Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Remember when our "friends" in Colorado Springs decided to "fix" the Cross Upgrade/Category system a while back?  Seems like someone,  somewhere,  noticed that maybe,  just maybe kicking ALL the Cat 4 riders up to the 3's after doing 10 races was maybe,  just maybe,  not the best way to fix whatever problem someone,  somewhere,  dreamed up needed fixing.   Maybe,  just maybe,  the sandbagging or other imagined problem they were trying to fix was not worth the damage to a thriving grassroots cyclocross participation scene that seems to be doing so well in the U.S. right now.

How do I know that this bit of enlightenment may have taken place?  It seems that the USACycling rulebook sections that HAD just implemented the "10 & out" rule have VERY quietly changed.  No announcement this time,  the relevant rules just....  Changed.    Fortunately,  some people noticed,  and I managed to confirm that the upgrade rules did indeed change for next season.   The Cyclocross Cat 4 to Cat 3 upgrade stuff changed,  the higher category upgrade criteria and the road side changes did not.  The slightly lower  mandatory points limits remain for the higher categories.  The changes were made to the Cat 4 & BELOW levels for cyclocross only.   Wait....  BELOW Cat 4 you say?

Yep,  rather than force everyone to be a Cat 3 after 10 races,  they added Category 5 for new cyclocross riders.  Yep,  The lowly Cat 4 is no longer the BOTTOM of the cross gene pool.  They will have the Cat 5's to make fun of now.  

Here is the new Cyclocross upgrade rules verbatim:

1E6. Cyclo-cross Upgrades and Downgrades Cyclo-cross categories are upgraded similarly to road category upgrades using the system below:
(a) Requirements for upgrading:
5-4: Experience in 10 races is a mandatory upgrade. 
4-3: Voluntary upgrade with 10 points. Fifteen points or
two wins if the field had at least 30 competitors is a
mandatory upgrade.*
3-2: Voluntary upgrade with 15 points. Twenty points or
two wins if the field had at least 30 competitors is a
mandatory upgrade.*
2-1: Voluntary upgrade with 20 points. Twenty-five points
or two wins if the field had at least 40 competitors is
a mandatory upgrade.
*Juniors are exempt from this mandatory upgrade 

So what does this mean?  Well,  it certainly is less bizarre than what WAS going to happen.   Adding yet another group to find a race day slot for brings it's own problems to the table,  but also satisfies the real need for a "true beginner"/newbie group at the bottom,  allowing Cat 4 some more breathing room to be a long term home for the "recreational" or "not serious" racer.  I personally think there is a strong need for that in cross.  A 10 race & out limit on Cat 5 makes a lot of sense for a try-it-out-get-your-feet-wet kind of group.  After 10 races,  those who are hooked can survive or even thrive in the Cat 4,  making room for more newbies.  

Going to be a challenge to add that group to an already VERY full race day,  including a very likely and VERY needed women Cat 3 field.  Intel says it might go off with the older Junior races (15/16 & 17/18....).   Going to take a while to build a field of any size,  since only new cross licences will be granted that coveted Cat 5 card.  At least I don't see this actively HARMING participation & motivation,  as the original proposal certainly had the probability of doing.

With all the momentum and warm,  fuzzy feelings after Louisville worlds,  I feel a LOT better about next season,  and the continuing growth for Cross.

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