The Rules:

1D6. Mountain Bike Upgrades

(a) Riders may advance as quickly as they wish up to category 2. However, once a rider has upgraded, he or she will not be permitted to downgrade to a less difficult category without making a formal request to USA Cycling. The upgrading of categories will be noted on the racing license by USA Cycling. The USA Cycling Official at the event may record the upgrade of a rider to Category 2. The official will then contact the USA Cycling Regional Coordinator to record the change. A rider may also contact USA Cycling by email, in writing, or online to change categories.

(b) Category 3 racers must move to Category 2 after placing in the top five in five races. Failure to do so may result in license suspension.

(c) Category 2 riders may move up to Category 1 after two top five finishes by presenting an upgrade request and a resume to USA Cycling.

(d) Category 2 riders must advance to Category 1 after placing in the top five in five races. Failure to do so may result in license suspension.

For mandatory upgrading purposes, classes must consist of the following competitors:

Master age 30-39………15……….10
Master age 40-49………10…….…..5
Master age 50+……..……5…….……5

In those classes that require a minimum of ten competitors, the top three in the class are counted for upgrading. In those classes that require five, the top finisher will be counted for upgrading. Upgrades will be based on a rider’s placings in his category over a calendar year.

Comment on the Rules:

The rule says you count races within a calendar year. I would understand that to mean between Jan 1 to Dec 31 of a single year – not a “rolling” 12-month window.

The rules says “Top Five,” but it doesn’t necessarily mean top five. It also depends on gender, age, and number of competitors in the field. Depending on those factors, the requirement could be for a top 3 or top 1 finish. If a race does not have the specified field size, it doesn’t count at all for the rule.

In the past, when upgrade issues have been raised and addressed, examination of the rule and its application to the racer’s results did not require a mandatory upgrade – with one exception.

In that exception, the racer was counseled to upgrade, and did so.

My view: A racer should upgrade when he/she is ready and able to take the leap – not because a rule requires it. (But, if the rule does require it, the racer should definitely upgrade.)

The rule is easy enough to manipulate and avoid falling into the mandatory upgrade requirement. Doing so is known as “sandbagging.” Racers seem to have “self-help” ways of dealing with sandbaggers – appropriately and otherwise.

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