I was asked to put to paper again my thoughts on a solution to our grading system.
Now right from the outset I want to say I do not believe this is the perfect solution and I know there will be people out there who will still find ways to manipulate this system to suit themselves. I do, however believe this system will satisfy the majority of people, most of the time. That has got to be better than what we’re doing now.
So just briefly here’s how I would see it working.
I suggest that we drop the age group classes as such and adopt an overall placings system. That would mean we would have only the four grades (Expert, A Grade, Intermediate and Clubman). Assuming we have 10 riders in each class the Experts would be 1st– 10th overall, the A Grade 10th-20th overall, Intermediates 20th – 30th and so on. You would then award the age group awards to those riders achieving the highest overall placing.
For instance at our recent Nationals the Presidents award would have gone to Kevin Pinfold as he would have been the rider over forty who achieved the highest overall placing. This is surely what the trophy is supposed to reflect. That is; the best rider over forty in the country, proven by a result in competition. The same system would be used for the Junior grades as well.
The result would be riders would be encouraged to enter the highest grade they can, based on their ability and fitness, and do away with riders riding “down a grade” to win trophies. It would also mean the trophies would have real meaning with all riders of eligible age in the running not just those who chose to ride a certain grade. Another possibility using this system is organisers could, at their discretion decide to recognise other age groups, types and sizes of bikes and of course our ladies.
As I said there could be drawbacks to this system. One rider could conceivably win more than one grade. I believe Jake won the N.Z Champs when he was still eligible to ride Junior. Some would say that’s not fair but as I said before if he’s the best of eligible age he should get the trophy. There is also the chance that some-one could ride up a couple of grades and take fives all day just to get the trophy but realistically I just can’t see anyone in the trials community being mad enough to do that.
And that brings me to the topic of grading. I personally think we have a problem with an imbalance in the numbers riding each grade. I think our Expert class should be for the top 10% of our riders not 2 or 3. The same with the A-Grade, that should be for the next 10% not 5 or 6.
So I reckon we should take our top 10 riders and put them all into the Expert Class, the next 10 and put them in the A-Grade and split the rest between Intermediate and Clubman. Now once we’ve done that we just have to start pegging the sections to suit those riders. What we’ve been doing in the past is pegging sections we think a particular grade “should be able to ride”. What we should be doing is pegging sections so the riders who have entered that grade can ride them.
I have attached a copy of the results from this years Nationals with overall placings, Age group winners and the grades for next year based on what I’ve just outlined. For the purpose of this exercise I have lumped the Juniors in with the Clubman because that’s the line they rode.
As I said Kevin Pinfold would have won the Presidents award, John Haynes the Junior tropy (I’m not sure whether Jim Lowe-Pattie was still eligible) and Stef Downes would have been the Women’s Champion.
I have coloured the grades for the following year Purple for expert (sorry no orange) Red for A-grade, yellow for intermediate and blue for clubman. Now I can hear the howls already, yes the sections will have to come back in severity. Expert sections will have to be what would now be considered a tough A-grade. The A-grade would be what would now be considered a tough Intermediate. Intermediate would probably end up being on a par with what are now Presidents sections. But we just have to face the reality that that is where we are at. With Jake and Karl in Europe next year who will ride the experts sections we’re pegging now? Matt, Jason maybe Warren? 1 or 2 entries at each event makes it all seem a bit farcical especially when we’ve got 20 odd in the Intermediate grade ranging in skill levels from the likes of Glenn Smith down to a FLB like me.
In closing I know some of you will think this is all a bit extreme but it’s not really. It’s just a different view of the same results when all said and done. And I think we’ve all come to realise that just adding another grade is not the answer. It hasn’t worked before, it won’t work now. There will always be riders out there who aren’t happy about something, its human nature, but just giving them another grade they probably won’t win, won’t make them any happier.