Classing Up ICup

Sly's snafu with categories at the 24 Hours of Moab race got me thinking about the Intermountain Cup Race Series (ICup). Ed has designed a good race series and runs them very well. Racers are group by category (Beginner, Sport, Expert and Pro), gender and age group (i.e. Mens 30-34). There's a little prize money for the Pros, but for everyone else it's just for fun. And most racers do have fun. But there is some sandbagging and other mild irritants.

The thought came to me that perhaps the ICup is trying to be both fun and serious and this attempt to "have your cake and eat it to" is the source of some of the annoyances. Thinking further I wondered if ICup would benefit from allowing racers to choose one of two classes: Competitive and Recreational.

The Competitive class would be for racers serious about racing - perhaps with ambitions of racing Pro (National or World) some day. There would be more strict rules, like forcing riders up to the next category if their race record shows they are at the top of their current category. Dropping down a category would be allowed under petition if the racers (poor) race record proved the point. Only Competitive class racers are eligible to win awards (i.e. ribbons) and earn team and individual points. The Competitive class would not have a Beginner category (Sport would be the lowest category in the Competitive class).

The Recreational class would be for those who just want to race for fun. They would be free to choose any category they wish (as long as it is compatible with their gender and age). They would not be forced to move up or down in category. They would not be eligible to win awards or points. Perhaps Recreational class would cost less. And you could go home right after you finish since you don't have to wait around for the awards.

The Competitive and Recreational racers would race at the same time (i.e. the Completive and Recreational Sport Men 30-34 would start together).

Yes, this would add more complexity, but it would provide two distinct paths for racers and reduce (eliminate?) sandbagging in the Competitive class. Once a racer achieved a certain level (based on points total or so many podium finishes) s/he would move up to the next higher Competitive category or move over to Recreational class. So racers still have choices, but sandbagging the Competitive class isn't one of them.

Abuses of the ICup series (like sandbagging) aren't rampant, thanks to conscientious racers who "do the right thing" and move up when it's time. But the ICup is growing and my guess is the abuses will grow. Moving from Beginner to Sport is a little daunting, but not bad. But moving from Sport to Expert seems like a bigger jump and some racers don't do it even though they should. The Competitive and Recreational classes give racers more options and provide a more "level playing field" for Competitive racers. Is it worth the extra structure? I think it is, but I'd like your comments.


UtRider said...

You'd probably have more complaints from the rec categories than the competitive. Who wants to show up to race "for fun" only to get killed by guys who should be racing competitive? Plus, the categories are quite small as it is so further reducing numbers would see you racing against only a handful of riders.

Personally, I think it'd be cool if the age groups got tossed and everybody in Beginner, Sport and Expert raced together, grouped by gender. Placings have no real meaning if the field size is only 6-12 people.

KanyonKris said...

Just to clarify, I had envisioned the Competitive and Recreational racers starting together. So as a Rec rider you'd still have some fun trying to hang with the Comp guys.

I'd rather toss categories than age groups. Age is less arbitrary than category - pretty well proven that in general it's harder to stay fit as you get older.

I like small groups for mountain bike racing since most courses have lots of single-track and passing is difficult. The Sport Men 40 category was huge last year and on some courses (notably those without much shakeout) there were big traffic jams. It stinks to loose time on a rival just because you got stuck in a jam and s/he didn't. It seems to me that the best trails make the worst race courses.

UtRider said...

What is huge, 20 racers? I just think it's lame to "podium" in a class with 8 guys. Or, worse yet, only have 3 or 4 racing.

If you want to avoid traffic jams you can't start the rec and comp riders together.

StupidBike said...

except the older experts, 35-50 year olds are faster than the younger ones, generally. Maybe it is because there is more time to train, due to mature careers.

The Icup is not really broken, no need to fix. If i want to see how i would do in the next category, Cat UP is the answer, Fox got hosed. the team the 'won' sport had 2 pro's and were then moved to another category, should of been DQ'd as they changed the race.