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?

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start line education

This is definitely something needed, especially for the newbie cats. I'm in my first year and I had no idea how to react when in a race a few weeks ago (Back to basics series) when a woman came behind me and said "passing" and then 2 more followed suit. I'm ashamed to say that I had no idea how to react so I kept riding my race, but did NOT push it anymore than I previously was. I didn't slow, I didn't pull over, but the Lookout course can be very tough to pass in places and in hindsight I should have pulled over slightly and slowed to make their passes easier.

In any case, some instructions/reminders that there was a race starting right after ours and to be respectful when they pass would have been useful in my case. Lesson learned for me, but probably at the expense of those 3 ladies.

ACA reintegration to USAC

Although I do not race cross or promote a cross race I have read all the comments and really see this as a general problem with the ACA structure. Tonight there is a promoter meeting for the 2012 road season. It seems that we just need to get back to doing what I believe everyone else does. CAT 5,4,3,2,1, Pro. Simple. You can expect to see this style of racing at our event and I hope at many more. This can be one small step towards aligning ourselves with the rest of the country.

I think it could work for

I think it could work for road.

I want to point you to a USAC cross race coming up on Nov. 6th. The schedule and categories are very different than the ACA. In my humble opinion, I prefer the ACA format to this even though the ACA schedule isn't perfect.

Let's face it, the sport is immensely popular and there probably isn't a solution that will make everyone happy.

new riders

Before I started to race X all i head was that it was a welcoming scene for newbies,etc., that it was mellow and was different from the road scene. I think the folks that are running the races and trying to encourage new riders are out of the loop - even Greg Keller. The scene at a X race in CO. is so amped that I do't want to participate - it's no different than a crit in at city park. I hope the sport changes it's flow because this new rush of enthusiasm will soon die.


Jay, I think you'll find the 4/35+ category still very welcoming and a place you and others can show up and be a participant vs a teeth-grinding competitor, especially in the later part of the field.

If you catch the bug and the race stimulates the competitor in you, as it does with many in CX, (which is why it has grown so much), you will have a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde transformation from being a participant into a competitor and likely be chomping at the bit before you know what happened. If you enjoy competing in general and are motivated to improve your speed and skills, you will embellish and if not, just hang back and enjoy the low-key atmosphere near the back but no need to disrespect the others who have gone forward through the evolution just b/c you havent and/or dont want to.

Sure, bike racers are an inherently geek-ed out, anal and fairly self-absorbed population but not all are, and honestly, I dont know that it's all that much different than most athletes and their respective sport if they want to push themselves and perform at their best.


Why should the ACA adopt

Why should the ACA adopt USAC rules that make no sense and are merely cough syrup?

The proliferation of categories is the main culprit for lapped riders and clogged-up passing lanes. You're gonna get into lapped traffic when you put 35-open riders on the same course at the same time as 35+3 riders. That's the way it is. Solution? Get rid of some categories! Geez...its not that hard.

However, I'm certain if there was no 35+3 category, there would be even MORE people complaining. So I guess Abraham Lincoln was right when he said "You can't please all of the people all of the time. Get me another beer."

Your Kung Fu is no good.

Your Kung Fu is no good. The proliferation of categories should ease the problems with lapped riders, not worsen it.

Think for a minute... what will happen when you do away w/ 35+/3? Those riders, well, some of those riders, will race 35+ open. Guess what??? They'll still get lapped.

The solution is not to have widely disparate categories on the course at the same time, combined with longer courses which result in longer lap times.

Not sure what you are saying

I thought I agreed but now I'm just lost in your comment.

I agree, if you throw the 35+ cat 3 into the 35+ field some will still be lapped. No matter how many categories you throw up or take down, on some shorter courses you will always have lapped riders in some age brackets.

So isn't it about requiring longer courses? Besides a few venues just not able to handle it why would this not be desired? Longer the course = the lesser the chance of being lapped, right?