NEBRA Announces New Cyclocross Upgrade Guidelines for 2018 Season
August 21, 2018

After several seasons of monitoring how the existing USA Cycling upgrade guidelines work with the addition of Category 5, and the size of New England race fields, NEBRA will be using a modified set of upgrade points tables for the 2018 season.  These tables will more fairly recognize rider achievement in general, especially in larger fields. It is important to us to have these guidelines publicly available and have points shown on as a way to keep the upgrade process transparent and fair. Every competitor should know the standard being applied and feel confident that upgrades are being awarded in a consistent manner.  


The creation of Category 5 in cyclocross has led to the adoption of enormous Category 4/5 fields at many larger events (generally lacking the daylight to run a dedicated cat 5 race), which means that riders have to upgrade *twice* before they can exit the beginner categories, and are often facing 100 or more competitors with the same goal every time they line up.  Therefore, it is imperative that NEBRA has a system to recognize and promote qualified riders efficiently, both so that the 4/5 category doesn’t overflow, and so that beginners to the sport are not pitted against fast and experienced racers. The existing USA Cycling upgrade points structure has not kept pace with the evolution of New England cyclocross, and is now failing to be an adequate system for rider promotion.


It is our hope that by publishing these new guidelines and putting them into practice we can show compelling evidence for changing the official USA Cycling guidelines to more adequately reflect the state of cyclocross competition.


The USA Cycling upgrade points tables:

These tables are nearly the same as criterium upgrade points, which fail to reflect the fact that cyclocross is a far more direct measurement of fitness than criterium racing – there is no way to “sit in and get tenth” in a cyclocross race.  Finishing in the top 20% of a cyclocross race strongly suggests that you’re in the top 20% of skill/fitness/racing speed for that category, and thus should be receiving upgrade points and moving up the ranks. These points fail to go deep enough after field sizes of 35-40 riders, which is to say, almost every Cat 3 or lower race in New England.


Additionally, these points tables consider “over 50” to be the largest field size of note, while New England regularly sees fields of over 75 or even over 100 riders.  Awarding zero upgrade points to a rider who finishes 7th out of 100 racers is, of course, a disservice to that rider as well as his or her competitors, as anyone capable of finishing in the top 7% of a race should be moving toward a category upgrade.


With these goals in mind, NEBRA will be using the following upgrade points tables for the 2018 Cyclocross Season:

These revised points tables will be available on, and be automatically listed on for competitors with a license in New England, for events that took place in New England. These points will apply to results earned beginning with the 2018/19 season, no retroactive adjustments will be made. NEBRA will continue to monitor the distribution of license holder categories, ability, and field sizes and potentially revise these guidelines in the future.


Happy cyclocrossing!