Coffee Talk Tuesday - Changes in Upgrade Points coming to Colorado

This week we fall back to the race community as we finish up this 2012 cx season within the week in Colorado and take a break from weekend racing. Thanks to Dale Riley who provided the base content for our discussion of the desired or dreaded upgrade process and the changes coming from USA Cycling. To me and where I am with cycling now this article reads like a peanuts cartoon classroom but I vividly remember years ago when I "played to points game". Just like how you perform in a race there are strategies to playing this game, go out strong in Sept and get call up points, play in October with new race tactic but don't try to collect too many points and prematurely upgrade before states.... be selective about the events in November and line it up for a upgrade just after states. That was the dream, in reality I got sucked into the the desire for that elusive 1st place and prematurely forced to upgrade to 2 before states. Thanks Dale and enjoy.

By Dale Riley,

New USAC Upgrade Criteria for 2013 – 12/6/12 – Dale Riley

USA Cycling recently announced new upgrade criteria and standards for the 2013 season. What are the changes, and how might that affect both you and the racing community in Colorado?

There are many changes, so here is a summary table, both for Cyclocross and Road. It lists this year’s USAC criteria, Next year’s new USAC criteria, and for reference, the previous ACA policy (or what I can remember of it…)
Cyclocross Upgrade requirements by year/governing body, Category.

What changed for Cyclocross? Specific point limits for automatic upgrades were added to Cat3 & Cat2, which seems fair and more consistent with the upgrade points system, instead of a number of wins & field sizes. For Cat 4, this is a pretty large change, basically imposing a 10 race limit on Cat 4 before forcing an upgrade to Cat 3. While this would certainly eliminate “sandbagging” in the Cat 4 ranks, it might not be well received by the back of the pack Cat 4s forced to move up, not to mention it would trigger a rather large migration of LARGE numbers of riders from the Cat 4 fields into the Cat 3 races over a season or two. With 35+ Cat3 fields already one of the larger cross fields racing right now, this could cause overcrowding issues in Cat 3 groups in the next season.

What changed for the road side? Again see some changes from number of wins & field sizes to points limits for automatic upgrades for Cat 4 & up. Also see a significantly higher number of upgrade points needed to apply for voluntary upgrades from Cat 4 and higher.

There seems to be a “tightening” of the upgrade criteria on the road, making it “harder” to petition for a voluntary upgrade by requiring more points, while on the Cross side, upgrading from Cat 4 to 3 is now being forced at what was the threshold for being ABLE to petition. It would seem this “10 and out” approach in the Cat 4 ranks could cause a rather large and fundamental shift in what the lower 2 category fields look like in cross today, who races in them, and how big those fields become. Was the intent to make Cat 4 a ‘pure” beginner category? To “end sandbagging”? Some other motivation? That is not clear from the announcement.
As a side note, it appears from monitoring the BRAC upgrade points pages, there seems to be an unofficial auto upgrade threshold at 25 upgrade points, at least in the Cat 4 groups here in Colorado. Not seeing much evidence of widespread “sandbagging” here, with people upgrading (or BEING upgraded…) pretty consistently. Checking around the internet for other racing areas, you can see a lot more complaining about riders NOT being upgraded. It seems that the USAC upgrade coordinators have at least some latitude in how each area does upgrades.
What does this mean to you, and to Colorado racing next season?

News Item: 


Congrats on your upgrade!

Congrats on your upgrade! It's a bummer that you are missing out on adding cross cup points but maybe in the future it would be better if Cat 4 didn't compete for cup points or a state championship. Cat 4 is the beginner category but men and women alike sandbag for these competitions and keep the cat 3 fields small, so small that there aren't enough racers for SW3 races in cx. I would assume that this is the reason why USAC eased up on the upgrade criteria for 4->3.

Tie road-cx-mtb

I'm interested to see how this works too. The cat 4-3 is going to be interesting.

Here is one item I have a problem with: How is it someone can be a CAT 2 Roadie and sign up for CAT 4 Cyclocross? I am sorry but CAT 2 fitness is not outweighed by a "better bike handler".

Check the 35+ CAT 4 standings toward the beginning of the season and you will see multiple people racing in this that are CAT 2 roadies. A few just got upgraded. I understand that they were just starting out in CX but you don't get your CAT 2 license on the Road without actually doing bicycle races. There is no reason they should be lining up against people that are just starting out.

Now should they be CAT 2 in CX? maybe not but they should at the very least be CAT 3's........

The "Purge"

Looks like there was a bit of a "post-season CX purge" here in Colorado yesterday. Based on the BRAC upgrade points page, it appears that EVERY Cat 4 (Men & Women) with 10 or more upgrade points got upgraded. This was confirmed by a few of those people I know getting "congratulations!" E-Mails from Yvonne.

Guess this shows that those upgrade points ARE being watched. The actual criteria to trigger an upgrade appears "flexible", but sure seems like a push to make Cat 3 a bit larger group.