Disclaimer: My rants may seem like they are directed at the author of the rejection emails I have received. They are not, they are directed at USA Cycling as a whole. I do not know who is responsible for their individual policies, but for now I am directing my anger at the entire organization, not any one single employee.
This is the explanation that was passed along with my rejected upgrade request:
I look at Cat.1 results for ALL categories and with that I am looking for top 5 results. For the Pro Open races I do not see the results nessesary to go pro as it's tough to tell which riders are pro and which are cat.1. Please resubmint for a pro upgrade when you have some top 5 results out of all cat.1 times or top 5 results in the Pro Open category.
1) To earn an upgrade I have to place in the top 5 against all pros, or in the top 5 against all the cat1s. This equates the pro field with the cat1 field. This is stupid.
2) "it's tough to tell which riders are pro and which are cat.1" Yes, I agree. There is a very fuzzy line between cat1 and pro riders. Your own upgrade policy equates the two. (see: item 1, above) This is the problem, not an excuse to not solve the problem. Road and cross have a very defined system of promotion points which is used to determine who gets an upgrade. The solution is easy, you have a system that works (road/cross), just replace the system that doesn't work (mountain) with the one that does.
3) As Greg pointed out, comparing the times of racers who are not racing directly against each other is stupid. If I'm off the front of the 30-39 field, and I soft pedal across the line and win my race by 5 minutes, I could potentially not earn any upgrade credits because a couple 40-49 cat1 dudes who started 2 minutes behind me, finish 1:50 behind me. At least give me a chance to lose the sprint to the line.
4) Taking the top X number of racers is stupid. It needs to be a percentage of the overall field size. I can't remember the last time I saw more than 5 cat1 women in a single race, does that mean that they should just get upgraded based on (essentially) attendance alone? What if your race happens to be in the middle of a hurricane and no one shows up? What if your race sucks and no one shows up? (yes, I wrote that last sentence just to give me some text to use as a link.) Are you still taking the top 5?
5) Last year the upgrade requirements only counted if they were earned at National Calendar events. It seems like this year, there is a more sensible policy of counting non-National Calendar events. As much as I appreciate the lowering of the bar to a more reasonable level, there is something to be said for consistency. This is (at least) the third year in a row that the upgrade requirements have changed. Hitting the pro upgrade was tough enough in the first place, it doesn't need to be a moving target.6) "Please resubmint for a pro upgrade when you have some top 5 results out of all cat.1 times" Wait a second, I've got those...