Cat 5's @ the Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium...

Ah, the Cat 5's - numbers flapping in the air, pinned haphazardly to jerseys, too old to start out as Juniors, too new to be Masters. Some with hopes they can leave their mark in the sport, others just want to do their time before they can move up to Cat 4, survive without leaving their mark on the pavement.

Looking back at my original post from the past weekend's Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium, I realized that I pretty much ignored the Cat 5 race. Photo-wise, and though I did put some in the "best of" set, there aren't any in the post itself. So, Cat 5's of Roger Millikan, you get your own post. And why not, without you (and the Juniors) the sport does not grow.

and they're off

spreading out and riding wide

The ability of cycling to attract new racers to the sport can often be reflected in the size of the novice / beginner field - the Cat 5's. Along with the Juniors, and the Women Cat 4's, the Men 5's are a kind of "indicator species", providing a glimpse into the health of the sport. When I started out, Cat 4 was the bottom of the ladder that everyone wanted to climb, and there were so many Cat 4 racers that most race organizers found it necessary to hold two races for the group. These were divided by age - one race for a younger group of Cat 4's, and one race for the older 4's. Even with these two races, the Cat 4 fields regularly reached their limits - 100 racers each, not the limit of 50 typical of todays Cat 5 races. Today, a lot of those riders who started out in the 4's back in the late 1980s to early 1990s are filling out the Masters 35+, 45+ and 50+ races, and the field sizes for those races are as big as they have ever been.

In comparison, the Cat 5, (which I believe became the beginner/novice category in 1995/1996) field at this most recent race on the calendar was one of the smaller ones of the day - though they did, apparently, reach the limit of 50 riders. It is a conundrum faced by race organizers - there is only so much time in a day after all, especially this time of year. So, if you add another 5's race, who then do you cut? Here in Southern California, there is so much racing during the year that it should be possible to hold separate upgrade races, at least during these early months of the season.

Anyway, back to the race: The Cat 5's can be quite entertaining. There is normally great variety in abilities, strength, confidence, etc, so things tend to get pretty spread out on the course, and you might notice some of that in the second photo above. I don't envy them, but of course, it is all part of the learning experience we all had to find our way through, or are still trying to find our way through. Cheers to Jose Reyes who came out in the top spot on this day, followed home by Leo Reyes and Brian Salazar.