Oh shizer, that's right!
(That's totally unofficial by the way - I made this up. WHO CARES. KEEP READING)
By year's end, that not-quite-paper, not-quite-plastic passport to all things USA Cycling that resides in the part of your wallet only slightly harder to access than your ID on $2 draft night will be expiring! And when it does, YOU, contributor to the modern day rebirth of the sport of cyclocross will face a series of paralyzingly difficult choices.
Choice ONE: Do not renew your license and quit cycling forever, as you pledged to do during the darkest moment of your life this year on a bicycle, which probably happened somewhere in April in western Washington County, New York. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
Choice TWO: Blindly renew your USA Cycling license at your present category level. Could be appropriate, but have you considered the remote possibility or perchance glaring reality that you may need a...
Choice THREE: OH SHIT...THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM...CATEGORY UPGRADE! Oh yes. Oh hell yes. If it were just about rolling through the countryside with your pals, a picnic basket of Chablis over one shoulder and the occasional passing sweet whiff of unnecessary embrocation it would be three months of Rapha-clad gran fondos but it's NOT. IT'S CYCLOCROSS SEASON. It's about roots and suffering hard pain. It's about the brutality of two-wheeled competition that makes the context of a Schleck chain-drop look like a flea bite compared to the CLOSE RANGE SHOTGUN BLAST TO THE FACE OF AWESOMENESS of cyclocross racing.
Take some time to think this through okay time's up.
Okay. You've taken the first step and decided that CHOICE THREE MUST BE INVESTIGATED. You want to know more. Holy shit can I help you now. Here's a cheatsheet on the USAC cyclocross/cycle-cross/cyclo-cross/cross/'cross/CX upgrade requirements:
CAT 4 to CAT 3: To move out of the burgeoning beginner field, you need to have participated in exactly ten races. Also, you need a human brain. Your results in these ten races are wholly irrelevant. In theory, you could have DNF'd all of them. Ideally you did not.
CAT 3 to CAT 2: If you are wondering whether to move onward and upward out of Cat 3, you are precisely one of two riders. You are either exceptionally fast, and passing through 3 so quickly that you legitimately do not know the exact rules on catting up to 2. Or you're packing more sand than the Arkansas national guard. Without getting bogged down in all the logic, here's how you know you need to start exploring the concept of an upgrade: YOU
CAT 2 TO INFINITY: If you're a Cat 2 and up rider looking here for quick tips on upgrading, there is SO MUCH going wrong with you on a level that probably isn't fixable. But you're here and reading, so thanks! Also, you have a special little engine in there that 95% of racers do not, and you should be an ambassador to the sport and help spread the awareness of the CATEGORY ELEVATOR THAT GOES UP. Also you possibly have some degree of credibility that I don't and people actually listen to you. So help me out here.
Alright, I already hear you screaming directly into your internet connection - CHRIS, CAT 4 ISN'T JUST A BEGINNER FIELD. Well guess what, I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you - IT IS. Just because you like to race there doesn't mean you belong there. If you've got the experience, you've gotta make room and take your hard knocks in Cat 3. The way things are presently constructed, that's just the order of the universe. You may not like it. Hell knows if I really do myself! But it must be done.
The USAC categories at present stack up like a pyramid; a tragically obese one with a massive, massive ass and a tiny little Beetlejuice head on top. If we do our parts, and make room for new growth in our sport, together we can change the shape of the system to something more flattering. Like an Eiffel Tower. Shit that's French - not a very strong way to go when making a point about 'cross - alright like the friggin' BUNKER HILL MONUMENT. Good distribution, solid base, consistent and progressively narrowing to a pinnacle, completely hollow inside and hobos piss all over it okay let's not overanalyze this.
To well-round your learning today, I have taken the liberty of producing this informational video:
Unless you're obscenely talented, upgrading can be daunting. I understand, I've been there, and what I can tell you is that it is almost exactly like the movie Better Off Dead. Sure, at first you basically give up on everything and you're just looking for ways to kill yourself. But there's always one thing keeping you going, and that one thing is somehow kicking Roy's ass on the K-12 and winning over Beth. You try a few times, and it doesn't look too good for you. But then there's a foreign chick, and a van halen montage, and then you realize Beth is just a fucking waste of time, and you pull the cover off the Camaro and just start working on it, and from what I've seen everything basically falls into place after that.
NOW GET TO IT!
(Then read the 2011 update to see what happened...)