Monday, September 14, 2009

Anti-Sandbagging: The Ethical Work-Around to Racing Success

Everyone hates a sandbagger. Nothing is more frustrating in competitive racing than being beaten time and time again by the same person who refuses to upgrade to the next category even though they have more than enough points for a mandatory upgrade. There is one such character who plagued my Cat III racing this year here in southern California. In every criterium I raced against him this year he finished with either a win or a top 3 finish - without fail. So sweet the intoxicating elixir of victory is that one would elect to hang back in the easier divisions to steal away the wins. I won't mention his name directly - only parenthetically (Jack Oh) so as not to incur the wrath of a libel suit. I however will offer a preemptive apology to (Jack Oh) if he finally grew tired of his cheap and stolen winners high and actually got around that Cat II upgrade. Where by the way the level of road racing difficultly is an order of magnitude more difficult than that of Cat III. The races are longer and faster, and that category if often combined with Cat I and Professional racers. Take that (Jack Oh).

Since this Blog isn't about (Jack Oh) it's about me, I wanted to take some time discussing my more ethical work-around on the topic of sandbagging. I've briefly considered making a run at the Cat II upgrade myself as I'm just 10 points away. But I, unlike the a fore mentioned parenthetical antagonist (Jack Oh) I have hardly been stealing candy from babies. In fact, this year has been without a winners high of my own. A few top 10 finishes but none of the adrenalin fueled, drunken swagger that accompanies a podium finish. There is a way however I can sip upon the electric pap of victory again.... CYCLOCROSS!

For the uninitiated, here an example of what cyclocross is all about:

While Southern California features very little mud as it pretty much doesn't rain here, the tenor of the CX scene is ubiquitous. Laid back and more "fun" than road racing. And therein lies my plan to exploit the system. The fine and intelligent folks at USA cycling have wisely decided that racing categories be separated out across disciplines. As such, no matter where you are as a road rider, you'll have to start at the beginning category in cyclocross, mountain bike, track racing, or BMX for that matter. It's not sandbagging if you're "required" to race in the easier category, is it?

So my plan, simply distilled, is to use my superior Cat III fintess and apply it to beginner cyclocross racing and once again quaff down the addictive nectar of victory! Then when I've reached the requisite number of races or points, I'll take the highroad as make my upgrade as required by the rules of the sport. Genius, no?

This of course supposes that "Cat III road fitness" actually applies in any tangible way to cyclocross. It could turn out that I have no gift for the new game. A surprise lack of coordination or congenital clumsiness could derail my plan for small pond domination. But I won't dwell on all that. If nothing else I'm in good shape and I like winning. So when I've harvested all the low hanging fruit from the cyclocross tree, I'll move on to a different cycling orchard, targeting track and then mountain biking. Thus guaranteeing at least 2 more years of cross discipline podium finishes and rationalized gratification.

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