Chillin with C-Todd at Noho after the Masters Bs race dmroth photo
"After much deliberation, the organizers and I have agreed on the new schedule for 2009.
What you will see in this schedule are some new approaches, and some compromises. Our biggest struggle is trying to accommodate growth and support development categories without compromising elite races. We are aiming for the best of both worlds, but at a time of the year where there are limited hours in the day to work with, it's incredibly difficult." -A.M. re the new Verge schedule
So says the executioner....Sounds very reasonable and yes we all must make compromises in life. There has been so much back and forth regarding this topic on how it affects the 3s that I have resisted weighing in (other than a few tweets and comments on friends blogs) on how this will affect the masters. It is hard to process just how bad I feel about the whole facelift Verge gave itself. Kind of reminds me of a local ice cream shop we had in town. Lines out the door, literally a local meeting spot. Was a real tradition to go downtown on a hot summer night or any night really and get a cookies and cream and hangout. It was a cash cow. Then the owner got it in her head Needham needed Gelatto.
She'd been to Italy and fell in love with the Gelatto. Sure she was making so much money a Brinks truck had to make pick ups every monday morning but hey when a business is successful that is the best time to shake things up right? New Coke was a huge hit right? Maybe not so much. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say she pumped 50k into the new Gelatto store tagged it with an Italian name and no one showed up. No one. Out of business in a year. Ridiculous. But that is business as they say. No one held a gun to her head and said "hey forget this ice cream thing that everyone loves, sell gelatto." Same story with Adam et al at Verge. It is a BUSINESS. They run it how they want period. They "had a problem" they needed to fix. That is hard to believe as in the four years I have been racing Verge races it has grown each year. Fields are big and getting bigger each year (well maybe the elites are shrinking) racing is of a high caliber, so what is broken? Typically a sign a business is doing well is by growth at the bottom right? That's how this whole crazy internet thingy got started remember?
So what is the big problem they are trying to fix? Is it the sandbagging people have inferred. No way. They could just force upgrades like Obra does. So what is it then? Its a business decision. And probably a bad one. But I digress, this was supposed to be a Post Mortem of the Master Bs which have been in effect killed. Sure they've given up a Masters 4 race as a booby prize with the caveat that if no one shows up they'll cancel it. Consider it cancelled. 30 minutes of racing for $30 no one is showing up. From purely an economic standpoint it makes zero sense. Last year on average the Master Bs had 80 racers. Multiply that by 2 for a double weekend. Then multiply that by $30 a day or $60 for registration. Verge is potentially going to lose $9,600 a weekend. That's not such great economic planning in a recession. Now they probably assume all the Master Bs will roll into the other categories and have at it. That's a big assumption. Especially when you consider in a Borg like fashion how they have multiplied the amount of races by 2 for the season. How many double weekends do they expect us to really be able to afford to race?
The Master Bs were a great category to race in. It split a part the guys whose job it was to race in another lifetime or just were naturally gifted from the regular guys who liked to race. It was competitive but civil. I made real friends in that category and still to this day defend that if you are at the back of the field in any category you are no longer "racing." Below 40th position its just a ride. Especially when you know the 40 guys ahead of you are animals and you have zero chance of getting to that position. It was a true amateur class which is really the whole point of racing. As Fat Mark once said this is Beer League Softball and he is spot on. I'll miss all the characters. I'll miss T-boning Brian and not starting a hockey fight. I'll miss getting heckled by Eyebob, and seeing the joy of C-todd running up a nasty muddy pitch. People were allowed to screw up, aggression was done in a non-pugilistic manner, and sandbagging was self seeding. There was a natural flow to it. If you started winning double weekends you knew it was time to move up no one had to heckle you to do so. Towards the end of the season there were a handful of the alpha A riders who moved "down" into our race. What does that tell you? I welcomed them and don't think they found the racing any less competitive. I do hope a lot of the riders from the master bs move up. Its going to be hard. It will be easier for me as I am a "youngish" 45+. In 45+ I will at least have a fighting chance at the back. My dream of winning a race is dead along with the Master Bs and for that I am pretty bummed. The guys going into 35+ are going to have a harder time. And I bet a lot of them are still 4s on paper. They may not want to become a 3. And I don't blame them. Rant over. I had to get that off my chest.
Adam probably has a master plan (no pun intended). Elite racing is clearly his windmill. Ok great. Let's build up a cache of riders that can compete at worlds or the world cup...for what exactly? Do you think sponsors will line up to sponsor US cyclo-cross athletes if we win world's? Katie Compton barely got a sponsor this year. Fortune 500 companies could care less about bike racing. This should always be about the masses. In his email he alludes they were considering eliminating the non-elite categories...wow. Maybe he does want to emulate Belgium were it is a pro-only field. I hope he doesn't think people will pay to watch pros race cross in the US, because they don't even stick around to watch them for free. God forbid you compare Cross or cycling to a growth sport like running or triathlon but those should be the business models to emulate not a fantasy league to get a local boy or girl on a podium in europe. USAC doesn't even have the budget to give our best hope ever, Katie Compton, of winning world's with a proper skinsuit.
Rest in piece Master Bs...I'll miss you. Ok only positive from now on. Its off my chest. 45+ As will rock!