Cyclocross Series and Upgrade Point Woes

Series points in the GPCM series make it hard to win…

Ok, I realize that point systems are not perfect and that these systems can’t really be fair for all but there has got to be a better solution here.  I think that allowing people to carry points when upgraded during a series is a good start and I don’t know why it is not being allowed.

So whats wrong…

The GPCM series is 7 races long and in order to be considered for the overall series you must race at least 5 races.  This is easily doable by racing all races leading up to Cross Crusade.  If you happen to miss any of these you can still do Washougal CX (no conflict).  The only conflict really is Cross Crusade Day 1 in Bend on the 28th.  If you’re doing Cross Crusade then you will want to race this day because it is double point day.

This system works well if you are a CAT1/2 because you will never be upgraded out of the CAT.  If, however, you are a 5, 4 or 3 then it is very likely that you will be upgraded before you race 5 races in GPCM for the following reasons:

  • It can take a minimum of only 3 races to earn a mandatory upgrade.
  • The series lasts 5 weeks minimum long, but 8 weeks maximum.  Even at 5 weeks the two Cross Crusade call-up qualifiers occur.
  • Two weekly series are run through Sept. Further providing points for upgrade.

Example: Me

I started the series in CAT4 men because that is how I ended last year.  I had a very strong opening race and won.  At this point I decided to self-upgrade to CAT3 so that I could still score 5 races in the series (excluding last race which conflicted with Cross Crusade).  I also decided to race Master 3’s since there are others on my team in that CAT.

The following week I placed 2nd in Trophy Cup against 48 riders, 3rd in GPCM Het Meer and then decided to take a shot at scoring a Cross Crusade call-up by racing Corn Cross.  Well I won Corn Cross, securing my call-up for Cross Crusade but then was faced with the problem of being auto upgraded before even getting to Cross Crusade!

I skipped the weekly races and only did GPCM the following weeks.  Unfortunately, I won Zaaldercross and then placed 3rd in Ninkrossi. This was more than enough to push me into the 2’s.  At that point I was 20 points behind the leader – not enough to get a leaders jersey and with no way to race 5 races.

So now I’m a 2 and must race in either 2/3 or 1/2.  Either way it is a new category, new points, and although I have had good results this year, none of these help me earn an all important call-up for Cross Crusade.

What should I have done?

I suppose I should have raced 2/3 as soon as I became a 3 so that if I placed well and got upgraded, the race slot wouldn’t change.  Well I raced 2/3 and there are some cool dudes in there but in the Crusades there are also some young guys, like 20 years younger than me, that are kicking everyone’s butt.  This doesn’t make me feel great.

Another Example: My Wife

My Wife started racing CX this year.  She is fit but doesn’t particularly come from a mountain bike background, or any background that might be helpful for cross.  Ok she was a runner, which is helpful, but not in a bike handling way whatsoever.  So, naturally, she started in CAT5, beginner.  She raced 2 GPCM races in CAT5 before deciding she needed to move up.

Based on her times we decided to just push her into CAT3 where she has done well, finishing in the upper half to upper third in her races.  This is the ideal position as she is not earning upgrade points but is still earning series points.  She has finished 4th, 5th and 6th at the last three GPCM races as well as 5th, 6th and 8th at weekly Blind Date or Trophy Cup.

The problem is that we made plans to attend the Bend weekend for the Crusade and will miss Oct 28th race at Luscher Farms.  Therefore, she will not be able to score 5 races in the series as a CAT3.

How do you win a series?

It depends on field size.  With Women, it can be easier because the fields are typically smaller (which equates to less upgrade points).  In the men race it would seem that top 10 finishes are best but nothing on the podium and without racing at all during the week.  Take for instance the current leader of the Master 3’s in GPCM:

He has raced 5 races and qualifies for the series.  He is still a 3 – so he will also be able to race a 6th race in the series and earn even more points and put him nearly out of reach of the closest competitor.  Regardless, he is guaranteed a podium at this point.

Be awesome but not TOO awesome!

Cry me a river man!

Yes, I’m probably just whining a lot but why is it like this?  If you win in CAT5-3 then you’re called a SANDBAGGER!  People hate you.  You get moved up and aren’t able to cash in on your hard work and race results for a series crown.  Instead, people are rewarded for earning finishes in the 4-7 range!  Its so frustrating!

The majority of OBRA are masters CAT5-3 racers.  I can’t find the demographic graph but just look at those fields compared to other fields…they are massive.  This past Saturday the Master 4s field was over 100 and the Master 3s was over 90.  Additionally, the 50+ field was nearly 70 racers.  Contrast that to Men 1/2 field of 47, Men 4 race of 37 and Men 2/3 race of 69 and you can see the marked difference in sizes.  If you take away categories, you would probably see that there 3x the amount of masters age racers compared to not.

Regardless, wouldn’t you devise a system that is targeted towards these people?  Instead, the system must be manipulated in order to score well in a series, in order to get a meager reward compared to what typically constitutes a cash payout at the 1/2 level.  Its just frustrating me!


What do I recommend:

  • Set minimum races counts lower.
  • Include people in series results that have been auto upgraded OR
  • Allow them to carry some points with them to the next level


If you’re serious about being the best you can be then train and start in CAT3 in cross.  If you find yourself getting top 5 finishes then race lots until you’re moved to the 2s.  Then race 1/2 until you’re fast enough to be competitive.  Note, the jump from 3 to 1/2 is big.  If you’re a master races then the jump to master 1/2 is smaller but it is likely you will get your butt handed to you the first season in the 1/2.  Hopefully you can improve enough to feel competitive and maybe even snag a podium on a course fitting to your skills and fitness.  If not, you can race 2/3 and get beaten by 16 year olds.  They are coming for ya!


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