USAC Changing Upgrade Policy

Sure. But not a “wash”. Instead of racing Cat 3, which is almost certainly where I’d be under these rules applied last season, I’ll be racing 4 next to “novices” who at willed up to 4 and are essentially last year’s 5s. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s not a “wash” for me either.

Most 4 races are combined 4/5 fields and you can get to 3 with just three wins or 20 pack finishes now. Getting 30 points is easier than before.


True, new rules plus up field size too.

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I don’t know. I know that’s the big complaint on here, saying too many people will completely bypass Novice and take the at will upgrades to 4. And I’m sure there will be plenty that do that. But I’m not so sure that it’s going to be as rampant as a lot of people are worried about. I know I won’t be taking it and I’d guess there are a lot of people who won’t take it immediately as well. I know my skill level and would rather race the Novice races a bit before upgrading. If I, or anybody really, dominate a few Novice races (not likely for me), then I’ll have to upgrade early anyway. But for the time being, I’d rather get some experience racing, and don’t see myself taking the at will upgrade anytime soon. Plus it’s cheaper for a Novice license, meaning that a lot of people will take the cheaper route and wait (my guess).


Its not? Most treat it like it is. Cat 1&2’s act superior, 3’s sure are a mixed bag, and then the 4/5’s well most want to get out of there asap. :wink:


If I’m reading it correctly you can get 5 clinic points and 5 begining racer program points for the 4>3 upgrade. Previously this was only 3 points.

I like a lot of the changes. But… honestly, the most disappointing thing to me is there continues to be zero incentive to do tt’s. The points system is killing the discipline.


As a very novice crit racer, I have to say that some mandatory upgrade system does sound nice. In my area (DC) cat 5 crit fields are often triple or more the size of the other categories and sandbagging does seem to be a problem.


Current Colorado cyclocross field sizes:
Cat 5: ~50
Cat 4: ~40
Cat 3: ~20
Pro/Cat1/Cat2: ~15

I think this change will shift the distribution to more of a bell curve with the Cat 3 and Cat 4 field sizes becoming about equal and the cat 5 field sizes decreasing slightly. I don’t think it will impact the Pro/Cat1/Cat2 that much since the majority of points earners in the Cat 3 fields are juniors (who don’t have to upgrade beyond Cat3).

It will force more Masters Cat3 into pro field, which will probably flatten out the Masters categories, where previously Cat3 Master was the largest.

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In the same area, Pan, and completely agree!

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Agree with this. No points means no mandatory upgrades for super strong triathletes who clean up in CAT 5 TTs year after year.

I really wish the US had more of a TT scene like the UK.


missing the “it’s 30 degrees out” reduction factor of 50% but otherwise accurate

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I may hit up the Frozen Four novice race in CT as well, would be cool to meet a fellow TR user!

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Its interesting that there is not a time requirement listed on MTB, this has the potential to snag those sandbaggers that will only show up for 2- 4 races a year and win then disappear and continue to race non sanctioned races just to pop up the following year again, and again…

None of this will matter until USAC goes through, does the math, and forces upgrades. Why have the mandatory upgrade system if it’s purely optional?


Ya for sure! I’m not sure which ones I’ll be able to attend. Most likely the 2nd and 4th one. Do you know which ones you’ll be racing?

Several people in the racing organization here in Texas were issued emails telling them they needed to upgraded or they would be upgraded.

Also spoke with them about the missing time information and was told for MTB they can go back 36 months in results.


lol. Please mandatory upgrade, please, maybe.

Those emails were sent out a week before the opening race, if they did not upgrade before the race it was done automatically.

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I’m late to the thread but decided to share my opinion; which is worth less than the paper it’s typed on

I’m feeling like the changes to cat 5 / 4 are an attempt to help people get into the sport. I see plenty of cat 5 racers that are riding $5-10K bikes, carbon wheels, have coaches, and are on teams. I think that may be intimidating for new riders to enter the sport.

When I started racing in 1986, there was no cat 5, however many races had “citizens” races. These citizen races were the novice races of the time. They were filled with riders in running shorts, tee shirts, flat pedals and sneakers. Often they were mixed male/female and all ages. They blew apart but it seemed the riders had a blast and got their first races under their belt. Many found the initiative to get a license.

Fields were not small back then for any of the categories. For most races, you would find the race announcements in VeloNews and send your check to the promoter 3 and 4 weeks in advance and hoped it wouldn’t get returned due to a full field. There was no waiting until 11:59 the night before.

There was no requirement to ever do a citizens race, you could get your cat 4 license without ever competing in a race (I never did a citizen race but my wife got her start in them). I don’t believe promoters were required to pay anything to USCF (USA Cycling in the 80’s) for a citizens race or maybe it was a reduced fee. I’m not exactly sure when the cat 5 was introduced, possibly after the merger of USCF and NORBA, but it seems at some point USAC wanted a piece of the citizens action ($$) and created cat 5.

I think it probably worked well at first with little difference than the citizens race but over time I think it has strayed from its original intent. While I believe there are many other factors in the dwindling field sizes in road races, I believe (and hope) this change helps to bring new riders into the sport. I also believe the easing of the category upgrade policy is an attempt to retain riders and keep them interested in the sport longer. Possibly a double edged sword but time will tell.