Just after some opinions from the wider racing/riding community here!
For some time now I've been thinking about how to make racing more competitive in the national/regional series......particularly for the women's categories.......what do people feel about a move towards the road style system?
We seem to have lots of categories with very small fields when quite a few of the racers are doing similar lap times......but riding around on their own.
We would still need to bear in mind our younger racers as they would need to compete against their peers until considered physically strong enough.......although they could race with a particular class....e.g. 3rd cats? But have different coloured numbers and finish a lap earlier?
The idea being to promote ability related racing rather than simply age related.......there would need to be a promotion/relegation system in place, and we would need to initially do some trial and error category assignment to get up and running........what do we all think?
Would really value some thoughts from the people that pay to race........it's our sport and I've heard quite a few dissatisfied comments, so in line with the recent British cycling survey, I thought I would just ask!
This is exactly the reason ive started focusing on mtb more now.
I always had a soft spot for cyclocross, but have become a bit fed up of having nothing to
race for. The categories are just far too open. Senior/Vet/Womens etc. eg. you've got a top 5 in the country racing against a first timer.
Enjoy much more riding against similar level riders and actually competing for something.
Elite/Expert/Sport/Open seems to work. And yes like you say a Promotion/Relegation is great.
I dont see how the National series can improve?
Will leave it another few weeks, but if no one else has any feelings towards this idea......I think I won’t pursue it with BC ! No need if people are totally happy with how it is currently.
I'd have to agree with Chris. I do like the fun/open/sport/expert/elite system and the ability to race alongside racers of a similar ability. However, I do think this system needs to be more formalised etc. with perhaps a points system for progression or relegation.
As someone who has never raced 'sport' category (do I do plan to next season), there does seem to be a very broad range of ability even in this category. Sport seems like a hugely popular field yet by comparison the 'expert' category usually fields a very small race.
I wonder whether 'sport' would be more attractive if the goalposts were shifted slightly to make it easier to progress into 'expert', while also providing more bodies for the 'expert' category?
As others have said, categories are ok, however the system for moving up could be improved. There are many people in Open that should be in Sport, and many in Sport that should be in Expert.
Having said that, there's a big problem with participation in open and sport for ages 18-39. I wouldn't be surprised if more than 70% of people are over 39 in Senior categories at regional races. Certainly in MSG it's like that, sport and expert fields are pretty much dead. Open is full of fun social riders looking for a challenge.
I think the problem is more to do with the affordability and accessibility of the sport, it is not a cheap hobby, and to be any good you have to work for it, even with natural talent!
From experience the ability categories system appears the best option.
The 'early days' format of adding a lap dependent on ability categorization still seem like a foolproof way of splitting the races, the competitiveness of which are still principally determined by fitness.
Age categories (above Junior) are irrelevant to some extent; for example, unless I enter 'open' I would be competing against riders who have not stopped racing since I pressed pause in 2000, and would also be having to ride 1-2 laps more than my legs want to.
Many organisers seem to have been seduced by the idea of basing race lengths on lap times of the top riders in the category, which has resulted (due to the problem highlighted in previous posts of riders not entering the category suited to them, aka 'pot hunters') in races being a lap too long for the average rider in that category. The solution has been to see lapped riders, or those not completing a certain number of laps within a time limit, pulled from the race. That surely discourages a lot of people from racing again?
So yes, ability-based categories and system of automatic promotion to ensure these races are competitive and the top 2 or 3 riders aren't separated from the rest by big time gaps.
The next problem is how to encourage people back into XC....
Last edited by macforrest (12 December 2017 09:11)
Think the current category system works mostly & certainly for the under 40's age groups (but the now in more senior years early 2000's was last experience of racing "sports" riders as was never good enough to go into a higher grade category). I now at 43 race with the male Vets which worrying for mountain bike XC is it seems the biggest category numbers, I did a bit of a "pause" from racing XC from 2003-2015 getting their & got 12th overall southern XC in 2016 & 20th overall southern XC 2017. The thing I have found is that all the elites/etc hit 40 then lumped in together in the veterans which is all well & good but all that happens in all the elites over 40 blast off meaning all the non ex elite riders are always going to be the top 10 finishers leaving us lesser mortals nothing to race for. I agree with people when they say yes it's the slower riders problem to get faster but there is only so much you can do without the natural talent that elite riders have. Don't it would be healthy to split the Veterans field but it needs a separate points championship within the series of say Cat1 Veterans (elites/pros/etc) then a Cat2/3 Veterans (for any over 40 riders who can't do laps any faster than "sports" riders) then maybe move vets riders into the higher veterans group if say constant top 10 finisher the following season. Then would mean the whole veterans category has something to fight rather than just top 10 ex elite riders.
Your always going to have riders in the wrong cat at nationals, people take time off and drop down etc. Theres nothing stopping you going into the Open on the saturday if you want to race nearer the front.