I wrote It’s Almost December last year. Fifteen hundred of you read it, and the video has been seen EIGHT THOUSAND TIMES. I put that shit ON YOUR RADAR and you were like HELL YES. And dudes did right. They put in a quarter, they got on the horse; it goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow. All good things.
I had planned to write a follow-up this year, and I wanted to wait until December. But gentlemen and it’s unlikely that ladies read this blog, events have forced me to communicate with you on this topic much sooner than I expected. So let’s get right to it.
WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING IN CAT 3 RIGHT NOW?!! WHAT DID YOU DO!?
It’s a fucking romance explosion up in here now. Cat 3 was the first field to fill at Gloucester this year. 138 racers, biggest field of the weekend. I mean, look at this merry go-round of FUCKING BULLSHIT! I’m in this photo, very bottom right corner with the red dot on my back. You know what I should have done instead? Ridden in the exact opposite direction, hopped the wall at the beer tent, and gotten PLOWED.
Now Providence is tipping the scales at 159 pre-reg’d. Sunday’s pre-reg’d Cat 4s have 80. In Northampton, you’ll be able to start at the back, take that little choo choo train for a spin around the park, pet a goat, and eventually get back to the queue at the run-up and have lost PRECISELY NO SPOTS. You’ll probably have time to order one of those goddamn waffles and actually get it before there is actual racing of bicycle.
EVERYONE is in this field now. And you might say that is exactly what I asked for, and you may be right. But the other half of the equation is still BLANK. We put MORE TURDS in the bowl, but it still only flushes HALF WAY. LOG JAM.
And we all know by now that USA Cycling isn’t going to save the situation any time soon. But truth is, it’s on their radar. I had the good fortune to chat with Marc Gullickson, USAC’s “cyclo-cross” program manager. The man in charge. The BOSS of CROSS. He doesn’t know I’m nobody, so he talked to me.
A fifth category was the topic of conversation, and I get the sense he thinks that makes sense. LOTS OF SENSING. But how the hell do you implement it; the day is only so long. He has much to discuss with promoters, and his parting advice was “USAC is working hard to make sure the racing stays fair and fun” and we will take that as direct quote gospel and KNOW better days are ahead. Are you relieved? Me neither. But listen, in the meantime, I have to do something. So I present you with this.
THE CATEGORY 3 CYCLOCROSS SURVIVAL GUIDE
Cat 3, for the foreseeable future is going to be a massive innavigable rolling expanse of fanciness. Use these tips to improve your experience.
1. DON’T SUCK. Once you upgrade, you have to stay fit. You can’t not ride all year and then roll up in September and think you’ll just “sort of do okay”. Doesn’t happen. Dudes will flatten you LIKE A CRÊPE if you do that. I took most of this year off and I’m getting DESTROYED. Also you need to stay away from shitty habits like not drilling it out of every corner. If they don’t have the skills, 3s at least have motors, and MOTORS CAN BEAT SKILLS.
2. DON’T FORGET TO PREREG. You know where you get to start if you forget to register before the day of the race? RIGHT IN THE RACE’S ASSHOLE. You can almost get away with this at the lesser attended races, but at the big shows, forget it. You’ve just screwed yourself. I just did this at a big 3/4 event. I started DFL, picked off more riders than a lot of my friends who staged mid-pack, and still ended up with atrocious points because THE BACK. Which leads into my next series of points, which are about…
3. POINTS. Crossresults is like a video game; it will kick your ass sideways to Tokyo if you don’t know how to play. Some bad decisions, some bad results, and you are lining up in toilet country, swirling the rim and going nowhere. Here’s a breakdown of the fields you can enter as a Cat 3 FANCY 4.
3 Also now known as ROLLING ARMAGEDDON. If you aren’t in the first half of this field, you’ve just signed up to not race. You can have a nice casual spin around the grounds of Stage Fort or Roger Williams Park with a number pinned to your back, casually engaging in competition with happenstance others of similar misfortune. It’s a lot of money to pay to go nowhere, so assess your chances accordingly. If you get strung out at the back, the point drop combined with the sheer size of the field will leave you with a result you’ll probably have to wait 12 months to get rid of.
3/4 This can be a sucker field. These seem like better opportunities for 4s than 3s. Because there’s usually a 1/2/3 field at races that hold a 3/4, there’s a better chance the 3/4 top 5 will be filled out with higher points, because 3s with better points will probably man up and do 1/2/3. Check the entries carefully. You don’t want to mid-pack and think you did well, only to find out some super fast 4s with astronomical points found the podium and blew up the average.
1/2/3 The world of hurt. Technically you are eligible to race in this field, and technically you will get destroyed. You know when a Nintendo game has EASY or HARD, and you can barely beat EASY with a strategy guide and savestates and HARD is just fucking inhumanly difficult like the original Mega Man? That is 1/2/3. You will be left behind with the tumbleweeds, unless you convince a few of you friends to come up and take the beating together. These races are also longer – 60 minutes – which means you’ll probably be racing even longer than that, providing you’re not PNP’d. But you do get one great, and very special reward: AMAZING POINTS. Masters is no exception. When you do your time here, the return is worth your while in both fitness and future staging.
Now as I mentioned earlier, Cat 3 still isn’t that idyllic throne you see at Home Depot that will flush a bucket of golf balls in one shot. It’s still packed up with guys who won’t take the jump to the Deuce (man, the toilet humor is coming so easy right now, and I don’t even have to go). So what’s the deal with these guys? I’m not them, so I interviewed a couple of anonymous contributors who HAVE been there. I wanted to know what the hell is going on. And you know what they told me?
YOU FAST 3s need to MAN UP AND CAT UP. Just like the 4s who followed my trail of sand over the invisible walkway (not a sandbag reference; sand is just coincidental to the Last Crusade reference), speedy 3s have to do the same thing. A LOT OF YOU DO. I have it on good authority that there are a considerable number of you ready to slug it out in the big show. Will you get smashed to bits? Maybe! But you’ll be doing it together, and you’ll be racing AT THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE LEVEL AGAINST AMAZING SUPERSTARS FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC. I can’t even UNDERSTAND who wouldn’t want this opportunity. This is literally as confusing as someone who refuses sex because they’re “too busy”. YOU WERE BORN TO DO IT.
Feeling like you shouldn’t move up because the juniors are working you over? GUESS WHAT, THEY CAN’T EVEN VOTE. WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THEM. Juniors are basically children of Professor Xavier and you need to just let them go because they have genetic capabilities you and I aren’t going to have EVER. It’s apples and oranges. It’s Wolverines and dudes from The Town who can rob banks good. DIFFERENT.
“Most 3s are being pansies, and they should fucking upgrade.”
These words were ACTUALLY SPOKEN. That means IT IS TIME. When dudes FASTER THAN YOU say that you are ready, you were ready WAY BEFORE THIS.
So I say now to all 3s who actually do not suck at cyclocross bicycle racing, COMPLETE THE CIRCLE OF LIFE. Your brothers in arms have pulled themselves up from from the guts of 4. You have friends in P/1/2 that will help you. YOU ARE WAITING FOR NOTHING. You know what Apollo’s old trainer says to Rocky before he starts his totally ridiculous and intense series of training montages in Russia? YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO. DO IT.
Then next year happened…