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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I would prefer the larger categories

I'm not sure how it affects the officials (in terms of scoring), but I prefer larger field sizes. I came to CO from PDX where 120+ riders per category were typical. They managed to do a damn good job with the results, and they didn't even have our fancy chip system. I suspect a lot of that was due to the dedication of the officials.

Larger fields could also compress the day's schedule and increase spectators per race.

People might argue that huge fields are pointless exercises for those without a callup, but it is very possible to move into the top 10 in a 120 rider race when starting from the back. It happened in PDX all the time. Not to tout PDX as the perfect ideal, but they do provide a good case study for huge fields.

With a 30 rider field, the competition does indeed seem more diluted, and the accomplishment of a good result is to me quite diminished.

Fewer Categories

You make a valid point about dilution of categories - if everyone just raced their categories (including SS) - there would be some very exciting races. And it would be a shorter racing day for officials and promoters.

PDX Cross Crusade 2011

Here are the categories raced last weekend.

Note: There were 1466(!) racers on a single day, compared to ACA Colorado races which max out at about half of that.

Beginner Men Beginner Women Category A
Category B Category C Clydesdale
Junior Men Junior Women Masters 35+ A
Masters 35+ B Masters 35+ C Masters 50+
Masters 60+ Masters W 35+ A Masters Women 35+ B
Masters W 45+ Singlespeed Unicycle
Women A Women B

The categories seem crazy, but still average 73 racers per category.

In fact, there were only seven race slots throughout the day, so there were
200 racers on course at a time.

The premier races all raced at 1pm: Category A Men, Category A Women and Masters Category A 35+

The problems become more numerous when there are over 1000 racers to fit into a schedule. We should consider ourselves lucky, I suppose.

1466 racers in a day?! Wow.

1466 racers in a day?! Wow. Simply wow. Thanks for the legwork Russell!

Compare that to 10 race slots for ACA races, and figure that maybe the maximum number on course at a time is around 120 or so? With 200 riders on course at a time, they've gotta be dealing with lapped traffic somehow, it'd be interesting to see how they do it.

Part of it may be the fact that many of the OR courses are more open, and allow for passing just about anywhere on course. In CO it seems, many of the courses and venues aren't quite singletrack, but aren't quite wide open either, kinda in the middle somewhere.

I would think they must have

I would think they must have a better handle on course design in OR than we do in CO, or the bottlenecks from having 200 riders on the course at any given time would result in the leaders catching the tail of the pack just about the time they cross the start line. I suppose you could still have "singletrack" courses like we typically have here, but just make the lap distance really long.

Learn to pass

Learn to pass cleanly and let your competitor have to deal with passing the rider. Taking the rider out only makes it easier for your competitor to stay with you and that it is also pretty sleezy racing, really its only cross racing here folks have some respect for your fellow competitors. There are a lot of other motor sports out there with higher risks where racers are not pulled. Passing racers wether they are lappers or not is part of the sport, taking riders out on purpose is not.


Absolutely right. Passing is an important skill. Course is 3 m wide. You should be plenty strong enough to pass off the normal line if the lapped rider doesn't get out of the way. Want to avoid this? Race Open.

I lost a State Jersey because I was crashed out by a lapped rider going through a sandpit. I gave him 3 feet of room, but I could have given him 6. My fault.

btw, I find those captcha things are becoming impossible to read. takes me 10 goes to get it right. makes me feel like lapped rider.

ACA calls for a 12ft wide

ACA calls for a 12ft wide course. Just because all the other racers have created a single track down the middle doesn't mean you have to ride on it. I pass people all the time because they are stuck on riding the single track that isn't always the best line due to it being started by the juniors in the early morning races.

Cross Crusade groups

They Run lots of groups on the course at the same time. LOTS of riders on the course for each group to get 1400 riders in a day. Cross Crusade Race day schedule:

Daily Race Schedule
8:50am Beginners, Unicycles A&B* 40 min
9:40am Category C, Clydesdale 45 min
10:35am Break/course preview 10 min
10:45am Masters Category C 35+ 45 min
11:40am Masters B 35+, Masters 50+, Masters 60+ , Jrs 12+ 45 min
12:35pm BTA Kiddie Kross A&B** 25 min
1:00pm Category A Men, Category A Women and Masters Category A 35+ 60 min
2:10pm Break/course preview 10 min
2:20pm Women: Cat B, Beginners, Masters 35+ A, B & 45+, Jrs 12+ 45 min
3:15pm Category B and Single Speed 45 min