At the Cross Crusade debut, there were some dudes racing Beginner that were pretty fast. Eighteen of them were at least a lap faster than the remaining 120 or so racing in that class. I’d say that those Eighteen ought to move on to a higher category and I would recommend the Bs as a reasonable destination.

I suggest the Bs because those guys completed 6 laps in the 40 minute race and the Bs finished 7 laps in the 45 minute race. I think those races went a little longer than advertised and the leaders of both those races were putting in lap times around 8 minutes. Shoot, I was racing 8:30 laps in the 35+A race so those guys were going faster than I was and I’d be racing Bs if I weren’t age grouping it. The winner of the beginner race was making some weak argument about being worried about getting in the way in the B race. If that’s his concern, he should just line up at the back of the Bs and race hard.

I started my first Cross Crusade race as a B. I’d gone to a couple of the clinics and had pretty good fitness — probably like a very fit recreational rider. I’d raced some mountain bikes a while back and I’d done a couple road races too. A few years ago when I started, the Cs were essentially the beginner category and I figured I really wasn’t a beginner. After all, I was decent at the skills and knew how to race. I got my ass kicked in the Bs but I wasn’t last.

I’m not saying I’m mister perfect especially since I dropped down to the Cs the next year. However, over the next couple seasons, I managed my way up to the 35+A race where fast guys show me what’s what on a weekly basis.

Isn’t that what competition is all about? There are a bunch of guys way faster than me on the line every week. There are some really fast A racers starting ahead of me too. Last weekend, I only got lapped by two As — Shannon Skerrit and Erik Tonkin. Some folks racing who didn’t lap me? Adam McGrath, Carl Decker, Aaron Olsen, Molly Cameron. Last year, I would have gotten tagged a lap by a bunch of As and this year in the first race it was two.

So maybe I’m not finishing in the points but I know I’m getting faster. I’ve got goals like not getting lapped by anybody. I’ve even got a bigger goal of finishing top ten and there are a couple races where that might actually happen.

So what cat should you start in? Dunno. I guess you just have to make a gut check and decide what your goals are. Where does your satisfaction come from. Do you get your jollies beating down on some weekend warriors racing their out of shape hearts out? Or do you want to jump into the flames and get your short hairs singed — where you might just learn more and get faster. You just never know what you are capable of until you get pushed to your limits.

I vote for racing hard against the tough guys.

And to all you racers out there stuck in USCF land? Bummer, dude. Earn those points and get your butt up the ladder.

9 Responses to “What category to race?”

  1. Possible Sandbagger X says:

    There’s definitely some sandbagging going on–I may be guilty too, not sure, so let me know. I rode 6 laps with the Beginners on Sunday, but it was far from 8min laps… We raced for more than 55 minutes (about 9:30/lap), so I don’t know if that’s a good measure of whether (or to where) we ought to bump up. I plan on going up a category sometime this season, but even though I was in this top 20, those in front of me were waaaay in front of me, so it seems like this is a competitive place for me to be. I’ve watched some C races and don’t think it’s where I belong yet–most of those guys seem like they’ve got at LEAST one season of racing under their belt. Maybe the Beginner category is not designed to be competitive, but rather as a place to sort out skills and etiquette (?) — in which case, okay, it’s time for me to move.

  2. MtMann says:

    Good comments. I’m one of those 6-lap beginners and feel like my 2-cents worth might be of value. first, let me say that Alpenrose was my 3rd race of any kind, ever. No road race experience, no mountain bike, nada. A month ago I was anticipating my first race, the Kruegers Kermesse and nearly wetting myself I was so scared. So yeah, I’m off to a good start. Having riders I look up to and admnire call me out and ask me to bump up is flattering, truly. My goals for this season were stay in the beginners, survive the season, and come out with some skills and some confidence I could bump up for next year. With a background in rockclimbing I’m more than familiar with the evils of sandbagging. believe me, I had no idea I’d be in a position where I’d be called one after my 3rd race. like I said, flattering. What do I want out of the Crusade? it’s not points, that’s for sure. (though if I don’t get at least one piece of schwag, verily there will be gnashing of teeth.) I want to race in the category that’s going to be best for me as a rider, so being called out is good – I honestly thought I should be in the beginners, but the comments of others have me seriously reconsidering. And of course, if getting some of us out of the way gives the other beginners a better experience, that’s good too.

    Maybe I’ve just been lucky so far. I knew when I did my pre-ride at Alpenrose it played to my strengths – room to pass hard and not too technical. Barlow I was in survival mode and pushed through the muck with sweat and grunting but not much technique. All this to say i’m not making my decision until I have at least one more technical course under my belt. But the input is appreciated.

    And I guess I’m going to need a spare wheelset!

  3. Guy says:

    Awesome Brooke! very motivating and yet humorous

  4. K-Man says:

    Hmmm…. interesting idea.

    Gut check or Miffy and Kiffy hammer.

  5. Joe Partridge says:

    Great post! Last Sunday was my first Cross Crusade race, and I opted for the B 35+ class. I do 12 and 24 mountain bike races, and have done some small, informal cross races back in Michigan ( As I was watching the C folks run thier race, I was starting to get worried! They all had nice cross form, and looked to be running pretty strong. I figured I was gonna get my butt handed to me, so I started in the last row of the B 35’s. I ended up having a good race, finishing 40-something out of 70. Lots of room for improvement, but I didn’t get lapped and I had a good time.

  6. MuddyC says:

    I’ve read the Crusade chat and am pretty new at this too. I think the calling them out to the point of ridicule is BS. Give them another week to see what they do on their own or with a slight nudging. All this calling out is crap. Everyone has to start somewhere, everyone has to find their place. Bitching like you do immediately after the first race just makes you look like a child. If after 3 races some fool is still sandbagging then linch them but not before they have a chance to correct their category choice.

  7. Brooke says:

    I don’t know why I get myself into the sandbagging debate every season. Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut? Actually, I think I might use a little more tact and humor to get my point across.

    First, to MtMann, good going. I’ve given you a pretty hard time but I really appreciated the even handed comment you posted. I know that the Beginner/50+ race sometimes is more like a 45-50 minute race than the 40 minutes they advertise so I should have taken that into account when calculating potential lap times. That you guys raced for 55 minutes is crazy.

    To tell you the truth, upgrading is a difficult prospect for the Beginner class. Do you really want to step into the bloated Cs? At Alpenrose, that race was 250 strong. That’s a lot of guys out on the course at once.

    To Joe P: Hey, I lived in MI from ’83-’99. I’ve ridden Highland, Poto, Holridge, Island Lake, Custer, etc. back when I was riding mtn bikes. Whoo-hoo!

  8. Daniel Porter says:

    You are faster than you think… Unless the B’s are significantly faster this year than last and I doubt that… I won the B series last year and voluntarily upgraded to As (Age graded). Maybe I’m sand bagging it in the master class? I don’t think so as there are master guys way faster than me (approximately 20 of them at Alpenrose…).

    I also like the Master class because I feel like my life story (work, marriage, 2 kids, etc. all which lead to limited training time) is a bit more closely similar than ‘most’ of the guys in the As. (Yes, I know there are some As that have work, marriages, kids, etc.). I hate those guys…

  9. Daniel Porter says:


    Looks like you got your top ten finish! Congrats!

    My results in SS were less impressive and seem to have disappeared altogether so far!


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