Saturday, March 31, 2012

ABR Rule Changes for 2012 Season

Sometimes change can be a very good thing. In my opinion, this is the case with what ABR (American Bicycle Racing) put forth for the 2012 racing season. The 5 year age categories that have been implemented for MATTS (Mid American Time Trial Series ) will hopefully bring in some new faces to the events. Maybe some triathletes and duathletes will start showing up to compete or to use these races as part of their training. I really like the idea that riders who choose to race an age category are restricted from racing down an age group. This change will definitely open up the categories that have been previously occupied by a few riders.Then for those cyclists who choose to double up at an event, it requires that one of their races be in an ability category...not in different age categories. This format should make it interesting for the categories when you consider that there are a lot of good time trialists who race twice at all 18 of the MATTS events. I also like the fact that the overall MATTS award will consist of only a rider’s ten best races.

The old point system has been reinstated (25 for 1st, 22 for 2nd, 20 for 3rd, 19 for 4th…) which will allow for more point separation among the top three performers in each age or ability category. I’m not sure why this point system would have ever been changed, but the move back is a step in the right direction.

The team time trial (2 person and 4 person) changes are definitely a plus. Now riders can race with someone that they previously might not have had the opportunity to because of racing for points in a certain category…whether it be age or ability. Hopefully this will make it easier for riders to find a teammate, so they can compete at these events.This new format might allow for a really fast team to be assembled that previously would not have been possible.  However, I would like to have seen two more combined age categories added…50-59 and 60-69. I realize there is an open category for those who do not make the minimum combined age, but an open category could be intimidating for those individuals who are new to the time trail scene. I think having two younger combined age categories could help with bringing in a younger crowd which is very important for the future of ABR.

ABR's ROTY "Mellow Johnny"
The ROTY (Rider of the Year) requirements I think are the best changes ABR made for the 2012 season. Gone are the days where the time trial specialist could dominate this end of the year award by simply winning or placing high in all of the individual time trails. This old method was even more lopsided when one of the time trials was for the TOI/W (Tour of Illinois and Wisconsin) category. Therefore, the time trialist only needed to finish 4 mass start events. They didn’t even have to place in any these mass start events to win the ROTY. By changing the ROTY requirements to the 5 best MATTS and 5 best TOI/W events, the tarmac has definitely been leveled to make this award more about the quality of races than the sheer number of points that could be accumulated by competing in every possible time trial. Hopefully this new format will bring out more mass start riders to the time trial events. Especially when you consider that they only need to compete in five time trials to qualify for the ROTY.

Personally, I would like to thank all of the individuals involved who helped with implementing the changes to the ABR Rulebook for the 2012 season. I know getting everybody on the same wavelength isn’t easy, but I hope everybody can live with these changes.