Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Call-up Inequities

After spending the 2012 and 2013 seasons racing cyclocross in New England, I've moved back to the Mid-Atlantic and was surprised at how differently things happen here as opposed to our northern neighbors. My biggest beef has to do with the way call-ups are handled in the Mid-Atlantic. Living in Southeastern PA, there are three race series that have races close enough to reasonably get to: PACX (Pennsylvania Cyclocross), NJCX (New Jersey Cyclocross), and MAC (Mid Atlantic Cyclocross). Each of these series uses an individual's standing in the previous year's final series standings to determine call-ups for the first race of the series, and then current year standings for subsequent races that season. For someone like me who's worked their tail off for the past two seasons to get first or second row call-ups in their category, and then moving to the area with no local credentials, that individual is relegated to the back of the pack for starts. Since in 'cross, by and large, "where you start is where you finish" or at the very least plays a significant role, this practice seems both exceedingly punitive and, frankly, bad business for promoters. By contrast, using current Crossresults (as is the practice in New England) or USAC points would allow both recent transplants as well as vacationing racers to be more equitably placed in the starting grid. I say bad business for the promoters because as a recent example, despite having the time and desire to enter two NJCX races, Caffeinated 'Cross and Cooper River Cyclocross, I opted not to because I didn't feel like starting at the back once again. Two lost entry fees for the NJCX series. I wonder how many other racers end up not racing on any particular weekend because of this practice. As alluded to previously, it seems feasible that racers from other regions who might be in town for business or visiting family would also be dissuaded from racing because of this practice. I see no downside of using either Crossresults or USAC points to order call-ups. The fact that many racers do race in multiple regions helps to normalize the results. Even if a non-local racer wins a race, they're not likely going to steal the show from the local riders over the length of the series. I really see no reason to continue this localism. Am I missing something?

UPDATE: More thoughts:

  1. What about riders moving up or changing categories? The athlete who wins the Overall in the Cat 4/5 or the Cat 3 is likely going to be faster than most of the pack fodder in the Cat 3 or Elite races, respectively. So, the athlete's reward for winning the series -- besides a likely mandatory (and appropriate) upgrade -- is to start in the back of the pack in the next year's series because they won't have any points in their new category? This just doesn't seem right.
  2. What about racers entering multiple categories? Especially with promoters encouraging racers to double up on race day, it makes little sense to make a rider start in the back twice. 


  1. Kevin, here is the history: Unlike in New England where this is really one series, (the verge series) In New England, the other non series races can use crossresults for call ups. It's pretty easy and clean. In the Mid Atlantic there are 5 different series all within 3 hours of Philly. To some extent each series is in competition with other series for riders, and therefore want to reward the riders that support a specific series based on their series points. As a guy who goes to NE to race Verge races a few times a year, I'll note they use their series points first (the verge series) then cross results. So to say the NE totally uses crossresults isn't totally fair... I am all for a series rewarding the riders who support it... I mean I would have loved to start 2 rows ahead of where I did last weekend- Sure, but I understand why I didn't... congrats on the state championship...


  2. Marc,

    First, thanks for the kudos! Much appreciated!

    Regarding series points, I stand corrected -- sort of. You are correct that the Verge Series do use Verge series points for their races this year. I'm still not a fan, but at least in that series they are only doing a first row of eight spots and then going by CR points. Looking at some historical registration pages on BikeReg, it looks like promoters had the discretion to use the Verge points or not, as some did and some didn't.

    I'm the kind of guy who wants competition to be as fair as possible -- I think this shows above in my feelings about how I "won" the State Championship. For a promoter to "reward the riders that support a specific series" with preferential treatment in competition that is not related to their performance or ability to drive, pedal or suffer, but rather their ability to pay seems entirely unfair and, frankly, unethical. I think promoters -- good promoters -- would find other ways to incentivize their customers. Why not offer decreasing entry fees with each entered race? Something, anything, besides putting me in the back of the pack because I didn't pay you last year.

    I imagine we'll have to agree to disagree on this one, as I know you spend time on both sides of the promoter/racer fence, but no hard feelings. Hope to catch you at a ride or race soon.