Reshuffling the Deck, Part III

Because I'm the smartest guy in the room (and trust me, I am) and because I have really large hands, I have come up with a solution to solve the sandbagging issue in Southcentral Alaska in a bigly way.
  
We're going to build a wall.
  
No, wait. That's not it.
  
No my solution is slightly less expensive, but still time-consuming. Instead of relying on people to self-classify themselves accurately, we can create a virtual GC to rank them across a variety of disciplines. We don't need to use a stage race to do it. We only race a finite number of courses, some of them multiple times a season. We could take an individual's times for certain single-day races and add them together.
 
Here's my proposal:
  • Time Trial- Moose Run is the local standard that is the most attended, and it's usually run a couple times a year. Pick the best time for the individual's last three attempts (can go back years if necessary) as their GC time, which will take seasonal fitness and weather mostly out of the formula.
  • Hill Climb- Potter Valley (or Super Potter) is the skinny-person's version of Moose Run. Again, take the best of the last three attempts for their GC time. If a rider's class did the shorter version, obviously this would have to be taken into consideration.
  • Criterium- A little more tricky because we score on points instead of time, but perhaps not completely unworkable. Take a fixed time for each category (say 30 minutes for A, 35 minutes for B, and so on...) subtract the points earned during the best of their last three crit as seconds. Obviously this wouldn't account for gaps or dropped/lapped riders, but I'd rather not create more work for the race director. It gets confusing enough. Not perfect by any means, but it's a start.
  • Road Race- This one is problematic because we don't do that many road races outside of the stage race format anymore, and there's not really a standard course. Pack size/composition, tactics, and weather can dramatically affect the time it takes to complete a given road race, and comparing a course like Bodenburg to something like Kincaid is an apples and oranges thing. The best I can come up with is to again take a fixed time (say 2 hours for Intermediate) and then add the amount of time they were behind the winner as the baseline. Then I would take the crit point scoring (or something like it) and subtract it from their time. For instance, if they had finished in second place on a road race ten seconds behind the winner, it would look like this: 2:00:00 + 0:00:10 - 0:00:18 = 1:59:52.  Again, not perfect, but a place to start he discussion from.
  • But what if the data is incomplete? What if they never do hill climbs or crits? Then I would look at the races they did compete in and the riders around them, averaging those riders' times to get an estimated time.
  • New racers would have to be given some leeway until their results indicated where they should be placed.
Once you have all of this data compiled, then you rack and stack your racers, grouping them to make broadly competitive fields. This would be done in the fall, when that season's racing is complete. A "points list" would published in January, indicating the racing class placements for the next season.
 
This would give racers an opportunity to train for the next level or request an upgrade/downgrade based on their current situation (goals/family/injury/career...). Each class change would be approved by the Road Division Committee with the intent of keeping each field competitive. Mid-season upgrades/downgrades could also be completed if required.
 
How "transparent" the publication of the virtual GC should be is a matter for debate. Perhaps just an alphabetical or ranked listing of racers in each category could be published, with the virtual GC only available to the Road Division Committee. The criteria for category placement would be published, but not the numbers themselves. People can do their own math.
 
As for 45+ riders, I would list them in the primary categories (Novice, Intermediate, Open) with "Masters" beside the name indicating they are eligible to race in Masters, then let peer pressure sort that whole mess out. When you see a guy high up on the Open category list racing Masters, he obviously needs to be called a dirty sandbagger. If you have the ability play with the big boys, you shouldn't be beating up the senior citizens.
 
To be honest, I haven't run the numbers. A lot of this will have to be tried and adjusted to get reasonable results. Somebody is going to have to put in a considerable amount of time tabulating them and maintaining the lists. However, I think the effort is worth it. Once you quantify what a Novice, Intermediate, or Open rider is, then you'll have less bulge at the middle. You'll have fewer advanced guys racing down a level because of the larger packs. More importantly, you'll have more flexibility to adjust where the line is to ensure it isn't just four guys racing in Open while a bunch of equally skilled (relatively speaking) riders vie for podium spots in lower categories- pushing aside riders legitimately racing at that level.
 
The illusion of a level playing field is just that- an illusion. Some people are just better than others at riding a bike. However, the self-selection method without some sort of semi-concrete standard to base it on is depressing turnout across the board. This is my suggestion, and I think it might work if given a chance.
 
Covfefe, bitches.

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