USA Cycling to change class structure next year?

jbogner

NYCMTB: President
JORBA.ORG
http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203586

From the sound of it, USA Cycling may be jettisoning the Beg-Sport-Exp-Semipro-Pro class structure, and moving to a more road-like class structure. Interesting comment in that thread from Todd Seplavy, who's on the NORBA Board of Trustees...

ska todd said:
Do not look at this as "Norba is taking something away from me" but instead as "Norba is increasing the level of competition". This is not something that is being cast upon you by "the roadies" but instead has been over 2 years in thought, analysis, and discussion by many, many people connected with the sport. The new system will bolster the strength of the pro category and make for more competitive, aged-based racing in the amateur ranks. This is a positive for you as a racer and for the development of racing talent in America.

The semi-pro class will indeed be eliminated. It has not served it's purpose as being a U23 breeding ground and feeder to the pro ranks. What it has become is a dumping ground for guys who too fast for "expert" but never fast enough for "pro's". This is not fair to these racers and complicates in general.

Along with this, tighter restrictions will be in place and enforced for the pro category. If you want to have the title "pro" you have to make the commitment in more ways that just buying the license. A strong professional category will bring higher profile events to the US (ie. more events with UCI points) and increase the strength of American racers globally.

Regarding the naming of categories, numbers (or letters) are far simpler than names. This has worked on the road, cross, and collegiate sides of cycling for a while now with very good success. Categories can be added or subtracted as needed as the sport ebbs and flows with membership.

By reorganizing the categories everyone will indeed be moved into new categories. This is not an "upgrade" or "downgrade" but a restructuring for everyone's benefit. The old "beginner/sport/expert/ semi-pro/pro" model is not conducive these shifts as it boxes everyone into outdated constraints.

Expect the numbered categories to roughly follow along the lines of the globally used standards. Don't expect to see 5 categories though; especially not in the gravity disciplines. Honestly ask yourselves, do we need this many categories? There is certainly a middle ground between the current system and just a "Pro/Amateur" system.

Along with all of this will be a focus towards the National Racing Calendar and a new points and rankings system. This whole package of events, scoring, and categories should reinforce itself and help rebuild the foundation of the sport.

With all of this said, the details of everything are not yet finalized, hence the reason some of the points might seem vague or hazy right now. If anyone wants to personally discuss this I encourage you to PM me and I will pass you my number. I personally have talked to dozens of riders, promoters, team managers, and coaches about this reorganization. Everyone has their nuances or sticky points but there has been an overwhelming consensus that these are needed steps.

-ska todd
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Thanks for the post. Note:

There is certainly a middle ground between the current system and just a "Pro/Amateur" system.

Since pro and semipro race together, there are currently 4 classes, and the pro/amateur split encompasses 2 classes...wait, let me think about this...isn't this just a really long winded way to say there will now just be 3 classes next year instead of 4?

I need more detais on how this will actually shake out before I can offer anything more than sarcasm :)
 

CrossAddict

New Member
Intresting. I had a feeling when "norba" when in the USCF this was going to happen. It looks promising, but would lower classes end up being broken down by age? Cat 4 19-35, 35+, 45+ ???:confused:

-rf
 

NJMX835

New Member
I've read the thread on RM 3 times trying to figure it all out & the more I read, the less I like.

I get the feeling they are going to cram a few of the age groups together & some of us can look forward to racing kids 14 years our junior.
 

NJ-XC-Justin

KY-DH-Freddy
I hope there's four categories and not three so expert and sport don't get lumped in together. And as much as I've complained about running sport 30-34 and 35-39 together, I'm OK with less age categories I think. Races will be a mess and I'll have to learn to go for the hole shot, but it's probably good for the sport.


This was a rebuttal on ridemonkey:

Wow...I feel like I'm being told to quit racing or slow down. I'm Semi-Pro and without being in that category, you wouldn't catch me at a National or large scale race. Why? Because practice in Expert Class SUCKS! This sport isn't motocross where if there is a 48 year old expert on the track with a 30 year old expert, you can just take the outside line and blow by. I saw Amateur practice at the Open and it looked like a parade lap coming out onto the fire road. Riders spaced 30 feet apart one after another like cattle to water.

In Semi-Pro, I'm 35, can ride the big stuff, can keep up with pros, not tie up anybody, take full runs, scope lines with peers and get in as many runs as possible. Come race time, I go head to head with guys all on the same skill level with me.

Put me in expert and I get to spend 2 hours with my tire behind 10 other guys waiting to ride a 30 yard section of roots, not pedal a lick, coast, brake, stop, repeat.

Understand that I have no beef with the skill level in Expert, but the bottom line is me and the majority of my riding buddies have NO business in Expert Class where we'd be called Sandbaggers. And I'm not pretending to be a pro either. You can call Semi-Pro a wanna be class all you like, but bottom line is it is a darn big pool of very fast riders with a select few looking to move up to Pro. Take away Semi-pro at a large event, and you can have it. I'll go shuttle.

At the US Open, with 150 guys in Pro, we had one choke point at the off camber slab, but by in large, we weren't tying each other up. The horror stories I heard of in AM though made me sick.
 

anrothar

entirely thrilled
all i know is that we have to figure out something. there is no reason why we shouldn't be producing world class riders in every discipline with the talent pool we have to pull from.
 

rocknrollgirl

Well-Known Member
I should probably keep my mouth shut because I do not know enough about this yet to give my 2 cents, but when they restructured the woman's categories 2 years ago, they put me in a position where I am racing people far younger than I.

I understand their reasoning, but I do not agree, and I do not think it is fair, so I think you have a real concern if that is the direction in which they are heading.

NG....no good
 

pixychick

JORBA: Ringwood
JORBA.ORG
I have no idea what USACycling is up to for mountain biking, but if it becomes anything like the road classes, there will be no age groups for women. I am not saying I agree or disagree, but the current mountain system is not perfect either.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Not sure that no age classes sounds very fair.

What do you guys not like about the current system?
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
Sounds to me like it may end up like 'cross classes, which is fine by me. As a matter of fact, they should dump the master and veteran classes (other than Elite Master) because those guys could just race with the C's anyway...
And if you think they should keep the ages to make everything "fair", why does the 30-39 Expert field go through the 19-29 year olds? Why do I get passed by some of the 40-49 year olds? You know why? Because age doesn't matter, that's why!!

-Jim.
 
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pixychick

JORBA: Ringwood
JORBA.ORG
One thing that I am not cool with, is if a 60 yr old wants to try racing, it seems dangerous to send he or she off with the 4/5's. Remember we race on single track not a wide road. I think the way mountain biking is now, is super friendly for first timers of all ages, and gives the promoter flexibility.

I do notice that the lack of women, creates small classes, with less age groups, and some women are up-graded quicker than the men. I personally like some age groups, but would prefer older pro's to be able to race down for Master National Champion titles like they do at Worlds. It creates a higher level of competition.
 

NJ-XC-Justin

KY-DH-Freddy
There's no doubt that this change is better for the US as a competitive country and worse for casual or new riders.
 

rocknrollgirl

Well-Known Member
OK, Pixy or Jim, expain the road categories to me so at least I can discuss this with some small measure of intelligence.

Thanks.
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
OK, Pixy or Jim, expain the road categories to me so at least I can discuss this with some small measure of intelligence.

Thanks.

Road has a lot of classes, more than we have for mountain biking right now, the classes they are trying to get to are more like cyclocross. In cross there are 3 classes, C (beginner/sport), B (sport/expert), and A/Elite (expert/pro)...Then they have a few age classes as well, but the age classes are open, meaning you just have to be an age, not a particular level...So for example, if I'm a 40 year-old guy, I'd probably start in C, if it's too easy, I could race in Masters 35+ next time, if that's too easy, I could jump into a B race next round, if that's too easy I could jump into the A's, it really allows you to push yourself as a racer without having to upgrade your license.

-jim.
 

jbogner

NYCMTB: President
JORBA.ORG
I agree with you Ellen- it's a delicate balance to make the entry classes a bit easier (our current beginner classes are pretty darn competitive), split up the largest skill group of riders (current sport class) into manageable chunks so they don't get upset from getting stuck behind a long train of walkers in tech singletrack, and making the Expert and Pro classes more competitive, while still providing for Vet pros and not forcing them into semipro just to qualify for Masters Worlds. Oh yeah, and making sure that racing is FUN for all the amateurs who spend their money at races week in, week out, without any chance of hitting the top level of the sport!

The most promising thing is different categories for DH and XC. The types of racing require different class structures, and it's about time they addressed that.

It sounds like USA Cycling is trying to take all these things into consideration. I hope they do present whatever plan they come up with to the membership and promoters for comment before making it policy. Racing is very different in different parts of the country, and whatever they come up with should reflect that.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
How does this apply to guys like us Jim? I'm upper class sport, where do I start? Seems stupid for me to be racing against beginners. That's certainly not going to help people get into the sport if they show up to a race and find themselves racing against a horde of Joe Weekend Warrior.

But can I just start in B? Surely I get my ass handed to me but that's my goal anyway this year - to get good enough to start getting my ass handed to me. Or is it going to be like the road and you have to race (say) 10 races in C before you can move to B?

I'm indifferent on myself - I'm not kidding anyone, I'm not top racer no matter what the class names are. But I'd hate for the classes to discourage women and beginners to race.
 

pixychick

JORBA: Ringwood
JORBA.ORG
Thanks Jim for your explanation, as I do not road race or cross race.

So to put it in a nutshell: Beginner and pro will not have age groups but in the middle they will, but it is optional to race there.

However, women's age groups have always been controversial, so I am curious to what will be done with that.
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
How does this apply to guys like us Jim? I'm upper class sport, where do I start? Seems stupid for me to be racing against beginners. That's certainly not going to help people get into the sport if they show up to a race and find themselves racing against a horde of Joe Weekend Warrior.

But can I just start in B? Surely I get my ass handed to me but that's my goal anyway this year - to get good enough to start getting my ass handed to me. Or is it going to be like the road and you have to race (say) 10 races in C before you can move to B?

Start in C and see how it is, you'll be surprised how fast it actually is;)...B is like "super-sport/easy-er expert", it's the class mountain biking is missing...And
in cross you can race almost any class without any upgrade, no 10 starts BS like in road, which IMO is just a money making scheme by USAC, the BS road upgrade system is also why you have jerks like me lapping the CAT4 field, yet I still have to do my time to upgrade to a 3 even though I'm an Expert level XC and CAT2 CX racer:hmmm: Road pretty much promotes sandbagging.

-Jim.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Thanks Jim. You think you have it bad, Maurice is going through this too. I think he took 1 pedal off last year just to make his races more competetive. And USAC refuses to let you out of that 10 race minimum requirement. I guess it's a safety issue.

Ellen - what would your solution be for the women?
 

NJ-XC-Justin

KY-DH-Freddy
What I've read leads me to think there will be 4 categories, not 3. Only semi-pro is going away -- no mention of combining other categories. And it seems there will be less age brackets, but I haven't read anything about them going away completely for any one group.

So much of this is still up in the air it seems, so let's not play telephone and get all frazzled, folks.
 
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