USAC Changing Upgrade Policy

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.

Interesting bit I found in the minutes for NYSBRA (New York State Bicycle Racing Association) about the changes.

“NYSBRA discourages the use of mixed Cat 3-4 fields because this could create a safety hazard by putting experienced riders Cat 3 riders with riders with absolutely no racing experience nor racing skills”

I recommend a post to “nyraces” advising all RDs of this and recommending not to ever have Cat 3-4 fields without reviewing all safety considerations

I get where they’re coming from about a hazardous situation, but at the same time it kind of sucks for cat 4 people looking to get more races. As a 4 you could race the 4/5 and the 3/4 in the same day, or at least you more options. I would hope they create separate 3 & 4 races, and even keep the 4/Novice. I also hope this applies to road only and they leave CX alone and keep 3/4 & 4/5 races.

Edit: This is the reasoning: “Cat 3-4 fields are now de facto Cat 3-4-5 since a brand new rider can self select up to Cat 4.” Seems they are thinking like a lot of us here.

I like these upgrade options as well. Our local crit series is only four races a year, so no one ever gets enough points unless you travel 2-3 hour to get to other races. The cat 4.5 is full of very fast people and most rivals the speeds of the 1/2/3 group. No one ever gets enough points in only four available races a year to move on