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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    1

    Combined Category Racing (in particular Women's Cat 4) What do you think?

    Women's Cat 4 is most often combined with the Juniors Under 15 ages (10-14 boys and girls).
    In 2013, out of the 12 Verge Series Races in New England, all of the Women's 4 races are combined with the U 15 Juniors.

    Women's Cat 4 is less often combined with the Women's Elite race, but this still occurs.

    Rarely do Cat 4 women have the course to themselves.

    We can all understand that women's participation in cyclocross is growing. There are generally less women racers than men this is not always a large margin, if at all, (Providence Festival 2013,the Women's 3/4 race vs the Men's 4/5; Saturday 131 W/121 M and 103 W/109 M). We can also acknowledge that there are only so many hours in the day to accommodate the number of races at an event. However, I do not feel that women need to suffer the injustice of constantly combined fields, especially when paying just as much, training just as hard and supporting the cross community just as much.

    I would like to know your thoughts and experiences as a woman (or man) dealing with combined field races. Have you experienced any discrimination based on your gender? Have you felt like your safety or your racing success has been affected by combined fields?

    What are the solutions? What changes would you like to see made in USC rules and regulations?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,686
    This is my first season doing cross and I have participated in races from the Chicago Cyclocross Cup. The women's 4 field is combined with junior 10-14 (starting 3 min after the women) and junior 15-18 (starting 1 min after). The thing that irks me the most is that the juniors ride for free, while the women pay. Juniors are given a free option (their parents can sign them up for free) at the expense of women who could be paying. If find that ridiculous, as many do not show up for the race. In most races, the cap on the number of riders in the combined field has been binding. I have not been able to sign up to two races. Ok, signing up early is certainly on the table and I have done so when I know work commitments won't get in the way (there are no refunds). I could go to the wait list, but some races are about 1.5 hours of travel from my home. Either make the juniors pay or bump out juniors for paying customers (juniors could be given the option to pay a full fee to secure their spot).

    As for safety, it has generally been ok. Among the juniors 15-18, there are some who race category 3, so they are very skilled and know when to pass safely (and courteously to boot), so I don't mind that. Some others... not so much. Most often a kid will say "on your left" on a sketchy section, but does not have the power or the space to pass, so it becomes more of a nuisance. One thing that annoys me is that you don't want to be seen as aggressive as you lap a 10-14 junior and then it is a hazard on more technical parts of the course.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Suburban MA and Western ME
    Posts
    1,822
    FYI - I race in those fields in New England, and have been for several years, working my way from a Cat 4 to a Cat 3 in the process. When I started racing, we were combined with the Junior men, 15-18. This was a HUGE problem for both fields, which has now been changed - they race with the 35+ men.

    Yes, we race with the juniors. Yes, SOMETIMES it is an issue.

    You cite the numbers at Providence - that was an anomaly of a race in terms of participation (that and Gloucester) - those numbers were cut by over 50 women in the next series of Verge races, and will be even further reduced in the next two series. The men's fields, with the exception of the 35+ race, all will sell out.

    On the flip side, at the NON-VERGE races (which, by the way, are more fun), there is often a SEPARATE cat 4 women's field. They may share a time slot with the Elite women, but the separation is usually in the order of 2 mins, and they get their own race. Numbers at these races? Much lower. I have been racing the 1/2/3 races here, and there have typically been between 9 and 15 women. The Cat 4 files is a bit bigger, but also typically only about 20-25. THIS is why there are not separate fields - there aren't the participation numbers to support it.

    There has been LOTS of discussion amongst racers and promoters about having separate fields, master's fields, etc. for the women, but frankly, the numbers don't support it. It isn't discrimination based on gender - if the men's fields don't have the numbers, those would start to be combined as well.

    Oh - and about those juniors? They are the future of the sport. There aren't any other time slots in the day where they could race, so they get slotted with us. Have they impacted my racing? Absolutely. But I'd rather see them out there racing and growing the sport, so I encourage them all as I pass politely.

    SheFly

    p.s.
    If you are concerned, what do you suggest the solution might be????
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,686
    Just in case, I am not saying the women's 4 field should not be combined with juniors, rather than it should not be a free option for the parents of those juniors. Have them pay to secure a spot. I just put some of the numbers from the Chi Cross Cup women's 4 field for your reference (the combined field with juniors is 100):

    Click image for larger version. 

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    What I would really like to see is the women's 1/2/3 back to back with the men's 1/2/3 race, highlighting both races in the series. Right now the women's 1/2/3 happens before the cat 3 and women's 4 races.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Suburban MA and Western ME
    Posts
    1,822
    Quote Originally Posted by pll View Post
    Just in case, I am not saying the women's 4 field should not be combined with juniors, rather than it should not be a free option for the parents of those juniors. Have them pay to secure a spot. I just put some of the numbers from the Chi Cross Cup women's 4 field for your reference (the combined field with juniors is 100):
    So your races are getting 60+ juniors racing in a field? That is awesome! The real question is how many of those would still show up if there were a fee (we charge juniors at the big series races, but a reduced amount - smaller races often offer a free entry to the cub juniors)? I'm guessing that a reduced fee wouldn't change this ratio.

    As I have said, the juniors are the future of this sport, and I think we should encourage them to race in any way possible. Here, our 10-14 fields typically have a cap of 30-40 at the big races, and have been selling out (terrific!). In fact, at Gloucester the cubs sold out so fast that the series leader got shut out of the race. So, I offered her my spot. Why? Because a junior with high potential in the sport should be racing before some 45+ year old (the promoter accommodated both of us).

    The most important thing to remember is that we do this to HAVE FUN! None of us are getting rich racing our CX bikes every weekend (though some of those juniors may some day). Think about the sport as a whole and how we can improve the experience for everyone, not just ourselves.

    Happy racing!
    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,686
    Quote Originally Posted by SheFly View Post
    So your races are getting 60+ juniors racing in a field?
    Yes, it does, at least at pre-registration time (which is free to juniors). That is the 10-14 and 15-18 juniors. I have not looked up how many end up not showing up. This is my first season doing cross, as I mentioned before, but I gather the Chicago Cross Cup is big relative to other series. I think that having 30+ women out in a race is pretty cool.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Columbia River Gorge
    Posts
    3,583
    Out here in the PNW it's not unusual to see 2000 racers at a given event. Apart from the Cat A women, the women all race together with staggered starts. So the Juniors get their own time. But a lot of the juniors will do a second race so I will encounter women juniors in the women's race and male juniors when I race singlespeed, which is combined with men's Bs (about equivilant to Cat 2). I'd have to say that the juniors on a whole usually don't pass nicely or don't accomodate passing appropriately, but they are learning and I try to keep that in mind. Is the course a little crowded sometimes, sure. But the way I look at it, that's cross. Learning how to deal with other people on the course is part of the game.

    I'm OK with it all. Nobody's paying me to race so what difference does it make in the end? I'm out there for fun. Do I get annoyed when a junior passes me kind of tight and doesn't even announce that he's there? Sure. But all it all, it's not going to change how I place and I'm confident enough on a bike that I can stay upright with some incidental contact so I don't let it bother me.
    Living life like there's no tomorrow.

    http://gorgebikefitter.com/


    2007 Look Dura Ace
    2010 Custom Tonic cross with discs, SRAM
    2012 Moots YBB 2 x 10 Shimano XTR
    2014 Soma B-Side SS

 

 

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