So I find USACs website very confusing so I apologize if some of the questions I’m asking are obvious. What is the qualification process for going to national championships? I have this pipe dream of going in 2025 (assuming they come back to the west coast), which will put me in the 40-45 category.
What is the “buy-in” as far as fitness goes (for simplicity in w/kg) to be competitive? I believe @Jonathan was around 5 w/kg in 2021 and got 6th, and in the successful athletes podcast Mathew was around 4.8 w/kg. I think I could realistically get to 4.8 w/kg in 2 years at a FTP of 365 W (normalized to sea level) but probably couldn’t get much skinnier than 165 lbs without losing muscle (former enduro racer/park rat and carry more mass than the average xc guy).
Stoked for you!
Here’s a doc that can help. Not easy to read either, but if you dig long enough, it starts to make sense. Qualifying is not hard to to the low turnout that is at most USAC MTB National Championships. Low turnout doesn’t mean slow turnout, but it does mean USAC welcomes as many riders as they can.
Short Track does not require qualification. For XCO, you need to qualify if you are:
- Junior 15-16 (not necessarily required, but typically needed through an onsite qualifier due to field size)
- Amateur 19-29
- Masters 30-54 Male
- Masters 30-49 Female
In order to qualify you need to place in the top 15 at:
- A State or Regional Championship
- A Pro XCT event
- The previous year’s National Championship
If you don’t fall under any of that qualifying criteria, you can petition for eligibility, which unless you are in the wildly popular and packed Junior 15-16 category, typically results in your admission to the event.
It really depends on the course and field. Back east it’s much more than just a w/kg competition, while a course like Winter Park was pure w/kg and peaking.
In 2015 when it was held at Mammoth I got 4th in the 19-29 Cat 1 field. It was a similar course to Winter Park and I was 4.8w/kg there as well.
Talking to friends and competitors, I think if you want a chance to win in the masters 30-39 or 40-49 group, ~4.8w/kg with good skills like you have, and good peaking could get it done if the stars align, but being over 5 is a more sure bet.
The Alternating Schedule
I too hope they come back to at least the mountain west at some point, but don’t expect the tidy “every 2 years” swap they used to follow. It’s all based on which municipality or venue bigs and gets the winning bid for the event. So if Snowshoe and Bear Creek keep winning bids, we could be there forever, theoretically.
I don’t know about back east, but XC feels like it is dying in the west.
It’s dead. There may be small pockets that pull good numbers for races, but in general XCO is dead. There is some life left in XCM/ultras/100s, but not what it used to be. Gravel is to blame.
I podiumed a very, very technically difficult “100” (closer to 85, but felt like 120). Field was definitely not stacked, even though it was a part of the NUE and an absolute amazing course*.
I did another NUE race a few months later, and I was wishing I had a gravel bike. The field WAS stacked, but the course was lame. I gave away the remaining race entries I paid for.
My local XC races with boring flow trails and/or fire roads are packed (with some people showing up with gravel bikes). Courses with any level of technical difficulty are empty.
So odd with how many people are buying modern, very capable XC bikes, and modern World Cup races going extra technical that my locals don’t seem interested.
*I’m planning on doing it again this year because the course is great. Luckily my GF also likes riding tech, so she is going too
Our statewide series (Tenn) is pretty dead, but we have a local wednesday night mtb series that get solid numbers….week after week, year after year. We even get people from out of town. Interesting it is
Thanks @Jonathan this is SOOOO helpful. It’s still a ways off and I have a long way to go on the w/kg goal (most on the kg side…) but I love having big audacious goals and wanted if that qualification process would even be doable. Hopefully they come back West in 2025.