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Thread: Chelmer Road Race, 07 April 2013

  1. #31
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    This will sound harsh but someone has to say it. When you gain a 1st cat status then you have to expect to train more/harder/better, probably all three, in order to get by at that level. One is not a 1st cat. rider because one can gather 100 points in a season. Every sport has a divisional system and there are always clear boundaries between the abilities of regular competitors at the various levels. That is the very reason for having classification system based on abilities: Creating harder competitions to create better sports performances i.e. to raise the top/elite level.

    So if you get promoted to 1st cat do not expect to get away with the usual training regardless of how successful you have been with it in the lower categories. From what has been said above, there is no comparison. So don't come limping home crying in your mother's skirt complaining that the others are too good or have to many sponsors etc. Admit instead that your training was insufficient. Harsh, I know but as Gray said, that level is for aspiring young ones with team back up and time to spend on cycling and not rearing their own children. It is not even unfair, it's just how it is.

    You have now learned your lesson and in the future you will stay away from the coveted 1st cat promotion in the same way as a number of other very good riders have been doing for years because they know precisely how much is required to compete one level up from category 2. You may even know who they are so speak to them about it.

    I think the BC system of mixing rider categories may have some blame in this 'misunderstanding' about one's own abilities. In my country, Denmark for those who didn't know, categories are not mixed so any rider who gets promoted automatically expects the worst and up his/her training accordingly. Here, a Reg A race has only 45-70% 2nd cats with the rest being from lower categories. Invariably, this makes it a little easier for top riders to gain points because competition is less stiff than when everyone is a 2nd cat rider. Also, you may have ridden a few National A or B events and have been able to cross the line with bunch and justifiably felt very good about that. However, we all know that being able to sit in is miles away from staying in a break or trying to close one down or having the extra it takes for a sprint finish.

    To me the only gripes one can have about the points system is when one is relegated with no or too few points for race selection the next season. And even that could be avoided, of course, if one had optimised one's training in correct anticipation of how tough the upper echelons in cycling actually are. Had that anticipation been there, you would have been able to score enough point in National events to give yourself a fair chance of race selection after having been relegated. I would argue that a 2nd cat rider who gains a 1st cat status but cannot manage to score any points at that level is really a 2nd cat rider albeit a very good one.

    As you have probably guessed, I will oppose any changes to the existing ERRL rules concerning rider selection criteria which is based on rider category, even the weighting of points. As organisers we have plenty to do and no real time left for finding out which kind of events that a rider scored his points in. The closest I could get was to weigh this seasons points higher than last year's because that might get a slightly stronger field but would that be fair to those who don't want to start racing in February or March because of adverse and very cold weather conditions?

    I say leave the rule as it is. At least, this discussion may have brought it's perceived limitations to the attention of a lot of other ERRL riders.

  2. #32
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    Interesting ...

    May i put forward an example ...

    Rider 1. an elite rider who has ridden international events and premier calendar events and finished every race just outside the points butdoes manage to score on point only scrores 1 point in the season. Therefore, becomes a 1st cat for the next season. Does this mean the rider should be 4th cat as they only scored 1 point I think not. I would suggest this rider would probably be one of if not the best rider in the ERRL?!

    Rider 2. a 4th cat in their first season. They ride a few 4 and 34 winter series circuit races but manage to get some points since the field is so small that whoever finishes is guaranteed points. This rider manages to get enough points to become a 3rd cat.

    It comes to the first E123 road race of the year. This is rider 1s first race of the year and rider 2s first road race of the ever! However, Rider 2 would have priority to enter this event since they have more points. I would dare say Lance Armstrong (drugs or no drugs!) who has BC points would quite happily kick the sh!t out of any E123 field the ERRL could offer!

    As previously mentioned the jump from 2nd to 1st is quite significant.

    RostRider, yes I was a 1st cat last year and didn't get many points for many reasons. If I stopped racing just before gaining my 1st cat license I would have stayed a 2nd cat with 150 odd points and would have probably got into every 234 and E123 I entered and would have no doubt gained over 100 points like I have done for the 4-5 years. My training, etc has changed little over the last few years but the main reason I did not get enough points to remain a 1st cat is simply that there was a less E123 road races and with increasing entry fees I was not prepared to drive hours to race.

    "the higher category rider will score more points by getting the same placing as the lower category rider and hence he will be selected for the next race instead of the 3rd cat rider. Therefore rider category is irrelevant."

    This argument is flawed. The average 3rd will never score points in a E123 event where if you put an average Elite in a 34 race they will simply ride off an win! Also since 'a rider is only as good as their last race', my last race was the top 20 at the crest road races so I can be pretty certain that my result was higher than the last race of the rider in your event!!

    Since it is impossible to gain any points if you can't even make the start sheet I look forward to being a 3rd cat next season ... Apparently if I get a top ten in a 34 its as good as getting a top 10 in Premier :-)

  3. #33

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    I sympathise with riders like Steve as the race category system now makes it very hard for riders moving from 2nd to 1st.
    When you go from 3rd to 2nd you're confronted with riders one category above what you're used to, and in all probability the rider will have done many 2/3s anyway. Going from 2nd to 1st you confront 1sts and Elites. The more-or-less refusal of BC to countenance 1/2/3 races makes the jump too hard. Combined with the very low number of E/1/2 races you're obliged to ride with World champions in every race!

    No doubt this suits BC as it's not too concerned about developing riders progressively in domestic races. Their talent-spotting system works, but it's left behind a domestic calendar that caters reasonably well for 3rds and 4ths, increasingly in circuit races, and for domestic sponsored Elites, who would have been domestic pros 20 years ago.

    Riders in between have some tough choices to make about lifestyle and sacrifices, choices that decent 1st cats certainly didn't need to make 20 years ago. For the 10 years I was a 1st and eventually an Elite, in the late 80s - mid 90s, I could ride 50 road races a year, most within 100 miles of home, and be fairly confident of a couple of wins and enough points each year. There were pros and internationals about of course, but spread over the 6+ races they could ride each weekend. Now there's typically only 1 or 2 races a weekend for Elites (if any!) each race resembles a Premier. If you're good enough to compete with full-time pros and work then you probably should have been a pro. Riders like Steve (and the likes of me 20 years ago) are left in the cold.
    Rich. Putting the lard into bollard

  4. #34
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    Steve's example of an Elite rider dropping to 1st cat without any points scored in a season is a good one because it may be the worst situation for a rider. In terms of races, being Elite or 1st cat matters little as they race against each other in both Nat A and Nat B races, so a 1st cat rider does not have any lower category races to look to to get in a race. With few top category races around he will struggle to get in a race as most of his equals probably got a few points. That is tough and very unlucky. True, a freshly minted 3rd cat rider could/should be selected over him in a Nat B race which does seem unfair even to me. I'd agree that in this case the points system would not select the strongest field possible.

    A question: When there are so few National races about including Nat B races how come 3rd cat riders manage to get into these races? Why are they not squeezed out by E/1 riders eager to get enough races under their belt? I have only ridden a handful of these events and each time I have been surprised by how few 1st cat riders had entered. I assumed that there just aren't many of them. Perhaps I was wrong?

    Rich's comment about BC being "not too concerned about developing riders progressively in domestic races. Their talent-spotting system works[..]" I find sadly true. I have had no access to the political manipulations that preceded Sport England's decision in a not too distant past to suddenly endow the BCF with a handsome dole of cash to develop a sport that had been allowed to languish for too long. If BC had been allocated money on the same conditions that apply these days (Olympic and World championship medals etc.) the organisation would have left the negotiations with barely a fraction of what it actually got. Someone high up had decided to kick-start the sport.

    That could best be done by developing a talent-spotting system rather than wait for talent to come through clubs that were perhaps poorly equipped coaching wise to bring that talent to maturity. So they bypassed the traditional system, a system that many other countries still rely almost entirely on mainly because it is economical to run. The results of mixing the best talent with the best coaches without wasting time by relying on club coaching has had spectacular results. Britain is a now a world leader in cycling and not just in track cycling which started the whole thing. A story of ashes to riches played out over a decade or less. Chapeau to BC and a lesson in how much money can buy.

    The downside of this great talent system is, as Rich points out, that BC is not very keen on developing talent outside that it has already selected. It would be more risky, we might not win so many medals at the next major international event, consequently the funding would start to wane and downward spiral would be created. This will not do for an organisation that owes all its success to modern business principles about targeting specific goals.

    I fear that in BC's hunt for international stardom it has forgot the true spirit of any sport: To provide a facility for anyone keen on the sport to get involved, trying it out, basically run the sport for the sake of its grass roots and let talent develop naturally from that broader base. To my mind sport is about inclusion and not the exclusion that follows from focusing on talent only. We want to involve people not encourage them to become couch potatoes watching sport on the telly so they can follow the careers of their 'heroes'. I get riled when thinking about our government's constant hyperbole about 'inspiring' the young people of today so I shall quickly move on.

    It is striking how much success Britain has had the last few years in road cycling and how very little BC has done to improve the conditions of road racing. This I would expect to be its ultimate aim considering how few cycling tracks the UK has compared to its 244,109 miles of public road (and that excludes motorways). So much space and so few rights to members for the public who wishes to use the roads for something which is fun and harmless to others. Apart from a Facebook campaign to support road racing what has the organisation actually accomplished? Anything good to support cycling these days seems to come from CTC while BC is keeping a cowardly low profile. Perhaps it is afraid of biting the hand that feeds it?

    For starters it could demand that there is rolling race course between Lead Car 1 and the vehicle of the Chief Commissaire. Within that stretch of road only competitors and other motor convoy vehicles should be allowed. Secondly, a road race should have priority over all other motor vehicles apart from emergency vehicles thus forcing other road users to pass or overtake the race with much greater care than some care to do. It is not necessary to ask for complete road closure continental style.

    We actually pay for the little service we get from BC: From each road racer's entry fee something like £4.20 is paid directly to BC. The fee may vary between regions. It is payable for any rider on the start sheet whether they choose to ride or not. On top of that we each pay a £32 membership fee and another £38 for a silver race license. BC has more than 40,000 members.

    Personally, I think that those who join BC without wanting to race are doing themselves a disfavour. Their money would be better spent with CTC who actually cares for cycling a grass root level and stands up for its members and their concerns.

    BC may think it has finally arrived. In my view it is only half way there.
    Last edited by RostRider; 22-04-2013 at 12:13 PM.

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  6. #36
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    I hope this isn't too much of a threadjack, but the post has gone this way already. I would be interested to know other people's veiws on British Cycliing throwing their hat into the ring for promoting cycle safety. Aren't they the governing body of the sport?

    I personally would prefer if BC spent more time promoting cycle sport, and improving the lot for those organising races. Dealing with the poor image we have with local village hall types who don't want races. Dealing with police issues etc. CTC andorganisations like London cycle campaign have a good enough (if not better) profile on safety issues.

    I hear restructures (redundancies and job changes) are afoot at BC, to cater for this new safety angle

  7. #37
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    Returning to the initial subject at hand, it seems that it is mainly 1st cat riders that are being squeezed because they are regularly up against part/full time pros. Would it, therefore, be worth lobbying BC to allow us to run 1st cat races only without any other categories included?

    Apart from the technical rgulations requirement of having a mix of categories it could be run as a Nat B or a Nat A race. It may be less daunting to organise than one including pro riders/teams so we could end up having more races in the calendar and it would give 1st cat riders a better chance of gaining some crucial points.

    I completely agree with willmcf: It would be very good to have some more opinions about BC and their work on promoting safe cycle racing on public roads. Perhaps worth a new forum thread?

    As event organiser it is a subject close to my heart. If I had been the organiser of the race where a young lad got killed a few weeks ago, I doubt I would ever organise another race. When you organise a race rather than ride it, your pespective changes and it becomes all about safety: potholes, marshals, frosty roads, friendly village halls etc. The race becomes yours and you feel utterly responsible for the riders' safety so when something like that happens it must be hard on the person who organised the event. It would be good to hear what others think about how situations like that might be avoided in the future.
    Last edited by RostRider; 22-04-2013 at 12:39 PM.

  8. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by willmcf View Post
    I hope this isn't too much of a threadjack, but the post has gone this way already. I would be interested to know other people's veiws on British Cycliing throwing their hat into the ring for promoting cycle safety. Aren't they the governing body of the sport?

    I personally would prefer if BC spent more time promoting cycle sport, and improving the lot for those organising races. Dealing with the poor image we have with local village hall types who don't want races. Dealing with police issues etc. CTC andorganisations like London cycle campaign have a good enough (if not better) profile on safety issues.

    I hear restructures (redundancies and job changes) are afoot at BC, to cater for this new safety angle
    I can understand BC wanting to leverage (sorry - ugly Americanism) the Sky and track team successes for promoting general cycling safety. Paradoxically it's helpful that Wiggins, Cavendish, Sutton and Rowsell all lost arguments with cars as it demonstrates that no amount of experience makes a difference to safety on the roads.
    Whether BC is capable of understanding the hurdles new and inexperienced cyclists must overcome to ride in urban areas is another matter. Here the CTC is surely best placed. Similarly Sustrans is best placed for developing rural cycle paths.
    It's a great shame that Cycling England was canned. It did a good job in bringing together the different players and their respective skills.
    Rich. Putting the lard into bollard

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by RostRider View Post
    Returning to the initial subject at hand, it seems that it is mainly 1st cat riders that are being squeezed because they are regularly up against part/full time pros. Would it, therefore, be worth lobbying BC to allow us to run 1st cat races only without any other categories included?
    This was the conclusion I come to last weekend talking this through with someone along with the following changes:
    1) forcing all the UCI continental registered riders to be registered as "elite"
    2) Allowing more racing for 1/2 categories and drawing a clear line between that and E/1/2 racing.

    Some of the above could already be supported with the differentiation between national A and national B races, but unfortunately there are only a handful of National A races a year leaving the true elites high and dry when it comes to getting into actual races and the whole idea starting to unravel...

  10. #40
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    In the scheme of things domestic road racing, whether it be a Regional B or a Premier, does little to drive either revenue or prestige. Ergo BC aren't that interested in traditional grass roots. BC is almost unique amongst sporting NGBs in this respect and appears to be quite ruthless in delivering its 'business plan'.

    In contrast and unsurprisingly given its priorities, BCs interest in sportives has grown rapidly. Sportives are truly mass participation when compared to a road race, they are less regulated and easier to deliver and they work commercially. That doesn't mean BC will want to get involved in delivery, but an arrangement akin to the 'accreditation' of a road race would be just perfect.

    As a 1st cat I haven't started my road season yet (apart from an excursion to the arctic Jock Wadley I'm trying to forget). I would like to retain my licence as I feel that's probably the right level for me but there's no doubt it would be easier in many respects a category down. Some 1/2 cat races would be great but we would need more courses, more organisers and more volunteers. Easier said than done unfortunately.

    In my experience some of the most enjoyable racing is delivered outside the auspices of BC and we shouldn't forget that there are a variety of other racing opportunities including on the road. BC isn't the only show in town and perhaps voting with your feet would send a message.
    Last edited by RogerM; 22-04-2013 at 06:13 PM.

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