The process to calculate points, and to submit a request, for a USAC category upgrade can be a daunting one.
Recognizing this, Lucia Deng, the current NYSBRA New York City Region Representative, provided us with a summary of the process, and some tips on how to best record and present your race results to ensure a quick approval.
Please note that the statements below apply only to the NYC Region upgrade process – other regions within New York State or in other states may have different criteria/guidelines.
1. Review the USAC Rulebook and NYSBRA Guidelines on Category Upgrades
Every racer wishing to upgrade should familiarize him or herself with the rules regarding upgrades. The USAC upgrade rules can be found in Section 1E of the USAC Rulebook and are also summarized on the USAC Website and the NYSBRA Website.
Each category has its own unique set of requirements for upgrade. USAC then assigns points to top placings in races based on several factors, including the length of the race, the number of racers in the field, which category you’re upgrading to, etc. So, understanding these rules can help you to prepare your training and racing to achieve your upgrade goals.
The NYSBRA NYC Rep is responsible for reviewing category upgrade requests from NYC racers for Road and Cyclocross disciplines for categories up to 2. Upgrades to category 1 are submitted directly to the Regional Coordinator.
While the regional upgrade coordinators may exercise discretion when ruling on upgrades/downgrades, their decisions are primarily based on USAC rules.
2. Track Your Points and Qualifying Race Supporting Information As You Go
To make your life easier, keep track of your upgrade points as you earn them. This will help you to know how many points you have already earned, how many points you still need, and which races you should target to earn those points.
Because you will need to provide supporting information when submitting your upgrade request, keep track of ALL of the following details on each points qualifying race:
- race name
- race distance or qualifying time
- number of starters (in your category or higher for combined fields), and
- number of points you earned based on USAC rules.
See the sample chart below for a Category 4 woman.
TIP: A limited number of points may be earned through USAC sanctioned and approved rider education clinics.
TIP: Record only those races that qualify for upgrade points (e.g., mass start, USAC permitted, distance qualifying races) or support other upgrade criteria. Note: CRCA Club races do not count toward upgrade points, but they do count toward the required 10 mass start races for Cat 5 to 4 upgrades.
TIP: Be sure to record race distance (or qualifying race time for crits) as there are different points assigned for Road Race distance vs. Crit/Circuit distance.
TIP: Keep screenshots of race flyers or results websites in your files in case you are asked to present further supporting evidence. See sample results below which indicate race distance and # of starters in each category.
3. Submit Your Upgrade Request with Explanation and Support
Once you have accumulated enough upgrade points (or have met other criteria for an upgrade), you can submit your request online via your USAC member account.
Be sure to write a sentence or two explaining the method by which you have earned your upgrade. For example: “I am requesting my upgrade from Cat 5 to Cat 4 because I have completed 10 mass start races.” or “I am requesting my upgrade from Cat 4 to Cat 3 because I have earned 20 points through the qualifying races listed below.”
Then list the relevant qualifying races that support your points total or other criteria for your upgrade request, along with the relevant details about each race (e.g., # of starters in your category or higher, race distance, points earned, etc.).
TIP: The most often neglected, but important, pieces of information are race distance (or qualifying time) and number of starters (where there is a combined field, the number of starters in your category or higher).
TIP: Do not just cut and paste your entire race results history from the USAC website. Typically this does not contain all the information necessary to determine points totals, and will contain several races which do not support your case for upgrade (e.g., DNFs, DNPs).
TIP: The easier you make it for the upgrade coordinator to determine whether you have enough points or qualifying races, the quicker your upgrade can be approved. So, it is to your benefit to spend some time preparing your submission in accordance with these guidelines.
4. Ask Questions or Appeal a Determination
Racers are always welcome to ask questions regarding the upgrade process or appeal a decision if he or she feels it was made in error. Questions and appeals may be sent to NYSBRA[at]gmail.com.
Thanks and good luck to all racers!