Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CAT 3 Limbo

CAT 3: The racing category you become after acquiring 20 points in USA Cycling sanctioned events in any 12 month period.

Limbo: any status where a person is held up and nothing can be done until another action happens.

In women’s cycling, the day you decide to race, you become a CAT 4 racer. That category is reserved for beginners so that you only race against those with your equal experience/ fitness. The better you do, the quicker you move up…to a CAT 3. Or what I have redefined as CAT 3 limbo.

In most women’s races the CAT 3’s race against the CAT 2’s, CAT 1’s and oftentimes, Pros. CAT 3 limbo is that time between exiting your “beginner” status and becoming a viable force in the Pro, 1, 2, 3 peleton. Because unless you are special in this sport (and those people DO exist, I’m just not one of them), then the transition is a little hard to swallow at first.

I became a CAT 3 two and a half years ago - 4 months after my first CAT 4 race. I was a strong CAT 4, but after my upgrade, racing against the 1’s and 2’s in particular was tough. Their tactics, teamwork, strength, bike handling and fitness were not anything I was used to. I got dropped in my first race as a CAT 3. I was demoralized mentally. Someone who has been racing for 4 months certainly cannot be expected to successfully race against those who’ve been at this for years and years…and, holy hell, if a couple of pro riders show up…crap, why waste you’re money with the entry fee, right? And so I spent my first year as a CAT 3 in my proverbial CAT 3 limbo. I didn’t "suck" bad enough to remain a CAT 4, but I wasn’t special enough to do much in the races I entered. My second full year as a CAT 3 was last year (and, as you know, I’m pretending last year didn’t happen).

I’m now in my third year of CAT 3 limbo and damn it I have no intention of going into a fourth.

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