Uphill course guidelines/specificationsThis discussion has an associated proposal. View Proposal Details here.
Comments about this discussion:
Right now, section 5D.1.1 about Uphill courses just includes a single sentence:
"Uphill courses must be primarily uphill but may include flat or downhill sections."
To me, this is a very broad definition and it's lacking detail. The XC and DH disciplines have much more refined course specifications.
In particular, I think it would be good to give some recommendations to ensure a certain level of how challenging the course is.
For example, the Uphill course for last Unicon was both very short and pretty easy technically. Top riders finished in less than a minute, which led to medals being decided by split-seconds. Also, pretty much all expert riders could consistently ride the course without any dismounts.
What about some minimum distance, slope, elevation gain, or terrain recommendations? The technical difficulty could also depend on the length, e.g. short and technical OR long and rather easy.
Another thing to consider for big events like Unicons would be the introduction of separate Uphill competitions for beginners and experts on different tracks, similar to what we usually have for DH and XC. In this case, there could be fun tracks for everyone.
The way that the rulebook is worded allows for different levels of Uphill races. At NAUCC we use the IUF rulebook and we almost always have 2-3 different levels of uphill races. I really like this method. It allows for everyone to participate but for the the best riders to still be challenged.
So perhaps the wording that is needed would be regarding the Elite race at Unicon, or the race that will determine the World Champions. We have to figure out how to word it so that the stipulations are clearly defined and also not just recommendations.
I think Patricia has a good point. The rules should be more specific for Elite races where the competition is more intense and let the less competitive races allow some variation. Choosing an appropriate venue for races can be difficult, which should be the case for Elite races. But having the same restrictions for non-Elite races severely reduces the number of available venues for those races.
Yes to what Patricia is saying. As always, we have to avoid being too specific on course requirements as, especially with Muni events, it can be very difficult to find venues that have both the terrain, and willingness to allow people to race unicycles on it. I get the impression that the Unicon 18 Uphill course was kind of a last-minute thing. It seems that there would have been plenty of time to run uphill races up in the town where the other Muni events were held, so I expect it was a lack of separate trails, or of enough people and timing equipment that kept that from happening.
FYI, the Unicon 18 Uphill course was not a last minute option, but rather a deliberative compromise. Making a schedule for Unicon that accommodates the most amount of people possible is extremely challenging, and the uphill course was chosen so that uphill could be held on any day.
I agree that as a rider, the course was rather short and easy, and somewhat disappointing. However, the option worked well for many (non-expert) riders and having multiple races/courses just wasn't a reality for this past Unicon.
No complaints from me on the Uphill course, as I understand the many complications of scheduling such a large competition. Earlier courses were much smaller/easier, and this one created enough work for all the riders to establish a finish order without lots of ties. :-)
I am not one of the top uphill riders in the world and I barely found this uphill course challenging. I can only imagine what it was like for the best of the best. I completely understand the challenges of organizing and finding courses but I also think Ben has a point. Having two courses of different levels could be a middle ground. It would also be possible to have the two different levels at separate times in the schedule if they are at different locations so that it's easier to accommodate the hectic and busy Unicon schedule.
- One course chosen with the top competitors in mind. Steep, technical, long.
- One course that is the right level for the majority of competitors (excluding the top riders)
- Optional more levels if desired by host (Very beginner course for example)
Good points so far! I think the best option would be to have guidelines for the Elite race course and leave it to the host whether 1-2 easier course(s) for beginners/intermediate riders can be provided. The rulebook sections for DH and XC courses are already like this. Of course, having extra courses means extra work for the organizers and I can see that to be a problem at huge events with tight time constraints. Maybe it's the least extra organizational effort to have the beginners just ride the easiest part of the Elite course so that everything is in the same place.
I like that suggestion and it's a clever idea to have the easier line be the first part of the elite. I think it addresses our concerns but also leaves a lot up to the discretion of the hosts.
So now the question is, what requirements do we want for the elite course?
I like both Ben and Patricia's ideas. To simplify timing and possibly speed the process (assuming sufficient equipment and staff), the easier course(s) could branch off to the side and have finish lines that are off the elite's route, allowing riders of any version of the course to be mixed, as long as they cross the proper finish line.
For requirements, it should probably still be recommendations and strong recommendations, to keep from eliminating any venue that doesn't quite fit the specifications. Rather than specifying specific distance or elevation gain, it might be simpler to do it based on time to complete the course. That could be a problem if the host doesn't have elite riders available, but if it's a "known" rider, that person's results could probably be extrapolated to get a pretty good idea of the difficulty of a course. That being said, you could also have a distance vs. elevation formula of some kind. For example, if a venue without a lot of elevation gain is available, distance should be more than 500 meters (these are just numbers I'm throwing out). Or if it's a significantly steep trail, it might be able to ignore distance in favor of how much climb. 100 meters?
Scott says "I agree that as a rider, the course was rather short and easy, and somewhat disappointing. However, the option worked well for many (non-expert) riders and having multiple races/courses just wasn't a reality for this past Unicon."
Yes the option worked well for many non-expert riders but it should be more focused on the experts as this is a world champion! :) If this means not having a beginner or even intermediate course, I think that is better than having a mediocre uphill for the experts especially when final times come down to milliseconds (just guessing, don't know the actual results). At least last Unicon it was timed with a chip as otherwise places could have been decided by poor hand timing...but what if that's all they have next Unicon?
Don't know what requirements we need for the elite course though...cause it could be super long but not very technical...but it could also be relatively short but super technical. I think they would both be OK as long as its not short and non-technical (like Unicon 18).
Just as a reference, I checked out the approximate geometry of the Unicon 18 Uphill track on Google Earth: it's a bit under 200 m length and about 34 m height difference, with an average slope of about 17%. The terrain was pretty smooth, almost no roots and only very small rocks. For such a terrain, maybe require something like: "The course has to be longer than 500 m OR have a height difference greater than 100 m. If the terrain is more difficult, the course may be shorter or have less elevation gain."
@jamey: "...but it should be more focused on the experts as this is a world champion!" I don't agree on this. there are much more non-expert riders at unicon than expert. and all of them pay the registration fee. so if organizers have only the possibility for one course for all together - for whatever reason - it should be a course also suitable for beginners. always the best will win. or wasn't it so in Spain?
i think there was no problem with the course in spain - but there was a problem with timing. so if in the future we will have two or more courses or one course with two or three finish lines the timing problems will not get better. in my opinion the first thing to do is to optimize timing and when that works we can talk about more tracks. for me it was a confusion to have the start beep together with a chip. are there assignments about the start beep for muni races in the rulebook? i couldn't find them. i think the start beep is not suitable for muni-races. for our muni-races with single start, every 30 seconds we allow the start and then the competitor can start as he wants. the photocell takes the time when he pass.
So my opinion for now is not to prescribe different courses but only to suggest it. so organizers can handle it based on their relative situation.
generally i think the course requirements should not bee too specific. It's more important to have a competent muni director.
Paul I strongly disagree with you. All competitions (muni, road, freestyle, street, etc.) should be expert level quality for a world championships. Yes there are many more non-experts at unicons but I bet the top 10 expert muni riders spend much more time riding, practicing and training for the 2 year lead up to unicon than all non-experts combined...not to mention all the hours they spent ever since they learned how to ride. To train so hard and then to show up and find a mediocre trail (xc, uphill or downhill) is not good.
The uphill race in Montreal was super technical, pretty steep and kind of long for how hard it was. I thought this was a perfect course. The uphill in Italy was up a ski slope and was super long, pretty steep and not as technical but also a good course. The uphill in Spain was not even close to par of either of these uphills. If the course it to hard for beginners than they should find a different course, have them do just a small portion of the course or not have it at all.
Did the best uphill rider win in Spain? For that relatively easy course yes but if it was a more challenging course I'm willing to bet the placings would have changed quite a bit.
I think that everyone mostly agrees on these two things:
- a course should be challenging for the top riders
- a course should be accessible and rideable for the intermediate level riders and it should be attemptable for beginner riders
Ben suggestion of having requirements for the elite course and then leaving it up to the host if they want to have a separate course (or shortened version) for the intermediate/beginner riders. This seems to solve the majority of the problems and still be manageable to the Unicon host.
@Ben "The course has to be longer than 500 m OR have a height difference greater than 100 m. If the terrain is more difficult, the course may be shorter or have less elevation gain."
I like this rule.
@Jamey: "Did the best uphill rider win in Spain? For that relatively easy course yes but if it was a more challenging course I'm willing to bet the placings would have changed quite a bit."
Good course or bad, everyone rides the same course. In the case of the Spain Uphill, I think the issue people had for Expert riders was that it was short/easy enough to possibly have ties between multiple riders. This could also apply to non-experts as well, but is beside the point. So to the design of course guidelines, we are asking ourselves if a recommendation of minimum distance and/or elevation gain is the way to go. I think it is, but in the end we must be flexible. Would you rather have an easy/boring/short course or none at all? This could be the choice for many future hosts.
John, regarding the issue of requirements, please see my suggestion in Maksym's topic.
Ready for a proposal? "If the terrain is technically easy (i.e., smooth to ride, no or only very small rocks and roots), the main course has to be longer than 500 m or have a height difference greater than 100 m. If the terrain is more difficult, the course may be shorter or have less elevation gain. The event hosts may consider additionally offering Beginner/Advanced categories competing on shorter and easier tracks or on selected parts of the main course."
I like it. I say go for it, Ben.
Now that I read this closer I realized that probably this should be a Unicon-specific rule. While I agree with the intent, I know that almost all of the locations in the past 5 years for NAUCC would not have been able to feasibly find routes to meet these specs.
Thanks Patricia for your comment! In DH & XC we don't differentiate between Unicon and other competitions concerning the course rules. If we make the Uphill rules Unicon-only, maybe the organizers of non-Unicon competitions would not be very motivated to at least try to find a track meeting the criteria. On the other hand, with a rule valid for all competitions maybe the organizers would think that it's impossible to find a suitable track because of the strict rules and don't offer Uphill at all. I don't know what's more likely to happen.
What does everyone else think about the proposal and also Patricia's comment?
I think it should be mandatory for Unicon's and highly recommended for other events.
I like Jamey's suggestion. I think most hosts of smaller competitions do their best to find quality tracks but sometimes they just aren't feasible due to location, time, budget, etc.
I also agree to Jamey's suggestion, to male it mandatory can delete many small races from the map based on this rule.
I like it as well, what about:
"Uphill courses must be primarily uphill but may include flat or downhill sections. If the terrain is technically easy (i.e., smooth to ride, no or only very small rocks and roots), the main course at the world championships has to be longer than 500 m or have a height difference greater than 100 m. If the terrain is more difficult, the course may be shorter or have less elevation gain. The event hosts may consider additionally offering Beginner/Advanced categories competing on shorter and easier tracks or on selected parts of the main course. It is recommended that Uphill courses at other types of events or competitions adhere to these rules as well."
What about this?
"Uphill courses must be primarily uphill but may include flat or downhill sections. At Unicon, if the terrain is technically easy (i.e., smooth to ride, no or only very small rocks and roots), the main course has to be longer than 500 m or have a height difference greater than 100 m. If the terrain is more difficult, the course may be shorter or have less elevation gain. The event hosts may consider additionally offering Beginner/Advanced categories competing on shorter and easier tracks or on selected parts of the main course. It is recommended that Uphill courses at other types of events or competitions adhere to these rules as well."
I think it makes it stand out a bit more than when you have "at the world championships" in the middle of a sentence. For example, I missed it the first time through and had to look again.
Sounds good! I'll revise the proposal.
@John: "Would you rather have an easy/boring/short course or none at all?"
If I train to race in world championships than I would like to have it on good level, or none at all. Organizer can save on work and I can save on tickets ;)
I like 500100 requirement for Unicon and as recommendation for other events.