New Categories and Lapped Riders

With the increased popularity of cyclocross comes larger field sizes. Also with the popularity comes additional categories (i.e. Men 35+/3s, SingleSpeed etc). These additional categories are easily added by having the new category start 30 seconds to a minute behind the established category. A couple unintended consequences occur from these added categories. The first consequence is the dilution of other fields. For instance, the addition of the 35+/3s has taken away from the 35+ and the 3s. The second consequence is lapped riders.

What is interesting is there has been quite a bit of talk about how to handle lapped riders. This issue is not a Colorado issue but happens at all levels and all around the country. When talking about lapped riders people usually bring up the 80% rule. Here is an explanation of the rule from the USA Cyling Rulebook

5G1. Before the start of a race, it should be announced whether lapped riders will be pulled or remain in the race. If riders are to be pulled, the following applies:
(a) Riders who have been lapped shall continue the lap to a designated location before the finish line and withdraw, under the control of the officials.
(b) The Chief Referee may, after consulting with the organizer, impose the 80% rule. Under this rule, riders whose time gap to the race leader is at least 80% of the race leader’s time for the first lap will be pulled by the officials unless it is the final lap. The number of 80% is merely an approximation based on a typical course; the intent is that all riders should be pulled before they are lapped.
(c) Riders who have been pulled because of lapping or the 80% rule will be listed in the results based on their position when pulled and the number of laps remaining. The results will list the number of laps remaining after the lap on which they were pulled.

Here are two comments from racers in other parts of the country. From Jared Roy who is racing in the Portland area:

The 80% rule sucks for the Master 1 racers because we race with the Pro/1/2 guys who start a minute ahead of us, so we are always in danger of the 80% rule.

From Steve Tilford:

This rule is for lazy officiating. It’s just a bad rule all around. What if a rider loses 60% the first lap. He is going to be lapped for sure the next lap, but the rule doesn’t apply.

Here are two tweets referencing the rule. So what do you think? Should the ACA enforce the 80% rule? Are these new categories causing problems?

News Item: 


IMHO: 1a. The courses are

1a. The courses are either too short or too fast. Unless we start getting rain, the too fast is hard to get around. The too short is hard to address as a lot of the courses are using all of the availible area. If every race was at the Rez, we could have long courses, but nobody wants that. Maybe that should be a bigger consideration for mid-Sept - early-Dec races.

1b. For 35+ & 35+/3 and SM Open, pull lapped riders. For all others (3's, 4's, all women's, etc.), don't. That gives a nice clean open race for the fastest races, gives options for 3's who don't want to be pulled (sorry 2's), and lets everybody else race their full races.

2. Wider is better (or is that trademarked?)

Course design

The issue in the 35+ race at Frisco was due to poor course design. There were two or three critical parts of the course that were basically singletrack. The leaders tried to pass in one of these sections and the lapped rider had no place to go. The leader did deserve to be DQ'd based on questionable race tactics though (elbowing is not cool). I agree with one of the other posts on here, pull lapped riders in the Mens Open and 35+. Let the developmental categories remain just that, how can riders get better in race situations if they are getting pulled half or 3/4 of the way through!?!

Over competitive cross scene

Many of the discussions revolving around categorizations,chances for mediocre racers to pass slowe individuals on specific courses and thrown elbows confirms to me that the cross scene here in Colorado takes itself way too serious. Bloody hell, very few of us ,if any of us are being compensated in any meaningful way or achieving any high laurels for finishing in the top 5 of any race.

The environment is none to friendly to newbies, recreational racers or those looking for a good grind and post race beer reward. Lets not become like the Euro-elite scene and try and measure ourselves with a tad more perspective. More cindarella and dark vader costumes ala Portland.

P.S Throw elbows at your peril...

Too late! The cross scene

Too late!

The cross scene has always taken itself way seriously. My first race I was 'barred' by a dude coming back from a mechanical - this was on a tarmac hairpin. Later on another dude offered to fight me because he thought I was warming up on the course and getting in his way. This was in the 35/4s.

I eventually got faster, started scoring podiums and upgraded - took me two years of humiliation though. Not far off being a 2 now. I'm glad I didn't give up but it took a lot of resolve to come back racing after that baptism.

Reality check

You may want to re-read the comment. There's a distinction between "contact" and "elbowing", regardless of the location of your hands. Racing can be aggressive, and contact happens, but there's a line, let's get real.

Some Practical Ideas

For fear of beating a dead horse - I'll try to keep this one brief.

I think there are a few practical ideas that have been mentioned that could improve the passing situation without overhauling the ACA, rejoining USAC, or making everyone wear costumes and be non-competitive. Racing is by definition a competitive endeavor, and it doesn't mean you can't have fun without wearing a costume. Contact between riders and passing are also an inherent part of racing, and racers need to be aware of what is going on around them.

1) Start-line education - officials could remind racers to pass courteously and to get out of the way if you're being lapped. If everyone is on the same page w/ racing etiquette, things would be smoother. Asking someone to pass always works well in my experience. Categories are going to mix and/or people are going to get lapped, there's no way around it.

2) Course design - promoters could take extra care to minimize places that cause bottlenecks and to possibly lengthen the course if the venue allows for it. Valmont was a good example of long course w/ lots of passing.

3) Guys should stop trying so hard to prevent girls from passing them in a race. Girls are fast too, so let's be equally respectful of all racers.

#3 Logic

You'd be surprised on #3 - I think a lot of guys take a real hit to their pride when they're passed by a girl, which is ridiculous. I've seen guys work harder just to prevent a girl from passing them than they do at any other point in the race. The whole idea of getting "chicked" is pretty offensive in my opinion. But, cyclists are an insecure bunch...but, that's a whole different topic.