Cat 3 vs Masters 35+ 1/2/3

Wanted to see what folks perspectives are on similarities and differences between Cat 3 vs 35+ 1-3 for criterium racing.

I’m a 38 yo cat 3 who used to race a lot of crits about 10 years ago.

I basically just kept my license so I’m still a three but I’m trying to get back into racing crits again.

What do folks think about which category would be better to get back into racing again? Cat 3 or Masters? For context I’ve never raced Masters before but plenty of cat 3 races.

My uneducated observation is that masters will be faster and harder to get a result but safer?

If you want to hold onto your 3 I would look for 3/4 fields and get a feel for it again. If it’s comfy and you’re competitive try out open masters and open p/1/2/3 fields. As long as you stay safe, the worst that will happen is you get shat out the back of the field.


Yeah, generally so….but I would say it is smoother, rather than safer (which leads to better safety). IME, you don’t get the surging of a 3 field, but a faster overall speed ( which can actually feel easier).

You also don’t have 20-something dicebombing corners to win a prime for a loaf of Womder bread (don’t laugh…I’ve seen it!)


Agree with Power13. Usually faster and always smoother. You’ll even have actual team tactics in the Masters.

I would typically do both the E3 and the M123 race. I usually had a better chance for a podium in the E3. I’d race the M123 to help teammates or just for fitness. In NorCal, the Masters fields are so stacked, for me the chances of a result are practically nil.


I don’t think there’s a lot of point in upgrading past Cat 3 after age 35 or 40 (whatever your regional cutoff is for Masters).

As has been said, Cat 3 races are going to be a little crazier, and in 40 years of racing, the worst crashes I saw were always in the 3s.

Smoother, more tactical, and if the upgrade is important, Masters races still count.


As a Cat2 40+ racer, I find the races similar between the 35+ 123 and Cat3 . It seems the Masters field usually consists of more experienced racers so getting results requires one to be more technically savvy.



Smoother racing in the masters, but harder to win than a cat 3