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 dunno...am 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.

-Funke

33 Comments:

Blogger John Elgart said...

One possibility that we would consider for Sacramento is overlapping categories: A's=1/2/3, B's=3/4, C's=4.

--John Elgart

5:00 PM  
Blogger cycloscott said...

I already renewed my license for 2006, and it looks like the initial categorization is based primarily on your Road category. I'm a 4 on the road (I race very seldomly) and Expert for MTB. My CX category for 2006 is a 3.

Pretty deflating since I consider myself a fast 35+ racer (last few years anyway), but I guess maybe they saw my results for this season.

I expect most promoters will have some overlap of cats. UCI and National events will most likely be cat 1 only for the Elite fields, but the local CX events should be combined 1/2 for the main events.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous MikeO said...

Personally, I am disappointed with the bland category moniker "1, 2, 3, 4". At the very least, roman numerals "I, II, III, IV" or otherworldly "Supreme Being, Demi-God(dess), King/Queen, Pauper".

5:42 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

Regarding John Elgart's comment - that may be a viable interim solution, but that will definitely perpetuate the A,B,C format from which we are moving. Perhaps we should start thinking in terms of 1-4 ASAP? Your solution would definitely relieve some of the burden of handling upgrades/downgrades for USCF officials...but still being a Cat 3 (for example) is less meaningful under that format and there would still be a fair amount of category-hopping.

5:44 PM  
Blogger ali-la-pointe said...

this is some silliness...

1) I hear this is driven by large fields, somewhere (back east?). Just did the Capitol Cross in reston, and of 250 racers 81 did the 35+ men's race. As Dave C. noted in another post, fields this year are dinky excepting masters. Will introducing some crit-whore category snobbery help grow cx participation?

2)since this comes from the road, folks are mentally equating road categories with cx, when we all know your road cat gets you squat in cx (i.e. cat 2s mid-pack in the Bs, cat 5s mid-pack in the As, and old guys like the moderator who can smoke almost everyone).

3)usacycling will be double-dipping (once for the license, once for the Casey approved category re-issue)...maybe just buying the pricey UCI license purchase would be cheaper, as well as entitling the elderly to get spanked twice in one day...

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Casey Kerrigan said...

Evan Said

3)usacycling will be double-dipping (once for the license, once for the Casey approved category re-issue)...maybe just buying the pricey UCI license purchase would be cheaper, as well as entitling the elderly to get spanked twice in one day...
.................................
You don't have to pay for a license reissue when you are upgraded. Just like with the road or track you can get a category sticker to put on your license to indicate your new category.

Also note that this proposal was dreamed up and pushed by some folks from the east coast Cross scene so blame them if this new system doesn't work out well :)

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Adam Hodges Myerson said...

I wrote them, so I suppose you can blame me.

Although I'm counting on Casey to implement the new rules correctly if I'm going to stick my neck out...

9:29 PM  
Blogger cycloscott said...

adam said:
Although I'm counting on Casey to implement the new rules correctly if I'm going to stick my neck out...

...So what ARE the new rules? I didn't see anything on the USACycling site when I looked last week.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Jsage said...

Would this take away being able to race twice in a day? As in do the C's and the B's. The one nice aspect of the set up right now is that one can do two races in a single day and not be 35+ to do it.

9:53 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

OK, Adam sent me the event category suggestions that he outlined, and for local races they are EXACTLY as John Elgart suggested (At local races, the Men’s A race would be pro/1/2/3, the B race would be 3/4, and the C race would be 4). I stand corrected. I'll post more as soon as I have permission to do so.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous reed said...

My guess, is for better or worse, this will equalize out more like the road racing scene in Norcal. I actually think this will be good but that may be my recent "roadie" bias, others from other backgrounds may not think so. I'm expert MTB a 3 on the road and when I renewed was a 3 in cross as well. With races organized as John Elgart suggests, they will resemble road crits. For example, I primarily race 35+ 1/2/3 on the road; it would be the same in CX. Alternately I may do a 2nd crit as an E3- that would be the 3/4 race in CX. This will be a bit interesting since I "upgraded" out of the B's last year and it may take a while to sift things out, but ultimately I think it will give both racers and promoters better guidance on races.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the cx license will be tied to the mtb(Norba)/road(USCF) making for one grand license. If this is the case then we don't need to purchase a UCI license unless we want to race in a UCI classified race.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Casey Kerrigan said...

Anonymous said...
Does anyone know if the cx license will be tied to the mtb(Norba)/road(USCF) making for one grand license. If this is the case then we don't need to purchase a UCI license unless we want to race in a UCI classified race.

..........................
Next year USAC will issue a single license. If you pay for a USCF license then your USCF and cross categories will be listed. If you pay for a NORBA license then your Mt. bike and cross categories will be filled in. If you pay for booth a USCF and NORBA license then your USCF, NORBA and Cross categories will be filled in. You can't just buy a NORBA license and do both USCF and NORBA races.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Casey Kerrigan said...

something else that people might want to note about the new Cross categories. Riders will only be able to use a one day license in those categories that are open to Cat 4 men and women ( assuming that USCF changes the one day license rule to allow one day license in Cat 4 mens races since currently the rule only allows one day license use in events for Cat 5 men or Cat 4 women)

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Casey Kerrigan said...

Adam Hodges Myerson said...
I wrote them, so I suppose you can blame me.

Although I'm counting on Casey to implement the new rules correctly if I'm going to stick my neck out...

..........................
Since Cross racing doesn't have the same safety issues that road racing has I would hope that the cross upgrade system will look a lot like the NORBA upgrade system. Basically for NORBA riders are pretty much free to self categorize up to the expert level and then they have to meet some requirements to upgrade to Semi Pro or Pro. Also NORBA has requirements to upgrade is a certain number of top 5 placings are achieved ( ie basically mandatory upgrades for people who place to well to many times)

Using the NORBA model I would hope that the Cross system would basically let people self categorize up to Cat 2 with some performance requirement to get to be a Cat 1. Also like NORBA once you upgrade you can't self downgrade/ Also like NORBA there should be a method to allow someone who reaches a mandatory upgrade position to finish any series events they are currently in at the category they started the series in.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Casey - what category will be the minimum to do a UCI race as with the "As"? Some of these are pretty low key with small fields and are more or less like the local A races, while others like the USGP have all the big boys/girls.

10:41 AM  
Blogger the seamus said...

There are B's riders with no USCF license who finish top three, and Cat 1 roadies in the same fields finishing in the middle of the pack.

At first it will be messy.
I'd guess that Cat 2, 3 and 4 fields aren going to be completely random for the first 5 or 6 races next year until the dust settles.

11:16 AM  
Blogger eric sterner said...

....so much for upgrading from the C's to the A's so I can get a few more hours of sleep....

11:46 AM  
Blogger Benjaminiac said...

Anonymous said...
Casey - what category will be the minimum to do a UCI race as with the "As"? Some of these are pretty low key with small fields and are more or less like the local A races, while others like the USGP have all the big boys/girls.
--------------------------
i think this is a great idea on the whole, and a thanks to the "east coast crew" who took care of things.

i personally feel that the best breakdown would be a straight conversion: C=4, B=3, A=1/2, and the catch is cat 1's hold a UCI license. this allows those who want to race with the big boys/girls the ability to do the UCI events, while those who want to be a "local" A can be a 2. this might actually allow for better racing at the national level by including a 2 only event...this would sort out the problem of 250+ registrants for "B" Natz, who are actually all the B's plus another 100 non-UCI A's.

this could also allow a separately scored 2 race locally, or at the very least a special prize for "top cat. 2" at an event or series...you know people are going to go around claiming it anyway, as in road racing.

i think the biggest relief this will provide will be to the "B" racer looking to upgrade, but doesn't feel like being dragged through the mud (literally) for several races with little to show for it. i remember when the "elite" category (precursor to "semi-pro") came out in NORBA, i was stoked as i finally had something to work towards: i could race all the local pros locally without having to race Tinker and Travis at the nationals.

are there those opposed to having straight conversion, and if so, why? it seems to me the only reason for the overlapping as discussed is to upgrade from "C" to "A" in one step instead of two.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

I'm in favor of categories:
1. add legitimacy / structure
2. encourage upgrades, discourage sandbagging
3. make possible some sensible qualification procedures for natz (though that doesn't mean it will happen)
--dave

1:20 PM  
Anonymous casey Kerrigan said...

De Carr said...
I'm in favor of categories:
1. add legitimacy / structure
2. encourage upgrades, discourage sandbagging
3. make possible some sensible qualification procedures for natz (though that doesn't mean it will happen)

..................
History has proven that using your racing category to qualify for nationals is a bad idea. There will be unqualified riders who will find a way to get an upgrade just so they can ride in nationals. If you need to qualify people for nationals the better method is having people race their way into nationals. Let anyone with UCI and or USGP points into nationals and then have regional qualifying races for the rest of the nationals positions

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben has a good matrix. We should use that.

Overlapping categories is confusing. How can a 3 = A? How can 4 = B?

2:32 PM  
Blogger ali-la-pointe said...

Ben said:
"this would sort out the problem of 250+ registrants for "B" Natz, who are actually all the B's plus another 100 non-UCI A's."

Nationals isn't a UCI race - that's why Katie Compton is defending her title there but skipping the UCI races. Anyone can pay and race the Elites. Lots of those Bs are probably doing a second race for kicks.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Benjaminiac said...

ali-la-pointe said...

Nationals isn't a UCI race - that's why Katie Compton is defending her title there but skipping the UCI races. Anyone can pay and race the Elites. Lots of those Bs are probably doing a second race for kicks.

Natz is a UCI race, it carries more points than a C1. plus, UCI points are all important for the elites, as it determines the call up order. and compton gets an automatic call up for being previous champ, so she doesn't need to chase points.

true anyone can pay to play, but whats' the point if you've lost a minute by the time you've clipped in? if i start in the back, there's no way i'm going to make it up to trebon, when i'm going GREAT he still kills me by a minute. smaller fields where the right people are in the right field at natz would be great, a win/win for all.

7:39 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

Actually, for Men, there will supposedly be actual qualification for Nationals on the criteria that the rider be Cat 1 with at least 1 UCI point in that season, and be ranked on the NRC and UCI rankings. For Women I think you'll just need to be Cat 1. I do believe this is a good call because it legitimizes Nationals from an event that literally anyone can enter. Last year in Nationals guys with UCI points were getting lapped at 3 to go (hmm how would I know that?) so I can't imagine when lapping started for the guys in the back. Also, making UCI points more important will inspire more riders to travel to the lesser UCI races to chase points to qualify for Nationals.

Note that was from a draft of a document Adam sent me and he's not sure it was 100% adopted...but it is very likely.

9:24 PM  
Blogger singlespeedguy said...

My brain hurts trying to understand all this. What about the old guys and the singlespeeders?

9:52 PM  
Blogger dennismcgovern said...

I think the mutli categories for local races is a great is a great idea... what about masters, juniors and women?
I am hoping for 35+ 1,2,3 and 35+3,4

having just 4, would hurt turnouts I think.

As a promotor having multiple cats is key... otherwise, I think field sizes will drop drastically.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous bloodynubs said...

I am a little confused. I hope it gets clearer than this soon.

Since I don't race MTB or Road in USAC events, I am wondering how it will apply to me.
-Do I get to drop back down to the C's from the A's because I am a cat 5 on the road?
Or is this still a self appointing system like it has been except the cat 2 to 1 state?

Also, do points earned in Cross get you an upgrade on your road license or are they totally seperate as they should be?

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Nick Hanni said...

Ben said...

"I think the biggest relief this will provide will be to the "B" racer looking to upgrade, but doesn't feel like being dragged through the mud (literally) for several races with little to show for it. i remember when the "elite" category (precursor to "semi-pro") came out in NORBA, i was stoked as i finally had something to work towards: i could race all the local pros locally without having to race Tinker and Travis at the nationals".....

This is my first year as a "B" racer and it has been going better than expected. I am now looking to jump in with the "A"'s next year and this sounds like a great idea.

I would like to think I could keep up with the big boys but ya, like I said was saying, I'm really pretty green still and would like the chance to race 10 or more guys closer in ability than a blown up field from the gun, in reguards to the 2 only field....

In any case, I am happy to take some lumps in the A's (1-2's whatever) with the big boys. In the past, riding with fast guys has always sped up the learing curve.....

8:57 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

yo bloodynubs- categories will be separate, and according to Casey you should be able to choose your category to begin regardless of your other categories.

I still think there is a fair amount of confusion as to which category to start in for 2006. My 2 cents would be:
Cat 1: A riders with aspirations for UCI pts and going to Natz
Cat 2: A riders with no Natz/UCI goals, strong B's eyeing the jump to A's.
Cat 3: Solid B's, strong C's eyeing the jump to B's.
Cat 4: Solid C's and newbies.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous the living Tom Simpson said...

Regarding future Nationals Qualifications - we've always thought that providing an open Nationals was critical to 'cross growth. But having said that, we also think that categories with enormous interest in competing - primarily Masters and "B", "C" categories - could have both via a qualifying "Heat" system. I don;t think many riders enjoy a 150 rider field when it takes 60 seconds for the riders in the back to get started after the gun goes off. But if on friday these guys had 75 rider qualifying heats (30 minute races) with the top 30 in each race advancing to the medal round on saturday or sunday - then everybody gets to race the Nationals - and the riders racing for medals/jersey also have a better field and a clear track. Nobody gets pulled by the referees after 2 laps (and $40 entry)

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just keep in mind that, aside from the people in the front of the A's and B's we do this for fun. I like being able to go between the A's and B's depending on my personal schedule. This is not a career. With this new system, I'll be relagated to the "B's" (probably) and will probably skip many more races because it's inconvient to my personal schedule. And this whole thing reminds me of the government (making laws when none need to be made). What "problem" are we fixing?? Sandbagging?? Look at the top 10 guys in the Master 35B's at nationals.. They are all in the right category with the exception of the 1st place guy (who by the way finished mid-pack in early season A races). Peer pressure keeps the real butt kickers from sneaking down and winning races. It works fine. I like overlapping categories so I can pick and choose which race I want to enter based on where my buddies are racing and my personal schedule. Don't box me in... please

5:26 PM  
Blogger bayareacxracer said...

just keep in mind that, aside from the people in the front of the A's and B's we do this for fun. I like being able to go between the A's and B's depending on my personal schedule. This is not a career. With this new system, I'll be relagated to the "B's" (probably) and will probably skip many more races because it's inconvient to my personal schedule. And this whole thing reminds me of the government (making laws when none need to be made). What "problem" are we fixing?? Sandbagging?? Look at the top 10 guys in the Master 35B's at nationals.. They are all in the right category with the exception of the 1st place guy (who by the way finished mid-pack in early season A races). Peer pressure keeps the real butt kickers from sneaking down and winning races. It works fine. I like overlapping categories so I can pick and choose which race I want to enter based on where my buddies are racing and my personal schedule. Don't box me in... please

5:30 PM  

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