|Photo: Ernest Gagnon|
WALKING TOGETHER down the middle of the highway after getting thrown out of Applebee’s, Ricky tells Reese Bobby that “he thought everything was going good”.
Reese tells him “That’s why I had to go and blow it up.”
For me, everything was going good last week with mid-pack magic at MRCx. So I went and blew it up! this week at Saturday’s Cat 3 New Gloucester Poop Dash Duathlon.
I won’t recount this in great detail, but what a fucking mess. It could literally have been just as fast to toss your bike in the pit, run half the course without it, and then pick it up on the way back through. You accomplish two things. One, you run much faster, not carrying a 30 pound shit-covered bike. Two, you pick it up again just in time for the section of the course that you actually get to RIDE. With about 2 to go, they widened the nastiest sections of the course, but it was little consolation at that point. I was a day-of entry, so I started DFL, battled with about three other guys, and that was the race.
I had just left the woods with about a lap to go and my chain went into the spokes. I stood there for I don’t know how long, trying to pull it out to no avail. I did appreciate the words of consolation from whoever offered. That fucking thing wasn’t going anywhere, no matter how hard I pulled. I had all but conceded the DNF, and as I began walking the bike along the poop-strewn earth, somehow it came free and I had the misfortune of being back in business. I gained something back on one of the guys I had been hopscotching with, but with no laps left! I was firmly cemented in the cellar. So for no better reason than why not, I sprinted a junior at the line instead.
Given that Saturday’s course was absolutely disgusting, I checked out the top 30 or so finishers, curious to see if people had more or less finished where they staged. And, for the most part, that’s what happened. With one glaring exception. Marty Allen.
Marty Allen (Cyclocrossworld) finished 9th, but he appeared nowhere in the list of pre-registered racers. Since (like me) he didn’t pre-reg, he would have been relegated to the back. And so I thought his result was curious for two reasons: one, because that finish would have been nearly impossible to pull off. Two, I’m quite familiar with the Cyclocrossworld kit because I own one, and I didn’t line up at the back with anyone from that team. So I ping Marty on Twitter, and try to understand what really happened. And it seems quite simple: Verge call-up.
And Marty, I don’t know know you or have anything against you, but somethin’ ain’t right here. And none of this is necessarily your doing, so roll with this one.
According to the Downeast registration page, which is not unlike almost every other registration page for every other race we hold:
Pre-registered riders in USAC events will be staged by NECCS standings where applicable, then Crossresults.com rankings, then order of registration.
The problem is, it doesn’t say this:
Pre-registered riders in USAC events will be staged by NECCS standings where applicable, then Crossresults.com rankings, then order of registration. Riders who do not pre-register but have Verge points will be called up to the first few rows and will not have to start at the back like everyone else who did not pre-register.
If this is common practice, that does NOT seem okay. Verge points should not be a golden ticket for terrific staging for racers who do not pre-register. And that is apparently what is happening. Marty wasn’t registered to race until that morning, had Verge points, and was placed in the second row.
What a whole lot of other racers wouldn’t have given for that kind of opportunity. Roll out of bed, assess your health, check the tweets, get plenty of recon as to what’s going on out there, get the right equipment together, then commit to racing, then get terrific staging, and since the course was such a mess, barring a mechanical, a terrific chance at a terrific finish.
I knew by registering day-of, I was going to pay a price for registering day-of. I knew I’d be doing 4 hours round-trip in a car to essentially go nowhere. But that logic only applies to Verge-series packfill like me.
As someone who will never factor into Verge anything, I see the writing on the wall at this point. Verge series races are not for me. They’re for the 60 or so guys who have Verge points. And given that these are the largest events, where the field size is already off the charts, what really is the point in participating if you don’t factor into the series. Paying $40 for the privilege of having no shot at anything is getting a little old.
If you guys want to do this, fine. Cat 3 should be the highly competitive sibling of Cat 1 and 2. But do this for the rest of us: open Cat 5 for beginners, and give the rest of us Cat 4. Right now, the local races seem like the only ones where many of us have any fun at all. That’s messed up.
Give the recreational racers – the guys who can’t make it to every race of every weekend – two levels to race in, and if we’re fast enough, we’ll cat up to 3 and get involved with Verge. But as someone with far more experience and skill than a beginner, and nowhere near enough time to train to be a Verge racer, I need something else. 5-4 ‘recreational’; 3-2-1 ‘competitive/professional’ is an equitable solution. I’m not out there to pretend I’m working toward Cat 2. So take me out of the equation.
Or I’ll just train my face off all year and completely alienate my family and friends to chase one Verge point in Vermont, and then enjoy the spoils of staging no worse than the top half of any big race for the balance of the season, no matter how I finish, no matter when I register.
Maybe I should have just done that instead. Then I wouldn’t have had to write all this bullshit!