UFD MTB Categories

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.


  1. no...you are NOT wrong. As a 42 year old, i like it when i beat someone younger....hell, i like it when i beat doug long too:)

    josh taylor

  2. Gonna share my two cents on this, because it is something I am passionate about. Everyone needs to buck up and put on their big boy pants! This is racing. This isn't "everyone gets a medal just for showing up." An expert is an expert regardless of age (and so on). I supposedly "benefited" from the previous format because I was guaranteed a podium at any race I attended. That's because I was often the only Cat 1 20-29 there! Nobody wants to race or "win" like that. And as a race promoter it is a losing battle when you have to payout or give medals/prizes to essentially every rider that shows up! Anyways, I could go on and on and rant forever on this. The bottom line is the point of racing is just that. To come out, have a good time, push yourself to the max and beyond, and enjoy the heck out of riding your bike. Whether you were 1st or 30th. Then crack open a cold beverage and enjoy the company of your racing community. Congrats to the UFD for implementing this change.

  3. If you were 55 and were racing for 15th place every weekend at a local event against guys 15 years younger would you still be a happy bike racer??? Or is it more fun to be racing for a win, even if the worst you could do would be 3rd?

  4. I would be happy as could be! I can't stand getting 3rd/last, or second/last, or worse first/last (that last one happened a time or two and I'm sure G-Whiz shares my sentiment). I can undoubtedly tell you I would rather finish 15th out of 20 rather then stand on a podium and there was no one behind me. I'm there to 1) have fun on my bike and 2) push the heck out of myself (Which is easier done with competition)! I don't go to a race because there is a guarantee I am going to get a medal or my race entry back just because I showed up. Or to feel like I am competing for a win against 1 guy (all age groups are facing low numbers, not just the 20 year olds). And I'm not that fast by any stretch of the word. I'm not a speed demon just because I am a 'youngster'. I would be right there duking it out with guys of all ages that are about my speed. But, at least I would be racing against someone, ANYONE! And I know I am not old by any means, but out here there are kids half my age (yes, 14 year olds) that are stomping me into the ground. There are guys MORE THAN DOUBLE my age that are carrying on conversations as I drift off the pace, never to be seen again. That doesn't anger me, it motivates me. If it was deemed necessary that the three of us must shred against one another because we were registered for the same class, not because of our age then I would welcome the challenge. Maybe that is not a fair comparison, but again (in my humble opinion) the point of a race is to always have fun, but also to compete. Whether that is for a podium finish or the right to say you were not dead last. Give it your all and come across the finish line with a smile. This should hold true for first and last place, as well as everyone in between.

    And don't forget, for USA Cycling purposes everyone is scored according to their age. It just means some of us won't get our snazzy beer glasses and $20 gas money anymore. And believe me, that would include me. You "old" (sorry, not trying to insult!) 30 year old's would be knocking me back to the middle of the pack.

    And again, we need to look at it from a race promoter stand point as well. Not just through the eyes of a racer. They put a lot of time and money into these events and HOPE to break even. That is because they are paying out or providing prizes to nearly half of the people that show up (naturally there are things like insurance and other expenses to consider, but you know what I mean)! The sad realization for this region is that people are not showing up. The race venues are great and the people are great, there are just not that many of 'em. If the demand was so high that it required more division of ages then I would be right there supporting it. This is just a necessary change that I hope most people will embrace and enjoy!

    p.s. These are obviously just my thoughts. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I respect that! :)

  5. Whew, sorry for the novel. But, I love me a good debate!