How can I race cat 3/4?

I just got a USAC membership. There is a race in Feb that I want do but I don’t want to do cat 4/5 race. I would like to do the cat 3/4 race. What do I have to do? Ive never done a cycling race and this is very confusing.

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You can’t. You have to start as a CAT 5 and go through the upgrade process.


Why do you want to do the 3/4 race for your first one and not the 4/5?

USAC had changed this up in 2020. There really isn’t a mandatory cat 5 anymore. If you want you’re allowed to skip that and license yourself to a 4 as your first step if you want. Then you can signup for the 3/4 race.

But in reality if you’re not experienced with racing/group rides I suggest doing a few 5 races and get the feel of it.



  1. I dont want to be racing with all the novices who don’t know how to handle a bike.
  2. the 3/4 race is 70+ miles long (which i rather do) followed by a 8 mile TT whereas the 4/5 race is 42 miles followed by the TT.
  3. the 4/5 race starts at 8:20 am and bout 11am for the 3/4 race. It’s about 90 min drive from my house plus warm up and I don’t want to wake up at 4 am.

So how do I skip the 5 and go to 4? I’m guessing I can do the 3/4 race as a 4 if I’m not mistaken.

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I don’t mean to come off snarky or anything but this is your first race. That makes you a novice who potentially might not know how to handle a bike in a race.


In your USAC license online, you should just be able to self upgrade from Novice to 4.

Good luck, have fun, ride safe.

Let’s just assume I can handle a bike though I understand the optics.
The question I have is how to self seed myself as a 4.

Handling a bike doesn’t equal handling a bike in a race / peloton. I would still consider the Cat 4/5 race.

This might help for upgrading:

Otherwise maybe write to this mail:


I cannot believe there will be any USAC races in February. Pretty sure Covid will cause USAC to cancel everything.


Thanks for the link.
Does this mean the race director has the discretion?

Possibly but in Texas and Florida, it’s possible for the races to happen especially small races.

I’m desperate for a race. Lol. Can’t you tell?

You say you dont want to race with people who dont know how to handle their bikes. But do you know how to handle your bike in a race situation? Sorry but the guys you’re racing against already have more race experience than you.

Surely rising up the ranks quicker than expected is better than running before you can walk?


I certainly would not want to race in the same race as someone who skipped a whole category to get a more favorable start time , and is potentially way over their head. Also…if this is your first race…cat 5 is no joke. These guys can handle their bike, and are also serious racers for the most part. Don’t skip it. Moreso out of respect for the safety of your fellow racers than anything else.

If this is your first race, you’re a 5. You dont know whether you can handle your bike or not yet. You’re not qualified to answer the question, so just race at 5 and then make the decision about jumping up after.


Will be how everyone in the 3/4 race will feel about someone in their first race who is by definition a novice and ‘doesn’t want to be racing with all the novices’


That was going to be the whole issue this year when usac changed the rules and let people go straight to four rather then the 5/notice category.

I’ll just note that skipping Novice (what was Cat 5) to do a 4’s race is one thing…a 3/4 field is really another step up. Basically you’ll be racing Cat 3 if you don’t get dropped at some point.


One of the things that very successful athletes (in various sports) seem to do is not move up until they are completely dominant at their current level. Winning breeds confidence, and it’s better to build experience at the easiest level possible.


I’d totally agree with this. Also, it’s great to keep learning new skills and broadening your experience as you work your way through. I took my time moving through the ranks and tried out different things along the way.

In a similar vein, you don’t need to get yourself so fit you can ride off the front and win solo at your first race. Just get out there, race and learn.

I think I’ve just got myself too excited for the 2021 season :sweat_smile:

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I think this means it is up to the discretion of the director as to how to set up the categories for their event. The director did this by having a 3/4 race (no novices) and a 4/5 (4s and novices.).

As someone who did a little racing a while ago, handling your bike in a race pack is different from riding solo, group ride or fast group ride. Cat 5 / novice has a mostly unfounded reputation for being a sketchy crash fest, but I think Cat 4 and 3/4 are worse as you have people with some races under their belt and some are more confident in their handling skills than they should be. Cat 5 races tend to have more space and its easier to avoid sketchy riders especially if you have above average fitness.

Even though I’ve raced (road and cx) in the past I will at least do a couple novice / cat 5 or 4/5 races before upgrading if I get back into it next year.