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  1. #1
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    Sterling-3/4 Masters start

    The 3/4 Masters Race was started 30" behind the Cat. 4 race. We were up to the tail end of their field in 1/2 or 2/3? of a lap. A big mess of two fields ensued.

    How fair is this to either field? In a NECCS race! I think both races were falsified to a certain extent.

    It seems like a 2 or 3 min delay between starts would have gone a long way towards eliminating such a mess; at least it would have delayed field overlap until the latter part of the race when things had been mostly sorted out.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    I think it was a cluster F. This has been discussed adnauseam on another board. There are many options to fix this. A bigger gap between fields would be nice but still, the 3/4s are now in general faster as a whole than the 4s. It would make more sense if they are going to send us all off in one race to just put us all in together, do call ups for the top 20 guys in both the 4s and 3/4s and let us race.
    The biggest problem with sending us (3/4s) into the 4s ala Braveheart is not the traffic but that the 4s do not have the experience or skills to deal with one a technical course and two how to race in a group. They create chaos and confusion and numerous crashes. Now in their defense the 4s are supposed to be a beginner class which it is not. Eventually this will sort itself out. But it made for a crazy race to say the least. Sterling rocks though. And we (3/4s) crashed a lot as well purely due to the frozen ground and technical nature of the course.

  3. #3
    raging results nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by peaks67
    The 3/4 Masters Race was started 30" behind the Cat. 4 race. We were up to the tail end of their field in 1/2 or 2/3? of a lap. A big mess of two fields ensued.

    How fair is this to either field? In a NECCS race! I think both races were falsified to a certain extent.

    It seems like a 2 or 3 min delay between starts would have gone a long way towards eliminating such a mess; at least it would have delayed field overlap until the latter part of the race when things had been mostly sorted out.

    What do you think?
    [flamesuit on]
    I think the Masters 3/4 race should be cut from Verge when the days get short. You can only run so many races in the daylight available, something has got to give. If you have to pick between Cat 4 men and 3/4 Masters, you have to compromise the masters -- Cat 4 men have no other race they can ride. 3/4 Masters have either one or two other choices depending on their category.
    [/flamesuit off]

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by velocb
    I think it was a cluster F. This has been discussed adnauseam on another board. There are many options to fix this. A bigger gap between fields would be nice but still, the 3/4s are now in general faster as a whole than the 4s. It would make more sense if they are going to send us all off in one race to just put us all in together, do call ups for the top 20 guys in both the 4s and 3/4s and let us race.
    The biggest problem with sending us (3/4s) into the 4s ala Braveheart is not the traffic but that the 4s do not have the experience or skills to deal with one a technical course and two how to race in a group. They create chaos and confusion and numerous crashes. Now in their defense the 4s are supposed to be a beginner class which it is not. Eventually this will sort itself out. But it made for a crazy race to say the least. Sterling rocks though. And we (3/4s) crashed a lot as well purely due to the frozen ground and technical nature of the course.
    I'm going to have to kind of agree with Colinr. Master 3/4's can race in the masters race or the category 4 race or the category 3/4 race or even the 1/2/3 race.

    Why not just race the masters all together and then score the 4's seperate. Honestly if you're a 3 master you should probably be racing the standard masters race anyways. If you're a category 4 master, then just race the 4's.

  5. #5
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    To peaks67 and velocb:
    How big of a time gap do you use at the race YOU put on?
    Bueller? Bueller?

  6. #6
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    It always gets personal doesn't it....so be it. I was not complaining about your race merely relaying information about the race from my perspective that another racer solicited in this forum. And to assume I have never put on or been part of a team that promotes or organizes events is fairly ignorant. I get that you worked the race and any criticism feels personal.

    There are lots of solutions to the above whether you as a promoter/club feel it necessary to do anything about is up to you. Look at Oregon to see an example of why a 3/4 race or more cats are a good thing. 1,000 racers at a one-day race speaks volumes.

    I personally Love, love, love Sterling. I have thick skin. Don't care about the politics of the cats, etc. In the end money talks. If you as a promoter want to run things a certain way go for it. If the consumer decides the product or customer service is not to there liking they will go elsewhere. I would highly recommend listening to your costumer and leaving the personal attacks and callouts out of it.

  7. #7
    raging results nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor
    To peaks67 and velocb:
    How big of a time gap do you use at the race YOU put on?
    Bueller? Bueller?
    To presume that one must promote a race in order to critique one is ridiculous.

    The Cat 4 + 3/4 Masters situation IS a cluster these days, both promoters and racers should know that. A discussion about how to solve this problem is completely reasonable. Just because Sterling was the latest manifestation of the issue doesn't mean that people are calling for the Sterling promoter's head.

  8. #8
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    From an outsiders perspective...what time is the first race scheduled?

    Here in CO, we start races at 9.00am and the last race starts at 3pm.....Here is a list of the cats and times:

    JR's 8-18 at 9.00
    Masters 45, 55, 65 at 9.40
    Senior Men (SM) 35+ Cat 4's at 10.35
    SM 35+ Open at 11.30
    SM 4 at 12.25
    SM 3 at 1.20
    Senior Women Open at 2.15
    Senior Women 35+ at 2.16
    SM Open at 3.10

    Now the downside to this is that the next category racing is out on the course warming up while your race is going on...and this has been a big problem this year..but that is for another post.
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  9. #9
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    Velo....I don't take it personally...neither should you.
    I simply asked what you and the other guy have done to solve the problem in a race.

    And colinr...I have to disagree with you. I think everyone should be REQUIRED to work at 1 race during the season. That is done in off-road motorcycle racing. It gets more help at events....and lets the racers see what really goes on behind the scenes at events.It is a win-win.

    And I have to thank onrohdes and colinr for the suggestions about taking the 3's out of the 3/4 masters, or dumping the class after the clock change.

    I agree that the split start is a problem. I did a few of the 3/4 masters a few years back when I was sick. I would rather be last in the 123 race than the mayhem of running into the back of the 4's. I'm sure the fast 4's said the same thing when the 3/4 masters started first. and the fast 55+ guys have to deal with all of it.


    But....here is the deal. The officials usually make the call on the split start times. If they start with a bigger split, a bunch of people get lapped and pulled.Either way, there is a problem. They are having the same problems with growing fields in the Northwest. It has become a huge problem at Masters Worlds and they now have seperate races for the bigger fields. Some Verge races get well over 200 masters combined (35+ and 45+....3/4 and 123)easily making it the largest growing class. It's a problem...but growth can be a good problem to have. And after the clock change...and add possible winter storms....there is not enough time to add another start.
    Last edited by the mayor; 11-26-2007 at 12:01 PM.

  10. #10
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    Up over 160 racers

    in the M30-39 class at nationals. I mean, even at Gloucester, that is a ridiculous amount of people. But it shows the popularity in that class. I for one have less then zero interest to race crits, as the thought crossed my mind this fall as a way to boost my power for cross. Then I realized I have not done a crit since HIGH SCHOOL and have no interest in getting smeared across the pavement. So, cross is very attractive to the masters set.

    Seems like we had a surge in that area this year in NE as well, or maybe it was the shift from A/B/C to the cat system. At any rate, we now seem to have TWO "C" fields as opposed to one last year. That is, very large lower cat. races.

    Is that a market response to the intro of what was a very nice Masters 3/4 race in addition to the always full Cat 4 race? I think perhaps this is the case. Especially when it was the 10 AM race. I would be curious how the total numbers by event compared this year to last year, and by category, so see if lots of pack fill Masters 123's dropped down to Masters 3/4.

    I am beginning to think the answer may be to have a Cat 4 and a Masters 4, and make the Masters 3's race in the M123 or the B/2/3 race. Basically look at the numbers in each field and shift riders into start times with some more capacity. Do this by enforcement of the category system, etc.

    Hey, maybe make the Masters Cat 1's race the elite men but score them separately. That is, get some of the top guys outa there to make room for some threes? Do cat 4, M4, Cat 2/3, Masters 2/3, and then P1/2, M1/2 and combine them if the fields are small.

    There also seems to have been a lull or larger time gap after the 11/12 races until the P123 races in later afternoon. Cant we squeeze in one more field if we tightened that up a bit as suggested by the fellow from CO?

    Just a thought. Its very possible there is no good answer.

  11. #11
    raging results nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerry_in_VT
    There also seems to have been a lull or larger time gap after the 11/12 races until the P123 races in later afternoon.
    Usually the kids race is run in this gap, although it existed at Sterling when there was no kids race (at least not that I saw). Perhaps it's a UCI-related decision?

    It does seem like the half hour from 1-1:30 between B men and UCI Women could be utilized somehow. But running at race at 1pm -- with women at 2 and men at 3 -- means the men are finishing in near darkness, especially for the december races. Probably not what you want for your marquee event.

  12. #12
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    colinr....yes, it's a UCI thing. the course has to be open to inspection for X amount of time.
    And jerry-vt....the master can't race with the elites at UCI events....although that's how it was back in the mid 90's here in NE.

    there has been unofficial talk/rumors/suggestions for next year:
    4 race and pick masters out in post scoring

    start things at 8am for 4's, then have a 35+ race, then a 45/55 race,then junior/women4, 3/4,elite women,elite men( although there's grumbling about too many races per day per UCI rules

    kill off some of the old guys to make thing managable( I'm sure someone will put a target on me to go first)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor
    colinr....yes, it's a UCI thing. the course has to be open to inspection for X amount of time.
    And jerry-vt....the master can't race with the elites at UCI events....although that's how it was back in the mid 90's here in NE.
    Thank God we don't run but two UCI races out here in OBRA-land. For the non-UCI races, we manage to accommodate 800 or so racers spread across 16 categories and 6 races. Everyone gets scored. Few get their undies in a bunch.
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  14. #14
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    Fields in CX Races

    Disclaimer: I was not at the latest rendition of the Sterling race, but have been there before and also run and officiate cross races in New England.

    History Lesson: Many moons ago, when I raced, there were basically 5 fields for the grown ups: A Men, A women, B Women, Masters 35+, and Killer B. My first race at Gloucester (around 1999 ish) there were 70 men in the Cat 35+ race. This was the biggest field of the season for the Masters and included 35+, 45+, 55+ and did not differentiate between Cat 1 or beginner Masters. There were no other Masters fields. The Killer B's had slightly less and the Beginners about the same.

    Fast forward a few years later and the fields for the Masters was now hovering around 125, again this included everyone as there were no other Masters fields. Still had Killer B's and beginner races. At Northampton/Worcester race for the homeless that Adam Meyerson runs, the problems for the Masters started. Because of the field size and the circuit length over half of the field was pulled in the first 20 minutes. People were pissed and complained so a second Masters field was created which they called Masters B. Roughly 30 to 40 Masters converted to the B Masters and the B Masters were run with the Beginner Men, Women and the race time was lengthend to 40 minutes instead of 30.

    Fast Forward to the last two years were the Masters B, Beginner Men and Women Fields are now in the 150 ish range; thanks to the booming popularity of the sport. Sure they get separate starts, but are on the course at the same time. This makes scoring hard for the officials. Now that the Cats are used, the Cat 4 beginner Men almost close out fields by themselves when the field limit is 100 even though there is often a 3/4 Mens field. This happened at out race where we had Cat 4 Men/Cat 4 Women, and Cub Jrs. in one field.

    Having more fields could be the answer, but as someone pointed out, daylight in the latter season races becomes somewhat problematic so that could be an issue if you choose to end later, start early or both. Some folks may not realize that making a course requires extensive set-up time and tear down time and for some locations, this means day of the race only. Even with an army of folks, set-up will take 3 to 4 h and tear down 2 h. So if you wanted to start at say 8:30 AM, you would need to have everything done at 7:30 AM, which means course set-up in the dark starting around 3 AM.

    I think next year, and it has already started this year, is that the Mens (Beginner) 4 will be a separate field and the Beginner Women and Cub Jrs will be a separate field. As far as the Masters, they may have to go back to just one field and limit the size, just like in road racing. Masters have a category with their license, so if they get bumped from the Masters race, they have other options. Scoring the 35+, 45+, and 55+ rides would be picked from the big masters field.

    I am not sure what the answers are, but I know that these topics will be brought up at the NE-BRA, USCF, and other race org meetings over the winter.

    Doc

  15. #15
    raging results nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gripped
    Thank God we don't run but two UCI races out here in OBRA-land. For the non-UCI races, we manage to accommodate 800 or so racers spread across 16 categories and 6 races. Everyone gets scored. Few get their undies in a bunch.
    How long are laps out there? It seems like the Verge UCI races have the elite men riding a sub-six minute lap (seems like they usually ride 11 or 12 laps in an hour).

    Wouldn't longer courses help alleviate some of these problems? Adding a minute to the lap length -- well then you could start 3/4 masters 60 seconds (instead of 30) back and still have an extra 30 second cushion to reduce the number of lapped riders. Or make it a 90 second head start and you'd still have the same number of lapped riders, with much less early traffic for the 3/4 masters.

    And if that meant B men only rode 5/6 laps instead of 7/8... you wouldn't hear me complaining, that's for sure

    Let me guess -- UCI rules restrict lap length too?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by colinr
    Let me guess -- UCI rules restrict lap length too?
    No....but finding a location where you can have laps that long is tough....at Sterling there were a lot of off limits areas.You would end up with a lot of flat riding. You also then need that much more tape and set up time. I like long laps, like Mansfield Hollow...but a lot of people complain about them.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by colinr
    How long are laps out there? It seems like the Verge UCI races have the elite men riding a sub-six minute lap (seems like they usually ride 11 or 12 laps in an hour).
    Laps were all over the place though the 7 minute range is the desired length (for the As).

    I might add that the Cross Crusade didn't enforce any field limits. At the kick-off race at Alpenrose Dairy, the C/35+C race had almost 250 total racers on the course at once. Everyone got scored.

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  18. #18
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    Lap Times

    Quote Originally Posted by colinr
    How long are laps out there? It seems like the Verge UCI races have the elite men riding a sub-six minute lap (seems like they usually ride 11 or 12 laps in an hour).

    Wouldn't longer courses help alleviate some of these problems? Adding a minute to the lap length -- well then you could start 3/4 masters 60 seconds (instead of 30) back and still have an extra 30 second cushion to reduce the number of lapped riders. Or make it a 90 second head start and you'd still have the same number of lapped riders, with much less early traffic for the 3/4 masters.

    I think the general rule of thumb that I have heard with other NE course designers is that the target course length is the length is takes the Pro/Cat 1 guys to do it in about 6 minutes or 10 laps in an hour race. For fast courses, the length of the course is longer than say for slower, more technical courses. All bets are off if it rains.

    Yes, longer courses would help alleviate some of the problem, but there are issues with doing so.

    Simply "making" the course longer isn't always easy. Sometimes there just isn't enough terrain to make super long loops. We ran into that problem this year at the BRC/LandRover race. Because of the newly reseeded areas, we couldn't use them as we did last year. We also didn't want to use the ball field area inside the cider track as it is a city park and the baseball teams play on it. If it would have rained, that area would have been trashed and not recovered in time for baseball and spring soccer. Yeah, we could have made people run up and down the hill that separates the upper and lower sections of the course a few more times, but that just isn't in the spirit of cross or part of a well designed course.

    Also, there are certain locations that are more public sensitive than others, either within an race venue or the race venue itself, so any damage is a killer the bike club/property owner relationship. I don't know how many of you remember back to the BRC's first cross at Beaver Brook Reservation in Waltham/Belmont. It is a MDC park that is heavily used by dog walkers and a great course for cross. The minute that we posted signs alerting the folks to a bike race in a few days, the park super was besieged with calls trying to get us banned. To further kill any chance of coming back, it poured rain and the whole park was a river of mud. I busted my ass for two full weekends, raking, smoothing, and reseeding. The park came back beautifully and we met with the park super in the early spring to make sure that he was okay with the repairs. We already were smart enough not to ask for next year as we knew the answer. He was very pleased with the way the course came back, but nicely suggested we look elsewhere for our next race.

    We'd all like to be blessed with the almost unlimited terrain of Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, but even their long laps don't keep people from getting lapped.

    Doc

  19. #19
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    Seems to me the best way to fit more people into limited daylight and limited course length would be to get more people into the Elite races. Sterling had just 37 elite male and 19 elite female starters. When you factor in the mandatory course inspection window, you've used nearly 3 hours of daylight for just 56 racers.

    Why not drop the UCI status so people don't need another license to race the Elites, then encourage the sandbagging 2's and A Masters to race the Elite race, encourage the sandbagging 4s and B Masters to ride the B race, thus making room for the genuine 4s and slow Masters at 9am?

    OR, redistribute racers from the Verge series to some of the undersubscribed local races. But that's a topic for another thread altogether . . .

  20. #20
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    velo1976....you don't even want to get me started on that. but let's just say I agree with you.
    BUT you can't send the non UCI classes away because they are what pays the overhead(UCI permit, officials,pay-out...the list goes on).

    But...here's the big question: why is it that everyone, except the pros, comes out of the woodwork for the Verge Series? All of the non UCI catagories are packed.

    Back in the mid to late 90's cross boom......all the fields were loaded every weekend at just about every race. Now I see a lot of small fields with the exception of a few local races and the Verge seires.

    Thoughts?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor
    velo1976....you don't even want to get me started on that. but let's just say I agree with you.
    BUT you can't send the non UCI classes away because they are what pays the overhead(UCI permit, officials,pay-out...the list goes on).

    But...here's the big question: why is it that everyone, except the pros, comes out of the woodwork for the Verge Series? All of the non UCI catagories are packed.

    Back in the mid to late 90's cross boom......all the fields were loaded every weekend at just about every race. Now I see a lot of small fields with the exception of a few local races and the Verge seires.

    Thoughts?
    Same thing happens out here in CO for our pair of UCI races. the 3s race is packed with guys that never race the rest of the season. and with a few 2's that dust off the old liscense. It's just the desire to race when the big boys come to town.

    now that the dust has setteled from all that, we're back to about 40 starters rather then the 100 person fields.

  22. #22
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    Doesn't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by velo1976
    Seems to me the best way to fit more people into limited daylight and limited course length would be to get more people into the Elite races. Sterling had just 37 elite male and 19 elite female starters. When you factor in the mandatory course inspection window, you've used nearly 3 hours of daylight for just 56 racers.

    Why not drop the UCI status so people don't need another license to race the Elites, then encourage the sandbagging 2's and A Masters to race the Elite race, encourage the sandbagging 4s and B Masters to ride the B race, thus making room for the genuine 4s and slow Masters at 9am?

    OR, redistribute racers from the Verge series to some of the undersubscribed local races. But that's a topic for another thread altogether . . .
    Our race is a local race with non-UCI status. Still, the elite men were something like 16 and the elite women similar. Granted, the USGP in Tenton was the same weekend this year, but even last year, with no other competition we only had a about 23 in each race.

    The total number of riders for the beginner and masters fields was almost 170 out of the 246 that either pre-regged or signed up on race day.

    I don't know why anyone sandbags the beginner or Cat 4 races. Most CX races around here just give out swag to the winners. If they are looking for upgrade points, fine, but for prizes, absolutely dumb. Typically, only the Masters and Elite races actually have cash payouts.

    Doc

  23. #23
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    If there are that few A racers, could you run a 2 or 2/3 race simultaneously and score them separately? I think the 2/3s would dig it. The pros are skilled enough to lap us without incident. Powers rode up that freaking run-up at Sterling, I think he can find a line around me on lap 5. Or lap 2, or whatever . .

    Or race the 2/3s with the Women A's . . . Lyne and Georgia have proven this season that the fields are pretty comparable.

    Granted the UCI wouldn't allow it, which gets back to the idea of ditching the UCI. What's the benefit of going UCI? To the typical cat 4 or masters racer who, i assume, are providing most of the race revenue?

  24. #24
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    I don't get the Verge phenomenon either. They're great courses, well run, predictable, but so are many of the other local races.

    A couple thoughts to balance attendence across the races:
    - move the collegiate series to non-Verge races. It'd boost their attendence, relieve congestion at the Verge races, and make the collegiate racing more legitimate since registration order and obstacle riders wouldn't be as much of a factor. I should email Mark V directly on this.
    - People love the idea of a series, whether they're in the running or not. The NE-BRA series seems to have fallen on hard times, but perhaps another could be created. Back in 2003 I think there was a Massachusetts series combining Canton, Plymouth, and the Falmouth races, but I think that died out too.
    - Wait for gas to hit $4/gallon to discourage people from driving to MAC races on non-Verge weekends?

  25. #25
    raging results nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Hollywood

    I don't know why anyone sandbags the beginner or Cat 4 races. Most CX races around here just give out swag to the winners. If they are looking for upgrade points, fine, but for prizes, absolutely dumb. Typically, only the Masters and Elite races actually have cash payouts.

    Doc
    A disturbing number of 3/4 races are paying cash this year. I think it's really stupid. I've gotten paid three times now, I don't think 3/4s should see money unless every single 1/2/3 race is getting paid.

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