I read the emails today concerning the new classes for the UFD series. Some of the elder statesman have some concerns. It looks like the plan is to essentially have two races go off for each category. There will be a 39 under for Cat 1,2,3 and a 40+ for Cat 1,2,3. So at noon on race day there will be two seperate groups take off for Cat. 1, the younger and the older seperated by a few minutes. Within these two groups the officials will actually score the racers in their actual age group (30-35, 36-40, etc). The idea here is to have more people racing on the trail instead of the possibility of starting with 3 people and only racing them which isnt very much fun.
Basically, I will race against everyone under 39 for an "overall" and also be scored against the 30-35 age group at the same time. The prizes will be given out for this "overall" and the age group stuff is for USA cycling scoring.
When I first read this plan I guess I came down on the side of the 50+ guys who are concerned about not having their own class and having to compete with some guy who is 40 for their portion of the "overall". So I went to the most successful series in the United States, WORS. Not that they know everything, but they are doing something right as shown by their WORS Annual Report. This changed my tune.
Wors does it even simpler then the new UFD plan. They essentially run 3 races every weekend. Cat. 3, Cat. 2, and Cat. 1. ( i know there are ladies and juniors also). Every age group lines up together and has at it within their Category. So at 9 am the Cat. 3 race starts, at 10:30 the Cat. 2 race starts, and at 12:00 the Cat. 1/Elite race starts. Then the officials score each Category in their age group (30-35, 36-40, etc) for USA Cycling purposes. They dont even worry about breaking it up with the 39/under, 40+ system. They do give awards something like 8 deep which is nice.
I think this is the way to do it. If UFD wants to use the 39 under/ 40+ system to cut down slightly on the amount of people on the trail I guess I understand that. This could cut down on the possibility of getting into lapped traffic to early. I think its more fun to have more people on the trail to race against rather than line up with 3 others and you already basically know what the finish order will be. Understandably it is going to be hard for a 55+ Doug Long to win the overall in the 40+ even though he is one of the faster guys in the nation in his age group. I guess I think I would see the challenge in beating as many "youngsters" as possible, but im not in that position so its hard to know for sure. To me, the essence of mountain biking is to go as fast as you can and push yourself as hard as possible and not worry about what size of trophy that equates to.
The big/epic races are gaining popularity. None of these races split things up by age group at the start, they dont even split things up by gender. Everyone lines up, and gives'er. Then the official sort things out by age group later. Rarely is a "master" going to be racing for the overall in this situation, but "masters" seem to love these races. Im not sure I see why XC racing should be any different.
Maybe im wrong?? When im 50 Ill get back to you.
I think the UFD is on the right track. Lets Race.