Whatever happened to Cat 5 races? I seem to remember there being a Cat 5 in 'cross a few years ago, but that's a long time in the past. I'm always trying to get new people into the sport and to equate Cat 4 with an entry level or beginner category would be a joke. Just wondering if anyone knew why Cat 5 went away...
Not for 'cross. When they instituted categories cat 4 was the bottom. Cat 5 for road only came out ~15 years ago.
Out west (Oregon) we've got the following cats with the (est) road equivalent
Cat A - Pro/1/2's
Cat B - 3's
Cat C - 4/5's
Beginner - Beginner
It's not scientific, but it seems to work. I race B's - and though I'm probably nowhere near a Cat 3 Road Racer, I've got enough offroad experience to keep from finishing DFL. And you can cat up or down as necessary - if you want to move up, no problem. If you bit off more than you can chew, you can cat back down. It really is a pretty good system, albeit with a little overlap. But still, it works!
I think, at least in my opinion, we need something similar out here (New England), i.e. something for beginners. The Cat 4 races are filled with fast guys on 'cross specific bikes and training plans... Admittedly, many people can do just as well on an MTB, but it is a bit of a hard sell to get a newbie, likely a MTB convert, to start at the BACK of the pack (staging done by points), at 8:00am (typical Cat 4 start time), to give cyclocross "a try" when there's a good chance you'll get lapped and maybe pulled in 30 minutes.
There's another thing I forgot. The top 18 guys in points get to stage first. After that it's done randomly by number. Everyone has a 3 digit race number. There are signs in the staging area labeled 0-9. If you're number 209 (you keep the same number all season), you go over to the group by the "9" sign. Once the points leaders are called up by name, then they call up groups by number, which are ordered randomly before the day begins. The "9's" may be first, last, or somewhere in the middle, depending on what order the digits were pulled out of the hat that week.
And the best part is the fact that Deschutes Brewery - one of the series' largest sponsors, gives out a 6 pack to everyone (of age) who's number started last that day. So if you're a "9", and get the last callup on a particular day - and subsequently start behind 100 other dudes - at least you can look forward to a sixer!