USAC Categories Lack of Clarity / Resources

I have no understanding of the USAC category upgrade process for road and was wondering if anyone could provide clarity. Context, I’m a 4 that raced a bit last year, have much more planned for this year, train with buddies who are mostly 1/2/3s and do well in our underground races / race rides / summer crit series.

  1. How are upgrade points actually dolled out?
  2. Where can I see upgrade points? My USAC account lists “points” with my results in the ~500s which makes no sense.
  3. What’s the fastest way to get from 4-3? I don’t like racing 4 as I feel stronger than most of the field and I usually feel unsafe around people that ride far less than me, so I avoid crits usually and miss out on mass starts to use towards upgrading. I’d be much more willing to race crits as a 3.
  4. As a 4, can I register for races in the 2/3 category, or in OPEN 1-2-3?
  5. If I am able to upgrade mid-season, can I upgrade my category in races I have already registered for? (This seems like I would just reach out to the race director)

Apologies for the ignorance, would appreciate any input. I find the lack of clear guidelines pretty outstanding from USAC.

  1. Policy VIII: Race Category Upgrading | USA Cycling
  2. Keep track of them - those points are not “upgrade points”. is a good spot to start, but it’s not flawless.
  3. So you are new to racing but think you’re better than everyone else? Good luck with that.
  4. No
  5. Usually, yes, reach out to the RD and show them you upgraded.

Go off the front for the whole race and collect podiums. Then upgrade.


Thanks. Also, reasonable attitude adjustment.

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As someone who upgraded too quickly I’d encourage you not to upgrade to the 3’s until you learn how to win, or at least consistently podium, in the 4’s. I used my power advantage to brute force my way to the 2s relatively quickly and then had to figure out how to race for a couple seasons before I was able to get my 1 upgrade

Honestly - if you aren’t sure how upgrade points work you’re probably to new to racing to be a cat 3


slight correction - “open” races you may be able to join. just email the RD.

The fastest way to upgrade is win. If you are “stronger” than most 4’s you’ll get 3 wins pretty quickly. Then you’ll be in 3’s. I understand the mindset that 4’s are less safe, but if you’re towards the top 15% of the field it’s not really that bad… I am a 2 and I have had plenty of “unsafe” people in 3’s and 2’s, so that’s not going to change, you’ll just be going faster :slight_smile:

I very quickly just glanced at the rules linked above and gathered that if you win just two decent-sized crits, or three smaller ones, you can voluntarily upgrade. A win in a crit with 50 riders is 10 points, 21-49 riders is 8 points, and so on; you can upgrade with 20 points scored in a 36 month period.

Enjoy your time as a 4; learn to win races in as many different ways as you can—off the front, from a sprint, etc.

Winning races is FUN. Upgrading too soon and getting your teeth kicked in by people with the same fitness as you but also have better race craft is not.

Also, what’s your team situation? Winning races as a 4 could get you noticed and invited into a squad; if you already have a squad, learn to race as part of a team. Racing cat 3 without a team can suck.