Since there’s still some controversy swirling about regarding how the fields stack up against one another, I figured I’d stoke the fires once again. Some of you might recall that the Cross Crusade used chip timing a couple of years ago. Well, I asked Candi if she had any of the old results files. It turns out that she did — Barton from 2005. I’m only producing one combined picture of the data. Here are a few notes:

  • I threw out the first lap results since they represent only a partial lap.
  • I threw out any riders who didn’t finish within one lap of the leader for their category.
  • I threw out any riders with chip data anomalies — such as a lap not getting recorded and the next lap getting the time for both laps.
  • I threw out any riders whose final lap time was abnormally large. There were a few folks who appeared to know they were the last rider on the lap and turned in lap times many minutes slower than their previous times.
  • The course was muddy so course conditions might have changed over the day.

The data is from two years ago but I’d bet that the actual distributions haven’t changed much. Riders certainly have moved up in categories since then but there has been a large influx of new riders to fill in their places.

What does this picture mean? The skinny bar represents the range of lap times within a category. I pooled all the lap times from a single category and took the maximum and minimum. They are real times, not averages. The fat bar represents a range of two standard deviations centered on the mean lap time for a given category. What’s that mean? Approximately 70 percent of the lap times fall within that range. That’s where the “meat” of the field lives. Those are the numbers you really want to look at when analyzing field overlap. Click on the image to get a full size version that will be easier to read.

Barton lap times 2005

So what do I think? I think the Cs and Bs (masters or not) overlap a lot. I think if there were to be any shuffling, it should happen between those fields. Say, the faster guys go up and some of the slower guys move down. But what do I know?

5 Responses to “One more time …”

  1. Martin says:

    What you suggest is much like English League football (soccer to you from the Colonies). The bottom three in the Premiership get relegated to the First Division and the top three in the First Division move up. This happens all the way down the leagues to the semi-pro local leagues.

    It’s definitely cool in concept but I think implementing something similar for the Crusade would cause endless headaches.

  2. slowrider says:

    This is great! I think the overlap between B’s and C’s is unavoidable. There is not much of a tradition of downgrading in cyclocross. As a slow B rider myself, I don’t feel very compelled to race with the C’s and honestly, I rather not see a ton of C’s upgrade to the B’s. I like OBRA’s current system of self-selection, with some mandatory upgrades of racers who consistently finish in top-3 or top-5.

    To me the chart shows very clearly that the junior category would benefit of a split in junior A and junior B (or by age group), at least if the avg. number of racers justify the creation of an additional category.

    Also, I would be curious to see what the chart would look like if you only took in account the fastest lap time for each rider. That might be a good proxy of a racer’s max. capacity on a given course and would eliminate any skewing of the findings due to flats and mechanicals.

  3. GeWilli says:

    So do you guys have more daylight out there or something? Promoters ’round here don’t think you can have more than 5 separate races during the “winter”

    /sarcasm

    Nice analysis.

    Did they stop using chips because of expense? or just sheer pain in the assitude? or no significant benefit? just curious… there was talk about using them “here” a while back (years) on the ‘list’ but it seemed to be all talk and no action out “here”

  4. Brooke says:

    Ge, the chips were not 100% reliable. That meant the officials had to hand score the results anyway. So all the chips did was cause MORE work. They aren’t ready for prime time for cyclocross.

  5. David says:

    If people want to go slow in the Bs because they like a longer race or they want to sleep in or that’s where their buddies race I see no harm in that. Downgrading is rare and that’s fine. The issue is that there are a TON of sandbagging Cs who don’t realize they’re faster than half the Bs because they aren’t easily at the front every week. Guess what, the other guys up at the front of the Cs are sandbaggers too! Mandatory upgrades for quite a few Cs and C+s would be a good thing.

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