I have a strong aversion to sandbaggers. The idea that someone would sign up to race a lower class when they belong in a higher class is akin to cheating, in my opinion. I mean, how could a person feel good about their win, when they were racing well below their level? I wouldn’t feel proud of that win at all! (Hence the reason I skipped the Beginner class when I first started racing).
If I sound like I am up on a high horse, all self righteous-like, it’s because I have pretty strong feelings about sandbaggers. I’ve had dealings with one, up close and personal. It wasn’t pretty, although I don’t suppose it would be pretty when you’re basically accusing someone of trying to get away with something. No one likes a finger pointed at him or her, but sometimes something needs to be said. When sandbagging affected me, I said something. Call me a complainer if you want. I don’t mind.
So, you can imagine my distaste when I realized that I was going to have to sandbag at an upcoming race. It’s because of the USAC rules concerning upgrades.
Here’s the history: I decided that I would ride at Bear Creek every weekend to prepare for the MASS finals in September. Now that the GCC race has been postponed, I will put that plan in motion. This weekend, there happens to be a race at Bear Creek, so I figured I might as well sign up to get practice for the finals. I don’t really mind where I place, though it would be nice to win.
This weekend’s race is a USAC sanctioned event, which means I have to follow their rules. Since I didn’t have an annual license, I figured I’d buy a “day of” license and sign up in Cat 1. Then I learned that I might have to start at the bottom and work my way up through the ranks. I emailed the race promoter and learned that I’d be able to skip Cat 3, but I’d have to register as Cat 2. I’d have to race women who I was competing with last year! Oh, my gosh, I’d feel so bad!
I called the USAC phone number and was connected to Randy, the North East Regional Coordinator. He explained that there is an agreement between MASS and USAC that eases this situation that forces faster racers to race below their level. Luckily, I will only have to do one USAC sanctioned event. I must place in the top five. As long as I do this, I can request an upgrade to Cat 1 and he’ll approve it. Since there are only a few Cat 2 women signed up, and only one of them is in my age group, I probably have it in the bag.
I’m happy that the officials have addressed this situation, but it is going to make me feel bad to line up with the Sport women on race day. I will need to apologize to them for being in their class. I feel I owe them an explanation.
Also, I wanted to do 3 laps for some good course experience. The way it stands now, if I race in Cat 2, I will only need to race 2 laps. I just may have to squeeze in one more lap that day. When the Bikinator plans to do 3 laps, don’t hold her back!
So, I’ve stalked the Cat 2 women who plan to race the Bear Creek Challenge. I recognize three of them. One of them was my competitor last year. The others are new to me but I’ve seen their results. None of them will make it easy. There are two other younger girls who worry me a little. Using my supreme stalking skills, I found that they have high rankings in many USAC races. I also found a You Tube video of one of them racing in Virginia. She is strong! What if she beats me? I’m worried that a Cat 2 racer might beat me, when I’m supposed to be an Elite racer! This is when George would tell me to stop obsessing and just race.
My bike addict ways, my obsessive personality, my stalker tendencies, and my anti-sandbagger feelings have me turning over possibilities in my head. It may sound stressful, but it’s not that way to me. It’s just how I am. I know what I have to do. I will go to the race this Sunday, say the appropriate words of apology for planning to beat them so soundly, and then ride my best so I don’t get beat by a wild card. In the end, I’ll get what I want. The upgrade. I have to go through the motions, but that’s the way it is. Sometimes you have to play by the rules and be the Unintentional Sandbagger.
I really wouldn't apologize to anyone for following the rules and riding this race no matter what the outcome.
I don't mean to sound like a downer, but perhaps you might be in store for an eye opening experience. MASS is a great local series, but USAC is a whole 'nother world. What if USAC Cat 2 is like MASS Cat 1? Then again it may not be. My point is we have no clue. It's your first USAC race.
I wouldn't say anything when you line up. Be humble, race hard, then see how you finish. I'm sure you are already thinking of new blogs as you read this.
The Bikinator says...
I'm getting scared now!