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Friday, March 10, 2006


Out in bike nerd forum land there's always a bit of discussion about when a rider should have a sandbag dropped on their noggin', or not..


I don't much care for the term and always give free-form my thoughts when riders ask me about if'n they should change categories.

Now, it's my pretty strong opinion that riders shouldn't upgrade just because they've won a few races in a certain category. And on the reverse-end, some riders should be allowed to upgrade even if they haven't won many races.

Fo' instance, I know this catty 4 woman who is being given a hard time with her upgrade when it is quite clear that she has the strength and skill to be a 3. And, that's what it comes down to, enit? It's all about whether we'll be competitive in the new fields when we change a number on our license ... and if we'll be safe.

And so, I separate upgrades into two different categories (har har):

1) the person who should or shouldn't upgrade based on their ability to be safe and competitive in the new field; and

2) those riders who will upgrade, but might want to delay the process so that they learn how to win.

There's this sasquatch riding in the masters 4/5 in our region that has improved his bike racing immense-like this year. Now, there are some who are pulling out the daggers and calling for his upgrade to throw him into the geezer big-leagues.

In my opine-yun, this guy is a damn good talent but still has some things to learn about different ways to win. If you're into racing with the passion that this guy seems to have, you've got to give yourself time to develop the different tools necessary to be competitive at the next level. Too many times I have seen riders rush into the next category after they have won a couple races and then find themselves suffering at the back of the new, faster, stronger packs.

Winning, if that's what you're interested in, is a beast that takes time to tame. And, you must learn how to win out of the many different situations that arise in a bike race ~ for, bike racing is one dynamic, beautifully spontaneous sport ... prolly why we all stay in it so long.

If you've already made the mental evolution of enjoying the journey and now want to focus on grabbing a few ribbons and podium shots, then take your time with your upgrade.

In short, learn about your strengths and weaknesses, learn what it's like to be in a small field sprint, a big field sprint, a solo attack, a 2-up negotiation, and more. And maybe, give yourself the reminders every once in awhile of just how beautiful this journey of ours really is.

super yummy, yo.


Chico Cyclist said...

Words of true wisdom......and basically what helped me to decide to actually downgrade this year. I just knew I would not be competitive in the Masters 1/2/3 field. I have a ton to re-learn, and so am content now to begin the process all again. And I love it! It's great fun.....and actually a great relief too. Learning to win.....that is so true.

Jed said...

I dropped your name earlier this week to some bike racer guy and he said that you were in your own special category...."professional masters".

Dan Cleary said...

droppin' knowledge on us all. thanks OV.

i was told i could upgrade but didn't think i had all the skills to respect the next level up.

i learn every race and try all sorts of stuff to see what works for me. when i get that all dialed in, i'll see you at the next level up.

thanks again ov. the message is right at the "right" time.

Nome Agusta said...

Interesting take. I also think upgrading should based on if you can play the game and not just on if you can win. This is suppost to be a team sport, and sometimes that means playing a defensive roll.