An Open Letter to USA Cycling

09.17.2008 | 7:30 am

Dear USA Cycling,

I read with some concern and distress in Velonews today that my beloved mountain bike racing categories — Beginner, Sport, Expert, Semi-Pro, and Pro (I had to check on the naming of the last two since they’re not exactly in my list of personally-relevant labels at this time) — are being replaced with new category names: Cat 3, 2, 1, and Pro.

I would like to strongly urge you to reconsider this decision. I have many compelling reasons why.

  1. I Really like the name “Sport.” I have been a “Sport” category racer ever since my third mountain bike race. And it’s all I can ever aspire to. And I like being a Sport. It sounds…sporty. Like, you know, I’m no longer a beginner, but I’m also not particularly expert. I’m here to race for the sport of it.
  2. I’m scared of what being called Cat 2 implies. While being called “Sport” is a reasonably accurate description of my attitude toward racing — although perhaps if the category were called “Ambivalent” it would be more precise — Category 2 sends all the wrong messages. This numbering system implies some sort of path or progression. Like, “Hey, I used to be a 3, now I’m a 2, and someday I’ll be a 1.” Except I’ll never be a Cat 1. I’ve been racing in this category for more than ten years, and have never yet won a race. This is where I belong. Putting me in the middle of your numeric spectrum just reminds me that I’m not going anywhere.
  3. I can no longer obfuscate my mediocrity with jargon. When friends and family ask me what category I race in, I answer — without explanation — “Sport.” Since most people I know don’t know anything about how mountain biking is categorized, some (and hopefully most) assume that “Sport” is pretty high up there. I like to imagine, for example, that they assume the ranking goes like: Novice, Beginner, Highly Accomplished, Well-Regarded-By-Peers, Semi-Pro, 3rd-Degree Black Belt, Sport, Pro. But when I say “Cat 2,” they won’t even have to ask me whether it’s better to be Cat 3 or Cat 1 (I’m not clear on that myself, to tell the truth; logic tells me I’d start at Cat 1 and work my way up…is that right?), because Cat 2 is right there in the middle of the pack. Average. Undistinguished. Ordinary. Bland. Mediocre. And I haven’t even cracked the thesaurus yet.
  4. New opportunities to sandbag. I’m listing this one last, because since it doesn’t affect me, I honestly don’t care about it. But the fact is, the biggest thing this change does is force people not quite good enough to cut it in the Pro ranks to decide, “Do I want to spend the rest of my life racing way off the back of the field by going for Pro, or would I rather race in the front of the field by going in Cat 1?” Gee, I wonder what most of them will decide. My friends Brad and Kenny are about to never win another race again. Sorry, guys.

All of these reasons, however, pale compared to my primary motive for objecting to your new racing category names:

They’re boring.

Seriously: 3-2-1-Pro? That’s the best you could come up with? Even if you don’t take into account that you abandon your naming methodology right at the conclusion of the schema, it’s not like the names are memorable. Or logical. Or interesting.

Luckily for you, I am here to help. Taking it as given that you definitely want to abandon your perfectly sensible existing categories and want to replace them with something different, I think I can at least help you come up with a set of categories that are both more evocative and internally consistent.

I hereby present you with several options. Please feel free to pick your favorite.

Metamorphic Stages
If you’re looking to reduce the number of racing categories and you want to use a continuum, you could hardly do better than the metamorphic stages of a butterfly. Specifically:

  • Eggs: This category is a nice metaphor for the very beginning stage of a racer’s career. You’re new to the world. You have so much potential. Soon you’ll hatch and flourish. This is so beautiful, I believe I am going to cry.
  • Caterpillars: I’m confident that racers formerly known as “Sport” won’t object to being called “Caterpillars.” Why would we? The similarities between Sport racers and caterpillars are striking. We inch along slowly, and we eat everything in sight.
  • Cocoons: This is of course the inert stage a caterpillar goes through before becoming a butterfly, though, when as a child I ever put a cocoon in a jar to watch it transform, it never worked. The cocoon would always just sit there, forever, staying a cocoon.
  • Butterflies: If the rest of us have to have category names, so do the pros. Besides, the description’s apt. They’re light. They fly. They are colorfully adorned. And above all, they seem to be remarkably fragile.

How You’re Planning to Race Today
I’ve often been of the opinion that racing categories shouldn’t be so rigid. The truth is, I often don’t know what category I belong in until I get to the race and see how other people are planning to categorize themselves. Further, my objective for the race determines how fast I’m going to be (with the obvious severe upper limitation of capability, or lack thereof).

How about if racing categories reflected the reality of racer intentions?

  • Racing to See If I Like Racing: Exclusively for people who have either never raced at all or who haven’t raced in at least five years. The course should be adjusted to be a nice moderate downhill for these people, and semi-pros with a chip on their shoulder should not be allowed on the course until the last person from this category is finished.
  • Just Cruising: For racers who came along mostly as support for an insecure friend who didn’t want to come to a race alone. They’re here to ride the course just for fun. To ride in this category, you must start with a full Camelbak, even if the race is 40 minutes long. You must also bring a camera and be able to demonstrate at the finish line that you stopped a couple of times to take pictures.
  • Training Race: For those who aren’t here to win it and don’t care how they place, but rather are here because it’s a good way to trick yourself into doing an interval-level workout.
  • Reaffirming my Sense of Self-Importance: If you’re here to prove to yourself that you are faster than the locals, you should race against other people who are also there to show they are faster than other locals, so the rest of us can enjoy ourselves. Although, now that I think about it, this category isn’t going to have its stated effect for most of the racers. That’s a real shame.
  • This Race is Really, Really, Really Important to Me: Everyone picks a race that matters more than any other race to them for the year. If this is your race, you should be given a special place in the start line, and a special-colored bib (yellow, probably), and when people see your special-colored bib, they let you by. The only catch is, nobody gets to race in this category more than once per year.
  • Racing Is My Life: People who race all the time should race against other people who race all the time, regardless of their speed. This way, they’ll get to know each other, and in time they’ll perhaps realize that they’ve got a sickness and need help, and then they’ll already know everyone in their support group. How convenient!

Sandbaggers / Not Sandbaggers
This very minimalist categorizing system only has two divisions. People who normally sandbag should race each other, while people who don’t sandbag race each other.

Interestingly, I suspect that while everybody knows a sandbagger or two or nine, the “Sandbagger” category will be lightly attended.

USA Cycling, I am confident that one — or more — of these options will be to your liking, although I am happy to present additional categorizing schemas should you so desire (by bird type, by frog metamorphic stages, alphabetically by last name are just a few ideas that spring to mind right now).

I look forward to your timely response, which will — I am confident — be an acknowledgement of the superiority of my ideas.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist


  1. Comment by Paul | 09.17.2008 | 7:37 am

    Even though I think it’s childish, I won Gold!

  2. Comment by longman | 09.17.2008 | 7:38 am

    first!…vbut I’m sandbagging

  3. Comment by longman | 09.17.2008 | 7:39 am

    damn!…a faster sandbagger

  4. Comment by cyclingeurope | 09.17.2008 | 7:45 am

    Back in the day when I used to race, I rued the day when I went to the Vet category from Sport. I didn’t like the connotation of Vet, and I just LOVED that term Sport! I felt like you, like I was doing it for the Sport of it! “Vets” to me were old and grumpy and bitter….

  5. Comment by Jon | 09.17.2008 | 7:48 am

    Does this mean the end of the posts I can’t understand about the dirty people?

  6. Comment by fatty | 09.17.2008 | 7:48 am

    cyclingeurope – you mean the vet cagegory is an age thing? i always assumed it was a category limited to people who had served in the armed forces.

  7. Comment by fatty | 09.17.2008 | 7:49 am

    jon – that depends on whether i can think of where the story ought to go from here.

  8. Comment by Maddy | 09.17.2008 | 7:50 am

    How about

    Read a blog
    Write a blog
    Written about in blogs
    Written about in newspapers
    On TV

  9. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 09.17.2008 | 8:00 am

    Epic post Mr. FC. I especially like How You’re Planning on Racing Today. I trust the board of USA Cycling – all being FC Readers and surely creative types – will promptly retract this silly numbering system. One the other things I liked about Beginner/Sport/Expert is the differentiation from road racing. A MTB Race is a much different spectacle than a local crit – standardization is not always a good thing.

    Rode my FC Pink Jersey on a big ride around Lake Washington, across the Ballard locks, around Magnolia, through Downtown, back up through the Arboretum to the trail and home last Saturday during the 3 Day Walk – got and gave lots of encouragement to the organizers that were setting up as we rode through in the morning and cleaning up as we returned.


  10. Comment by Bryan | 09.17.2008 | 8:06 am

    I’m curious. Of all these open letters you post, how many actually generate a response (good, bad, or otherwise) from those the open letter is aimed at? Since most of your letters offer a better solution, and keener insight, I’m guessing you either get no response or are told to drop dead.

    Now, on the subject at hand. I wonder if these new categories for MTB racing were dreamed up by somebody who couldn’t make it as a roadie and are using this as a means to satisfy their hunger for road racing. Make no mistake, that’s nothing against the MTB’ers here at all. I used to ride an old Trek Singletrack back in the day. Heck, now-a-days, I can’t make it as a roadie and know I couldn’t even dream of being a sport, cat 2, egg, or just a cruiser in MTB.

    Now, if there was a category for the grotesquely overweight, high blood pressure, middle-age balding dudes who don’t know any better I might be tempted to give it a try. You could call it the “Jabba the Hut” division. I’d fit in that category.

  11. Comment by Trail Dog | 09.17.2008 | 8:20 am


    I can’t agree with you more. As an aspiring “beginer” in mountain bike racing, I have to say that I would greatly look forward to moving into “sport” class rather than cat 2. It may sound stupid, but looking forward to a move is classes like that, can be a motivator for someone like me who’s just getting back into cycling. Moving from cat 3 to cat 2 ? ……. eh, not so much. I hope USA cycling takes a looks at your post and the comments and would at least reconsider … reconsidering.

  12. Comment by DiscoBill | 09.17.2008 | 8:21 am

    How about a category for those of us who will ride one race a year to justify the amount spent on our bike to our spouse, and to have something to talk about at our cube dwelling jobs on Monday. Oh, and we want to look at girls on bikes. Maybe call the category “Suburban?”

  13. Comment by Onan the Barbarian | 09.17.2008 | 8:22 am

    “Now, if there was a category for the grotesquely overweight, high blood pressure, middle-age balding dudes who don’t know any better I might be tempted to give it a try. You could call it the “Jabba the Hut” division. I’d fit in that category.”

    Isn’t that the “Clydesdale” cat?

  14. Comment by fatty | 09.17.2008 | 8:28 am

    discobill – i love the suburban category. which makes me think: there should be a write-in category for racers who don’t want to be constrained by the pre-fab categories designated by The Man. don’t put me in a box, dude.

  15. Comment by db | 09.17.2008 | 8:29 am

    If they went with your How You’re Planning to Race Today schema, I’d be tempted to actually race. Otherwise, I’ll probably never do it. Especially when what they really did was go from 5 categories to 4.

    How USA Cycling thinks the reclassifications will “improve the event” (according to Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski) has me puzzled. Maybe it will make it easier for organizers, but I don’t see this as being a favor to the riders.

  16. Comment by Alexia | 09.17.2008 | 8:36 am

    Had no idea — let us know if you hear anything! I would aspire to Sport myself! Cat 2? Yawn.

  17. Comment by Bob | 09.17.2008 | 8:43 am


    Bunny hill
    Green circle
    Blue square
    Black diamond
    Double-black diamond


    Pop gun
    .38 Special
    Colt 45


    Cat 2
    Big Dog

    70s Music

    Van Halen
    The Rolling Stones

  18. Comment by Lizzylou | 09.17.2008 | 8:44 am

    “I can no longer obfuscate my mediocrity with jargon”

    That sentence just tickles me pink.

  19. Comment by Rick S. | 09.17.2008 | 8:52 am

    What about the category for people who have full-time jobs and a family? We need our own special place on the start line.

  20. Comment by Boz | 09.17.2008 | 8:59 am

    The clydesdale class should be also defined.

    Clyde A – Big, muscular guys over 200 lbs.
    Clyde B – Big, fat tub of goo who crushes scales – me.

  21. Comment by Russell | 09.17.2008 | 9:11 am

    Bob – your gun group needs a “Cheney” category.

  22. Comment by Bryan | 09.17.2008 | 9:11 am

    @ onan the barbarian: You are correct. Clydesdale would probably be a better category than Jabba the Hut.

  23. Comment by 29er | 09.17.2008 | 9:17 am

    Funny stuff! I have also thought that in the categories for women we should be allowed a minute or so deducted for each kid we have. Kind of like that doughnut eating race. Not that I ate a lot of doughnuts when I was pregnant…….well, maybe I did.

  24. Comment by UpNorth | 09.17.2008 | 9:19 am

    Back in the day, beginner MTBers raced in the “Citizen” category. So if you weren’t racing as a Junior…

    Yup, you’ve got it. You could have been racing as a “Senior Citizen”.

  25. Comment by Kathleen | 09.17.2008 | 9:21 am

    sure do hope those silly non-creative boring people at USA Cycling catch a clue…their naming schema is atrocious!

    LOVE your suggestions…my favorite is racing by how you feel…I would SO do that race.

  26. Comment by Karst | 09.17.2008 | 9:28 am

    Amazing…and as usual, hilarious.


    “Metamorphic Stages”…”metamorphic stages”?

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    On the other hand, perhaps it is the right word. Then, perhaps your mountain biking racing stages should be:


    Since mountains are made of rock, why not name mountain biking racing categories after regionally metamorphosed rocks? … Since anyone who races mountain bikes clearly has rocks in the head, right?

  27. Comment by dug | 09.17.2008 | 9:31 am

    bob, please explain the absence of led zeppelin from your list of 70s music.

  28. Comment by stupidbike | 09.17.2008 | 9:35 am

    Don’t worry fatty, the Intermountaincup is not USAcycling sanctioned so you can still be a SPORT.

    Brad may never win a race again anyway, he will have to beat me, and kenny.

  29. Comment by MTB W | 09.17.2008 | 9:47 am

    USA Cylcing – absolutely atrocious! This is definitely in the category of what were they thinking? The way to mass market? Dumb it down to the lowest common denominator! Since words can confuse, let’s use numbers. USA Cyling – boy, you hit this one out of the park.

    FC, hilarious post! I am a lowly beginner but at least I can look forward to moving up to Sport – it really does sound cooler to unknowing friends than to to say I would like to move up to Cat 2 (unless the friend is a cat lover – then they might really be confuzzed).

  30. Comment by joel | 09.17.2008 | 10:01 am

    I’m all for the Sandbag/Not Sandbag to be adopted – and while I would be categorized (per Boz above) as a Clyde B I’ll stick to a single Clyde cat so I can CLAIM to be Clyde A.

  31. Comment by Kt | 09.17.2008 | 10:06 am

    I thought Vet category was for people who are doctors for animals?

    Darn. :)

    Oh, and Fatty, it looks like your blog has reach saturation level; you can tell because you’re starting to get trolls who post comments consisting entirely of “first!” “podium!” etc. Lame, guys. Comment on the post at hand.

    WIN!!!!! Susan!!

  32. Comment by bikemike | 09.17.2008 | 10:13 am

    how about food catagories, you know, meat, potatoes, veggies.

    coke catagories, regular, diet, cherry, etc.

    tv shows: sponge bob, king of queens, deadliest catch.

    i’ll shut up now.
    oh,yeah, one more thing, two caterpillers are walking down the road when they look up and see a butterfly. one caterpiller looks at the other one and says “you’ll never get me up in one of those things”.
    that’s what the caterpiller catagory reminds me of.

  33. Comment by Bike Jax | 09.17.2008 | 10:15 am

    I’m with you all the way on the class name changes. The class name changes to numbers should be reserved for the elitist and pretentious road racers. But more importantly, it will also dissuade off road racers from taking to the line.

    Beginner is so much more inviting to the novice or first time racer than Cat 4 or whatever the corresponding equivalent would be. By having named divisions instead of numbered will also keep the individualism that off road racing was founded on.

  34. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.17.2008 | 10:23 am

    kt – right on!

    Fatty, I thought metamophic where I would have expected metaphoric was hilarious…and i didn’t even have to figure out if you meant it – I just do not know if I am laughing at you or with you.

    But you missed a golden opportunity to use the word Chrysalis as one of the butterfly stages.

  35. Comment by Mike | 09.17.2008 | 10:30 am

    Did you read this Fatty:

    “The mountain bike community can expect some changes in the 2009 season. It was recently announced that the National Mountain Bike Series (formerly NORBA National Series) will cease to exist following 2008.”

    It’s from

    Do you think it’s related?

  36. Comment by KanyonKris | 09.17.2008 | 10:35 am

    I like the intention based categories. Along the lines of DiscoBill, how about one called:

    Needed an Excuse to Ride

    Instead of laps you just head out on the best riding trails in the area and when you’re done you go home – no awards and reduced (or no) entry fee.

    I can’t believe USA Cycling wants to call the mountain bike race groups “categories” like road cycling. So a beginner is a road Cat 5, but Cat 3 in MTB. And a Cat 4 road half way between a MTB Cat 3 and Cat 2. But road Cat 3 is MTB Cat 2. What a mess. But they want to keep Pro instead of call it Cat 1? I think drugs were involved.

  37. Comment by kenny | 09.17.2008 | 10:35 am

    I think this is a desperate attempt for Norba to become relevant. I’ve raced for more than 10 years and have never purchaced an annual Norba Licence. What will happen next is, we’ll have to apply for upgrades from one category to the next instead of just letting us deciding where we belong. I don’t think most “dirty people” want to be lumped in with the politics of USA cycling and road racing.

    If they come up with come up with a mountain bike equivalent of a Masters catagory they should call us “Grandpa Leatherbutts”.

  38. Comment by KanyonKris | 09.17.2008 | 10:47 am

    I suggest a category system based on how you acquired your bike:

    - Walmart bike
    - Used brand name bike
    - Bought new from a bike shop
    - Assembled from top-of-the-line frame and meticulously chosen components
    - The team supplies the bike

    Or, more vulgar, how much the bike cost:


  39. Comment by Gonzalo | 09.17.2008 | 10:48 am

    Hey Fatty!

    It’s not that bad. You could still be a “Cool Cat 2″ or something like that.

    PS: BTW, I found a cool cause to race for:

  40. Comment by fuzzy | 09.17.2008 | 10:51 am

    Don’t you just love it when ’suits’ get involved and try to regulate?

    How about this category scheme-

    Help!- Not done this before/ much, just learning the ropes.

    Cool!- I like this lark and am gonna keep doing it.

    Excellent!- I kept doing it and got much better.

    Just Chill Dude- I am a god at this off road racing lark.

    WIN Susan!

    Luv ‘n Stuff

    Fuzzy in the UK

  41. Comment by spkell | 09.17.2008 | 11:05 am

    in rock climbing, there are 31 difficulty levels (the Yosemite Decimal System, which makes only slightly more sense than Dewey) with one theoretical category (5.15b)that means “so hard only one person can climb it–until another person can.”

    I say we do that.

  42. Comment by Bill | 09.17.2008 | 11:23 am

    RIGHT ON FATTY!!! This is your best piece, probably because it angered me so much I can relate. Unfortunately I don’t have your grace and my blog post resorted to name calling and death threats. Great article. I love it! ~Butterfly, It’s My Life, Sand Bagger Want-ta-B!

  43. Pingback by An Open Letter to USA Cycling | Randomblog blog | 09.17.2008 | 11:31 am

    [...] An Open Letter to USA Cycling Posted by admin on September 17, 2008 random Dear USA Cycling, [...]

  44. Comment by TigerMouth | 09.17.2008 | 11:51 am

    I don’t like the new mtb categories either, but for the one or two of you not familiar with road racing:
    USA Cycling is just making the mtb categories have the same names as in road racing, where cat 5 is beginner, cat 4 means you’ve done more than ~10 races, cat 3, cat 2, cat 1 means you’ve scored points at the lower level and moved up. Pro is self explanatory.

    But I don’t think the standardizing to numbers for mtb and road racing actually makes things easier. For example, I’m a bit better than beginner in both mtb and road racing, but I’m a cat 2 mtb’er and a cat 4 road racer.

    Go figure!

  45. Comment by Bob | 09.17.2008 | 12:25 pm

    Dug – I couldn’t include both Led Zepellin and The Rolling Stones in a list where one clearly needs to be inferior to the other. I picked the Stones because they came out on top when I crunched the numbers. I also had a difficult time with Styx vs. Supertramp. It’s all right there in the spreadsheet.

  46. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.17.2008 | 1:07 pm

    Bobs answer is why this comment section needs a ‘rec’ box.

  47. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.17.2008 | 1:09 pm

    But actually, Stones > Led Zepellin???? I think there is a bug in your spreadsheet, Bob, even if your answer was tres amusing.

  48. Comment by Ethan | 09.17.2008 | 1:34 pm

    Back in the old days (1990’s), the categories were:


    Vet (35+)
    Masters (45+)[/b]

    A lot of races had [b]First Timers[/b]. You could only race this one once. But trust me, lots of people raced EXCLUSIVELY FT.

    Then (thanks to Dirt Rag), promoters added:


    Later still, [b]Single Speeders[/b] got their own category.

    So I ask you…why in the world did they need [b]Semi-Pro[/b]???

    I think that reducing the categories is a fine idea, as long as they keep a slot for [b]Junior Clydesdale Single Speed Women[/b].

  49. Comment by Lifesgreat | 09.17.2008 | 2:35 pm

    Good name choices. I would rather be a caterpillar or cocoon than a larva or pupa.

    But, I never have to worry about that. I will always be an egg.

  50. Comment by The D | 09.17.2008 | 3:19 pm

    I think racing categories should be done by temperament.

    “Three more top tens, and its goodbye surly and hello apathetic.”

  51. Comment by aussie kev | 09.17.2008 | 4:14 pm

    what an awesome post !!! – and so true, the onlt catergories i can think of are the number of hours you train each week

    0 – 5 hours ( ME!!)

    5 – 8 hours

    8 – 11 hours

    11 hours plus


  52. Comment by Paul | 09.17.2008 | 4:39 pm

    …they assume the ranking goes like: Novice, Beginner, Highly Accomplished, Well-Regarded-By-Peers, Semi-Pro, 3rd-Degree Black Belt, Sport, Pro

    Ah security in ambiguity! =)
    I’ll be earning my 3rd Degree Black Belt later this year (yes, really), maybe then I can work my way up to Sport!

  53. Comment by Darren | 09.17.2008 | 5:25 pm

    Wait…you can just ‘choose’ what category to be in? I’m a road racer (cat 4)…wow…road racing is so…rigid. I got to get some fat tires….

  54. Comment by my middle name is fred | 09.17.2008 | 7:05 pm

    Does anyone remember — maybe 10 years ago? — USA Cycling tried to change cat 4, cat 3, cat 2, etc for road racers to “beginner”, “sport”, “expert”, etc?

    Roadies rebelled in a major way, and they changed back to the numbering scheme.

    What does this say about roadies?

  55. Comment by KitchenSink | 09.17.2008 | 10:40 pm

    So am I reading about cycling classifications or computers here? Cat 4, 5 & 6 are computer cable types – who knows if we go far enough back into the history books there was probably Cat 1, 2 & 3 too. So if the MTB cycling authorities and the IEEE get into a nomenclature arms race, or even worse some kind of degenerative CAT envy where will we all end up? CATatonic?

  56. Comment by tibiker | 09.17.2008 | 10:52 pm

    Stupidbike, don’t underestimate Brad. He has plenty of duct tape and markers to write “Beat Bob….AND Kenny” on his jersey. You know how that worked for him last year. You guys are toast.

    Dug, I wondered where Zeppelin was too.

    Rick (not your real name) I agree that there should be a “married with full time job and kids” category.

  57. Comment by tibiker | 09.17.2008 | 10:54 pm

    Seriously, does anyone know if they’re going to require the racers to apply for upgrades like they do in road racing? (Yeah I’m embarrassed that I know that) Because this is going to give the sandbaggers even more reason not to move up.

  58. Comment by Bike Rider Guy | 09.17.2008 | 11:00 pm

    I’m sort of following on from Bob’s comment. I was thinking more the lines of movie characters.

    Cat 3 – Batman: Doesn’t have the powers of a superhero. Doe’s have the income/assets to behave like one.

    Cat 2 – Superman: Can do it all, but has one fatal weakness that his enemies will use against him.

    Cat 1 – Terminator: All business, will not stop. Ever.

    Pro – Predator: The ultimate, you didn’t even see them go past you. Immune to pain. If you meet one it’s too late for you…

  59. Comment by Duane | 09.17.2008 | 11:24 pm

    I would rate them by why you crash:

    Pro would be: I don’t Crash.

    Beginner: I closed my eyes and didn’t see the tree.

    The rest would fall someplace in the middle.

  60. Comment by eliel | 09.18.2008 | 1:20 am

    Bryan and Onan the barbarian:
    In the Philippines, the “Clydesdale” category is called “Fat boy”

  61. Comment by Fat Guy | 09.18.2008 | 3:32 am

    Just have it classified by length, then if somebody wants to sandbag the 1 hr race, go for it. Once you have been on the podium 3 times, no more podiums in that class and you get scored as ‘bagger’.

    short – 1 hr
    medium – 2 hr
    long – 3 hr

  62. Comment by pammap | 09.18.2008 | 4:45 am

    Ok, be nice as I come out of the closet but I’m a USAC (road) official, my sons are roadies. My understanding from a higher-ranking official is that, eventually, NORBA is “going away”. My guess is that they have changed the categories to a roadie format so that the road officials can get their brain around mtn bike racing.

    As a group I find them pretty inflexible – myself excluded, of course, :) but there may be a shortage of mtn officials and the road officials probably complained about having to deal with different category names or some such nonsense. Someone pinned this change to the “suits”, my guess would be, it’s the “blue shirts” behind this move. IMHO :)

  63. Comment by Di | 09.18.2008 | 5:25 am

    Bob – please, replace the Stones with Led Zeppelin. It’s really a no brainer. ;-)


    Fatty, this is a rather disappointing topic. Pammap – thank you for clarifying. The categories aren’t rocket science, so maybe they should give a little IQ test to USAC officials. They sound lucky to have you.

    To be honest, I am less than impressed with USAC. The cool thing about MTB racing, is that most races are NOT USAC affiliated, and they’re a great environment for new racers. I started in Sport, and I hope to move up to Expert sometime. However, Cat 1 just seems so unreachable.

    I found that I really like road racing, but I don’t do it because of the licensing situation. It’s complicated for racers who aren’t in the know. It’s also BS paying for a license for most racers – and licenses aren’t cheap. It’s also elitist. What I love about MTBing is the lack of elitism, at least in my area. It’s all about fun and I can race whatever category/distance I want.

    A friend of mine started racing Expert, this year. We went to one race – ONE race – that required licensing for that category. He sandbagged and raced sport because he couldn’t justify paying for a license for one race, and a one-day license wasn’t an option.

    Having a citizen class also creates a perfect sandbagging situation. It most certainly is not the slowest category. It’s just the “I don’t want to pay for a license” category.

    MOST Upper Peninsula races (Michigan) don’t go by class. They go by age, sex, and distance. It’s a straight forward system that isn’t overwhelming to most racers. Beer usually follows. :-D

    Fatty, I think you struck a nerve. ;-)

  64. Comment by Mike Roadie | 09.18.2008 | 5:29 am

    I think Maddy’s “blog-related” categories are best!

    What comes after Butterfly……Windshield Paint????


    Happy Birthday, Lance!!!!!

  65. Comment by hades | 09.18.2008 | 7:11 am

    > Comment by dug | 09.17.2008 | 9:31 am

    > bob, please explain the absence of led zeppelin
    > from your list of 70s music.

    and Black Sabbath!

    oh, oh, and Jimi Hendrix

    and… well really a bunch of bands that are not Van Halen or Aerosmith (who are plenty fine, just not worthy of a race category).

  66. Comment by ScotsMark | 09.18.2008 | 10:35 am

    Bob et all. I am horrified that there is no mention of the punk revolution in there either!

    I feel that the 70’s were perhaps a bit too diverse for such a small number of categories.

    How about 80’s

    Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

    Everybody else.

  67. Comment by ScotsMark | 09.18.2008 | 10:37 am

    Stock, Aitken and Waterman being the non desirable section obviously ;)

  68. Comment by El Animal | 09.18.2008 | 10:53 am

    Bob Styx vs Supertramp? Now I’m offended.

  69. Comment by System6 | 09.18.2008 | 6:23 pm

    As a roadie (I’ll try not to sound condescending, but it will be hard), I have to say that the number system doesn’t work so badly…you just need more of them.

    We start at 5, and theoretically work our way up to 1. Some of us do not actually do this. We may not live in the prettiest neighborhood, but it’s home, you know?

    But the point is that telling non-cyclists you race Category 5 tends to leave the impression that you’ve already graduated FOUR TIMES!

    We Cat 5ers do not do so well at dispelling these impressions. Maybe because we don’t try to. Or maybe because our heads are nodding violently up and down when we’re asked if this is how it works.

  70. Comment by Dobovedo | 09.18.2008 | 9:38 pm

    I think it should be classified purely by helmet color.

    70’s Music: Are those in the Aerosmith (aka Toxic Twins) category automatically disqualified for doping? +1 on the Zepplin votes, though I’d probably fit in better with Sabbath.

  71. Comment by FL Racer | 09.19.2008 | 7:41 am

    Categories shmategories….
    LONG live grass roots racing!!

    Fun Class
    Serious class

    I thought we all race and ride to escape from “The man”.

  72. Comment by sthrnfat | 09.25.2008 | 5:20 am

    Regardless of what you call them that’s too few classes. What about Cat 4 or 5? True beginner racers are going to be thrown in with folks that have been racing both ‘beginner’ and ’sport’ and will be discouraged from coming back out. They’ll be blown away by the ’sport’ class Cat 3s and will drop racing all together.

    Doesn’t sound like a good way to grow the sport to me.

  73. Comment by Chabrell Igan | 04.15.2009 | 10:24 am

    God dag! Kan jag ladda ner en bild fran din blogg. Av sak med hanvisning till din webbplats!


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