2012 Race Category Changes

Coffee Talk Tuesday has returned and we can't think of a topic more sensitive than racing category changes and the ACA has some new ones in 2012. The letter below is pretty brief and to the point so no summary is needed.

From the ACA

Hello Colorado racing community,

We are making a couple of significant changes to the race categories for the 2012 season. This change is being made so that we can offer consistent categories for our athletes and promoters.

The first major change is the introduction of the Category 5 category. This category is designed for athletes new to the sport of competitive cycling. Many of our race directors and clubs have asked to include this category, and with our new partnership with USAC, this is a natural addition to our race days. Please note that Category 5 is not age-specific, is not part of the Cup competitions, and is not a State Championship category.

Because of the introduction of Category 5, we are eliminating the ‘Open’ categories in both Senior and Master racing. Races will defined by specific categories (example: Senior Men Open becomes Senior Men Pro 1-2, Senior Women Open becomes Senior Women Pro 1-2, Senior Men 35+ Open becomes Senior Men 35+ 1-2, Senior Men 45+ Open becomes Senior Men 45+ 1, 2,3, etc.)

An additional change to our categories lies in our Senior Men 35+. In the past, we have offered Senior Men 35+ Open, Senior Men 35+ Cat 3, and Senior Men 35+ Cat 4 races. In 2012, the relevant categories will be Senior Men 35+ 1-2, Senior Men 35+ 3, and Senior Men 35+ Cat 4. The ACA created 35+ Cat 3 two years ago, but gave the athletes the choice as to which category in which to race. This change is being made to help standardize our categories and race fields on race day, so that our 35+ fields use the same category system as our Seniors. Essentially, racers now must race the specific category that is printed on their racing license. Please note that at many of our events, 35+ 1-2 and 35+ Cat 3 will be combined on race day, but separated for results and the overall points competition.

This change affects a number of 35+ racers who are licensed as Category 3 but enjoyed racing in what was previously the Open category. If you or your teammates are in this position, you may:
1- Contact Yvonne asap with your resume and desire to upgrade before the season starts.
2- Earn enough points to upgrade from 35+ Cat 3 to 35+ Cat 2.

It is the ACA’s goal to create fair, safe, competitive and fun racing for all of our categories, and at the same time, to create a balanced race day that is manageable and profitable for our race directors.

Please direct questions regarding these category changes to Chris McGee at 303-458-5538 or

News Item: 


Yeah, lets get rid of masters

Yeah, lets get rid of masters racing. Brilliant! All our problems are solved.

Do you know what's useless? The same tired whining about too many categories on this forum. Guess what genius, only a handful of people give a shit and those that don't can't believe this is an issue. If you don't like it, don't race, nobody will notice you're not there.

unfortunately for everyone

unfortunately for everyone the "handful of people who give a shit" are the promoters and officials who are having to figure out the logistics of dozens of meaningless categories that do nothing but dilute competition and lengthen the day.

Colorado is the only place in the nation where there are so many segregated masters' categories, despite places like California which have much larger amateur fields at their events. The only reason it's like that is because it had the local lunatics running the asylum for so many years. And by that I mean masters with their own personal agendas (Steve Haydel, I'm looking at you) on the board making category decisions.

Local associations like NCNCA which have problems with categories selling out don't continue to break down by age group. They break out by merit instead, which makes a whole lot more sense. They hold a Cat 4, a Cat 5, and a "Novice" field (for Cat 5s who haven't done more than 5 races) and sometimes they'll even throw in a "Firstimer" (which is exactly what it says). So in essence they've created a de facto "Cat 6" because they are invested in getting new folks interested in racing bikes, not catering to a bunch of rich old farts who are not the future of the sport.

Age groups are meaningless in amateur road racing, because once you get past a certain fitness and skill level, it's not the strongest guy who wins, it's often the smartest. There are plenty of guys out there in their 40s, 50s and even 60s who are perfectly capable of racing their senior cat. Most everywhere else in the nation, they do.

used to live in IL, and raced

used to live in IL, and raced in IL and WI for years. 30+ open fields were faster than the Pro-1-2, 40+ fields were about the same as p-1-2. The largest number of racers and resulting field sizes were in the masters races. While we are not the 'future', we are the largest segment. (And spend the most) It is good business to cater to largest group, with the most money. As for the future, many of us old guys take the young racers under our wings, pass on our knowledge and help them grow in the sport. In the crits we often double up and do our races to place well, then do the senior race to help our younger teammates.

Masters Categories versus Senior

I think people are looking at the Masters categories versus the Senior categories in the wrong way.

Masters seem to race a significantly steadier racing style.

I have raced both the 35+ and the P12. The 35+ are steadier and race 25% of the distance and time that the P12s race and they are usually faster in the RRs because of the shorter distances but in the TTs and HCs the 35+ races are closer to the Cat 3s than the P12s.

I think it is funny to compare RR times of categories because it doesn't matter if a group takes six hours or 1 hr to cover a course, what matters is who wins and you race to win not to cover the course as a group the fastest. Each race has a different dynamic and looking at the times of RRs by category is silly.

If you want to look at the quality of a field, look at the TT times and HC times where tactics are less of a factor.

The difference between the winning Evans times between the P12 and 35+ was significant in 2011. The winner of the 35+ race would have been just on the edge of top 20 in P12 and the top 3 SM 3 guys would have all fought to be the winners of the SM 35+ race.

The State TT also shows the P12 Field to have superior fitness to the 35+ Field.

I imagine the results would be the same for most TTs and HCs. The P12s are significantly faster than 35+ at HCs, faster at TTs but not as significant and the top SM3s are very competitive with the top 35+ riders.

The 35+ field has definitely lost a lot of fire power.

Most everywhere in the nation

Most everywhere in the nation they run only 2 or 3 Masters' splits.

In the Midwest we ran Masters' A and B, which was defined as Masters 1/2/3 and Masters 4/5. No agegroup splits beyond that.

In some bigger regions (mid Atlantic) I've seen Masters A/B/C which was broken out as Masters 1/2, 3/4 and 5. Again, it was exceedingly rare to do any further age splits except at state championships.

The whole reason the Masters 35+ 4, 45+ 4 and 35+ 3 even exist in Colorado, is because of the prior lack of a Cat 5. Because there was never any accommodation made for true rookies, instead what we saw was 4 or 5 separate flavor of Cat 4.

The reason 35+ 3 is not comparable in quality/speed to Senior 3 is because it's basically just another Cat 4 split. Guys were getting upgraded from the 35+4 without racing SM3, which is arguably a tougher field.

Hopefully the creation of a Cat 5 will eliminate most of this nonsense.

Instituting Cat 5 is a

Instituting Cat 5 is a consequence of aligning with USAC.

May be wrong (and I'm sure I'll be corrected if I am) but isn't it the case that unless a race is trying to meet BAR/BAT standards the promoter can run whatever categories they want, and do not have to offer every category?