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Old 03-21-07, 09:24 AM   #1
DrPete 
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Forced vs. Voluntary Upgrades--Opinions?

I don't know what got me started pondering this, but I just started thinking about the issue of when to upgrade, etc. I mean, there are Cat 5's who seem to have been there forever, and I know that it's not unheard of at all for cat 4's to stay 4's despite having enough points to upgrade, or have the 25 pack finishes needed for the 4-3 upgrade.

What are everyone's thoughts on this? Should USAC take a more active role in upgrading people when they have enough races/points, or would that just take away from the fun of racing?

Personally, I feel like the highly experienced 5's, i.e. 20-plus races would be better off in the 4's, and I do feel some frustration with the odd sandbagger, but how active of a role do you think the USCF should take in this? I feel like there are pros and cons both ways.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:29 AM   #2
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I say let the people that want to stay in the 5 stay in the 5. The reality is you dont really win anything in the 5 anyway so the sandbaggers arent really hurting anyone. If anything they might make more determined legit 5s better.

I do get frustrated thinking about how I would like to win a race before upgrading to the 4s and how much harder it might be if there are sandbaggers but then I just keep telling myself that winning in the 5s just doesnt matter.

once you get to the higher levels its different. I would be pretty pissed if there was a four who had enough points to upgrade yet continued to race and took points away from other riders that needed them to upgrade.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:30 AM   #3
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For the 5's, I don't really care since there are no points and you're racing for energy drinks.

For everything else, I say force the upgrade...it's hard enough to earn points for a voluntary upgrade, but with sandbaggers, it almost makes it impossible.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:39 AM   #4
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It's impossible to enforce without removing the 12-month points restriction. Many of the so-called Sandbagger 4s are still 4s only because they don't enter enough events in 12 months to upgrade.

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Old 03-21-07, 09:41 AM   #5
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For the 5's, I don't really care since there are no points and you're racing for energy drinks.

For everything else, I say force the upgrade...it's hard enough to earn points for a voluntary upgrade, but with sandbaggers, it almost makes it impossible.
+1. I also think that if you are an elite tri-athlete or an expert mtb'er then you only get two or three races in the fives. Some of the these guys come in and race two or three races a year and slaughter the field.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:41 AM   #6
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there's been a HUGE problem with that here in new mexico (we're under ACA rules, not USCF, which just means there's no cat 5). the 1,2 fields have about 10-15 guys in them, the 3 fields have about 50 and the 4 fields have 30 or so for most races....what they've done is combine 1,2,3 fields to try to force-out some of the faster (read: sandbagging) 3s who should've upgraded but don't. this is the first year they've tried it and we'll see if it works. the real thing that sucks about it is that now the sandbaggers with be the 4s who won't want to upgrade and have to race with the 1s and 2s. -and yeah, all cats are scored separately in the 1,2,3 race, but it's kindof a hollow victory to podium in the 3s while still not finishing with the front group.

anyway, this whole thing would be avoided if people were forced to upgrade. but our one NM rep doesn't have the time/money/desire to keep tabs on every freakin' racers resume.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:42 AM   #7
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My experience is swimming (age group, high school and college). In age group swimming (AAU) there were pretty much 3 levels A, B and C. If there were not forced upgrades there would have been people staying in B or C and sucking up all the ribbons and medals. Not that those are worth anything, but the wins matter. If you get enough of them there are no wins left for anyone else.

My thought is force upgrades based on Podiums and allow upgrades based on other criteria.

Imagine a cat 5 race with 3 or 4 cat 3 riders. Now imagine you are a new rider. You just might get so intimidated/discouraged that there is no second race.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:48 AM   #8
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Thinking about it some more, I think the way to solve it is to make it mandatory for race organizers to submit results electronically to USACycling with NO EXCEPTIONS. That way it's not up to the local rep to enforce upgrades. A computer can do it.

According to the USACycling web site, I haven't entered a single race. This is the problem.

--Steve
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Old 03-21-07, 09:51 AM   #9
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^^^^^
yeah i get worried about results not showing up. Ive done 7 races and not one is listed. I hope that doesnt hurt me when I put in for an upgrade
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Old 03-21-07, 09:52 AM   #10
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^^ It won't. According to USAC I did 5 races last year, and I actually did 15.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:53 AM   #11
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5 to 4: I cant think of 1 reason for someone to stay cat 5, no forced upgrade necessary. I got no results as a 5, IMO, Cat 5 is for learning how to pin your # on, ride in a pack, go around a corner, and mostly safety/logistical stuff. Cat 4 is for learning how to get results.

4 to 3 - force the upgrade if one gets the 30 pts. in 12 mos., the lifetime achievement award upgrades for 10 top 10s or 25 pack finishes or whatever, no forced upgrade is necessary and I think where applicable, those folks should think a long while before upgrading to a 3.

3 to 2 - I'm told this is probably the biggest jump in amateur cycling as the races not only get harder, they get a lot longer, the fields are deeper, and teams are playing a much larger role. I'm a 3, and unless I have a cycling epiphany and start winning everything in site by riding away from the field, I dont plan to upgrade to a 2. I dont have the time to train adequately for the long RRs 2s do (with 1s) and can do most of them as a 3 anyway. So, my opinion here is totally self serving, but unless one is hitting that mandatory upgrade threshold, tough to do as a 3, no upgrade enforcement necessary.

2 to 1 - see 3 to 2 rationale, these guys are always racing each other anyways.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:55 AM   #12
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I think it would help it all results were submitted as well. I think the fives should be patrolled way more heavily. A rider that trains decently well should be able to finish in the pack in the first few races, not be instantly dropped, it is kind of discouraging to be so far behind when you are just starting out. There are cat 5's here that have tt times that land them top ten in the 1/2.. it makes it hard.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:06 AM   #13
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do 4/5 wins as a cat 5 go towards your 4>3 cat up points?

I'm really in no rush to cat up to 3, I'll probably have to be forced because of points before I move, but that might change as the season progresses.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:09 AM   #14
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The downside of sending all results electronically would be increased cost for the race organizers, especially when it comes to the smaller training series. But then again, maybe it's worth a couple extra bucks.

MDCatV brings up what I think is the real flip side of the argument. There are plenty of people in the 3's or even 4's who are reasonably competitive at that level and just don't have the time/resources/whatever to upgrade. For instance, I'm a decent cat 4 but come July I'll be hard-pressed to find the time to train to remain competitive in Cat 4, much less win races/earn points.

So I guess amateur racing would risk losing those people--the dedicated athletes who have just reached their potential within the confines of busy lives or just plain genetic/physiologic limitations. I mean, some of us just weren't born to be bike racers but love to do it anyway. It's a double-edged sword, I suppose.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:10 AM   #15
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The only racing experience I have is on an ATV, I raced in an endurance cross country circuit and noticed a lot of snadbagging in the entry level classes. Relating this to cycling, it is very discouraging for someone to show up to a race expecting to get other people racing against them with the same skill sets only to get destroyed by sandbaggers. I think all types of amateur racing should do a better job of leveling the playing field, otherwise the new guy getting smashed in cat 5 may not show up next season, or even the next race. Just my $.02
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Old 03-21-07, 10:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Diablo Rojo
+1. I also think that if you are an elite tri-athlete or an expert mtb'er then you only get two or three races in the fives. Some of the these guys come in and race two or three races a year and slaughter the field.
I think an argument could be made for making these guys 4's or even 3's right out of the gate. I mean, a NORBA expert mountain biker is at least on a cat 1/2/3 level of fitness, and certainly has the bike handling skills to at least negotiate a pack.

This would be another spot where technology would help. As I understand it, there's nothing keeping a racer who was a cat 3 but let his license lapse from buying a 1-day license and destroying a Cat 5 field. Also, if Mr. expert mountain biker shows up with a USAC license that says NORBA expert, his one-day license could get bumped up to 4 or 3. Just ideas...
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Old 03-21-07, 10:22 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDcatV
5 to 4: I cant think of 1 reason for someone to stay cat 5, no forced upgrade necessary. I got no results as a 5, IMO, Cat 5 is for learning how to pin your # on, ride in a pack, go around a corner, and mostly safety/logistical stuff. Cat 4 is for learning how to get results.

4 to 3 - force the upgrade if one gets the 30 pts. in 12 mos., the lifetime achievement award upgrades for 10 top 10s or 25 pack finishes or whatever, no forced upgrade is necessary and I think where applicable, those folks should think a long while before upgrading to a 3.

3 to 2 - I'm told this is probably the biggest jump in amateur cycling as the races not only get harder, they get a lot longer, the fields are deeper, and teams are playing a much larger role. I'm a 3, and unless I have a cycling epiphany and start winning everything in site by riding away from the field, I dont plan to upgrade to a 2. I dont have the time to train adequately for the long RRs 2s do (with 1s) and can do most of them as a 3 anyway. So, my opinion here is totally self serving, but unless one is hitting that mandatory upgrade threshold, tough to do as a 3, no upgrade enforcement necessary.

2 to 1 - see 3 to 2 rationale, these guys are always racing each other anyways.
I believe the point total is 20 not 30.

I agree with you about the 5>4, I think the jump from 4>3 is the hardest just due to the sudden increase in length. 3>2 if you've been able to cat up on points the pain threshold isn't going to be that much greater and you are doing the same distances as you were as a 3.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:25 AM   #18
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IIRC, 4-3 voluntary upgrade requires 20 points in a 12 month period, forced upgrade is 30 points.

Sandbaggers are annoying because they suck up all the prize money (read: gas money!!!), but then again they force you to get stronger to beat them and get your upgrade points. Kinda helps prepare you for the cat you're moving up to.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:27 AM   #19
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i don't see the point in hanging out with the 5s forever. if, for no better reason, than the fact that the racing improves as you cat up.

i'm curious when the 'X-amount of cat 4 starts equals an upgrade to 3s' started? IIRC you could only do it with points when I was working my way up.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:30 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrPete
This would be another spot where technology would help. As I understand it, there's nothing keeping a racer who was a cat 3 but let his license lapse from buying a 1-day license and destroying a Cat 5 field. Also, if Mr. expert mountain biker shows up with a USAC license that says NORBA expert, his one-day license could get bumped up to 4 or 3. Just ideas...
The guy that got second at the UMD cat 5 crit was an ex cat3. The winner was some scholarship collegiate athlete from what ive heard.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:41 AM   #21
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Points to upgrade per USACycling:

Road Upgrades
Guidelines and Notes by Category:
5-4: Experience in 10 mass start races that meet the criteria in the table below (qualifying races).
Local Associations may also establish policies where upgrade credit is given for taking a sanctioned rider education clinic.
4-3: 20 points in any 12-month period; or experience in 25 qualifying races with a minimum of 10 top ten finishes, or 20 pack finishes with fields over 50. 30 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade
3-2: 25 points in any 12-month period
60 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade
2-1: 30 points in any 12-month period
60 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade
USA Cycling may add additional requirements for upgrading at their discretion. Any such changes shall be made available on the website.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:48 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Diablo Rojo
Points to upgrade per USACycling:
4-3 ...or 20 pack finishes with fields over 50.
Can we call this option the nancy-boy upgrade?
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Old 03-21-07, 10:52 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin
Can we call this option the nancy-boy upgrade?
please do.

i honestly don't see the point in upgrading based on attendance.

seems that the USCF is mirroring the way that us educational system treats football & basketball players.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:53 AM   #24
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I am not sure WHY you would want to upgrade that way.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:54 AM   #25
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Can we call this option the nancy-boy upgrade?
I would call it suicide...
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