Wednesday, November 30, 2005

2006 USCF Cross Categories - Choose Carefully

The rumors have been confirmed - there will be categories for Cyclocross on your USCF license for 2006. From the NCNCA email list I found this in a message about 2006 rules from Tom Simonson stating simply:

"We added separate categories for cyclocross, which will range 1-4"
I asked Casey Kerrigan for an explanation and he replied:

"Yes there will be Cross categories for next year. No I don't know how the initial categories will be assigned. Basically as far as I'm concerned anyone can be any category they want to be. The only conditions I'll have for changing cross categories is that if you upgrade you need to stay in your new category for the rest of the season. You will not be able to upgrade for a race or two and then down grade again. Likewise if you downgrade you have to stay in your new lower category for the rest of the season. You can't downgrade for a race or two and then expect to upgrade again. This is so people can't up or down grade for a special target race and then switch back again."
So...I think this is good. Having CX categories on our license validates our sport - finally CX is worthy of appearing on our license. The fact that it is still self-categorized (at least as far as we know right now) means we still have the flexibility of racing the category we feel we are worthy of. The fact that we can't hop from category to category on a whim anymore is good and should make things a little saner - preventing "A" level riders showing up in "B" fields at some races (I think we just dodged a bullet - Dave Carr has been comtemplating a rant on that exact subject).

Playing devil's advocate as usual, in my mind there are a couple of issues to resolve:
  • One more category: Cat 1-4 means there is one more category to contend with. I do think 3 categories was better than 4 because it opens the door for even more category mixing and we end up racing different levels of people on different weeks unless a standard is followed - this is something I guess roadies are used to anyhow. I wonder how this will pan out on race day...I can't imagine there would be any more races so there will have to be more combining (i.e. 1/2 or 3/4). Does "A" become 1/2 or does "B" become 2/3 or does "C" become "3/4"? At some point we'll have to stop thinking of ourselves as A, B, or C. I I thinking too hard about this? Personally, I really don't care because I should still be a Cat 1 if I ever sit on a bike again.
  • UCI races: I know one reason "A" level riders turn up in "B" fields for big races is because these riders didn't spring for a UCI license (extra $75 I think) and are therefore not allowed in the Elite field. Given that you can't jump categories it would make sense to me that all Cat. 1 riders should be forced to spring for a UCI license or there would be no category for them to race in for a big race. This may make some people unhappy since I know some folks like doing the A races but aren't interested in racing with the Elites. There would be a ripple effect from this that I'm not prepared to comtemplate at the moment...
  • Identity Crisis: How do current riders decide what their category is? I.E. if you're a B racer do you choose 2 or 3 (and so on)? Comments from any officials/promoters would be appreciated on your take on how races will be categorized.

I'll appeal to Casey to respond directly to this blog posting's comments with any of his own comments. Feel free to share your thoughts as well.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Mud Index 0.1

One of my favorite 'cross articles is the Mud Index, which for both educational as well as amusement value tends to get quoted a lot this time of year ... except, in NorCal, we haven't had any of the stuff this year at all, what with the hottest and driest fall anyone can remember. I mean, 85 degrees and bone dry dust at Watsonville the week before Thanksgiving?

So, in an effort to make the Mud Index more relevant to the world as it actually exists, here's a brief expansion of the formerly ignored 0 (zero) category.

Mud Index 0.1 - Pavement. Otherwise known as blacktop, concrete, tarmac, bitumen, etc, and usually a consideration only at crit races or the occasional short track XC. Roadies turned 'cross racers tend to like this stuff.

0.2 - Hardpack.

0.3 - Gravel. Basically, this is Pavement, badly maintained, and is usually found on top of Pavement. Functions like little ball bearings that turns a nicely apexed corner into a trip to the medical tent.

0.5 - Sand. Composed of rock that has been ground down into small granular pieces, mercilessly over the ages (like your teeth are ground down as you attempt to ride it). Found in Belgium, Holland, Fort Ord and Granite Beach. Since it's found on real Euro CX courses you can tell yourself in between grunts, "It's OK, this is real cross..."

0.6 - Flour. A heavy, soft, extremely fine dust. Found at this year's GP Clark Natwick at Golden Gate Park in the dug-in groove around all the tree roots. Sometimes behaves more like motor oil on the ground than actual dirt.

0.8 - Silt.

0.9 - Grass. The most enjoyable surface in the 0 category -- though in dry times Grass is often only found in a dry, bumpy cow field (at East Bay for example) but sometimes you get a nice piece of bermuda grass at Watsonville that makes you dream of actual mud.

Disclaimer: Since ample rain, at last, is forecast for this week, now that we have added the above classifications we can mercifully put them to rest again. Until next fall, at least.

--Dave Carr

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Noble Cause

I failed to mention the dominance of the Noble family at at the GP Clark Natwick in my previous report. In the Master's race reigning 40+ National Champion Mark Noble won the 35+ race in a large, deep, and talented field of Masters that contained Dale Knapp, 35+ Nat'l Champ Richard Feldman, and former multi Nat'l Champ Alan Coates. In the Juniors race, Mark's son Chance wrested control of the race from USGP Series Leader Danny Summerhill and reigning Nat'l Champion Bjorn Selander, and finally got the big win he has been showing promise of. We've been watching Chance improve drastically every season and it was great to see him on top of the podium finally. Congrats to the Nobles, and good luck at Nationals!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tire Pressure for Cross

The rare uncontroversial post... a retread of an old article from my 'cross site, still useful:
Tire Pressure Tips for Cross

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Got Comments? You're not alone... fact Dave Carr has been generating a lot of hoopla over his most recent postings.

Just wanted to point this out to the masses in case you're recent arrivals in the Blogosphere. Our Blogs all allow comments from anyone, and some of the recent entries have been generating a healthy amount of discussion - check them out! Comments appear below each posting.

If you have comments to add, please do so responsibly and cleanly. I administer the blogs and any abuse will result in (a) Comments being indiviually deleted, or worse (b) Comments being turned off altogether. Anonymous posting is allowed though you are encouraged to identify yourself.

We're all waiting for Dave Carr to push our buttons on his next subject...perhaps he's going to complain that our races aren't "Euro" enough because they're too darn sunny and warm... ;-)


That's Pontoni-SAMA to you

Pontoni's World Tour continues...after showing up on the West Coast all last Fall, he appears to be checking out some new venues:

Monday, November 21, 2005

SFGP: Go Get Some More

Three-dot lounge for the San Francisco GP race:

* * *

What a cool race, on a fine fall day, in a great venue with lots of racers and crowds cheering. Proof of why people should go to the effort of holding a big race in the big city. Thanks Tom Simpson & Pilarcitos Cyclesports.

* * *

On the other hand, while it's great we got such a fine venue, I'd have to say (at the risk of being labeled a repetitive crank) this was still unfortunately another jungle course in the NorCal tradition. At this level of racing you don't need to wrap the course in knots around every tree -- make the course smooth and wide and let the legs do the talking. Still, it was a fun and tough course and everyone I talked to had a great time, once they made it through all the repeated pileups on the first half lap.

* * *

Chris Horner. What to say about Chris Horner. Pretty good Tour de France rider, and he might even make a halfway decent 'cross racer, someday. Here's a tip for starters: Take off the water bottle cage. Then you can even learn how to shoulder the bike! As for the the regular legit pro cyclocrossers in the top 10: Time to bump up your game because you almost got caught by a guy with no skills.

* * *

One of the pretty cool things about a race in the city is all the random joggers, dog walkers, and families with kids who stumble onto the course and stay to watch and cheer. It's great to see new spectators become instant fans, and the volume of cheering in the tough sections was pretty impressive. One time up the big woodchip runup, one piercing little voice cut through the din. Looking over I saw a little kid, barely tall enough to see over the snow fencing, yelling his head off: "Go get some more!! Go get some more!!" (Imagine those words coming out of a little kid's mouth and you'll get the picture.) I barely made it to the top that time, I was laughing so hard.

* * *

After yesterday I think it's safe to say this is not gonna be our year for a Norcal podium in men's elite at Natz. I wish it were true but it's not. In fact if you look at field sizes across Norcal this season in masters (big fields) and elite men and juniors (small) you have to say things don't look so good for the future either. Meanwhile, if you're looking for an answer to that problem, I have two words for you: Velo Bella. Or Velo Girls, for that matter. Teams which have made the effort to get new riders into the sport, then support them all the way to the top of the heap. On the guys' side the only people doing that today are a handful of masters riders whose kids are old enough to race.

* * *

Note to Neal Rogers at Velonews: Frisco is a place in Texas. They race track there. San Francisco is where the cyclocross is. OK?

* * *

Having complained about jungle cross, now I gotta applaud that other tradition of NorCal cross: Crazed fans doing their part to raise everyone's game. I'm talking about the dudes in orange CalTrans uniforms channeling the spirit of DFL and Surf City with handups of beer, jelly donuts and dollar bills to worthy riders, and meanwhile filling the whole park with their deafening cheers. Way to represent, guys.

--Dave Carr

Thursday, November 17, 2005

VN: Clinchers vs. Tubulars

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

District Jungle-Cross Championships

What's up with all these jungle cross courses this year?

In case you haven't heard the term, "jungle cross" refers to those features that are super rough, technical, death-defying sections. Basically anything that would be faster on a full-suspension mountain bike than a 'cross bike would be considered jungle cross.

NorCal has a checkered history, rightly earned, of presenting tough "jungle cross" courses -- for example the old
Surf City events of the 80's and early 90's and nearly every East Bay race ever held. As a promoter I myself have been responsible for my share of jungle events -- one year Gary Fisher (no CX slouch, either) quit one of my events in disgust, muttering something about "I should have brought my mountain bike."

On the other hand, recently Norcal has begun to kick the habit and enter the modern world -- after all national-caliber CX racing was invented here (the late 90's Super Cup) -- and today we have some great venues of our own (Watsonville, Golden Gate Park) and some great course designers (for example I've never seen a bad course at Central Coast). So it's not like promoters don't have good examples of modern course design.

The funny thing is, at this year's races it seems like we've gone back to the dark ages: Candlestick Point. Aptos High. The district championship. Bumpy, narrow, sketchy singletrack; back breaking, bone jarring, high-pucker descents. The really funny part is how the promoters even celebrate the jungle stuff: at Aptos we had the "Surf City 30th Anniversary of Jungle Cross" -- I think I saw more full suspension bikes at Aptos this year than the first time I raced there more than ten years ago -- and the district championship advertised "a Nor-cal jungle section called 'Mike and Dirk's Gulley of Death' ". They could have built a pretty cool course at the venue - but this time we got a solid helping of berms and jumps and shoulder-high weeds and baby-head rocks that are an insult to any self-respecting 700c tire.

Now, not to take away anything from the Sac CX guys -- really, that sure was a really great BMX course -- and I had a lot of fun racing even if I did come in well off the pace (I guarantee if I had won I wouldn't be ranting about it). But I'd sure like to see a day where more promoters are bragging about their super-pro courses that are built for speed. Maybe it's just there aren't more grumpy complainers like me.

Come on, you 'cross purists, you Euro-dogs! Where's the outrage? Represent!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Q&A - Barriers and UCI

Jessica asks:

I did the USGP in Gloucester a few weeks ago- the chilly saturday race-- and there was only one set of barriers in the race-- this surprised me- is that all that is needed for the course to be "official"?


Not only is that all that is NEEDED, one set of man-made barriers is all that is ALLOWED per the UCI rules. Many promoters and racers think this rule is lame, and I tend to agree. The UCI rules do state that "the course may include no more than six obstacles" - obstacles are defined as a "part of the course which is likely to require riders to dismount". But only one set of barriers is allowed, so the rest of the obstacles have to be part of the landscape. The problem with this is that courses like GGP, a relatively flat area with few natural obstacles - may only have one get-off per lap. Watsonville, on the other hand, has plenty of short, steep uphills that will require most riders to dismount even in the absence of barriers.

Either way, both races should be excellent races and fun for the whole family. GGP will definitely have some tricky corners and sections that will force riders to dismount or even fall down. It's not gonna be a dirt crit for sure...

For a full explanation of UCI Cyclocross races and rules, see the following link:

Note that UCI rules only need to be followed for UCI-classified races, so in non-UCI races you will often see as many barriers as the promoter thinks he/she can get away with...


Saturday, November 12, 2005

My favorite cross sites

Boston Cross - once awesome, now defunct, still impressive cross culture
Cyclocross World - Lucky google and lots of info despite being mainly a sell job. - not strictly a cross site buy always somewhere to find great euro' pro photos in season.
ok...list your own faves

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CX Nationals filling fast

For those of you contemplating a trip to CX Natz in Providence, I wouldn't wait any longer to sign up. Fields are getting HUGE (135-145 in both Master 35+ and 40+ as of today, and more than 250 total in the two B fields) ... and no idea of whether the promoter will enforce a field limit - there are none listed so far, but you never know.

Reg is here:

Local cross articles

From Karen Kefauver:

Greetings Friends and Fellow Cyclists,
I am happy to report that during the season of my very favorite bicycling sport, cyclo-cross, I have had two stories published recently in the Santa Cruz County Sentinel.

Thursday's Report on "Young Guns" of Cyclocross
Sunday’s cyclocross championships give upstarts a chance to shine

Sunday's Race Report:
Brothers battle to finish of FIAC National Cyclocross Championships

Cross Article in Portland weekly

From Sasha McGee:

There's a cross (cover) article in the Portland alternative Weekly:

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Blogs, Comments, and Anonymous Cowards

The nice thing about using the Blogger accounts is that it allows anyone to post any comments for any entry anonymously. It is very nice, and allows people to amend or comment on current postings without logging in or identifying themselves. The BAD side is that it allows anyone to post any comments for any entry anonymously - and one anonymous coward (you know who you are) has been leaving comments that are not at all constructive. If comment abuse continues then this feature will be turned off and everyone will suffer from your stupidity and cowardess. Most people probably never get to see the comments, because I delete them as soon as I get notified of the comment, but obviously this is a pain in the butt so if it continues I'll just disable the feature and you'll have to find other outlets for your feelings.

Get into the spirit of the web. User contributed content is a powerful thing. With power comes responsibility, if you can't handle the responsibility you will not have the power, plain and simple.