At the beginning of this week I went to the USA Cycling website and upgraded from Cat 3 to Cat 2 for cross-country mountain bike racing. Based on the success I had this year, it was not just the right thing to do, but also mandatory according to USA Cycling rules. Knowing that in 2013 I will be doing longer races and facing more technical trails, I’m still unsure what my WORS ambitions should be. I don’t expect to be on the podium. Next season likely will be a year of learning, adjusting, and finishing in the middle of a big “Sport” field, all to set up a more competitive 2014. I can live with that.
I’m not sure I can live with being forced to upgrade from Cat 4 to Cat 3 in cyclocross next year, but that’s what I will have to do if USA Cycling doesn’t amend the new guidelines it announced earlier today. I’ve done 15 cyclocross races as a Cat 4 and I’ve never come close to winning even one of them. In fact, I’ve never been on the podium. But the new guidelines demand that I upgrade to Cat 3 based on my experience, not my results. The one good thing about being a Cat 3 would be racing later in the day when the weather is warmer. The reality, however, is that I’m not very likely to race at all if I have to compete against riders whose abilities so far exceed mine that I have no realistic prospect for success.