Fields of Joy CX (#FOJCX) is a Cyclocross venue developed and raced by Sunbury Cycling Club with very gracious support from Essendon Fields, Melbourne Aust.

Friday, 11 July 2014

What Grade? ....please be guided by your motor

"What grade should I ride in CX?" 

A lot of people struggle with finding the right grade in CX, generally for one of two reasons;

1) They race, but are new to 'cross, or
2) They have never raced.

We will be opening entries soon so please be guided by the following advice when requesting a grade...

'Be guided by your motor'

What does that mean? It means that you should ride against riders of similar strength, not drop down because of some perceived disadvantage around tech skills.

Some examples:
If you race A grade on the Road or at your local crit, we request that you enter A grade for CX. 

If you don't race but you are a similar level to some of your training buddies who race B grade on the Road, enter B grade.

If you have never raced and aren't able to gauge a grade off any of your training partners, you should enter C Grade and see how you go. 

You will be asked for Grading Information at entry. Please provide information that helps the Handicappers either confirm your requested grade or determine the correct grade for you. *Information* helps get you into the correct grade.  Also note that you request a grade, and that may be changed by the Handicappers. The published Final Start List is confirmation of your grade for race day.

Q: If you make me ride my normal grade I will definitely go out the back. Can't I drop down?
A: In any race there is only one winner and most of the field in any CX race will be eating bartape, even CX veterans. Dropping you down to improve your odds of being that one winner, particularly if you are still working out 'Cross, isn't fair to the regulars who legitimately race that grade.

Q: I am new to CX so can't I enter the lowest grade and win that before moving up?
A: Please enter the grade that places you amongst riders of similar strength. Being promoted on the back of wins isn't how grades are decided.

Q: CX is different, so what's wrong with dropping down a few grades and moving up once I podium?
A: With some CX fields being 70+ riders deep, only a small percentage podium. It becomes a mathematical impossibility that 70 riders look for the promotion option across a handful of races before moving up. We ask that you ride with the grade that is most representative of your strength.

Q: Yes I am a powerhouse on the road but I have rubbish dirt skills. Can I drop down 2 grades so that I am still competitive? 
A: Please enter the grade and race riders of similar strength. If you need to work on your technical skills then racing is a good place to start, plus you'll be able to gauge exactly where you are at and what to work on.

Q: Isn't grading about allowing me to race in a grade where I'm a chance at the podium?
A: Grading is about creating a race where riders are of similar ability, not about making everyone a chance at the podium.

Q: I understand what you are saying but I currently race 'Cross in a lower grade than I do Road and still come nowhere. How can that be the wrong grade?

A: Please be guided by your motor.

Q: I race D grade on the road but have awesome dirt skills. Can I put myself up some grades for 'Cross?

A: You can, but you might find that you get smoked. You'd be better racing C grade and trying to contest the win. Then get promoted.

Q: I currently race A grade on the road and spend most of the race swinging off the back (A3), and I am new to dirt. I was thinking of riding B grade. Is that OK?

A: There are generally less CX grades than Road grades so there is some overlap in CX. A1 and A2 Road definitely map into CX-A. On the road, there often isn't a lot of difference between A3 and B1 riders. A genuine A3 Roadie could ride CX-A or CX-B, just as a genuine B1 Roadie could ride CX-A or CX-B. 

Q: I am relatively new to Cross and find Cross races to be amongst the hardest I've ever raced? I think I'm in the wrong grade?

A: Welcome to Cross. It is hard for everyone.

Q: What's the big deal?

A: There is no big deal. It's just a race. This is the point. Ride and have fun.
As organisers, we don't really want to deal with loads of complaints about sandbaggers. If we don't provide guidance, people genuinely enter grades that they think are OK, and unknowingly get accused of sandbagging.
All we ask is that you be considerate of your fellow riders in your requested grade. If you'd ordinarily smoke them on the road, that says you are in the wrong grade. Power is everything in 'Cross, tech skills are a nice little bonus if you have them. 

Q: I've read and understood all this but still want to drop down a grade. What now? 

A: Race your CX in Opens and build your confidence there. 


  1. Can you race c grade with flat bars

    1. The CX grades require a CX bike.
      Open Grade for flat bars.