by Jamie Mack

Masters Given Exemption to New Tire Width Rule

With less than a month before the Nationals competitions begin in Bend, Oregon, USA Cycling has announced that some racers will be given an exemption to the controversial ruling that started the season. The tire width rule, widely debated and questioned since the beginning of this season (see a recent petition organized by Paule Bates here), will only be applied to riders in the Elite, U23 and Junior 17-18 races in Bend. Masters racers and those younger than 17, as well as collegiate and singlespeed racers, will not be restricted by the new tire rule. These riders will however be limited by previous regulations to a tire no more than 35mm in width.

The new width restriction rule created a great deal of controversy, as well as a few tires reportedly accidentally slashed by UCI calipers, because of the limited reasoning given for the new restriction and the limited time prior to the season that it was given. Riders were forced to choose between removing, replacing and re-gluing multiple tire sets or risking the wrath of the tire inspectors. And the limited time prior to the season, which had riders scrambling for new equipment, created tension for racers because their off-season preparations were suddenly in vain. A bigger concern, no pun intended, was that the rule seemed to penalize bigger riders and poorer riders (likely racing on clinchers) as both groups would want higher volume tires.

While the announcement may provide relief to racers preparing for the races, the last minute exemption is likely to bring out a lot of the same feelings that the pre-season announcement did. While it may be a relief to racers who have not made the changes necessary to comply with the rules all season, there is likely some animosity developing among riders who have already switched rubber once. Time will tell if the change is made permanent, or if USA Cycling continues to enforce the regulation going forward. Have an opinion? Drop a comment below.

Singlespeeders Get Championship Status

USA Cycling also confirmed today that a new championship jersey will be awarded for the first time this year in Bend. The winner of the singlespeed category, which has been run for the last several years as a non-championship event, will now be able to wear the Stars and Stripes in races throughout the 2011-2012 season. While the category has often attracted some of the best riders in the country, the offer of a full championship title will likely entice some additional competition. Open to all comers, as long as they are riding bikes with a freewheel (sorry fixie riders, you’re not there yet), one cog and drop bars, the newest championship category will bring out the best one-gear minds in the country to do battle in the December cold in Oregon.

Other Championship Info

Registration prices are due to increase on Wednesday November 17, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Normally, registration for Nationals would not require a reminder, as the start order used to be determined by how fast your internet connection was at the time registration opened. But this year, start order is determined by a short time trial the day before the Championship race. So, remember to register before prices go up. And don’t forget to pack the aero helmet (just kidding). Information on eligibility and call-up is available here.

All the information you need about registration and the events in Bend can be found here.