US vs UK road racing categories



GeoSpectrum

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Sep 24, 2013
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I am wondering if there is a correlation between the UK road racing categories of Elite, 1,2,3 and 4 and the US system which also has category 5? I m working on my weight and FTP and looking at my power profile? At the moment I'm nudging category 3 at threshold but this appears to be a US category 3. In the UK if you are just starting you start out at category 4, in the US, I assume, its category 5. Age 51 FTP.274 (going up!) Weight 184lbs (going down!) thanks Alan
 

GeoSpectrum

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Sep 24, 2013
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Well, I suppose the question wasn't clear. What I'd like to know is a US third cat rider of a similar standard as a UK third cat rider?
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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In the US system Cat5 was introduced for the fledgling racer to get their feet wet. There's a cap on field limits typically 50 instead of the usual 110, and the races are usually half the distance (in my local park's weekend races the 4's race 35 miles and the 5's race 17). Riders do 10 races (or theoretically should) and move to Cat4. A by product is fewer crashes in the 4's but it's an ordeal by fire getting there.

By the circulating power profile charts on the web, an FTP of 275 for a mid size rider looks like it would be somewhere along the border of a US Cat3 (low end) and Cat 4 (strong end).
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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"In the US system Cat5 was introduced for the fledgling racer to get their feet wet give ER surgeons even more practice cleaning up road rash."

Beginning racers can start in the Cat. 5 crashfests or be upgraded to Cat. 4 at the discretion of the local referee.

Cat. 4 used to be our starting catagory with an unsanctioned, unlicensed class referred to as "Citizens Class" racers. Cat. 5 was added as a way to scam more money in license fees from Everyman and weekend warriors. The infamous 'Day Licenses' were added to cover the Cat. 5 wonders.

Cat. 4 'used' to be survivable by most fit racers. Nowadays, only a few seconds separate event times in Cat's 4 thru 2 (field sizes and race tactics have some effect on that, for sure).


"By the circulating power profile charts on the web, an FTP of 275 for a mid size rider looks like it would be somewhere along the border of a US Cat3 (low end) and Cat 4 (strong end)."

True that. In my area there generally is VERY little difference in 3 and 4 races and those fields are combined a lot of times. There are 2's that can't hang in 2/3 races and 4's that can drop a good 3 field for a few laps.

Upgrades were much easier back in the day. If they needed a few more guys to get the 2/3 field up to size..."You, you and you...you're 3's!". Now...like you said, trial by fire for years in a Cat. One of my training pals would have been a solid 2 back then...really a strong rider...in the 80's and he gets dropped in some 3 races like a stone. Another training partner is a lowly 5 and three races in a row he annihilated the field in the local sanctioned training series of circuit race. He would have won a fourth race...he won the field sprint, but he didn't know two guys were off the front or he would have chased them down and beat them like a red-headed step child. What did he get?No advance! Hell, any ref fresh out of the Helen Keller School of Talent Spotting would have immediately booted his ass into the 3's where he would still be a threat at the head of the break.

And don't even get me started on the ABLA or I'll really start showing my age!
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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Originally Posted by CAMPYBOB
And don't even get me started on the ABLA or I'll really start showing my age!
Such, such were the days. Only three categories and no power meters.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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I used to race in the UK and back when I was a lad I was fairly handy, then a love for beer took over and then I moved to the US. Then there was more beer and bbq - ah, the joys of real steak instead of some grey gristly sh1t that has the consistency of tough boot leather.

A few years ago, just for ***** n giggles, I decided to get Cat 5 out of the way and stuffed 10 races into a few weekends. I weighed about 25lbs more than I did back then (low 140s Vs mid 160s) and my FTP was down about 25 watts (lab tested Vs PowerTap) but my ability to handle repeated anaerobic efforts was nowhere close to what it was... Fields varied in ability tremendously. You'd get some guys that sandbagged each year and purposely only did 9 road races within a 12 month period - so you'd be sitting on 300 watts holding wheels in those events, or you'd be dodging bodies of the folks that thought that kissing asphalt every 1/4 mile was a way to earn some cool road rash and some 'man points' in other events.

The biggest differences I spotted were more in bike handling skills. Maybe it's due to the lack of narrow roads, a ton of rain and crits held on roads wide enough almost land a plane on, bike handling here in the lower categories was ****. For many of the crits I'd rather sit on the outside edge of the bunch and catch some wind rather than catch a body on the floor when someone played dominos. The other big thing was what I'd call "the lemming factor" - the desire to go on the front and ride absolutely flat out for 45 seconds and then go bang, only to be replaced by someone else on the front that'd do the same. Fields thinned out in some events fairly quickly but it'd make for an interesting first 15 minutes. With Cat 5, you finish the event in one piece you get your point and rack up 10 points and you're upgraded. The events that were mainly Cat4's were smoother and seemed to lack very hard accelerations.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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"Only three categories and no power meters."

In my area, we only had riders in two! Heheh! And both were combined in one field...a small field!

Stop watches and clip boards and someone's mom flipping the lap cards.
 

CAMPYBOB

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"then a love for beer took over and then I moved to the US. Then there was more beer and bbq - ah, the joys of real steak instead of some grey gristly sh1t that has the consistency of tough boot leather."

'Merica! Hells yes! Better booze...tons of guns...breast implants out the ying yang...fast cars and motorbikes! We're number one!


"You'd get some guys that sandbagged each year and purposely only did 9 road races within a 12 month period - so you'd be sitting on 300 watts holding wheels in those events..."

Oh. You must mean the Cat. we call, "Professional Cat. 5". We have guys that should be doing well in Cat. 3 or 2 that get addicted to those $2 ribbons and $5 trophies. And fields full of retards perfectly willing to waste a $2K-$3K carbon bike on that fake bronze medallion.

Our Cat. 4's are really fast and still pretty stupid. Yeah, less crashes, but still poor tactically. Even teams have difficulty executing the most simple race plans. Multiple squads (squids?) of riders skunked by a couple of unattached guys that haven't upgraded in the last four years.

Then, there's the politics of the higher classes...back in the 80's I understood 'why' mountain bike racing was so popular, even in Ohio. Now, I grasp why C-X is so popular and guys shun road racing.
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by swampy1970

The events that were mainly Cat4's were smoother and seemed to lack very hard accelerations.
Yeah the yo-yo factor does drop considerably in the 4's. One thing I will never do again is race in a Cat4/5 combined field... You get the field size and speed of the 4's and all the squirreliness of the 5's.


Originally Posted by CAMPYBOB

Our Cat. 4's are really fast and still pretty stupid. Yeah, less crashes, but still poor tactically. Even teams have difficulty executing the most simple race plans. Multiple squads (squids?) of riders skunked by a couple of unattached guys that haven't upgraded in the last four years.
We got some fast 4's is the truth. That's the real sandbagger field. Fields so big they remind me of those lecture hall type classes where the prof didn't even know if someone attended. But thank goodness for zero tactics. It's the easiest way for aging beer lovers with a little experience to still enjoy a bit of fun and an occasional top 10. A geriatric drinker would not last a minute with our local Masters, those guys run hotter laps than the 3's.
 

bgoetz

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Nov 25, 2010
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I would say generally things are harder in Europe, but like here I am sure it just depends on what races you go to. I can tell you in terms of crit racing that there is another level of bike handling once you get to the P/1/2 national level races, that most who have not experienced it will never know exists. I have railed corners at damn near 40 and still spent the better half of the next straight closing down a gap. There is also another level of sprinters, the "real sprinters", genetic freaks, that 99% of the guys who call themselves sprinters will never hold a candle to. And trust me, if you find yourself dying 1000 deaths at the back of a blazing fast race, don't sit on their wheel. They are not back there because they are hurting, they are just hanging out until someone rings the bell for a few hundred $, and when that happens they will stand up at 35mph and move to the front of a 100 man field before you can close the gap in front of you.
 

bgoetz

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Nov 25, 2010
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Haha yeah sure did I rode well, just didn't finish like I should have. Thought I made the move, went all in, got brought back, missed the move. You from the area?
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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CAMPYBOB said:
Brent, I see you raced the Milk Race.
I take it that you're not talking about what used to be England's biggest race that Phil Ligget was once technical director of...
 

bgoetz

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Nov 25, 2010
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Hey now, how do you know I was not invited to race in it! No he is talking about Ohios state champ road race this year, the Smiths dairy race.
 

CAMPYBOB

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"You from the area?

Yeah. Friends in the Orville CC put it on. Nice circuit, safe and fast.

"Because that race was many many years ago and you're not fast enough. ;)"

Meh. The Pharaoh and I both qualified.