Solutions for the Starting Procedure at Master’s Cyclo-X Worlds

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A couple days ago, my post was ranting a bit about the bad rule of lining up the participates at Master’s World Cylco-X Championships in January 2012 by random selection. I think it was because of the realization that I could spend months preparing for something that I have no control over. That doesn’t sit that well with me, especially after last years fiasco in Belgium. So I went off a bit. But, I’m not alone here. There are lots of guys that are going to be training super hard all fall and early winter that are going to be, as of now, subject to this bad rule.

I haven’t had any contact with anyone that made the procedure in the first place, but I have to assume that everyone involved was somewhat knowledgeable about the sport of cyclocross. So, I took that to mean that the people in power just had no interest in the whole endeavor to start with. And I have to take it as a slap in the face of all Masters riders that the people that are suppose to be looking out for our interests, don’t.

That being said, I think that there is still time for the starting “procedure” to be changed. I don’t see what this random method is written in stone, when the race is still 3 months away. I see no harm in changing the rules to make the race more fair to all participates. This is the designated World Championships of the sport. I see no reason to try to introduce an element of luck into the final standing. That just doesn’t make any sense at all.

I have been sent lots ideas about revamping the rules. It baffles me that the UCI can’t come up with a ranking system for all riders, but that isn’t something that is not even part of the solution at this point. They say that they don’t even have a method to identify current National Champions from each country. If that is beyond them, then a world wide ranking system is years away.

So, here’s the way I see it. We have two choices. One is how they used to line up countries at cyclo-x worlds. Each country, that has a minimum number of participates, picks a start number. Then each country gets to chose a rider to line up in that position. Every country goes through one rotation, then it starts all over again. The problem with this idea is that many countries might not have even 3 riders in any given age category. And who from the foreign countries are going to be the ones to decide the start order for their countries riders? These problems probably make this choice a non choice.

The other is, just ride a time trial. Everyone in each and every race rides a time trial. We did it last year at the Nationals in Bend and it worked out fine.

The only argument I can think of against this is of a time restraint on the course. They have stated that each and every rider that registers is going to get a full length race. Forget that. Take all the time that has been allocated for two races and ride time trials instead. Each and every rider should ride a time trial and they should be seeded by their results. Every rider then gets to ride the championship race. I honestly don’t think the fields are going to be as large as they are in Madison the weekend before. I think many riders come to the National Championships to compete, plus to watch the other classes race. I think the fields are going to be significantly smaller in Louisville than at the Nationals. And I think the National’s fields this year are going to be be smaller than the previous years because it is a month later and because it is being held in Madison. Sorry, but that is just reality.

Anyway, that’s all I have now. Nearly all the riders competing are going to be from the United States. And there is no qualifying procedure. You show and you can ride. It will be a huge diversity of abilities. This random method is just wrong.

We are hosting this event for the next two years. We should do our best to set good precedent and to make the races the best that we can. And a super important part of this is starting the riders in the correct manner. Let’s get it right.

It might not be easier, but it is a hell of a lot better.

This is an example of what every race might look like with riders of diverse abilities spread all over the starting grid.

18 thoughts on “Solutions for the Starting Procedure at Master’s Cyclo-X Worlds

  1. ritchey_breakaway

    I’m still convinced that CX should look to MX to solve this as the first 7 seconds of this video demonstrates:

    This is the fairest system where everyone starts on the same line. Even if there were two rows, it’s much fairer than the grid in the current system. Understand that by the time we hit that first corner, the pack will be strung out, and players will be in great position and the posers out.

  2. Parke

    Doesn’t the new USAC registration system include a rider ranking and seeding system?

    Hasn’t been doing that for 5 or 6 years BEFORE the USAC? INCLUDING UCI athletes from around the world?

    Didn’t get the idea from the US cross country ski association, whos been doing that for events for at least a decade?

    I’m with you – piss poor and reeking with “couldn’t be bothered”.

  3. tilford97 Post author

    Guys-The problem with a start such a motocross uses is that each venue can’t be expected to have a start area big enough to accommodate that many riders in a single or double row. Plus, how to you decide who gets to line up there on the row. Even if the start was a parabola with everyone an equal distance from the first corner, there will always be a “sweet” line. That would be the same problem that we have now.

  4. keith

    I don’t see why they don’t just say you must be the highest category of racer in your countries ranking system. So if you are from the USA, you must be a CX cat 1 to race at UCI worlds. Or top 5% at your countries most recent national championships.

  5. Daniel Russell

    The time trial is the best solution I have heard. Gives people another event, prize money and a venue for time trial specialists that may not do well in a CX race. Also, this would be an exciting event, we really don’t get to see racing all out on the entire course.

  6. chad

    I agree with Daniel. the TT is the best for the racers. For the promoter it is more work but it’s Worlds! It should be a very challenging race to promote. The race is about the racers yes???

  7. sound_travels


    I’m glad you finally see how poorly USAC treats the grassroots scene but this has been going on for at least a decade.

    Yes, did it first. USAC displays the typical reaction of an anti-competitive organization. Just wait and see if it’s popular then do a cheap and dirty knock-off. It’s not supposed to be better. Just good enough.

    I’m glad you are finally getting the message from USAC, but there needs to be another 5,000 or so members that get it and force change at USAC. Until then, get used to it.

  8. flyn' pharmacist

    I think everyone has forgot that even in moto x they had different classes-amateur, expert, etc. The experts did not race with the amateurs. What you see on TV now are the pro’s. Besides, with that type of start you can still have a strong rider that has zero cornering ability. Once again, to save time, they could start 10 at a time for a lap or even 1/2 lap if it was really nasty.

  9. Ritchey_Breakaway

    T97: Even in MX, you get to pick your place on the line based on meritocracy. Whether by TT or 3-lap heats, the top qualifiers get a pick of the best position on a line that everyone else starts on. Even if the draw for start position were random in this system, the fastest guys would still get to that corner first. And what if Steve gets a flat in his qualifier and finishes out of the top 50? In the current system he’d be buried at least 6 rows back. In the MX system he’d get 50th pick on the line or at worst 2nd row.

    The idea that there’s limited space at a venue may hold water for smaller races, but we’re talking about the world championships here. They could make the space.

    Regarding just having Cat 1’s race, how many Cat 1 55s or Masters women are there? The fields would be very small if you limited it to that category, and since we know this is all about money, the promoters are not going to want that.

    The 8 column starting grid system is inherently unfair. If it wasn’t, the CX aristocracy wouldn’t be complaining about being potentially buried in the back of it. Widen the start, put everyone on a more even playing field, and let your huevos and sprint to that first corner be the judge of your abilities.

  10. mark

    8-rider 1-lap qualifying heats to set the start grid would appear to be the best solution. Everybody gets a front-row start in there heat. It’s course specific so the fastest guys on that particular course will get better starting spots than guys that were slower on that particular course. For races with chip-timing, the start/finishing lap times for each heat would be automatic. You could probably run an 8-rider heat every 2 or 3 minutes and set an entire 100-rider start grid in about an hour.

  11. jv

    LeMans style start…ie run the first lap, no bikes…that should sort things out. It worked for Speed Racer.

  12. jt

    hate to be a wet blanket, but I am little put off by masters racing as a separate category, and I am more than old enough to participate. the whole roger hernandez thing comes to mind. lot of effort to accomplish a lot of nothing. throw em in with the big boys and that is that. too many resources sucked up that should be going to the development of the sport IMHO

  13. tilford97 Post author

    jt-I see where you’re coming from. I don’t race too many masters races. I can probably count them on both hands. But that being said, I think it is pretty good for the sport. I don’t think it is taking resources. I think it keeps participates in the sport longer, which is a good thing. I think that the older riders have the financial means and the knowledge to help the development of the younger riders. Cycling is intellectual sport as well as physical. There is a lot to learn about all aspects and if the older guys aren’t around participating, then the knowledge has a much harder time being transferred. ATMO.

  14. John Adamson

    I think we have to consider the poor bastard who hasn’t got the resources to compete in far away countries – but has the skills etc. to make the podium at Worlds. He has no points ….

  15. Mr.Frack

    A TT is such an easy solution, and it can even be on a different venue. I think you could just do a grassy out and back about 10 min TT. It is all about who has the big motor vs not so much. I did not look too hard at the Bend results, but I would guess not too many guys out of the top ten in the TT were sprinting for a podium in the main event for the age groups.

  16. jt

    I know that you don’t do a lot of masters racing and I respect that. I kinda see your point, but what about wasting time and money trying to catch Roger Hernandez or the litany of other guys that have been busted this year?

  17. Max

    Jt – masters racers do quite a bit for the development of the sport by allowing promoters across the country to break even on their events. Sorry to state the obvious, but for many people the masters race is simply an opportunity to double up on race day. The point here is, if you are going to call something a world championship it should be treated as such.


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