride for your club, so maybe I'm not too washed up. He must have wanted me to be your lead out man.

Whoa.

That was a joke.

I was also seeing if Dewey wanted to be on the team. So I was asking what the requirements were for a person to be on the squad. I got the email somewhere that has the discussion.

It would be sweet having you two on the same team. We could bill a huge showdown between you and Tuffy for a fundraiser...

Please don't bring me into this.

I don't ask people to be on the team. They ask me...or others.

Wed Mar 28, 09:19:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Jake said...

I'm going to start racing track this season. Maybe I can come up to Blaine and you can have your showdown super-rookie. Track is Tuffy's forte' isn't it?

Wed Mar 28, 09:35:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

I'm going to start racing track this season. Maybe I can come up to Blaine and you can have your showdown super-rookie. Track is Tuffy's forte' isn't it?

Go for it.

But, make sure you do it according to standards. Despite your "pro" experience, make sure you get all of your race experience at Cat 5 before you upgrad to Cat 4. Then, make sure you get all of the points you need before you upgrade to Cat 3.

Meanwhile, be sure to eschew the track director when he offers to simply move you up because of your road/cx/mtn licenses. Tell him, "I'm sorry, sir, but I am a man of high moral standards, and in order to stay true to myself, I need to fulfill all of the minimum requirements before I can accept an upgrade."

And before you come back with it, I already know that USA Cycling rules afford you a higher starting category on the track based on your other licenses. But, like I said, I'm sure you'll deny such overtures because of your high moral fiber.

PS: If you feel the need to travel time zones to prove a point to a Cat 3 trackie, then you really are the chump you make yourself out to be.

Wed Mar 28, 09:50:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Jake said...

I'd probably race in Blaine when I was in MN for other reasons. I was born and raised there, and try to get back home once or twice a year.

I don't know a lot about the track upgrading rules, but I heard Bergman had to race cat 4,5 so I can only assume I will have to do the same.

Wed Mar 28, 10:21:00 AM 2007

 
Blogger Gilby said...

That was a joke.

I was also seeing if Dewey wanted to be on the team.


Dude, that's mean. Inviting someone to be on the team just to tell them they can't be? I didn't think that was the LGR way!

Why put so much stock in categories? Once you get an upgrade, you'll find yourself wondering what the hell you were thinking (okay, maybe that's just me). If you're consistently getting beat by someone who "should have" upgraded, it just means you are getting pushed at the level that you need to be competitive when you do upgrade. So just race. Have fun. That's what it's about.

Wed Mar 28, 03:13:00 PM 2007

 
Blogger AdamB said...

crazy.

Sat Mar 31, 09:53:00 AM 2007

 

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