Wednesday, November 05, 2008


What to do when you ignite one of the biggest debates ever on your blog... well fuel the fire of course. Actually, maybe this will put what I'm really getting at to bed...

Imagine they decided to start the U19's in front of the A Masters... I mean hell, the kids are battling for world team spots and the masters can't even get an upgrade out of it so they're more important right? Sure, given a minute head start MAYBE Luke, Gavin, and some Belgian kid who happens to be in town stay away, but at some point in the race, Manny, the Henry's Bikes kid, and little Keough are going to get swarmed by the pain train of Johnny, Mark, Roger, Kevin, etc. Manny and co are trying to battle back for the last bit of cash and a podium spot so they're not exactly going to pull over into the tape, but Johnny just attacked and the others got blocked. In the meantime, little Goguens and Keoughs are chopping G and Solo in the corners as they try to come around (the nerve of these kids)...

That's all I'm saying... it's a situation that doesn't make sense for all involved and must have a better option.


Colin R said...

A couple things.

1) U19 and A Masters are both championship classes, while 55+ is a championship class and 3/4 is not. This is one explanation for why 55+ might get preferential treatment, and one reason your analogy is imperfect.

2) Given two fields of roughly equal strength staged with a time gap, the same NUMBER of passes will happen no matter which field goes first. If the small field leads, then the backmarkers from that field get passed by a lot of people. If the big field leads, then the leads from the small field must pass a lot of people. The number of passes are the same, but the distribution changes.

If your argument is that staging 3/4's is better because it makes the race smoother (i.e. fewer passes), you need to show that the 55+ field is slower, on average, than the 3/4 field, or explain why it's better to force the 55+ leaders to make lots of passes than it is to make the 55+ backmarkers be passed a lot.

3) If this is really a problem for you (and I doubt it is), there are plenty of other races that let your field monopolize the course -- 2/3 men and 1/2/3 masters.

Remember, Cat 4's under 35 have no such option -- they have to take their licks in the 2/3 field once they upgrade.

Now, I have two suggestions, in the unlikely event someone with any kind of authority sees this:

1) Give the 55+ race a larger cushion in either direction. At ~20 racers, you could start it 2 or 3 minutes (half a lap) ahead of the 3/4 race and it would have strung out much more by the time the 3/4's get into it. Similarly, the backmarking 3/4's will be more spread out by the time the 55+ leaders reach them.

2)B masters should be Cat 4 35+. The race is getting silly fast because more and more 35-44 year old Cat 3's are racing it where they can be rock stars instead of pack fodder in elite masters or b men. When I started racing cross, B masters started behind C men at Verge and were not faster than C's -- now they are. The only explanation I can think of is that more of the "young masters 3's" are riding this now.

trackrich said...

I was actually trying to talk Solo down off the ledge and make it clear that I don't pick on older folks, but thanks for the analysis :) Leave it to the computer guy to go all statistical distributions on me...

trackrich said...

BTW Colin, I may take you up on crunching the data to try and prove you wrong or myself an idiot. Don't go and put data in front of an engineer and expect them not to analyze the hell out of it :)

gewilli said...

shoulda read colin's comment before i wrote my other comment, so much for trying to be chronological.

Colin's right. The 3/4 field this year is much faster than in the past.

And I would agree with him. Either make the B Masters Cat 4 only or I would add make a Cat 3 B field and make the A race a 1/2 only field. But not a 3/4 field. 3/4 fields are not wise.

In a 4 cat system a 4 is a beginner. If you have a 3/4 race you are going to have 4s who will race it and then never upgrade out of it because sandbagging 3s will race in it just for a win (curly, marro for example, sure Tim Young, gary david too). And if you have a handful of them they will displace the big points and the cat4 dudes will stay cat 4s forever.

And THAT is not how the system *should* work (at least they way I see it).

Too late to change the system now though. Maybe the NE-BRA gang can have a nice pow-wow and cogitate on Colin's suggestions.