Lets not forget that the worlds are being held in the US but American riders are not the only people who will want to race. If racers want to come down from Canada or over from Europe would they not be exempt from this qualifying series. To risk the expense of travelling to Louisville to have a bad qualifier and not race the big one is a lot to ask. Remember the tile of the event is "World Championships"
Be careful about this Regional Qualifying Race thing. Just because I live in backwater Idaho and cannot make weekend pilgrimages to Astoria or Portland to do "Qualifying Races" does make me less of a racer or less qualified to do Nationals. It cannot come down to money or the financial wherewithal to be able to leave work to race. I race my ass off wherever and whenever my family and financial life allows.
Nats (and Worlds). Racing at this level should not be viewed as a 'participation sport.' (regardless of how profitable stacking up the starting grid is for USAC. A clear qualification process needs to be set in motion so that racers can prepare for it and goal set for a national championship run. This could be a minium threshold of points in key race series throughout the country, qualifying races in different regions, or even taking podium finishers in each district. (or some combination).
Winning the stars and stripes should be prestigious. Just qualifying to race for that top step should be too.
USAC will *always* do what they do best when encountering a growing racing niche. USAC's version of 'organization' is
1. drive away participants with regulations that make every event identical.
2. discourage promoters with fees.
'Cross is growing because USAC *isn't* applying its stellar 'UCI' management techniques. I'm old enough to have seen what happened to mountain bike racing after USAC used 'UCI' organization to it. Looks like 'cross is next. It was fun while it lasted...
That said, a trip to nationals needs to be done via local qualifying. Local qualifying should be a combination of a time trial and wins/placings. Biggest nationals field should be +/- 60 riders. 40 or-so spots are regional automatics. 20 given away as heat wins a couple of days before.
I think the TT idea is great, do you really feel that an intense 12 min effort will sink you the next day? Eveyone should ride the TT even those top qualifiers, to ensure quality effort add a time cut. Regional qualifies make sense if you are from an urban area but I travel a minimum of 4hours to race, at a time of year when interstates are frequently closed due to weather. I would be truly shitty to be excluded from a qualifier because of weather. A different start matrix may help as well; how about two converging starting grids, or a steep, long run up to spread things out a bit?
Just cat 1's might work. I think the TT idea is horrible! You'd be asking people to fly across the country for a 12 minute time trial the day before natz. I'm all for a good opener, but a 12 minute TT. HELL NO! Plus the top 8 or 9 get a pass to the front row, so they're probably out pre riding the course while everyone else is going through the stress fest. Gee, who do you think has the advantage on race day? Also consider the cost of going and not qualifying. Ridiculous is right!
The problem is not with lots of people in the race, it's with lappers getting in the way. For crying out loud, why can't USAC manage the damn race? It's quite simple in my mind. Natz isn't a UCI race so widen the start grid like Tom Stevens did in RI in 05 & 06. 14 wide and a very wide uphill run-in to turn 1 was a very smart thing to do, why doesn't anyone even think of that after seeing how well it worked?. The course was longish, but passed through the main part of the venue enough to make it excellent for spectating.
Now here's the answer.....are you listening USAC? Manage each race with 5 or 6 officials around the course all in radio contact with each other concerning the whereabouts of the leader(s). Have several "pulloffs" set up so that those officials can direct those ABOUT to be lapped off the course. Also the pits and finish area can be used for the same thing. That way everyone gets to come to the party, USAC gets all the money they can from entry fees and the party rocks all night.
Now to minimize the stupid clusterfuck that was sportsbaseonline last year, do this. ANNOUNCE via email well in advance to every participant at Natz in 09, and also on this website, velonews, and cyclingnews, the dates for pre reg. Notice I said dates, not date. And don't set it up for midnight the night before a huge East Coast UCI double race weekend, (you ignorant %@#$*&^!) Use multiple dates. Say 6 PM west coast 9 PM East coast on such and such date (a weeknight would be smart), men 30-34 reg opens on Bikereg.com, the next night another group and so on.... Eventually when you get to the smaller groups you can combine several of those. That should prevent the web site from crashing. The real problem is only in 4 or 5 races. Of course keep the top 8 rule from last year or better yet top 15 or 20. AND DON'T SKIP OVER THE GUY THAT GOT 2ND OR 3RD OR 5TH THE YEAR BEFORE IN THE YOUNGER AGE GROUP. Right now they only "graduate" (in terms of call up) the winner from the previous year which is almost unheard of (winning in your last year of a category). Also stay with the categories. All 1's first, then all the 2's, then 3's regardless of where you slot in on the online registration.
I really don't think that's asking a lot from the governing body at natz.
yeah forgot about a kudo's on the crack reporting ! USAC doesn't help itself too much when this stuff happens and they handle it poorly. Don't invite the media then you set the table for the critics. Maybe they'll get it someday.
still go back to the basics of fix the course length, get the cat 1's out, and see where you are at. The other thing that has been missed here is that yep, one half of the discussion is US nationals, the other is Masters Worlds. Masters Worlds requires UCI license (masters only) which is basically pay the $150. No category/no anything. If Masters Worlds wasn't coming to the US this wouldn't even be a question (at least the worlds piece). US Nationals results has nothing to do with who may race Masters Worlds.
Don't think a back of the pack rider is heading to Masters Worlds but...... if they pony up, fine. It's not the USAC's call and shouldn't be......and no other Nations do no limit Masters UCI athletes. DIdn't have a need and won't have a need when it heads back to Europe. What we really don't need is another set of races for Elites only. Sure we want the best of the non-elites winning the masters age-groups. If you're going to restrict to cat 1, send out invite only, get your upgrade procedure greasedl and go for it. Just don't expect the result you're thinking .
btw...suggested titles are Elite champion, almost elite champion, almost but not quite elite champion, etc.
The problems you raise with regards to qualifying races are completely solvable. In any case, a little complication is totally appropriate to prevent 100+ fields at Nationals. Having qualifications procedures in place that attempt to get the best 35-45 guys lined up for Nationals does not take away anything from the riders who are doing it for fun. These riders will do their local/regional race calendar and be happy.
Also I think you underestimate the negative impact of a bad start position. Ideally, the race outcome should not be determined by your start position. Sure, strong riders will move up through the field, but there is no denying the disadvantage of starting at the back of a large field. This is a reality for our Elite guys when they go to Europe and start at the back. It would be great if the best guys were at the start line and everyone had a chance of winning because the field was small enough to allow someone to come from the back to the front.
Look at how motocross is run. They have heats because the sport has realized that you can really only have so many riders on the course at a time and allow everyone to have a chance. The starting gate has positions for 40 riders and there is only one row. Obviously, CX need not be taken that far, but limiting it to 4 rows of 8 or 10 might be reasonable.
I for one would not have a problem traveling to a Nationals event where I knew regional qualifying events had selected 60-120 riders and 2-4 short "motos" were run with the top 10 advancing to the final. Perhaps there could even be a last chance qualifier for 1-3 additional riders. This procedure would work as long as there is a sufficient amount of time to run the qualifiers, which of course is only necessary for categories with more than 40 or so riders.
I guess the only other way to do it is by using the category system. If memory serves, last year there were about 40 Cat 1 riders signed up for the Masters 40-44 race. Can't speak to the other age groups, but limiting Nationals to Cat 1s doesn't seem unreasonable.
A few years back, we held a CX demo event outside of the normal season. I can't recall the exact reason for it, maybe time constraints for multiple races, but we held just that, a time trial. In that case, the time trial determined whether you'd race in the A, B, or C category. The time trial was very cool and in fact added to the spectacle, intensity and fun of the event.
Personally, I'd rather let my legs and technical skills determine my starting position, rather than how quickly I can register. Whether that be a time trial or some sort of tiered local/regional race qualification system is all good with me. Regardless, a time-trial to determine call-ups on the scale of Nationals will be a logistics hurdle to address.
What I like the most is that USA Cycling and our race promoters are working together on real issues presented by the racers. Lastly, the fact that media was not invited to the meeting really isn't a concern. To insinuate that some "closed door" policy was in effect or something was going on behind riders backs is laughable.
As a racer, I'm not represented by my favorite bike publication. However, I'll glady trust the leaders of OVCX and other large CX series to have the riders best interests in mind. I race in the OVCX and I can tell you that the individuals that run OVCX each have a personal relationship with every racer in the field that goes well beyond race day or bike racing for that matter. Less than 10 years ago, OVCX wasn't more than 30-40 racers total tied together with nothing more than a spreadsheet, a bucket of orange flags and geography. The same promoters and visionaries have been there since the beginning. They've successfully grown the sport from when most rides had mountain bikes, to having Masters Worlds in our backyard. If anyone can represent the typical masters racer it is guys like OVCX's Mitch Graham and other promoters that have been instrumental in the progression of CX in the US. Their door is always open. I'm sure the same close personal relationships are apparent between promoters and riders in the other large series as well. Surely the're doing the right thing.
btw....my point with the 2/3rds pay for the top 1/3 is really to point out if you reduce the 2/3rds the cost per rider is really going to go up. All the "pro Masters" better get ready to really pony up ! This whole conversation is again based on not accomodating large fields which is silly. On a correctly laid out course you can handle large fields. I think everyone agrees that the fastest will win anyway aside from mechanicals, weather, and yes other riders. Next thing we'll be putting ice melt on icy courses.....opps check that off, already did it !
So with Districts and numbers based on participation, which is not known until the day of the race of course, riders will have no idea what position they will have to race for to qualify. They will race in their district and then USA Cycling must add all districts together and make a ratio to end up with 75 starters then dole out start positions to riders after the fact. Which leaves no room for a further qualifying race. And what about the guy that finished 6th in the district race but needed to be 5th to qualify? He then goes to Nats and does a qualifying race. And the guy that was 25th at districts because he hurt himself in some boneheaded maneuver then gets to beat the 6th place guy in the qualifyer race. Who really deserves the start? The guy that was best at the qualifyer race? Come one, lets face it and race for fun and not make this so freakin complicated. The best guys will win. That generally remains true. Unless there is doping then the best Dr wins. Some guys are going to feel shafted no matter what is done. They will come from a small district or have a bad day. We should have a second chance race for those that had a bad day. Or maybe just let USA Cycling come up with a plan and then make your plans accordingly. Race if you want to and remember why you are doing it. If you are in it for fun or glory and money. I prefer fun and this is making me stressed out just thinking about it.
the 12-minute lap was discussed as an option for the time trial, not main event. we think a longer lap would reduce lapped riders but make for less exciting spectating.
I think the 12 minute lap time goal is needed in Bend. At Nats if you had a back of the pack start you were already three minutes down and with eight minute laps and crashes, a lot of fast riders were pulled, and pulled early.
I find it ludicrous that this article does not quote or represent anyone from the meeting that happened. It names one source, a guy that was not there. Also it clearly states that there was poor representation of age group and amateur racing at the meeting. Sorry but Brad Ross runs the largest grass roots series in America, the Cross Crusade. Just because he is also involved in the USGP and nationals does not make him forget what he does every weekend at cross crusade. Joan Hanscom runs the USGP which has huge fields in every category and calls up by local series points. All of these people have an eye on Amateur racing or they would not exist in promoting cross events. Finally, it seems pretty clear to me that this article contradicts itself. It states that preliminary decisions were made regarding qualifying and call up for Masters Worlds in Louisville 2012 and 2013. Then later states that the UCI is watching to find a solution. So which is it CX Magazine? Was there a decision made at USA Cycling about how Worlds will run? Or might the UCI decide for the Worlds thereby representing all athletes in the world. Finally, did you call anyone at the UCI or USA Cycling for comment? I assume not.
What is important is to encourage participation and fun that exists in cross every weekend. And yes we need that at Nationals and Worlds too. Lets face it, there are only a few guys really racing to win. In Masters racing those guys might as well be pro, they certainly act that way. The rest of us race for fun and to get to the finish so we earn the beer that we will drink anyway. CX Magazine, as a guy that reads your mag but also volunteers at some of these events, you really need to check facts a bit in the future please and try not to piss where you eat.
Thanks Andrew and Jamie for this crack reporting. There are a lot of thoughtful responses here. I'll add my voice to the ones agreeing with "Crimson Planet"'s: 1) Districts (with the amount of qualifiers based on entrants); 2) Some national and regional races for those in small districts; 3) a qualifying race for those sick, injured, or with mishaps in the above. Also, it's important to talk numbers now--this would be a lot of planning and coordination for nothing if fields sizes were still over 75. 60 sounds really good to me.
Why not just adopt the MTB qualification procedures? I don't hear anyone complaining about large numbers in the Masters fields at MTB Nationals. Last year the 40-44 age group had 31 starters. If there are still too many riders qualified, run heats.
Back in the day, they actually ran heats for the Elite Nationals Road Race! There were 3 or 4 heats of 35mi with the top 20 or something moving on. What if we did away with the non-Nationals "B" races on Thursday and ran heats instead?
As for Masters Worlds, shouldn't each country qualify a limited number of athletes (just like in Elite)? If this didn't fill the field, just have a "Last Chance Qualifier" at the event and take the top X number of riders for each age category.
I am really glad to hear that these concerns are being addressed. I believe a qualifying procedure for Nationals, and especially Masters Nationals, is a great idea to guarantee that the cream of the crop get the premium start spots. And really, the best way to control field sizes. These fields shouldn't be open to just anyone who wants to do them on a whim. The riders that prove themselves throughout the season as some of the best should have every opportunity for a fair shot at the title.
Back when I started racing, you had to qualify through your state road race championship to earn a start at road nationals. The states with more registered riders were given more qualifying spots, states with less riders got less spots. (I recall PA got like 8 or 9 guys for senior men, and a state like Montana would only qualify the winner) This ensured that the very best had the opportunity to line up at nationals and have best possible chances. Pretty simple format and one that worked well.
There's no reason this can't be applied to 'cross. Maybe not through that exact format of state-by state basis, but there are great regional series all across the US that could serve as qualifiers. It would help boost each regions series with entrants and prestige. The bigger more attended series in the traditional hotbeds of cross get more qualifiers, and the smaller regions get less. Perhaps the host region gets a incentive of more spots for some of the locals. Have each series end a few weeks before nationals so those qualifying have time to get travel details lined up and then you get the best guys on the line.
Regarding the World Championships however, there has to be a better way. Expecting riders from around the US, let alone around the world, to commit to coming to Louisville for Worlds yet potentially not be allowed to race, doesn't seem overly thought out. In the US at least, perhaps work out a regional qualifier similar to the above mentioned for nationals.
As far as qualifiers across the world, no clue how to best address that...
Crimson Planet gets it. Either have qualifying races or use rankings from crossresults.com (with a minimum number of races entered) for qualification.
And those competitive in non-age group Nationals should not be racing Masters Nationals.
My concern is qualifying conflicting with other races - mainly singlespeed. Last year I, and a number of other folks in my masters 35-39 race were racing on Friday before our masters race Saturday. I would be bummed to find that qualifying for masters precluded me from racing singlespeed.
I would be super bummed if I took 3 days off work, dragged my wife and child to Bend, and then only got to race in a 12 min time trial that focused mostly on fitness! Cross is about fitness AND skill. Also, Nats should remain in December so people can get back to reality by Christmas. Most of us humans need a break before mtb or road season starts!
As a guy who ran his first cyclocross race last season, went to Bend since it is close to home, and has spent the last six months training and collecting parts for cyclocross season (I have even been through the horrors of spring road racing) I have to say that there is nothing like being able to compete in a national championship to spur a love for a new sport. I know the field was large and traffic was a problem for some guys. But traffic is a part of cyclocross. If you don't like that go enter a time trial or be a tri-athlete or go ride by yourself. Part of having bike handling skills is avoiding traffic. I have raced cars nationally for 17 years and it is always the guys with low car control who complain about lapped traffic ruining the race. The guys with great instincts and car control love traffic because it gives them an edge.
I agree with having to qualify for nationals, but not on a non-technical course and not on the weekend of the race --unless we are racing our way in. If we only want people with big watt numbers why don't we just set up some compu-trainers and let everybody compete. The great part about cyclocross is that guys without great genes can make up for it in technical ability. Look at our National Champion: Tim Johnson is not the strongest guy in the elite group, but when it gets muddy or icy he wins...technical ability is a part of our sport. I don't need to travel to know I am not a great time trialer. But I know I can race cross well when it is technical and that is why I love it.Cyclocross is about the art of maintaining momentum in the face of various obstacles which try to slow you. Please, please, I beg you people, don't take the art out of our sport's marque event.
Sorry for the confusion - the report was originally based entirely on notes from an attendee (as stated now in the header) who wishes to remain anonymous because s/he feels it's important to get this news out but doesn't want to upset the authorities since they made it clear it was closed to media. Because it was closed to media, we have to rely on attendee accounts instead of our own reporting (which we able to do at the last two nats meetings - upsetting nobody). Since the story has been posted, Brad Ross contacted us with comments and clarifications and disagreed with the other attendee that such content should be public but we think the open dialogue is good. We've since added more info from both him and Myerson (who did not attend).
The UCI is watching to find a potential solution to apply in other countries and other events - it can evolve. Sorry that wasn't clear.
While we're human (the two of us who worked on this report - Andrew and Jamie do have to piss and eat), we're hopeful hopeful that trying to bring news and a topic up for discussion before everything is finalized can be seen by some not as pissing but an attempt at some reporting instead of being just a PR machine - even if everyone is not happy with the topic or completeness. Based on some of the comments, we think that's proved to be true. However, if we had our way, we would have been there to report on all of it accurately, or at least had an attendee list so we can poll everyone. Instead, some people are proactive in contacting us and others are more responsive but that's the downside of closed-door sessions. No different than with politics, other sports, or business - little control on what leaks and little willingness to verify when there was desire to not make it public and open.
for anybody not local to the Natz or Worlds, having to pay thousands of $$ to travel thousands of miles (in some cases) to race in a qualifier and possibly not even get to race? This makes no sense for masters. There has to be regional qualifiers.
I'm not happy that the press wasn't allowed to attended. The people who pay for this - recreational racers, product consumers, product manufacturers, bike shops, spectators and Cyclocross Magazine are the engines that are driving the sport - shouldn't they at least get to listen in on what the elites are planning for the sport? As for containing race fields wouldn't just having a series of local qualifying races that send racers to a regional race, and then on to finals, do the trick? You wouldn't have to go far to find a model and it would fill local promoters pockets on along the way. AND THAT'S A GOOD THING!
There should be 1) certified local series that you can qualify through 2) regional qualifiers and 3) the TT as a last chance qualifier for those that can't make 1 or 2. Field size would still be large, (60 or so), but those would definitely be qualified.
jd - As for 2/3rds paying for the rest of top 1/3rd; isn't that how it's supposed to work?
How about a 180 regarding dates for Nationals. Instead of always pushing for a date later in the season and the desire to extend into deeper winter, schedule Nationals in early November. A significant Downside of January Nationals dates is shrinking the available regions in the country able to host events. 2nd week of January means really icebox weather for much of the most competitive regions.....how many regions would be able to host? New England in January? Mid-west in January? Northwest in January? (extra helpings of mud) Those are tough climates to prepare for competition. November means everybody in the country would have a climate opportunity to bid for Nationals
November Nationals means Champs have a good month to wear their Champs jerseys. So, the rest of the World has their Championships in January? Good for them - and so what?
We have separate Masters National Road events - is Cyclocross mature enough now to split the Masters off for their championships? Would that leave the Elites enough to finance Championships by themselves? If they couldn't support their own Championships USAC needs to listen carefully to their constituency - or have we already had plenty of previous evidence that's not happening? Do Masters exist to finance the dreams of the tiny group at the top of the pyramid? What's the level of support provided Masters by their National organizing group?
And Elites doubling during Nationals in both Elite and Masters events? Guys, choose one or the other - do you really get a thrill from whacking the weekend warriors?
I'm in favor having a qualification time trial-- I'd rather face the chance of early elimination than spend my whole race fighting with traffic. Also, for someone of mediocre ability like myself, I'd prefer to line up for the race knowing that I belonged there (or instead be in the crowd, beer in hand, knowing I had given it my best effort).
I have some misgivings about the prospect of a "non-technical" time trial, but hopefully it will be real 'cross terrain.
You can not expect to have people travel thousands of miles, spending thousands of dollars collectively, taking valuable time off work, getting to a Worlds event and not being able to race. In my opinion, Masters Worlds will only be a somewhat more glorified masters nationals. You will only have the true 'crossers doing this, as time will weed out 'crossers who wane during regular season.
I hope this is thought out for the good of us all. Masters - yes, sure we want to do well and all, but we still do it for the fun and commraderie.
Thanks - KB
unfortunately this will keep snowballing until the participation part of this sport is done. Masters categories have been overrun by alot of the older elites that see a chance for glory. Its already unfortunate that
those categories are getting the high fees so that 2/3 of the field that never podium can pay for the event. Nice ! This will be mtn bike soon enough.........bmx anyone ?