Scattered throughout last weeks blog posts, Steve Tilford had a little rant about the call up procedures for the UCI Masters Cyclocross Championships, to be held this coming January in Louisville, KY. Before that he questioned USACs ability to use their new points system in calling up riders at the National Championships.
This whole call up thing has had me a bit nervous too. The big concern this year is the talk of random call ups at Worlds for the "heat" races. In my book, anything random should be immediately thrown off the table. As Adam Mills detailed in a blog post at Source Endurance, last years ITT seeding method at Nationals was mathmatically a success. And I feel like the new points ranking will be just fine as well. When I look at where I am currently ranked in my 5 year age group. The guys around me are the guys that I'm typically vying for positions with at the USGP level. Even more so when you look at the CrossResults.com rankings.
But Steve brought up a good point that people seem to be overlooking. And that is there probably won't be that many riders competing in Louisville. Last year in Bend we had 150 starters, that's 19 rows on the start line for the Masters 40-44. Now we could easily have that many in Louisville but we won't and here's why.
For starters the race will now be held in January. Which means riders looking to be competitive now have to stay on their best behavior through the holiday season and stay on top of their training. This is true for Nationals this year as well, staying focused for four more weeks won't be easy.
Next, Nationals and Worlds are on back to back weekends. That's a lot of time off work and time away from family, not to mention an expensive 10 day trip which comes immediately after the holidays. Two big race weekends probably aren't in most peoples budgets.
Then there's the licensing procedure. Beginning December 1st you have to start the process of acquiring a $150 UCI license. More expense during an already expensive time of year. If people have to choose between racing Nationals or Worlds, they'll probably choose to do Nationals.
My guess is we'll be lucky to have half that number of US riders on the start line in Louisville. Especially since there won't be an Elite race to spectate. There will be probably be more racers attending the 2013 addition when the Elites are here racing.
...but to get back to the original discussion which is how do we line people up in the absence of a global ranking system? I hate to say it but a pre-race time trial is probably the best option. First though you start with the front row consisting of the top 8 riders from the previous years race if they are in attendance, plus any riders who finished top 8 in the younger age group from the previous year who might be moving up to the next age bracket. Then we go to TT results.
Your results from a time trial will most likely put you within a row or two of where you should probably be anyway. It worked for me last year in Bend. And you can easily make up 3 rows within the opening few hundred meters of a cross race if you're a good starter.
I just hope the UCI and Louisville 2013 organizing committee get it sorted out soon.