Forum home Road cycling forum Amateur race

The precarious world of 4th catdom

«13

Posts

  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    Imo the points thing is a bit of a red herring if you're trying to make 4th cat racing (and guys who upgrade quickly because they get their 10 points in 1-2 races) safer. 4th cat racing is by definition for new racers. There are tons of experienced 4th cats who can ride fine in the bunch but would never get 40 points and hence never upgrade, so it doesn't seem fair to punish them by forcing them to ride with new/inexperienced people all the time. The same muppets who win their first race with their triathlon/sportive/whatever fitness will just do 4 races and then upgrade. Doesn't really solve the problem of TEACHING people to ride more safely, or giving them more experience riding in a bunch.

    I've said it on other forums, but I think a better solution would be:
    - get rid of provisional licenses except for Go Races
    - get rid of Private Members at the 4th cat level. Only allow Private Member to be those who are both 3rd cat or above AND have had a full racing license for at least one full season.
    - require/provide/encourage more beginner's racing courses -- an induction of sorts, like they do at indoor tracks -- so that people can learn proper racing etiquette and safety before they start racing.
    - come up with a combined system of number of races raced and points gained together as requirement for upgrade. The American system does that for upgrades from cat 4 to cat 3, though I see to upgrade from cat 5 (beginner) to 4, it's just 10 races, no points needed.

    Frankly it's a bit too easy to get into racing right now, I have no problem with asking people to make more of a commitment before allowing them to race full-on (whether that's requiring them to join a club and/or do an induction and/or a minimum number of Go Races or whatever). It's in their interest and everyone else's to require that, and it's a safety thing above all, so if they don't want to do that, they can stick to TTs, triathlons, sportives. etc.

    I do appreciate where Stuart is coming from but I'm not convinced his solution will solve the problem at hand.
  • greeny12greeny12 Posts: 759
    Bit of a misleading headline that - the piece is really about super-fit tri guys winning their first ever 4th Cat race then struggling to stay upright when they make the step up to higher level racing without the bunch riding experience.

    Not a problem I'm likely to have next year, methinks...!
    My cycle racing blog: http://cyclingapprentice.wordpress.com/

    If you live in or near Sussex, check this out:
    http://ontherivet.ning.com/
  • As a new road rider I joined a club to learn the skills of group riding etc. Thankfully my club run a series of starter races on a closed circuit and I learnt a lot by doing these races.

    Though would say that even though the prize fund was a tiny £20 it was amazing how so many cat 4 & 3 riders were seen in those races!

    maryka - I do tend to agree though that they need to do something as a way of educating riders. Again I'm quite lucky as my club is rather sizeable and I get to ride with lots of different types of riders from straight roadies to tri/duathletes. I like your idea of a Cat 5 and a minimum number of races to move up as I would certainly fit into that group and would appreciate the structure that would give not only to me, but at the end of say the 10 races when moving up to have both the confidence knowing I had those under my belt. But also knowing that other riders had also been through it and it want their first time.

    At my local club there have been some pretty bad crashes and I do think that some of these at least were caused by inexperienced riders and it the other people and their bikes being trashed I really feel for.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    Agree with much of what Maryka says.

    Stuart Benstead's suggestion might work in London but 40 points round here means 40 points in 3/4 racing either on circuits with 80 plus riders or roads with 70-80 riders. That means making 3rd cat would be like making 2nd cat now.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • HibbsHibbs Posts: 291
    maryka wrote:
    Imo the points thing is a bit of a red herring if you're trying to make 4th cat racing (and guys who upgrade quickly because they get their 10 points in 1-2 races) safer. 4th cat racing is by definition for new racers. There are tons of experienced 4th cats who can ride fine in the bunch but would never get 40 points and hence never upgrade, so it doesn't seem fair to punish them by forcing them to ride with new/inexperienced people all the time. The same muppets who win their first race with their triathlon/sportive/whatever fitness will just do 4 races and then upgrade. Doesn't really solve the problem of TEACHING people to ride more safely, or giving them more experience riding in a bunch.

    I've said it on other forums, but I think a better solution would be:
    - get rid of provisional licenses except for Go Races
    - get rid of Private Members at the 4th cat level. Only allow Private Member to be those who are both 3rd cat or above AND have had a full racing license for at least one full season.
    - require/provide/encourage more beginner's racing courses -- an induction of sorts, like they do at indoor tracks -- so that people can learn proper racing etiquette and safety before they start racing.
    - come up with a combined system of number of races raced and points gained together as requirement for upgrade. The American system does that for upgrades from cat 4 to cat 3, though I see to upgrade from cat 5 (beginner) to 4, it's just 10 races, no points needed.

    Frankly it's a bit too easy to get into racing right now, I have no problem with asking people to make more of a commitment before allowing them to race full-on (whether that's requiring them to join a club and/or do an induction and/or a minimum number of Go Races or whatever). It's in their interest and everyone else's to require that, and it's a safety thing above all, so if they don't want to do that, they can stick to TTs, triathlons, sportives. etc.

    I do appreciate where Stuart is coming from but I'm not convinced his solution will solve the problem at hand.

    +1million.
  • HibbsHibbs Posts: 291
    I personally think you should only be granted a racing licence if:

    a) you're a member of a club;

    b) every club has one or more officials who are to certify that the rider has ridden on at least 10 club rides in a group and has not shown any reason for concern.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    I doubt there are many people making 3rd cat who haven't been out on plenty of group rides. Requiring clubs to sign off riders is just creating a lot of bureaucracy with no real benefit.

    Who is going to do the signing off - are they going to be trained to do it - will they have to accompany the new rider on 10 rides and what comeback will there be if that person turns out to be a complete liability ? And at the end of the day what do you really learn from watching someone ride in a group of half a dozen to a dozen on a club run - because that is what most club rides are these days.

    I reckon the main thing is to provide some training days - whether voluntary or compulsory would need thinking about - where riders have the chance to learn some skills and some dos and don'ts. The idea to make club membership compulsory for 4th cats isn't a bad one either as while it might not do much it's not a big ask and as clubs do pay to affiliate to BC it'd give them something back for doing so.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    The more I think about it, the more I think some combination of the American system and ours makes sense. I would set it up like this:

    -- after 10 races where a finish in in the bunch is recorded, a 4th cat would move up to 3rd cat.
    -- any 4th cats who feel they are still not experienced enough (i.e., they were blown out the bunch in most of their 10 races) could stay 4th cat until they do feel fit enough to move up. BUT they would have to specifically ask for that dispensation. BC could look at their results to decide if they are sandbagging for wins and move them up anyway.

    This would solve a major problem in 4th cat racing which is the desperate sprint for 9th and 10th place, i.e, minor points, because people feel obsessed with moving up to 3rd cat and therefore need points. Doing away with points for 4th cat and making upgrades to 3rd based purely on race experience and/or bunch finishes would take the pressure off there (theoretically).

    However this would require some effort on the part of organisers as places like Hillingdon and Crystal Palace don't bother to note who finishes and who doesn't, it's just the top ten that matter. DNFs and finishes would need to be noted. Doesn't take much, just need to note the dropped/lapped/DNF'd riders and consider everyone else to have finished, but currently they don't even do that.

    It would also require a bit of a rethink on 3rd cat races, which as standalone races are hardly faster than 4ths races but are often not offered. Hillingdon jumps from 4th to E/1/2/3 and that's a big jump for someone with good bunch experience but lacking fitness. If they could fit in a 3rds only race that would be better (unlikely I know).
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    Hibbs wrote:
    I personally think you should only be granted a racing licence if:

    a) you're a member of a club;

    b) every club has one or more officials who are to certify that the rider has ridden on at least 10 club rides in a group and has not shown any reason for concern.

    I have to disagree. Not everyone chooses to be a member of a club, and that choice should continue.

    I'm not a club member, although I used to be when I was racing first time round. That doesnt stop me going out on group rides every week in the season, chain gang in fact.

    Now racing again, for last three years, and there are club riders with limited bike handling and awareness, but either stay clear of them or have a word, polite or otherwise.

    As for certifying riders, just more officialdom, and what are the comebacks on those officials if one of their club riders whom they have signed off then causes a crash in a race.

    Crashes happen. Its a fast sport, with limited protection. I think you just have to accept it and deal with it, or find another way to enjoy your cycling. The barriers to racing, in terms of cost and admin, are high enough already, no need to add more. Certainly, 10, 15, 20 years ago, this was the attitude, and rightly so IMO.
  • I'm a 4th cat and I don't ride for a club. However in my past life I was a 1st cat but have taken a break from racing for family commitments. I made a comeback this year after 14 years and I was given a 4th cat licence. Being a 4th cat suits me as I won't be 'competetive' as I have a specific amount of time to train ususally about an hour/hour and a half a day, my weekends are spent running the kids around. It is these committments that stop me from being a club member, I haven't got time to contribute to club life during the week.

    However I do contribute to the sport as I'm a commissaire. The standard of riding has dropped since I stopped racing 14 years ago and getting back in the bunch at the end of this year was an 'experience'. The amount of 'switching' and 'sitting up' that occured in the races I took part in was frightening. They weren't all 4 th cats either (or 3rd cats).

    Sitting in the car as a commissaire and watching the bunch lined out at 30 mph and then fan across the road when they sit up a the front has been frightening. Thats why the crashes happen at the back and that is where the less experienced riders position themselves.

    Blaming 4th cats is an excuse and it's not the answer.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Agree with much of what Maryka says.

    Stuart Benstead's suggestion might work in London but 40 points round here means 40 points in 3/4 racing either on circuits with 80 plus riders or roads with 70-80 riders. That means making 3rd cat would be like making 2nd cat now.

    +1

    Almost all the racing round these parts (Yorkshire) for 4th Cats seems to be 3rd/4th or 2nd/3rd/4th. So most novice 4th cats are probably only thinking about finishing in the bunch in their first few races as opposed to finishing in the top 10 anyway.

    I wonder if having separate 4th Cat races is maybe one of the problems in other parts of the country? Maybe having 3rd/4th races instead makes it less likely that you'll have a dozen 4th Cats sprinting for the minor places?
    More problems but still living....
  • Lion-OLion-O Posts: 48
    dlewis1a wrote:
    I'm a 4th cat and I don't ride for a club. However in my past life I was a 1st cat but have taken a break from racing for family commitments. I made a comeback this year after 14 years and I was given a 4th cat licence. Being a 4th cat suits me as I won't be 'competetive' as I have a specific amount of time to train ususally about an hour/hour and a half a day, my weekends are spent running the kids around. It is these committments that stop me from being a club member, I haven't got time to contribute to club life during the week.

    However I do contribute to the sport as I'm a commissaire. The standard of riding has dropped since I stopped racing 14 years ago and getting back in the bunch at the end of this year was an 'experience'. The amount of 'switching' and 'sitting up' that occured in the races I took part in was frightening. They weren't all 4 th cats either (or 3rd cats).

    Sitting in the car as a commissaire and watching the bunch lined out at 30 mph and then fan across the road when they sit up a the front has been frightening. Thats why the crashes happen at the back and that is where the less experienced riders position themselves.

    Blaming 4th cats is an excuse and it's not the answer.




    I thought once you had been promoted from a 4th cat no matter if you took a break you would alaways go back to a 3rd cat never a 4th!
  • Don't know perhaps I slipped through the net? Don't think they had 4th cats in 1996 (last time I raced)
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I don't race BC races purely for this reason - besides being sub-65kg and more suited to hilly courses, the chance of picking up points on a circuit race are frankly remote - I've had enough of being elbowed off the track onto the grass by nervous newbies who don't understand that you don't push your way into non-existent spaces by riding between two riders. Even the LVRC races have seen increased fields and typically nervous/aggressive riding as people jostle for position or believe that riding down the outside of the pack, on the other side of the white line into approaching traffic as you approach a bend and chopping your way in at the front is the way to gain places - only to get dropped on the next minor incline...
    Finally, there's a lot more that commissaires could do to impose penalties for bad riding i.e. docking points for persistently crossing the white line on open roads.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,587
    Lion-O wrote:
    I thought once you had been promoted from a 4th cat no matter if you took a break you would alaways go back to a 3rd cat never a 4th!

    correct - providing BC still has your records, a third cat licence should have been issued. If there are no records, then I guess they have no option but to issue a 4th.
  • coyot3coyot3 Posts: 12
    softlad wrote:
    Lion-O wrote:
    I thought once you had been promoted from a 4th cat no matter if you took a break you would alaways go back to a 3rd cat never a 4th!

    correct - providing BC still has your records, a third cat licence should have been issued. If there are no records, then I guess they have no option but to issue a 4th.

    BC changed their computer system in 1998, so any points before then lost.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027
    So, is everyone more or less in agreement that riding standards can be poor and that this was not the case 20, 30 years ago?
    If so, what single thing could improve that situation?

    If anyone 'new' to the sport has been reading thru this thread and others then you would have to admit a less than satisfactory image is being relayed, despite road racing at amateur level being basically a fantastic sport.
  • gsk82gsk82 Posts: 2,772
    i've not had any problems in tli races or the one BC race i did this year in east yorkshire. it seems to be another southern problem, probably bourne from being inconsiderate and arrogant
    "Unfortunately these days a lot of people don’t understand the real quality of a bike" Ernesto Colnago
  • My season was ended by a crash in the 4ths at Hillingdon. It seems to have a reputation foir this. Not really sure what the answer to the problem is though. Are there a lot of crashes in other 4ths-only races?

    I don't quite follow the article. It seems to imply that the crashes happen in the E123 race as the 4s move up too quickly. It was my understanding that the problem was in the 4 races.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    If 4th Cats are racing with only 4th Cats then who exactly can they learn their race skills from?

    The more I think about it the more obvious it seems that the reason we don't have the problems around here is because 4th Cats are thrown in with 3rd Cats from the start and so have plenty of experienced riders to learn from....
    More problems but still living....
  • Lion-OLion-O Posts: 48
    in my humble opinion (former 2nd cat) 3rd cat this year with 27 points i have raced 3/4 s and e/1/2/3 this year and to me crashes happen in 3/4 because riders dont make the races hard enough ie not enought people willing to attack. riders sit in because they are frightened of getting dropped (i can understand this though) but then it comes to a 30 rider plus sprint and those people who sat in think ohh i can get a place and take stupid risks or are inexperieced in a sprint and usually cause the crash. some are obviously not strong enough to contest the finish but try to anyway.

    you can only learn from racing so i guess its about learning your trade and some 4th expect to get some pointers from other riders (this may take the form of shouting from some riders but myself would politely tell a rider the unwritten rules etc)
  • Are there a lot of crashes in other 4ths-only races?

    I've done maybe 15 or so races at Hog Hill in the last couple of seasons, mostly 4ths only but a few 3/4s, and three of the midweek races at Dunton (which are technically Go-Races, but last more than an hour and go at a faster pace than the Hog Hill races), and I haven't seen any 'proper' crashes, i.e. with lots of people going down and several injuries and damage. Most races pass off wthout incident, but a few times I've seen a couple of riders collide and go down (but bizzarely this has always been when climbing), or people overshoot a corner and go onto the grass.
  • in my humble opinion (former 2nd cat) 3rd cat this year with 27 points i have raced 3/4 s and e/1/2/3 this year and to me crashes happen in 3/4 because riders dont make the races hard enough ie not enought people willing to attack. riders sit in because they are frightened of getting dropped (i can understand this though) but then it comes to a 30 rider plus sprint and those people who sat in think ohh i can get a place and take stupid risks or are inexperieced in a sprint and usually cause the crash. some are obviously not strong enough to contest the finish but try to anyway.

    I think that was what I implied in my post earlier. When the fitter guys race the bunch gets lined out, the pace slows and then there's a crash at the back end of the bunch. The riders sat at the back are generally those that aren't as fit/good. The 4th cats generally aren't good enough to get out of the bunch and if the race isn't hard enough you'll find 30 riders going for the gallop and heading for tarmac.

    I was chief comm at a race 3 years ago and there were 40ish riders in the field and it was hard work keeping control of the bunch and the NEG worked their socks off. This years I did the same race and we had 80 riders. First lap the riders were lined out, 2nd lap as we entered the back part of the course where the road became hilly and narrow the riders sat up, and, because the road was narrow the riders weren't left with the room they needed. Crash happened at the back, who went down - mainly 4th cats - why because they've been lined out for 20 miles by fitter/faster 2nd cats who've now sat up. I should also say that during that race I lost a rider in the neutralised section when we were going at 20mph, he simply sat up because of the size of the field and packed.

    As I said earlier blaming 4th cats is easy but you've got to look at the whole picture. They have to race, and they have to race with better riders or they'll stagnate. But is allowing riders who aren't used to racing acceptable in a 80 rider race? It comes down to commonsense from the organiser but also from the club and ultimately the rider. When I was a junior I wanted to start racing but the club coach talked me out of it until I got more experience. Coaching isn't just about schedules.
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,587
    jgsi wrote:
    So, is everyone more or less in agreement that riding standards can be poor and that this was not the case 20, 30 years ago?

    I started racing in the early 90s - mainly 3/J events in the old West London division. My first ever road race was on the Hayes by-pass before the Hillingdon circuit opened and that was utter carnage, as I recall. There were crashes in races back then and there were always 'moments' in pretty much every race I ever did.

    I crashed in an eight-up sprint once and broke my collarbone (the two riders in front of me both switched at the same time and went down and I had nowhere to go), and a mate of mine crashed in a crit and spent several days in hospital with a head injury - in fact there were plenty of crashes back then.

    Last season was my first season back after several years out of racing - and as far as I could tell (riding mainly Welsh 3/4 events) the standards are no worse now than they were back in the 90s.

    I haven't ridden at Hillingdon since 1998, so I have no idea of the standard of rider they get there now, but let's not kid ourselves that everything was rosy 20 years ago, cos it wasn't.. ;)
  • incog24incog24 Posts: 549
    Lion-O wrote:
    in my humble opinion (former 2nd cat) 3rd cat this year with 27 points i have raced 3/4 s and e/1/2/3 this year and to me crashes happen in 3/4 because riders dont make the races hard enough ie not enought people willing to attack. riders sit in because they are frightened of getting dropped (i can understand this though) but then it comes to a 30 rider plus sprint and those people who sat in think ohh i can get a place and take stupid risks or are inexperieced in a sprint and usually cause the crash. some are obviously not strong enough to contest the finish but try to anyway.

    you can only learn from racing so i guess its about learning your trade and some 4th expect to get some pointers from other riders (this may take the form of shouting from some riders but myself would politely tell a rider the unwritten rules etc)

    I remember a pro complaining about this last year, something about idiots sprinting for 18th place and causing crashes, so its definitely not just a 4th Cat thing. Pan flat non selective courses aren't incredibly interesting to race, and result in bigger sprints.
    Racing for Fluid Fin Race Team in 2012 - www.fluidfin.co.uk
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    softlad wrote:
    jgsi wrote:
    So, is everyone more or less in agreement that riding standards can be poor and that this was not the case 20, 30 years ago?

    I started racing in the early 90s - mainly 3/J events in the old West London division. My first ever road race was on the Hayes by-pass before the Hillingdon circuit opened and that was utter carnage, as I recall. There were crashes in races back then and there were always 'moments' in pretty much every race I ever did.

    I crashed in an eight-up sprint once and broke my collarbone (the two riders in front of me both switched at the same time and went down and I had nowhere to go), and a mate of mine crashed in a crit and spent several days in hospital with a head injury - in fact there were plenty of crashes back then.

    Last season was my first season back after several years out of racing - and as far as I could tell (riding mainly Welsh 3/4 events) the standards are no worse now than they were back in the 90s.

    I haven't ridden at Hillingdon since 1998, so I have no idea of the standard of rider they get there now, but let's not kid ourselves that everything was rosy 20 years ago, cos it wasn't.. ;)

    I think 20yrs ago we were more accepting of the fact that racing is fast, sometimes dangerous. The sport was on its @rse, not many new riders coming through so much less of an issue.
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,587
    sheffsimon wrote:

    I think 20yrs ago we were more accepting of the fact that racing is fast, sometimes dangerous. The sport was on its @rse, not many new riders coming through so much less of an issue.

    that's true - and back then the organisers were lucky to get full fields (especially in 1/2/3s) and even then, a full line-up would only be 60 riders - not the 80+ you get these days...
  • HibbsHibbs Posts: 291
    edited November 2010
    sheffsimon wrote:
    Hibbs wrote:
    I personally think you should only be granted a racing licence if:

    a) you're a member of a club;

    b) every club has one or more officials who are to certify that the rider has ridden on at least 10 club rides in a group and has not shown any reason for concern.

    I have to disagree. Not everyone chooses to be a member of a club, and that choice should continue.

    I'm not a club member, although I used to be when I was racing first time round. That doesnt stop me going out on group rides every week in the season, chain gang in fact.

    Now racing again, for last three years, and there are club riders with limited bike handling and awareness, but either stay clear of them or have a word, polite or otherwise.

    As for certifying riders, just more officialdom, and what are the comebacks on those officials if one of their club riders whom they have signed off then causes a crash in a race.

    Crashes happen. Its a fast sport, with limited protection. I think you just have to accept it and deal with it, or find another way to enjoy your cycling. The barriers to racing, in terms of cost and admin, are high enough already, no need to add more. Certainly, 10, 15, 20 years ago, this was the attitude, and rightly so IMO.

    For any other sport you have to be a member of an affiliated club in order to take part in formal competitions. Why not cycling? Why in cycling can someone who has no history in the sport be allowed to rock up at a race to compete in a big group in close proximity and at high speeds, and potentially endanger themselves and others? If being forced to be a member of a club improves riding skills and attitudes in lower cat racing, why not?

    Edit: at least for new competitors anyway.
  • HibbsHibbs Posts: 291
    Oh, and I said riders should be certified saying there has been nothing to suggest they would not be safe. That is not certifying a rider will be safe. That could not come back to the certifier.
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    Hibbs wrote:
    sheffsimon wrote:
    Hibbs wrote:
    I personally think you should only be granted a racing licence if:

    a) you're a member of a club;

    b) every club has one or more officials who are to certify that the rider has ridden on at least 10 club rides in a group and has not shown any reason for concern.

    I have to disagree. Not everyone chooses to be a member of a club, and that choice should continue.

    I'm not a club member, although I used to be when I was racing first time round. That doesnt stop me going out on group rides every week in the season, chain gang in fact.

    Now racing again, for last three years, and there are club riders with limited bike handling and awareness, but either stay clear of them or have a word, polite or otherwise.

    As for certifying riders, just more officialdom, and what are the comebacks on those officials if one of their club riders whom they have signed off then causes a crash in a race.

    Crashes happen. Its a fast sport, with limited protection. I think you just have to accept it and deal with it, or find another way to enjoy your cycling. The barriers to racing, in terms of cost and admin, are high enough already, no need to add more. Certainly, 10, 15, 20 years ago, this was the attitude, and rightly so IMO.

    For any other sport you have to be a member of an affiliated club in order to take part in formal competitions. Why not cycling? Why in cycling can someone who has no history in the sport be allowed to rock up at a race to compete in a big group in close proximity and at high speeds, and potentially endanger themselves and others? If being forced to be a member of a club improves riding skills and attitudes in lower cat racing, why not?

    Edit: at least for new competitors anyway.

    Does being in a club improve riding skills and attitudes in lower cat racing? What relevance does riding in twos on a club run have to a race?

    Not much IMO.

    Many complaints/comments on this and other forums re triathletes riding road races and their poor bunch skills, presumably their tri club is affiliated to BC, so how has this affiliation helped?
Sign In or Register to comment.