Hey USAC – This is Problem

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The cross season has just started and this stupidness is already happening.  By this stupidness, I mean the scoring of the races.  I was going to try again, to go through the proper channels, ie, contact the USAC, to try to understand why they continually don’t know how to score a cyclocross.  The main problem, in my opinion, is that they don’t know how to apply the bullshit 80% rule.  I’ve already written a rant about this rule.  It is so frustrating for elite and professional riders, but no one seems to address it for the masters and other categories, where it always seems to applied really unfairly.

If you don’t know the 80% rule for cross, here it is –

From the USA Cyling Rulebook-
5G. Finish
5G1. Before the start of a race, it should be announced whether lapped riders will be pulled or remain in the race. If riders are to be pulled, the following applies:
(a) Riders who have been lapped shall continue the lap to a designated location before the finish line and withdraw, under the control of the officials.
(b) The Chief Referee may, after consulting with the organizer, impose the 80% rule. Under this rule, riders whose time gap to the race leader is at least 80% of the race leader’s time for the first lap will be pulled by the officials unless it is the final lap. The number of 80% is merely an approximation based on a typical course; the intent is that all riders should be pulled before they are lapped.
(c) Riders who have been pulled because of lapping or the 80% rule will be listed in the results based on their position when pulled and the number of laps remaining. The results will list the number of laps remaining after the lap on which they were pulled.

Let me go back to January.  I was at Nationals in Asheville and saw that they were pulling riders when they weren’t even close to 80% off the pace.  I sent emails to the officials and then directly to USAC.  No response from the officials and finally a response from Derek Bouchard-Hall. Derek seems concerned about the situation, but said that he was being assured that the rule was being enforced correctly.  That was completely wrong.

But I didn’t post anything on it, thinking that they would work it out, but they didn’t really.

Flash forward to Jinglecross.  They are a ton of masters.  They kept altering the start times to try to get a even amount of riders on the course at the same time, which was good.  I can’t really say that they were doing it exactly right.

They were starting the different age groups so closely together it turned into one giant 200 rider mass of guys walking in the mud a minute into the race.  But I’m assuming their idea was more riders get to finish if you don’t leave big gaps between the groups at the start.  But the leaders of the fields that started after the first group never had an opportunity to race at the start because of catching the back of the group in front of them so quickly.

Anyway, the scoring was horrible at best.  Tons of guys pulled.  Randomly it seems.  Let’s look at the results from the Masters 50-55.



Lots of scoring errors here.  We’ll start at the back, the riders that were put two laps back.  Jeff Unruh is my friend and happens to be the first rider pulled at two laps at 37 place.  He shouldn’t have been pulled that lap.  or at all really.  If you add his two laps times together, he was at 24:30.  The leader was at 20:17.  So Jeff was 4:13 behind the leader. Closer to 25% off the leader’s time.   If the times stayed consistent Jeff might have been a little over 8 minutes back after 4 laps.  So, no chance of getting lapped, he should have been able to complete the event.

But that isn’t even the worst of it.  Look at the guys in front of Jeff.  When you add their times together, Jeff was ahead of all the riders that were in 28th place.  But they pulled Jeff and then let 8 more riders do another lap.

And that isn’t even the worst of that.  You can’t get pulled with one lap to go.  So all the guys that were 17th to 36th were pulled wrongly.  The reason for this is part b of the 80 rule.

Part (b) states- the intent is that all riders should be pulled before they are lapped.

You can’t get lapped if the leader has finished the race.

I do understand there were other categories racing on the course at the same time.  But you can’t really pull a rider because a rider from another category, that started way ahead of you, might be lapping you.

I could post the results from the 55 + Nationals in Asheville, and it is even worse.  It is here.  One group on the course and they were pulling riders that were less than 5 minutes down on a 9 minute lap.  And there are 26 riders that were pulled with 1 to go.   26 guys that couldn’t get in the leader’s way because he is already finished.  So they pulled them at 50% and then just kept pulling them.

Here’s the deal.  These guys come to race a complete race.  The guys getting pulled most likely never expect to win, but want to compete.  Having guys ride 20 minutes and then get yanked out of the race doesn’t sit well with them.Understandably.  Especially when they are walking behind riders from other categories 1 minute into their event.

This 80% rule is so big races, like World Cups and World Championships, aren’t decided by a lapped rider getting in the way of the race leaders.

But somehow, the officials or USAC is using it as a mechanism to try to keep the races on schedule.  At Nationals, they didn’t schedule enough time for each race, so the decided to just start pulling riders so the races finished quicker.   Those guys deserve their entry back.

If USAC is trying to make its members content, then this isn’t the way to do it.  They are lucky that many of the guys that are getting pulled don’t understand that they are being cheated.  Either way, riders won’t come back to events where they get to race 20 minutes out of 45.  They aren’t having fun and don’t get to race a complete race.

Here my solution.  Just let the race happen.  Let’s go back to the old days when everyone finishes on the same lap.  Leave everyone in the race.  Especially at local races.  How are riders supposed to get better when they are riding less than 1/2 a race? If you good enough to win a cross race, then you should be okay with passing lapped riders.

Passing riders in cyclocross is part of the sport.  It is a part of other sports.  Look at Formula 1. Lapping cars is super important.  And it is way harder passing in that sport than cross.

Cyclocross season is upon us.  It is a participatory event here in the United States.  I think everyone understands that.  Just look at what happened to MTB racing.  When the riders got disgusted, they quit travelling to the National events.  The masses are the ones that pay for the sport.   Let’s not let that happen to cross.

When guys come to bike races they assume that the scoring, ie the results, are going to be reasonably quick and correct.  When they apply this bogus rule, the results are nearly make believe.This 80% rule has no place in any race that isn’t a UCI Elite race, Nationals or above.  Get rid of it for local events.  It is bad for the sport.  Just let them finish.

Tucker realized he couldn't run around with the guys riding in circles, so he put his attention back to butterflies and bees.

Tucker realized he couldn’t run around with the guys riding in circles, so he put his attention back to butterflies and bees.






75 thoughts on “Hey USAC – This is Problem

  1. Ken Krebs

    Dude, couldn’t have said it better myself. I posted about this on my page as well. I finished in 19th place after losing a minute pile driving the barn support breaking my collar bone. I was pulled as I was coming through start/finish on the last lap, at 33 minutes, not even close to being lapped, with several riders in front of me, all of us surprised. Got it all on video too. I’ve emailed Derek before about inconsistent upgrades and gotten nowhere. He is useless. When you run into the back of the group that started ahead of you about a minute after the start in the first hike a bike section, something is wrong. I was pushed into the barn support by a rider that started in the group ahead of me but was toward the back. Mixing this many racers of different abilities so close together is a recipe for disaster. The favoritism during staging for Friday’s racers was a mess also. Lot of things went wrong this event. I doubt I’ll race again under this schedule.

  2. Wildcat

    I think you would make the best cycling official ever Steve.

    Besides, it’s super easy! Just trust me! Lol

    I can see it now. The annual Mike Crum one person time trial – officiated by Steve Tilford. Registration limited to Mike Crum only. First place wins some Natty Lights out of sillypuddy’s Wal-Mart knock-off Yeti cooler.

    1. ALS

      And second place (Mike Scrum Is allowed to enter multiple times) wins a week long BIG RIG TRUCKIN’ excursion with Mike Scrum’s BIG RIG TRUCKIN’ buddy. This BIG RIG TRUCKER will even let the 2nd place winner touch his stick and allow the 2nd place winner to ram and jam OR caress and finesse his stick into all 18 gears.

      1. ALS

        Not sure if I should be happy or worried???
        Regardless, if Scrum wants my address so he can knock on my door and threaten to whoop my butt, I’ll gladly give it to him.
        Maybe he’ll show up in his BIG RIG TRUCKIN’ buddy’s Peterbuilt. The same buddy who Scrum says has a peter built very pretty.

      2. Barb

        Geez, Crum didn’t even post here. Attacking Crum behind his back trying to egg others on to do the same and scapegoating ANYONE because you don’t like what they write on the internet is very poor form. He def writes some obnoxious posts, but please, do not demonize the guy. Doing that to anyone is mean.

    2. sillypuddy

      Hey Wildcat. Two things.
      #1. if it keeps em cold who cares?
      #2. The point is mute, cause the Nati’s r 4 me. I got Fartweiser 4 the rest ya’all.
      Sillypuddy OUT!

  3. LD

    “How are riders supposed to get better when they are riding less than 1/2 a race? If you good enough to win a cross race, then you should be okay with passing lapped riders.”

    Right on the money.

  4. Dennis Roberts

    If they really want to enforce the 80% rule, then they (USAC) have to rely upon chip timing. it is apparent looking at the lap times that the officials probably didn’t see them real time or it would be quite easy to employ the 80 percent rule. I think the rule sucks when you start waves of groups at the same start time. particularly when the first group is usually the fastest. So your giving a 30 second head start to the guys that are faster? WTH?

  5. Jim

    Being an official, but in a different sport, the solution is pretty obvious.
    Stop whining about it and actually get involved in changing something.
    I won’t judge whether the rule is good or bad, is enforced properly or not, it is the rule.
    When you don’t like the way something is done, then it is time to work to make the changes and make it better.
    Rules can be changed.
    Now I realize that this is Steve’s blog and he can write what he wants (and the fans will rush to his defense-which isn’t needed) but nothing written here will start the process toward improvement.

    1. KrakatoaEastofJava

      Riders being pulled by officials has long been one of my biggest pet peeves. A rider being lapped is no more dangerous than a failed breakaway being reeled back in. Actually, I think they’re less dangerous as these riders are pretty much “recovered” by that point, despite being a lap down.

      Racers who travel long distances (and pay real dollars) to participate in a race… deserve to be allowed to race.

    2. KrakatoaEastofJava

      Sorry, that other reply was intended for Steve’s post in general. But on your point:

      So, we’re NEVER allowed to criticize the way that officials behave at our races? If we don’t like it, become an official? What we’re seeking here is some effort on the part of USA Cycling to communicate to the officials that they don’t always have to exercise their sole discretion to rid the course of most of its participants.

      The rules are not the issue. They’re actually very well written (in general). The problem is that quite often, the officials tend to like a “nice, clean, easy-to-score” course. They make full use of the latitude afforded to them and they make too much use of their right to rid the course of riders who are “no longer in contention”. Well, what the hell does that mean in cyclocross anyway? Define “contention”. There are often huge differences in how quickly riders can navigate the same course.

      Let the riders finish their race. They’ve trained VERY hard to be able to participate. Promoters are already offering shorter race distances in an effort to allow more categories to race each day. We often travel VERY far between events (depending on where we live), and it REALLY sucks to drive 3-4 hours to a race only to get pulled by an official because I’m not going to place.

      If Triathlon’s officials behaved like USAC officials, that sport would be DEAD right now. 95% of people who race triathlon have absolutely no reasonable expectation of winning (or making the podium). But if you sent them packing before they finished their big, epic challenge, they’d tell the sport to go fuck itself.

      1. Jim

        Did you read what was written at all??
        Where did I write that officials can’t be criticized? Please point it out to me.
        You wrote “The rules are not the issue. They’re actually very well written (in general).”
        Well, if they are that well written, there should not be an issue.
        However, your complaint is with the way they are enforced/interpreted.
        You are blaming officials for what is really a rules issue.
        Now read a little closer and realize that what I said is that if a rule doesn’t work, or is enforced in a way contrary to intent, that is a bad rule and work needs to be done to change it.
        The only real answer is to get rules in place that actually work in the real world. Otherwise it is just bitching and accomplishes nothing.
        BTW, the comparison with triathlons is completely off base. Very rarely are tri’s held on a circuit where the riders come by every 8 or 10 minutes. If they were to run on a circuit, they would have the same problem.

    3. Larry T

      Jim- Indeed. Master’s have always been the biggest crybabies at races but now that they ALL wanna race instead of mentor the juniors or others into the sport, or serve as officials or do much of anything unselfish, the wailing is reaching a new level. Some of these folks might think of “getting a life”? Is there a bigger group of narcissists than these guys? C’mon what’s the first thing you think of when someone describes a person as a “Master’s Racer”?

      1. Steve Tilford Post author

        Larry – Not a very productive comment here. There are a ton of master racers mentoring juniors. I know a ton of guys that fill a van full of young guys taking them to races. Plus, the first guys to pit for others are masters that just finished racing and are in the mud, ankle deep, pitting for their team mates and friends. And this isn’t only a masters problem. Did you read the comment about the Junior woman that only got to ride 1 lap at the Nationals in Austin because she was lapped by 17-18 year old junior men? That shouldn’t ever be happening.

      2. Ken Krebs

        Larry, you’re a douche. And yeah, I wanna race. I’m OK with it. I expect to see your incredibly large junior field next year.

      3. I Get It

        I don’t understand the belief that masters racers must retire from wanting to race and only mentor younger riders. I also don’t understand the idea that the only way to grow the sport is through young riders. I know a lot more riders that have gotten into competitive cycling over 30 than under and the washout rate for pampered juniors when they realize what the real world of bike racing is like is huge and they don’t just leave racing, they typically leave riding all together. If you look at racing as a business masters have discretionary income, the ability to get to races, and racing should be a known quantity to them. Why should cycling tell the biggest cash cow to go away and that they don’t matter? So DB Hall can create the next Lance, Taylor, Levi, TJ, etc sponsorship should be tied to a shared experience if people want money to ride they need to give the public something they can relate in the US that seems to be participation in events not just frites, beer, and a muddy field to watch cycling gods ride around in?
        …….and Larry, please try not to sound like such a sourpuss. Bike racing might not be fun for you and obviously you aren’t winning many races, but that doesn’t mean you have to hate on a guy for wanting to ride his bike instead of babysitting.

  6. orphan

    This is why I don’t race at the big races. I just spectate. If they can’t give each age group the hole race course why have so many age groups? Just have what the schedule can handle. But no we just keep adding more age groups. I’m holding out for masters 25+….

  7. Benji

    The fact that USAC races of this caliber aren’t using chip timing is ridiculous. I know it’s still up to the official to enforce, or not enforce the 80% rule. But either way, running multiple races together in the same time slot, each with over 5 laps is a recipe for scoring disaster. Also, USAC officials have been evoking the 80% rule to keep the scoring clearer, because there’s no way they can accurately track 100+ mixing riders from various races on different laps. USAC should hire the promoters from the Seattle area to consult with them on how they manage to cheaply, efficiently and successfully chip time 1,000 riders in a day of cyclocross racing.

  8. Carlos

    This isnt about the rule or changing the rule. It’s about how the rule is interpreted and applied. It’s up to the chief ref and chief judge how to balance start intervals between groups, aggressive pulling and integrity of results. Overly aggressive and you’re going to ruin the race for many people.

    In my race at jingle all but one of the starters were pulled with 2 to go. They started pulling after one lap. Been doing this race for years but will just spectate in the future. Nice way to keep the numbers down.

    Lapped riders are a part of the sport. Aggressive early pulling ruins racing for the second and third waves. It’s necessary to start pulling the very back of the field at 1 to go to keep things on track but apart from that just deal with it. The timing system was working well so not a problem to score lapped riders in conjunction with manual scoring.

    I’ve scored many races over the years and smart officiating can make a huge contribution to building successful events. There’s lots of room for discretion.

  9. Bill K

    It all boils down to money. The more racers you can get, the more money the promoter gets. If you jam them all together and treat them like garbage, that’s their problem for being suckers.

    1. channel_zero

      And they show up anyway. Most of the complainers will be back in 2017.

      If it’s so terrible, stop voting with your wallet.

  10. David Dineen

    I wondered how I ended up being scored in the high 30’s? Looking at some of the laps times of the guys in front of me now proves my theory that the scoring was way off. I didn’t really study it until this post. A couple of guys that were scored ahead of me were riding laps at well over a minute longer than mine.

    But, I rode off the course and cleaned up. Not worth the fight to get a finish @27th vs @37th. But, I would of loved to race another lap.

  11. RadRenner

    Amen. I say this ALL the time. We pay to race, so the officials should let us race. I also wonder whether people leave the sport (or avoid certain races) because of this. Not good for the sport at all.

    1. KrakatoaEastofJava

      Of course they leave cross racing because of it. To be told to exit a race course before the race is even over… is pure humiliation. Who’d come back?

  12. JoeV

    Jim employs the evergreen argument – if you don’t like something then get involved and work to change it!
    This implies that if you don’t get involved to change something then your complaint and points are BASELESS whining!
    Good one Jim. Keep officiating and using that pathetic bit of crap to deflect criticism by your athletes. Some of us will continue to train and compete and yes, whine, when you don’t do your job well.

    Carlos gets it. It’s not about making a rule change. It’s about officials doing their job well. But you know that. That’s why you’re so defensive!
    Get involved…lol. Paying to compete, showing up and racing then getting screwed by bs officials. That’s not getting involved?! wtf.

  13. Josh

    You want to know how this happened? The official said they would start at a 30 second gap. The riders complained and asked for a 1 minute gap. The official obliged and so they all got lapped out.

    1. Kathy Johnson

      There is no substitute for race experience. Very few can put forth the same effort in training, and even the pros will tell you what a difference all those people cheering you makes. There is zero terrain where I live that mimics the venue at Jingle CX. You get experience passing and being passed. One can train the body to a very high level of power and endurance, but until you throw it all down on an incredible, technical course elbow-to-elbow with felow enthusiasts, you cannot gain the same benefit from simply “training”.

  14. carlos

    Don’t know if it was possible on the course, but it’s quite common to take out a pinch point on the first lap and then put it back in for later laps. Just takes a volunteer to retie some course tape or move a barrier.

  15. Barb

    The very accurate key word used here is ‘stupidness.’ Can the riders who are unfairly and arbitrarily being pulled, be organized as a group to demand a refund of their entry fee? And if their request is ignored with some snow job about “the rule is being enforced fairly” I would take it to small claims court if necessary, or get a class action suit together because soliciting entry fees and then illegally pulling riders is fraud as far as I’m concerned, especially when it has been brought to their attention more than once. If riders just grumble to themselves and silently accept being illegally pulled, it’s not going to change. Many people are unwilling to change their ways, as long as the status quo is serving their own purposes, which sounds a lot like what’s going on with the “officiating” here. “not sitting well understandably” is a very gracious way of expressing what requires stronger action and protest.

  16. Jim

    A lot of riders in the Ohio Valley CX Series have stopped going to the races that have UCI designation (especially masters), like Louisville Derby City Cup because of this issue – they get pulled because of the U19 riders that were in the same race with masters and some of the U19 kids can compete in the U23 race.

    1. Reeve

      Oh geez. Don’t get me started on the thumb on the race scoring and call-ups of the OVCX races. Homerism at its worst.

      Good courses. Well run events. But not fairly run if you’re chasing a rating or points.

  17. Bruce

    I’m glad I raced when if you were “good” you lined with the best 50-75 riders who showed up and the heck with all this category and age group and getting pulled complication. Anybody remember the Rockford IL series. Jason McCarthy shows up and top riders from MN WI IL IA for end of the season racing. I got to line up with that bunch and didn’t get lapped in long race with1:06 finishing times for the winner.

  18. sillypuddy

    I believe that pulling a rider is always theright thing to do if it is for safety reasons. Live to ride again. I would imagine most racers r aware of there fitness and ability level. And if not seeded properly a very very poor finish is possible. Giving refunds would be a very convoluted process. Not sure how that would work. Noe if you will all excuse me, im going to shoot some pool in the garage.

    Sillypuddy OUT!

  19. Rob cook

    Using Formula 1 as the example of hard passing is actually a really poor choice. Lapped drivers in F1 will get blue flags waved, electronic signage displayed as well as a light on their steering wheel displayed all to tell them their being passed. The don’t have a choice but to let the faster car by or face penalties or disqualification.

    I’d actually use MTB as a better example, racing single track and being passed by a group of CAT1 riders you learn how to get passed and move over or get out of the way. Riders arent pulled either.

  20. Fish

    When Tilford retires, if ever, we need to petitition USAC to hire him to straighten out things that are unintentionally hurting the sport.

    1. markK

      Well, I think for that to happen someone would have to buy USAC, but that’s not possible because they are a Non-Profit Organization. Although, many have accused them of being “bought”.

      “The purpose of a non-profit corporation or association is to conduct business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.”

  21. Andy Lueck

    Completely agree and would even go so far as to say that pulling riders in a Master’s Nationals race is bogus. Make qualifying a bit more rigorous and allow everyone to race the full time since we have dedicated the entire season and quite a bit of money and time towards one race.
    My class (SS) no starts with 50+ Open Men, we lap the back of that race but that is part of the fun. The first half is racing your compatriots, while the securities be is using the other categories rank and file to your advantage or possibly getting screwed for a lapse in judgement – no offense meant to anyone out there going in circles. It is part of racing and makes me more rounded. This has a place in the top tier of the sport – Elite and Open (non-Masters) Races – that is all.

  22. CalculateTheTime

    The issue here is the WAVE start combined with 80%

    A) Wave starts are a fairly new occurrence. With less daylight during CX season, a promoter can only put on 8-10 events during a day. So to get more riders and categories, multiple categories are started together, or with a time stagger.
    This allow a promoter to have 20 – to 30 events in 1 day, by using 8-10 waves with 2-4 categories in each wave.

    B) The 80% rule originally came from the UCI, where NO races are run in waves.


    The first lap / front of the race is used to calculate the 80%.
    Once it is calculated, it does not change for following laps, or for other categories in the same wave.
    ALL Riders in the wave are measured base on 80% from the front of the wave ( and not 80% of their category )

    There were 3 categoies in the same wave, starting 30 seconds apart.
    men 45-49, 50-54 ( Jeff is in this race ), 55-59
    After the 45-49’s departed, the riders wanted a larger gap, so the starter obliged, and they started at 1 minute behind instead of 30 seconds behind.

    THE MATH for 80%
    The 45-49’s first lap was 9:15, making 80% around 7:25.
    The 45-49’s 2nd lap was @ 9:00, making 80% cutoff at 25:40 ( 18:15 + 7:25 = 25:40)
    The 50-54’s asked for extra 30 seconds, changing the cutoff from 25:10 to 24:40)
    Jeff came through at 24:30, within 10 seconds of the calculated cutoff..

    Is the math right?
    Was 80% applied correctly?

    Is it right or wrong?
    That is a different question,
    but 80% was applied correctly.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      CalculatetheTime – Okay, where does it say that you are pulled at 80% of the prior fields time? I haven’t seen that in print anywhere. So, it really isn’t a 80% rule, it could be a 50% rule depending on the gaps between the age groups?

      If you divide Jeff’s lap times and add another 12:15, he still doesn’t get lapped by Mark Savery, the 40+ winner, who finished in 36:52. So they definitely pulled him early, at least by a lap.

      Your calculations doesn’t even mention the riders ahead of him that rode two laps slower than him and were allowed to ride another lap. Do you have any time calculation that might answer that problem?

      1. CalculateTheTime

        I am not saying that it is written down anywhere. I am just saying that was how the calculation was done. In a wave with 3 categories, they do not start 3 clocks. They only start 1.

        You have multiple concerns in your post, and I only discussed one of those concerns.
        So, regarding Jeff losing 8 places, it is my belief that Jeff and the 8 riders behind him were pulled. but the group behind him, although probably told to retire, continued on another lap, and were pulled a second time. I agree this is wrong.

      2. CalculateTheTime

        I went back and looked at lap times.

        The 8 riders in front of Jeff had a running time for two laps of around 26:30-28 minutes.
        The 45-49 leader did 3 laps in around 27:20, then subtract out the 1 minute gap between the categories, making for a 3 lap time around 26:20.

        The reason the 8 were not pulled, is because at 2 to go, they had already been caught by the 45-49 leader. and although lapped, were mixed into the front of the race at the time they passed the finish line.

      3. CalculateTheTime

        One final comment about 17-36th place.
        Look at the lap times.
        They were not pulled, They were lapped by the 30-34 leaders, from the front of their wave.
        That is why they did 3 laps instead of 4.

    2. Ducky


      I do not dispute the math. But I do believe no one should get pulled in a nonprofessional race. But as you correctly note this is a different issue.

      However, you have an error in your age groups in the example above. I was in Jeffs race, 50-54. We did not start with the 45-49 & 55-64 age groups as originally schduled, and as you list in the example above. We were bumped to the next time slot and raced with the 30-34, 35-39 & 40-44 age groups. We were the 4th wave to start at 30 second inervals between waves, and thus we started 90 seconds after the first wave.

      1. CalculateTheTime

        Forgive the error in my math, as I was not at JingleCross this year, and was unaware of the wave changes. If the 50-54’s started 90 seconds behind the first category, you can substitute 90 seconds instead of the 60 seconds from above calculations.
        That would suggest that riders reached 80% even sooner than my estimates from above.

      2. Ken Krebs

        Bam! Exactly. 4 waves, and we were the last. If you’re pulling that aggressively, and starting so closely anyways, why not just start all 200 riders at once? Same train wreck, but at least a few of us might have had a chance at minimizing the distance the wave 1 leader had on us. This is logistically terrible anyways. Or better yet, don’t have so many masters classes. I know there are a bunch of masters, but maybe allow another 15 minutes between races, combine a few classes such as 40-60 masters and grid based on points and start 100 guys at once, and LET THEM RACE. Most likely the guys in row 2 who would have been in row 1 for their super tight age group class won’t care, and the guys in row 12 who would have been in row 7 won’t care either. At least they could be told they will finish on the leader’s lap and won’t be pulled. No conflicting rules, so subjective pulling, and no surprises from the officials when you are thinking you are racing a full race.

      3. Ducky

        Hi Ken

        I loved your video. Especially since you lined up right behind me so I had a leading role in it!😀


        Sorry you crashed and got hurt, rest well.

        So I have a few thoughts on the weekend regarding start groups and waves etc. I think the Jingle Crew did a good job in adjusting the waves and moving us to the 12:30 time slot. This made for an equal number of guys on the course at both the 11:30 and 12:30 time slots, which was about 160-80 guys in each time slot. For comparison sake, weekend after next I will be racing in the opening weekend at the Cross Crusade series in Portland. There will be two races during my time slot, my race which is the 50 + and the 35+ B’s race. All told there will be about 210 racers on course at the same time. The difference is no one will be pulled, and many will be lapped. Everyone knows this will happen and they are cool with it. OBRA, the grassroots guys who listen to their constituents, and USA Cycling, the national body who listens to the over competitive crew. Steve is doing us a great service in illuminating this issue. As we can see in the responses above, no one thinks pulling riders in a Masters race is a good idea, because it is not.

  23. Mike crum

    Not having enough training time is my number one reason I don’t race . $$$$ is another . And reading posts like this quite often is another . I enjoy my time trialling . No one there but me. Hard. , but peaceful with no BS..

  24. Grouler

    What’s wrong with CX riders not knowing how to pass. Everyone in front has to pass the same numbers of riders. Maybe some of you roadies who think you know dirt should race mountain bikes some time and learn how to pass and be passed.

  25. Mech9

    The one thing that’s been my experience with CX racing vs mtb, road, and even gg’s, is that literally there is ALWAYS A RACE. 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th will continue to battle the entire race even though those top 5 are gone. It’s a race within the race, and when officials pull the plug early you are killing that. So you have the top dogs that might be 5w/kg battling their ass off for 1-5th, but you also have your normal 4w/kg humans that are battling each other for whatever mid pack spot. It’s not like they are stoked to get 11th, but I can assure you that they are stoked to cross the line in front of the other 4w/kg guys they were battling with. Officials kill this race within the race.

    Passing riders is something the 5w/kg riders need to learn to do. If they need practice, they should start mtb racing. They will get lots of practice there and trust me.. It’s a lot harder to pass lapped/slower traffic on single track then it is on a nice wide cx course.

  26. Anthony Edw. J Campbell

    Reading the rules as an attorney and not a racer, I disagree with both the calculations of Steve and CalculateTheMath, but agree that the rule was applied incorrectly. The rule addresses the time gap; in the absence of definition elsewhere in the rules, I read that as an instantaneous variable in real time, meaning it can’t be calculated by comparing the sum of completed laps. Parsing the rule: “time gap to the race leader” is the distance behind the current race leader. “At least 80% of the race leader’s time for the first lap” indicates that the allowable gap can be lengthened when the race leader changes (as the initial leader has the fastest first lap time, but if he is overtaken, you are basing the gap on the slower first lap time of the current race leader); if it were merely the fastest time of the first lap, it would not be pegged to the race leader. The current USAC 4G1(b) version of the rules makes this clearer: “Under this rule, riders whose time gap to the race leader is at least 80% of the race leader’s time (calculated using the leader’s first lap) will be pulled by the officials except in the final lap.” (Contrast this with UCI 5.1.052, which is just uses slower rather than referencing a time gap – describing a time gap is problematic, as it is claiming the negative space (patents cannot claim a “hole,” but rather must define its boundaries; the UCI rule has other issues; both the UCI and USAC rules exhibit drafting issues: if the rule is to prevent riders from being lapped, it would probably be easier to define it as “any rider completing a lap after the category leader has passed a designated point 0.6 km from the finish point of leader’s successive lap shall not be allowed to complete the successive lap, and leave the course at a designated point, unless the successive lap is the final lap, in which case the rider shall be allowed to complete the race.” Note the 0.6 km is based on the designated course length of 2.5 – 3.5 km.

    Back to the gap calculation: when Jeff completed lap 2, clock time was 24:30, but Jim, having already completed lap 2 at a clock time of 20:17, was more than 4:13 ahead, as he had added more time — at that point, Jim had likely completed more than 40% of his third lap. While the differential was not uniformly gained, that would place Jeff slightly more than 5 minutes ahead. That is still shy of the 8:42 (80% of the race leader’s 10:52 first lap time, if the classification defined the race).

    Next, there’s the problem that CalculateTheMath highlights, which really relies on the definition of “race leader.” I could not find a definition in either Chapter 1 (General Regulations) or Chapter 4 (Cyclo-cross) of USAC rules. Sections 1H6 & 1H7 discuss field sizes, 1H9 discusses classes, categories and genders. In the absence of the use of another modifier for leader (such as class, category, gender or field), race leader could be interpreted as the wave leader, as CalculateTheMath observed via the use of a single clock. That said, if the rule is to prevent riders from being lapped, using only a single clock sticks to the spirit of the rule, but a wave start with category delays exacerbates the issue.

    The rule needs clarification, but based on the observations described, there may still be issues with application, particularly if there are wave starts and the rule continues to rely on an approximate time gap.

  27. David

    This is the exact reason I stopped racing cross in OVCX. They put Cat3 guys starting with the 1-2 group and would pull nearly all the cat3 guys before the race was over. It’s also happened too many times in crit races. People drive long distances to race and not to be pulled 20-30 minutes into a race.

  28. Mark Bockmann

    “This 80% rule has no place in any race that isn’t a UCI Elite race, Nationals or above. ”

    Agreed. This is kind of a foreign topic to me, and I time a lot of cyclocross events.

    Here in Colorado we never use the 80% rule in cyclocross, and we don’t pull lapped riders, either. Why would we? With a competent timing company there is just no need.

  29. Pingback: Steve Tilford Op-Ed: Jingle Cross & 80% Rule - How the Grinch Stole Crossmas for Masters

  30. tom ekberg

    Agree wholeheartedly Steve! Pulling racers a dumb rule and the reason I quit years ago. Thanks for bringing this up.

  31. Brian

    We have seen this issue at Jingle Cross for years and have complained about to the officials and race personal…they just brush it off. It was a big issue at Cross Vegas last year also. I’ve seen it in crits too…riders getting pulled when they were still in view of the pack! But let’s face it, many of the USAC officials do not know the rules in the rule book and when it comes to the schedule, they try to pack to much in, which leads to them wanting to “trim” the fat earlier then the rules state.

  32. Rick Dalton

    The officials don’t want to wait a few extra minutes for the last finishers. It’s easier for them just to pull them a lap early and think “they won’t really mind”.

  33. Kim Kordecki

    Steve – Awesome blog and love your dogs. We also have a setter in our household. You hit the nail on the head with this one – exact reason my husband stop racing CX, because of this issue. We travel everywhere for races.

    Thanks for bringing it to USAC attention.


  34. Jerry Shere

    I was pulled by an official at Cross Nationals in Kansas City (M64-65) along with almost my entire field because we were going to be lapped by Ned Overend (55-59) before completion of lap 2. My wife, a 3 time national champion, was pulled at Napa Cross Nationals as she was passing slower riders from a younger age group. The official assumed they were lapping her and pulled her. She was actually on her way to a potential podium finish. My current racing age is 74 and, fortunately, my fields are usually less than 20, so we are easy to sort out. We race largely for fun and fitness and Nationals gives us an opportunity to compete with some old friends and people our own age. My wife and I have served for 20+ years as Officials and we have mentored a bunch of young riders that have gone on to become lifelong cyclists, some even achieving Pro careers. I also serve as the GM of a large bike shop in the Southwest. Those Masters spend considerable money on gear in my shop. Given the current state of the retail bike business, I suggest we encourage Masters racing at all levels. We take time off from work, spend ever increasing costs to travel and race at Nationals and all we ask is an opportunity to compete and have some fun. That doesn’t seem like a big ask and, in my case in KC, one 9 minute lap hardly accomplished that modest goal. In fairness, they gave us another start on Sunday but several people had fixed travel plans and could not stay. During my time as an Official, I have always tried to err on the side of good customer service and courtesy. I understand what it takes to get to the start line. My hope would be that the Officials and staff at National competitions would plan adequately to insure that they provide the best possible experience for everyone who suits up and shows up.

  35. Pingback: Grinchness | Steve Tilford

  36. Brian Easter

    I think the official demonstrate they don’t understand the time riders put into the sport to be FIT AND ABLE TO FINISH. I hate Masters timed races cuz I usually don’t FEEL cosmic for 30+ minutes. I PAY my fee and if I don’t podium it’s a chance to train at SPEED.

    I quit track racing because of the Omnium Points system: I was a chronic 4th or 3rd place finisher with people in Cat IV 30 years or more my junior. I simply wanted race Cat III for safety and SPEED work for crits & Road Races. The OFFICIOUS Official (NEVER RACED A DAY IN HIS LIFE) insisted the system was fair? Just admit the system IS and there’s nothing he can change!

    USAC Racing has become a TOTAL MONEY GRAB with the FUN and LIFE sucked right out of the sport!

    Only an the USA!!!! Word.


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