Race Distances for Juniors

Posted: July 17, 2014 in Opinion, Racing
Tags: , , ,

A topical post… perhaps.  A pandoras box… most definitely.

Are Cycling Australia’s technical regulation distance limits out of date with current day thinking?  The CA Tech Regs, currently outlines the following:

For all categories the distances listed below shall be the maximum distances that apply to all competitive events:

Category Massed Start Stage Races
MEN
Elite & Under 23

250km

180km

Junior Under 19

150km

120km

Junior Under 17

70km

50km

Junior Under 15

40km

30km

Junior Under 13

20km

WOMEN
Elite & Under 23

150km

120km

Junior Under 19

100km

80km

Junior Under 17

50km

35km

Junior Under 15

30km

20km

Junior Under 13

20km

 

As best as I can workout, these distances were introduced when age-groups changed in November 1992.  Before that, there was Senior 18+, Junior 16-18, Juvenile 14-16 and Sub-Juvenile 12-14.  There wasn’t racing for those under-12 – that’s part of the reason the Brunswick Cycling Club’s Junior Clinic was so important as a pathway back then (and still is now!). It is difficult to find out what race distance limits were in place back then for each age category.  Maybe contributors to The Cycling Scrapbook could offer insight?  Whatever they might have been, there are a few questions to ask regarding the above table:

  1. Are the race distance limits still relevant given improvements in – equipment, coaching, nutrition, etc. in the last 22-years?
  2. Is the difference in the female to male distances still relevant and ‘equal’ – especially in the under-15 category where there is a strong argument to suggest girls mature faster than boys?  Also with the sport actively pushing gender equality?
  3. Is the step up from under-17 to under-19s too big a jump – more than double race distances for men and a 33% increase for women?  Even the step from under-15 to under-17 is reasonably significant.
  4. Should terrain be taken into account in determining maximum distances?  35km over the mountains for under-17 women might be about right, but 35km of flat or even slightly rolling terrain seems exceedingly short!
How far is too far?

How far is too far for junior races?

The other consideration is, are these distance limits being adhered to at any rate?  The four stage Wagga JT featured a 60km stage for under-17 men (10km over the limit!) and a 40km stage for under-17 women.  Both the races for the under-17s at the Mersey Valley JT were over the 50km limit – not by a lot but on a very hard courses.

For the last six-years the Eildon JT has featured the longest stages of any junior tour for all categories.  In the past, and up until the 11th-hour this year, under-17 men raced two stage in excess of 70kms, while the under-17 women and under-15 men raced stages of almost 50kms.

And what of junior under-15 women, currently limited to just 20km in stage races… these same girls race Crits (against adults) over the summer of 40-to-50-minutes on unrestricted gears that average 35kmph+.

CA does have a lot on its plate at the moment, so I suggest these concerns won’t be at the top of their priorities, but I do hope that those in the Tech Commission have a conversation about this topic and perhaps seek feedback from riders and parents (as they did with the junior gearing issue) and review the distances.

Comments
  1. Swuzz says:

    Not sure where to start on this one other then to say we won’t be leaving Melbourne for many road races for some time as it isn’t worth the travel time for such short distances. The old limits you refer to may be in this doc: http://www.wa.cycling.org.au/Portals/18/Documents/Reports%20and%20Records/Recommendedtrainingandracingvolumesdistances.pdf

    • cycdad says:

      Thanks Swuzz – that doc is interesting but was still post-1992. Trust me, they grow up so quickly, it will only be a matter of time they’re leaving you behind!

  2. Pete says:

    Unfortunately your blog probably led to some distances being cut at Eildon!

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