In light of the comments that are still appearing underneath this post, I've come to the conclusion that in order to be fair to this issue, I should present the other side of the story. I'll start by using one of my own examples: at the master's state track championships the other day I saw some excellent racing, talked to some rad people and generally had a pretty good time. There's never anything bad about the racing or the people involved, and even I have to admit that the vibe is less cut-throat than in elite racing.
Please bear in mind that this is a purely theoretical discussion - I certainly have no sway whatsoever with the powers that be down at CV, and I'm pretty certain those guys aren't reading my blog. So next to nothing will change as a result of these two articles. This being said, I welcome your opinion, but if you don't keep it constructive and on topic, then sunshine, it ain't gonna get approved.
It seems people's responses can be summed up into seven distinct themes.
1. Master's racing encourages participation, due mostly to not being particularly serious.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. If it's a race, then it's serious, and you're trying to win!
2. Master's racing offers a greater variety of events.
This is true, but perhaps a condemnation of our mates at CV or even the clubs that put on the same races every week, rather than a defense of masters racing.
3. Life pressures take a greater toll in the master's years.
This was best summed up by local rider and total hardman Kos Samaras, who commented:
"The reason why masters classifications exist in my opinion is to give a generation of riders an additional experience to the sport beyond just racing young blokes. Young blokes who still can strive for that something extra, a career, a spot in an NRS team versus those over 30 who have no chance to aspire to such goals, who have a mortgage, kids, work careers to attend to and like something different to aspire to. The masters Cat IMO is there for that precise reason, for 'mature athletes' who either have come late into this sport, who have come back to this sport after a long spell (me), or those who have raced the pro scene, elite scene and have now moved into a new career, family etc, Tom Leaper springs to mind here.
Once you are over 30, in most cases before that age, life starts throwing a lot more at you then simply worrying about what your going to do at uni. You can't always work towards the Nationals versus elite riders, work gets in the way, especially if you work in sales, construction and other seasonal related occupations. Masters exist for these and many other reasons. Its this sports way of saying ‘look, we know your not like an aspiring 21 year old, you cant always compete in their national events, so we will give you a chance to pit yourself against your own ilk”
4. Grading is not the answer.
I can't answer this - well, not without starting a whole new flame war. I know grading is imperfect.
5. Master's racing helps in the industry.
This was an offhand comment, but I think it's a good one. Those older guys are the ones buying the Parlees and Baums. It sure as hell isn't the kid still living at home with their parents.
6. You're just masters bashing like everyone else.
I guess this is also kinda true, in that offering criticism could be seen as 'bashing', whether it's constructive or not. Bear in mind, however, that my criticism was not of the riders or the racing, but of the concept. And I'm a concept basher from way back.
7. You're a dickhead and I'm using this issue as an excuse to a) berate someone I don't like and b) use the C-Word.
Cool story, bro.
So that should be about it, I reckon. I did ask a few people if they would write this article themselves, but - nicely in line with point 3 above - folks were generally too busy. And in general, like most of us, they'd prefer to be riding their bikes than talking about doing so.
In fact, I'm going to go ride mine right now.