Friday, October 23, 2009

Dudes are coming to hang out!

I don't know if you've noticed it, New England, but there's been a steady influx of Cat 3's into the Verge Elite race this season. That's right... a grand total of four guys have moved up -- Kevin,Greg, Corey, and of course, the notorious "BW". You might think to yourself, how much do four guys really matter?

A lot.

You know how many guys upgraded from Verge B to Verge A mid-season in the last two years combined? Zero. Remember the Dylan McNicholas/James Tosca domination from the last year? Remember John Peterson, Josh Lipka and the ebay auction? It used to be that whatever guy won in B's in Vermont stuck around and won the series, and everyone who was fighting for 2nd stayed locked into B's right along with him. Hell, I know I did.

But this year it's different. And I think I know why. And, sadly, it's the one Verge series change Myerson pushed for that I didn't agree with.

When they dropped Cat 2's from the B race, it was a subtly powerful statement about what that field should be -- fast(er) guys who aren't dead serious about bike racing. Secretly, a large portion of the B field was dead serious about racing bikes (for example, me) and while we raced the 2/3 field, we waved our Cat 2 status at anyone who'd listen. See, you can get to be a Cat 3 just participating in a lot of Cat 4 races, but to be a Cat 2, man, you gotta beat people. If you're a Cat 2, you're either wicked talented, or you spend a lot of your time worrying about bike racing.

My tongue is firmly in cheek, but still, this is one of things you might outwardly joke about but inwardly believe. You wanna see how much people value their Cat 2 label, look at how many Cat 2's downgraded to Cat 3 this year. (Zero)

So, it used to be that you could have the glory of a Cat 2 license AND the glory of racing at the front of a race (2/3 Men). It was the best of all worlds -- no wonder no one wanted to upgrade.

But that little number on your license means so much, for such silly reasons. Dominating a Cat 3 field just doesn't have the same appeal, because it means (1) you're a Cat 3 and (2) you're beating Cat 3s. And if you eat/sleep/drink/breathe bike racing (like many of us do), having that little number on your license annoys the shit outta you. Because dammit, you're good, not like the rest of the riff-raff, amirite?

So here we are. Now, if you want a license that says "I'm serious business" you gotta line up with a field of guys who are also pretty serious business, and race longer and harder against guys who are faster and better than you. No more faking it in the B race.

These four guys won't be the last. There's plenty of U35 Cat 3's coming up who are pretty serious about bike racing, and vain enough to want you to know that they're good at riding a damn bike. So they'll come up as well.

I think this is a good thing. Sure, sometimes that means we have to race Pros. Sometimes we get lapped. But at least we aren't having a self-congratulatory group ride at the front of the B race, getting top 10s each week, and thinking about how we are the shit.

Instead, Tim Johnson shows up to point out that we are shit. Instead of racing for 1st, you're racing for 30th. But so what? It's still racing, as hard as you can, against guys you're competitive with. And that's the whole reason I started racing cross in the first place.

Corey, Kevin, Greg, and Brian: I'm glad you guys came to hang out. I will crush you now. Unless I don't.

21 comments:

rosey 10/23/2009 11:23 AM  

the other important factor is that all the cat 2's i know who tried to downgrade were denied. USAC accidentally worked in conjunction with the Verge series on this one. Dare I say, USAC actually did something good in these cases?

Have fun in Maine. There aren't going to be any PRO's there to lap you so you can be sure to get your full 65 minutes worth.

G-ride 10/23/2009 11:31 AM  

i think its awesome, and something only AM could really have pulled off. It was a bold move, but one that was needed to feed the system. In a year or two, all you "first years pros" are going to be scoring top 15s in Verge and feeding the machine. Meanwhile, once more 3's get kicked up, there will be much better racing THROUGHOUT the P1/2 field. People have complained its a bit separated now, but it will get better as it fills out, and there will always be 100 3's lined up in the B race no matter what. Its a brilliant move that will raise everyones game. I think its great and cheered my lungs out "You go, UPGRADE! GOOD for YOU!" at Sweeney at PVD.

Colin R 10/23/2009 11:32 AM  

I hope you're right about that top-15 business Jerry. Right now, I'd kill a man for top 15. For a UCI point, I'd kill you.

Cosmo 10/23/2009 11:54 AM  

A completely innocent and utterly unrelated question—are you still a 4 on the road?

Colin R 10/23/2009 11:56 AM  

I'm a 4 on the road. I've actually never done a Cat 4 road race...

Ryan 10/23/2009 11:56 AM  

Part of me likes people moving up from the Bs, because I think I can beat them.

But the part of me that thinks I can automatically beat them is also the part of me that attempts to chase down TJ's attacks on the road.

Basically, that part of me is really delusional. It's probably just more people to beat me, or hang out in the back.

Colin R 10/23/2009 1:28 PM  

Ryan: I hear ya man. Corey Lowe upgraded and then beat me at Gloucester Day 1. Like, beat me right to my face. He dropped me with 1 to go.

I was sooooo sad to realize that I can't beat cat 3's automatically.

zencycle 10/23/2009 1:44 PM  

There's nothing to prevent a promoter from putting on a 2/3 race.

mkr 10/23/2009 2:25 PM  

I applaud you guys for doing this. I've always been a firm believer in racing above your head and try to follow that rule. I think you are spot on and that you're going to get way better this way than by racing the B's.

G-ride 10/23/2009 3:00 PM  

I would kill you for a M35 1/2/3 Verge point. So watch your back, bub. We might just neutralize each other.

Matt Simpson 10/24/2009 7:25 PM  

Does anyone really care about the road anymore? I mean for real? Come with Rosey and GW one am to meet us at LAP, I could use some MTB 'coaching', no more asphalt, only dirt...come one come all...

Cary 10/26/2009 9:22 AM  

"self-congratulatory group ride at the front of the B race, getting top 10s each week, and thinking about how we are the shit."

hmmm...sounds like my season so far! Except without the thinking I am the shit part, but Mckittrick is the shit!

EyeBob 10/26/2009 4:53 PM  

Okay,

so may I also make the comment that this exact same thing needs to be done in the Masters 1/2/3 field...but not for the exact same reasons. Teh Master's field isn't a feeder system that's how it's different. BUT, I content that the Cat 1's shouldn't be allowed to race there simply because they're too good for that field. It limits the competitiveness of that field. I would be in favor of a Masters 2/3/4. As a bonus, if the 1's race the P/1/2 race then it makes that field better too...closes the gaps in the field for instance.

bt

Colin R 10/26/2009 4:58 PM  

BT -- I would totally get behind that. I think it would be great to see Bold/Aspolm/Hines and friends in the elite race throwing down. I mean, I am doing adequately and they are way faster than me, so they would do fine.

Problem is the elite race is UCI sanctioned and thus they cant enter it without throwing away their international masters eligibility (think masters worlds). Obviously this only affects a tiny number of racers, but still, the fastest 35+ guys should have a field to race in that doesn't ruin their eligibility for international competition. Sad but true.

Outside of Verge, I absolutely think that A masters and A men should race together. You will see this field at Ice Weasels.

EyeBob 10/26/2009 5:16 PM  

It doesn't affect US Natz Master's eligibility, right? At least I don't think that it does. I can't remember.

So, in effect, for the 15-20 elite-elite Master's that go to worlds it would affect them..but at what cost to the rest of the racers? How many Cat 2/3 Master's are affected by the fact that the same guys win every weekend? Gotta be a whole lot more I'm betting. Doesn't seem to make sense.

Ultimately I would think that the goal would be to make the best racers better. That means making the best racers all race against eachother. It makes your field more competitive and funner to watch (gee, imagine what would happen if all the racers actually stayed to watch your race) and it would make my race more competitive too.

BT

Colin R 10/26/2009 5:26 PM  

Eyebob -- I agree with you, really I do. For one reason or another, we've agreed that at age 35 is the point at which you can start competing with your age-group peers no matter how fast you are. Should we change that? Maybe. But it's a complicated discussion, and ultimately, a lot more complaining will happen if we changed it that leaving it as is. Your comments are the first time I've ever heard it suggested that the fast 35+ guys are hurting anyone's experience.

Ultimately I think it's important to have multiple "races that matter" on the Verge calendar. Right now 35+ A is the 2nd fastest men's race, and if you're 35+ it's "the fast race." Taking Cat 1's out the 35+ field reduces that race to "B" status in the same way that dropping Cat 2's from the B race did -- it reduces the intensity of the experience. I could be wrong, but I think the guys in 5th-25th of 35+ like that they are racing the against the best. If they moved up 5 places because Jonny and friends changed categories, I suspect they would feel cheated.

I could be wrong. It's an interesting discussion.

solobreak 10/26/2009 6:44 PM  

Masters is not a self selection. You are either old enough or you're not. Jonny is 45 and Kevin is 50, so they are already "racing down" 10 and 15 years in age respectively. If a 35 year old is getting blown off by them, they can go to the 35+ Cat 4 race if they want to. Or let them race the open Cat 3 race. Why cry and take it out on the athletes who did the work to get good enough to compete for the wins? The purpose of these races is to determine who the best 35+ rider is. If you are not winning then you are not the best rider. Take the best riders out of the race and guess what? You are still not the best, even if you do win. This is a competition, not some feel good charity event.

EyeBob 10/26/2009 7:02 PM  

Well, sort of.

But for that matter, if you're a 1 then you should race against your peers, what's age got to do with it? Why is there even a Master's category?...oh yeah, so there are not 150 3's all racing the same field. Still, seems dumb to have a Master's field. If you're a 1 you're a 1. If you're a 3 you're a 3. Irrespective of age, have a 1 race against 1's of any age.

For that matter, why does Colin have to race with the P/1 guys? Seems like he should have his own race as a 2. If you ask me there is not that much of a difference between a Pro and a 1. There is a difference between a 1 and a 2.

Matthew J. Domnarski 10/26/2009 8:44 PM  

I get pounded every week by M35+ A's. The fields have been about 85 guys and on a good day I manage 34th. Top 20 for me would be like the parting of the Red Sea. I could give up my Cat 2 and race the 3's for a little bit higher spot, like some of my 35+ friends have done but I figure they have enough riders already. They say that there are 2's in the B race, and that no one is really checking? I considered racing the 2's but don't care for the late start times and prefer not to be lapped. I'm at peace with cycling knowing I'm not going to win because I've always got someone to go back and forth with in "sometimes top50% sometimes bottom 50%" field fodder position, but fast enough that I don't screw up the PRO finish or get pulled. Colin is fast and I admire a guy like him out there in lonely land while Tim Johnson comes roaring by. I think its the right thing to do but maybe courses will have to get a longer lap to prevent lapping larger fields? Its working out ok now but I did see Tim Johnson waving to officials that he wanted riders pulled; and can you blame him when you are trying to hang on to that last laps attack? I think the M35 B race my make a comeback. BTW...next year I'm a 45+. I haven't decided if I want to try and get points or race in the larger fields that I enjoy.

Colin R 10/26/2009 8:47 PM  

2's in the B race, really? Interesting. They sure aren't the guys winning.

If it was reported to officials it would have been dealt with, so I'm assuming no one cares enough to report it. So neither do I.

Matthew J. Domnarski 10/26/2009 8:55 PM  

That's what I heard but I haven't verified it. Maybe he meant 35+ cat 2's? Anyways, if I snuck in I would still be fighting for top ten...and I train pretty well. Well enough to beat most younger Cat 3's.

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