Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stick a Fork in it

Stick a fork in it

It's DONE.  Cross season is over for yet another year.
Me sad.  Me no get cross season this year.  Me have SOME fun at a few races hanging out.  Me no like not racing.  Make no sense why hurting yourself SO bad is SO fun.  Make sense to miss such silliness.  Me will race next year.

The HPM bunch had a good season,  and a great time at States up in Loveland.  The E2 boys put in a HUGE effort to do a great event,  and they put on a good show.  I have to say I am still happy to share the way of life that cross is with a class bunch of guys.  They seem to know just the right balance of racing their guts out,  being competitive (7th place in Colorado Cross Cup for both 35+ 4 and 45+ 4, all with a VERY few riders...),  and still knowing how to have a good time.  I think this shot from Saturday pretty much sums up both the season,  and my dear teammates.

Armin risks disqualification to get a beer hand up.

Santa says thanks for a great season.

There is yet one more race to do if you are hardcore,  maybe a few underground things on tap,  plus Nationals and even Worlds here in the United States to keep the Cross buzz alive,  but mostly for us lowly middle of the pack types,  it's time to start thinking of next year.

For me,  my number one training plan is to get the cancer back out of my blood so I CAN train and race next year.  The time to treat my blood cancer is rapidly approaching.  Time to fix that broken blood shit so I can actually ride a bike again.  I am finishing up some baseline diagnostic work in the next couple of weeks (Spleen ultrasounds and a bone marrow biopsy...),  and hope to start my Chemotherapy in early January.  I think I will go ahead and document the Leukemia treatment process here,  as it seems to help my brain out when I write about the cancer thing.  Good way to let some of the demons out of my head,  and maybe give some insight into the wonderful world of cancer and it's treatment.

Till then,  you all enjoy being DONE,  not getting up so damn early each weekend,  NOT freezing your cowbells off,  and NOT beating yourself into a pulp each weekend.  Rest up,  it will soon be time to start it all again.  I SHALL be part of it this time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Upgrading the Upgrades

So,  once again,  I see one of those cycling rule changes I have to sit back and think about.  Is this good for the sport?  My team?  Me?

Categories,  how to set them up,  how to split them in a race,  and how and when to move up,  probably one of the best ways to set off a cat fight among competitive cyclists.  Once again,  the USA Cycling folks are trying to stir things up.  Last week,  there was a quiet announcement detailing changes to the upgrade rules for USAC racers.  Here is the sum total of the detail from the Borg on this


Pretty thin,  but shows some changes from the current rules for sure.  Here I will try and summarize  what the Current USAC rule is for 2012,  What BRAC/ACA had prior to the assimilation (As best as I can find/remember,  as I have not been able to find an old listing of the specific wording...),  and the upcoming 2014 rules.  It changes by category and also have to split Road & Cross upgrade criteria as well,  as they are quite different.  Also show the "CAN" upgrade qualification,  and the "Mandatory" up you go,  kicking & screaming limits

For Cross (My obvious priority here..)


WHEW.....  THAT was a mess.   What the hell does this all boil down to?  Why do I suddenly feel like a lawyer with all the small type?  Kinda hard to really tell,  but here we go.

GENERALLY,  it seems that for Cross,  it got a lot EASIER to upgrade (Or GET upgraded...) into Cat 3 or 2,  harder to upgrade to a Cat 1.  Definitely more specific mandatory upgrade criteria based on points,  not wins & field sizes.

For the Road,  It got HARDER to get an upgrade across all Cats.  Like cross,  much more specific mandatory upgrade criteria on points,  not wins & field sizes.

Mixed messages road to cross make it hard to Divine an intent here,  outside of Cat 4 upgrades in Cross.  USAC rules are going from a "race a few times,  get a few points and you CAN upgrade" with nothing forcing a rider to upgrade,  to a "10 races & off you go to the 3s no matter what" deal.  Pretty big change.  I would guess that this sudden move to empty out the Cat 4 ranks is intended to address both Sandbagging in the Cat 4s and more likely to make Cat 4 more of a "beginner" field,  and a less intimidating first race environment.  If that truly WAS the intent,  the "10 & Out" plan will definetely do that,  and in pretty short order.  Cat 3 fields might get pretty big,  may become the new 35+ Cat 4,  Rolling Armageddon every weekend.

I have seen that in spite of the "less than specific"  USAC mandatory upgrade criteria for moving people out of Cat 4,  over this season,  no Cat 4 that got more than 25 upgrade points has STAYED a Cat 4.  My Cyber-stalking seems to show that a "not so official" 25 point mandatory upgrade criteria is in use for Colorado.  Sniffing around the comments section of the online world,  It seems that at least some other parts of the country have a more apparent sandbag problem.    We might well be thankful (Again...) that we have a certain YVG here to quietly do the right thing,  in spite of the system.  I think the legacy system from the BRAC results/upgrade database is also making it easy for both the powers that be and for us to watch being their backs for any sandbagging.  Why those other keepers of the upgrades have never heard of Crossresults.com is a whole different question.

I come at this from the perspective of the "Cat4ever" or "Career Cat4" kind of racer.  In spite of WAY too many years of trying,  Never have I scored a SINGLE upgrade point.  While I can certainly race a Masters Open race,   or even 35+ Cat3,  it is just plain not going to be as motivating to be fighting to not get lapped,  or getting out of the bottom 10.  I'll not be totally bummed to be a 3,  and just race 45+ (or 55+ in a year or so.... ug).  I even had the long term goal of GETTING that upgrade point,  and upgrading.  May never get that chance,  boo hoo for me.

I know that the USAC for sure,  and a lot of racers as well,  do not get the concept of what I call "Recreational Bike Racers".  Those people who ride a lot,  race a little,  and are not really that hard-core,  get-faster-train-hard-podium-focused-give-me-the-hardest-competition-skinny-race-dork.   I really think that the race speeds and level of competition in the 4s suits that level of rider quite well,  allowing them to shoot for "top half" finishes,  maybe a few Cross Cup Points,  without a huge commitment.  I think there are a lot of back of the pack Cat 4s,  particularly in the 35+ and 45+ Cat 4 groups who would be VERY much de-motivated to be booted up to the 3s,  and getting shuffled right back to getting lapped.    I can't quite understand why racing at that level is the subject of the semi-derision it is. if you want to (and CAN...) kick ass,  get the results and move up,  Great.  if you want to invest enough to race mid-pack 4s and and are happy with that,  Great.  Sure,  it may not be "real" bike racing,  but so what?  Not everyone wants to make the Olympic team. (Someone in Colorado Springs just shuddered violently...)

What will this change do if really implemented?  After the first 5 weeks or so,  you start to see a LOT of Cat 4s suddenly moving into the Cat3s.  With 3 separate fields feeding only 2 CAT 3 groups,  those 2 already large races are going to get a LOT bigger.  With a points minimum to upgrade anyone out,  and so many coming in,  how big are those fields going to get?  Pretty damn big.  The current bunch of 3s are about half again faster than the bulk of 4s (Lap times don't lie),  so you will end up with a larger spread of rider speeds in a larger field,  a GREAT recipe for conflict and chaos.

How are those "bottom 20" cat 4s today going to feel about racing a masters open or cat 3 race every weekend?  Probably not going to be very motivating.  Pushing people who are finishing in the bottom half of a Cat 4 field up into the 3s,  even with a lot of the riders around them moving up at the same time is NOT the way to encourage people to CONTINUE with racing bikes.  Even if they are getting lapped with a bunch of the riders they were in that bottom half with,  no one REALLY likes getting lapped every week.  Everyone needs a small success here and there.   A REAL beginner field May well bring in more riders (less intimidating level to start in)  but again,  just about the time you get them hooked on this new sport,  you toss them to the wolves.

Think this will be a mess,  but again thought the USAC merger would be a mess,  and that is working out OK.  Course,  given what I see today,  Colorado may just quietly go our own way on upgrades,  just as it appears is happening today.

Course,  there is always the WWMD* approach

* What would Adam Myerson Do?

See you all at states.  We'll have a full High Peaks Masters compound in operation on the team tent row.  stop by!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

That looks like it hurts.....

Managed an appearance at a cross race once again this season.  This one made me think MAYBE it's not so bad to be broken and not able to race.  The Bowl of Death at Louisville was tweaked a bit this year,  and the additions looked somewhere in between cruel & unusual and downright medieval to actually ride around.  Couple of "new & improved" little power uphills,  and some general twisty-ness looked to take the bowl from it's usual bleeding from the ears pain threshold,  well up into new territory.    I can't really decide if I missed that one or not.  Some people did not appear to truly enjoy parts of this race.

Tried to get some video right at one of the new little "pops" they managed to add to the course.  Seemed to be a bit of eyeball-bulging even on the first lap.  Probably should have gone back by the last laps,  to REALLY see the fun,  but I was over on one of the OTHER painful little hills.

SM35+ cat 3 - Lap 1

Boulder CX Series #5 - Louisville Recreation Center - SM35+ Cat 3 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

SM35+ open - Lap 1

Boulder CX series - Louisville Rec - SM 35+ Open from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

I have to give serious props to both the Without Limits guys and their race timing company,  RaceRite. Having the lap times and results streaming to the website LIVE during the race is REALLY cool when watching a race.  Now you can say,   "hey it looks like old so-and-so is going backwards" and then look at the lap times right there,  and KNOW they ARE going backwards.  SO cool!  You can see who is in what position while watching the race live.  Great  fodder for some "constructive heckling"of your friends during the race.

With the season starting to wind down,  it looks like the "fixes" to the "race experience" are once again starting to filter out,  both from BRAC and the Borg down in the Springs.

Seems as if the BRAC people noticed them basically getting their hiney handed to them on a plate in the race-results and timing business,  as they seem to be TRYING to catch up with the BRAC-owned timing system for next year.  Of course,  even if they are able to get their registration & data entry issues cleared up by owning the chips and linking them to bib numbers instead of BRAC numbers,  it will again come somewhat at the cost of the membership again.  Those timing chips you bought?  The ones that were good for 3 years or so?  Guessing they are now just transponder paperweights.  Not thinking they will be buying those back to create the "1500 chip pool" they need to "fix" their timing system.  Not to mention I don't see anything about getting someone with rudimentary database skills to get some registration software that can register riders and (GASP!!)  cross reference a start list to the USAC ranking list to generate a call-up list in less than 24 hours.   Will see if they can get that system going,  but until then Boulder Racing,  with live lap time streaming,  both on a screen at the finish,  and to the web,  plus the results printer at the finish,  will just keep showing them what CAN be done.  I will be attending the BRAC Club Council meeting next week (Talk about a PARTY...),  so may have some more to share on this change after that.

Then of course the Springs Borg is going to fix sandbagging once and for all.  THIS will be interesting.  No More "Cat 4ever" or "career Cat 4" I guess.  For those of us who FIT that description (myself due to NEVER doing well enough to score even ONE career upgrade point...),  and the "Recreational Racer",  it is just plain going to be a lot harder to get out of the back half of a race.  Not the end of the world,  and I DO understand the intention of making Cat 4 a TRUE beginner category.   Course,  I have never thought that the USAC gives a CRAP about anyone who is not trying to make the Olympic team.  I don't think they even realize some people race (badly..) for FUN,  and don't need (or want...)  to be a Cat 2 to enjoy racing.  I'm sure I will manage a full stand alone rant about THIS little gem soon,  stay tuned for that one....

Getting Pretty psyched for states in a couple of weeks.  Without any of that pesky "racing" to worry about,  and a team tent site already purchased,  I believe I can make that a fun day.  Also saw something about "all you can drink beer mugs" going to be available at the beer garden.  Hmmm.   I am betting the team tent row will be quite entertaining this year.  Should be fun.