It has recently come to my attention that I am awesome. I check my USA Cycling profile about as often as I check on my CompuServe stock, so I was unaware of this fact. But according to the ranking system for USA Cycling, I am the most awesome category three in New Jersey and the third most awesome category three in the United States. And since we here in the US of A have a habit of not taking other countries into consideration when awarding our "world" championships, I am forced to conclude that I am the third most awesome category three racer on the planet. I'll now let that sink in for a moment, because you are probably thinking to yourself, I have beat Dan almost every time we've raced together, how in God's name is he ranked ahead of me?
Well, the answer is simple (here it is from the USA Cycling web site):
The new system will take the five best ranked riders from the top 10 finishers, average their rankings and multiply that by 90 percent to create the quality of the race. Once the Race Quality is determined we need to establish the Points per Place to be distributed. Points per place are determined by taking the average rankings of all finishing riders to get the midpoint. We then take that number, subtract the Race Quality value, multiply it by 2 and then divide that number by the number of finishers, less one. Once we have both the Race Quality and the Points per Place, we can determine Rank Points for all riders. Rank Points are calculated based on the Race Quality value plus a rider’s place minus one multiplied by the points per place for the event. In summary:
• Race Quality Value = (Average of 5 best ranked riders in race’s top 10) x 0.9
• Points per Place = (((Avg. ranking of all finishers) – (Race Quality)) x 2) / (total number of finishers – 1)
• Rank Points = Race Quality + ((rider’s placing – 1) x Points per Place)
Please note that there are certain instances that may override this general calculation. Specifically, the maximum value for any individual race result is not allowed to be more than 590, so any finisher will receive better points than the maximum value of 600. Also, if the average of all race finishers is better (less) than the average of the best five in the top 10, then the overall average is used in calculating the Race Quality.
However, the Race Quality for any race is not allowed to be better (less) than the ranking points of the best (lowest points) rider in the top 10 finishers. Finally, the Race Quality value of a race is not allowed to be worse (greater) than 540 (90 percent of the max point value of 600).
Did you get that? Yeah, me neither. Also adding to the byzantine nature of the ranking system is the fact that a lower point totals means a higher ranking. And in the race for most awesome category three in the country, I missed the top spot by a mere 1.56 points. I suppose if I were suitably motivated, I could try to lose (lowest score wins, remember?) another 1.56 points, but the problem is that I have absolutely no idea how I would actually go about losing those points. It seems that I have to race well against good riders in a race with a large number of finishers. But to be honest I'm really not sure. I can however, tell you the process for becoming the third most awesome category three racer in the world.
This is my USA Cycling profile. You will notice that many of my results from 2011 (almost all in fact) came from the Tuesday Night Racing Series at FBF. This is not due to the fact that I was killing it at FBF, quite the contrary, but you'll notice that some of my placings include some 6th through 10th finishes, and on one occasion at FBF, a 29th place finish. Perfectly serviceable numbers, but do they warrant awarding me the right to rule the New Jersey category three kingdom? In a word—YES! What, did you suddenly think I was going to become classy? Need I remind you I am reigning (and defending) New York City Ladies' Sprint Champion?
If we look a little closer at my results, we find a 9th place at Harlem (which didn't pay jack!), a 31st place at Battenkill and a 39th place finish at Grant's Tomb. Mighty results I realize, but it seems that the real key to becoming the third most awesome category three on the planet is to show up at races with a finish line camera. I participated in over 30 races last year, and the majority of them do not appear on my results page, which is good, as they would serve to skew my awesomeness tally towards a less satisfying total. Had all the races I participated in been recorded and reported to USA Cycling, I would be writing a very unsatisfying story about being the 355th most awesome category three in the world. But due to the diligence and technology of the promoters of the races I participated in, my ranking overall ranking is what it is today.
Another key to becoming Regent to the Category Three Hordes in New Jersey (this title seems like it should come with a tiara, no?) is to race against good racers. With the exception of Battenkill, all of the results listed were in cat three and above races. FBF races are 1/2/3 races, and Harlem was a cat 2/3 race. Like being the ugly guy in a room full of ascot models, my association with greater talents helped raise my game. I was able to fool the ranking system into believing that I was an ascot model also, when in actuality I could only really hope to model dickies.
And finally, there's the sad reality of my awesomeness. While I am Sovereign and Master of the New Jersey Lycra Fiefdom (and third in line of succession for the world crown should anything happen to Misters Schluck and Nichols), I do not have nearly enough points for a category two upgrade. Plainly put, I am the best of the middle of the pack, which is a lot like being the most "gangsta" member of NSYNC. Certainly it sounds like a big deal, but you still end up being Joey Fatone.
Friday February 10, 2012
Bike racers like hills. Well, certain types of bike racers like hills. Bike racers who like to go for a ride and end up nearly dead at the end of it like hills, and in our sport sadly that constitutes a majority of the participants. I won't go too deeply into the psychology of why we enjoy nearly killing ourselves (I suspect the cause is improper potty training, because I like to find excuses to type the word "potty"), but the reality is that bike racers like to hit the roads and do terrible thing to ourselves.
On Friday a midday group assembled for a ride. There were four of us: myself, Tim, Mike and Gary. I have been riding with Tim a few times a week this winter, so we know each other's capabilities and frailties. Gary is a semi-recreational rider who rides for health and enjoyment—I really can't figure that guy out—and Mike is a younger fellow who is a strong rider. So I have to repress my urge to try and "race" with him, as he will leave small, me-shaped pieces of me strewn along the road.
As of late, Tim has taken a shine to hurting himself on some of the more cartoonish hills in our area, and today he suggested we do a route that included a few select inclines. We all shrugged and agreed because the reality of the situation didn't really manifest itself. We shoved off and made our way to hill country. Our first challenge was the daunting and comically steep MacFarlan Avenue, a .2 mile stretch with an average grade of 15.5%. It is a cruel anomaly of civil engineering. I reckon MacFarlan is so steep, that if you were to accidentally drop a coin at the top, it would bounce all the way to Fair Lawn, but not until it picked up enough speed to slice a Hyundai in half as it crossed Goffle Road. Naturally bike riders love it.
This was Mike's first time up the Hyundai slicer, so I was vague in my description of the climb. We rolled along amicably and I generously allowed Mike to pull at the front until we came to the climb. We turned onto MacFarlan, and I thought I heard Mike curse to himself, I cursed out loud and stood to climb, as there's no other choice on MacFarlan. Mike led the way up the hill, and I was keeping pace just behind him, as I know the last bit of the hill is the worst. As we neared the top, Mike accelerated. I matched his pace, because the bad part was still to come, and when it arrived, I went all out. Through guile and treachery I was able to finish ahead of Mike, and although he would carve me into small me-sized chunks on the rest of the day's climbs; I managed to prevail on MacFarlan through sneakiness and chicanery—and that my friends is how you become the Joey Fatone of category three New Jersey.
On cannot ride on water and mightiness alone, and as I age, I find that I have to pay more attention to my nutritional needs, lest I become an empty husk of veiny gristle.
The fall is here and winter will soon be upon us.