Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Perspective on sandbagging

Lets face it, this is a touchy subject and one that in the past has been pretty subjective But with the advent of statistical software and people with too much time on there hands we have quantitative methods to sniff out sandbaggers like a Terrier after a rat.
Typically you can get called out after you win a few races in the Cat. 4's. This is the natural progression of things if you are a non-master age racer (if you are a Masters racer the best you can do is get faster or hope someone dies). You get some experience to build on you fitness, and you learn strategy and what it takes to win.
Its the next step, the jump from 3/4's to 1/2/3's that get alot of people worked up. Here is why
  • Its a huge jump from 3's to the 123/open class and it takes a certain level of commitment and training to do that.
  • There are many racers that see the the bottleneck (or impaction, as I like to call it) in the upper echelon of the Cat. 3 riders. Riders that are fast and competitive in the 3's but never make the jump, and for rational reasons! But, it still pisses all the guys that just made the leap from 4's to 3's to see the same guys winning every race. Here is my solution.
  • If you want to dominate the 3's races without the pressure to jump to 123/open class you need to start traveling. Go race USGP in Louisville, Jingle Cross, Check out the NE cross scene. I think that this goes for everyone, not just the "Baggers". The KC scene has been really strong the last few years with Nationals and there are a ton of races close by, but the domestic CX scene does not revolve around us anymore.
  • Check out the Lincoln CX race coming up soon.
  • I have also seen several racers make solid progression over the years, and make the leap beyond the Cat 3 races. My hat is off to them. They know who they are. They have set a excellent example on how riders and racers should develop over time. But that leap takes a huge commitment that not everyone is capable of making.
  • Ultimately you also have to ask yourself why you are doing it. Its not the money. Have fun, don't take things to seriously, and take those beer handups (regardless of what Margretta says).
Granted not every person is born a great racer, and many times people only race for their own enjoyment, for social reasons (can't figure out why, we are a pretty ugly bunch?), or just because they have a certain level of self loathing and self flagellation has gone out of style.
These are the people that make the sport what it is! Who else would ride a bike dressed in a hotdog costume? Stand around in the rain and snow cheering for their friends and foes? We salute you.
Just some thoughts.


Mark Studnicki said...

sticky indeed: my take on it is this: If you want to be 100%serious, get as fast as you can, then race the open race (or the highest cat race you can). Otherwise have fun and race whatever race you want/can. Kudos to the guys that could smoke the 4's race but hang tough in the 3/4's, or guys that could smoke the 3/4's race that race in the open race. I fully understand why guys race in the 3/4 race instead of the open race. The difference in pure speed is vast, the 10-20 min longer duration can be gruesome. I was already Masters-aged when I came into cross, so my first 2 years were racing Masters, then I gave it the 100% serious deal for 3years racing p/1/2(open) and UCI elite. I gave it everything I could but reality is I couldn't keep up that level of committment, so i'm racing masters again. I'm leaving the open races to the 20 years olds this year. the guys my age still toughing it out in there get my full respect.

Neve_r_est said...

1st place prize at the IA state CX races was a 40lb sandbag. For reals. We take it real serious ;)