Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cat2 MTB Sandbagging Scandal: Cat up 'til you suck!

A day after I acknowledged the awesome achievement of some of our local COMO cyclists in the recent MO MTB Championships, a reader brought to my attention an emerging discussion on the STLBiking forum in which the CAT 2(Sport) MTB Champion, Justin Bowen, has been accused of sandbagging by cyclist "Big Fro 29er":

"One thing that rubbed me wrong about the Sport Class was that I thought I had won the 30-39 class, just to find an expert class guy name Justin (number 226) from G-sallo had finished 10+ minutes ahead of the rest of the sport class. How is that winning? That is cheating! I Came to find out that he had sandbagged the sport class last year and won, but do to a technicality (not having a valid USAC license), he was not given the jersey...it went to the 2nd place guy, Rock Wamsley (who one of my good friends, and is racing expert class this year).

So, I talked to Justin after the race and he had a pre-metitated plan to not race any expert class races this season until after the state race, so he could sandbag the sport class today and kill the rest of us by a huge margin to "win" the state champ jersey. This is what he told me! What a D-bag! The rest of us in sport class felt robbed. So, Justin has my State Champ Jersey at his house. But his little girls can't even be proud of him because this D-bag cheated to get it. It is so unethical. I could have raced the beginner class and won myself a state champ Jersey too, but that is not ethical.

Then I found out from other cyclist [that know him] that he has done this in cyclecross and road racing. This guys is a CAT 3 on the road..why are you racing the Bubba cross series in the C class? Come on...that is the beginner class! Maybe you should move up to the expert class in MTB and stop sand bagging sport! Nobody likes people like you! What happened to integrity and moral values? I hope you are proud of yourself for taking my sport class 30-39 state champ jersey. You need some ethics training. I hope you aren't teaching your kids how to be like you, because I feel sorry for them to have such a horrible Dad.

I can tell you all 3 of my kids are of pround of me.... because they know who really won the state champ jersey!  God will make sure A-holes like you get what you deserve..."

Pretty harsh words to be sure...especially invoking God's wrath upon someone's anus and questioning his ability to parent all over a Cat 2 mountain bike race.  

However, a little investigation by some of the forum readers demonstrated that Bowen's lap time speeds put him on par with the top 5 cyclists within the Expert (Cat1) class which was also supported by his finish time of 14 minutes in advance of the Cat2 second place finisher (Big Fro 29er).  Bowen's response was that he is, in fact, a Cat2 in MTB, but was just having a great day. 

But by this point, some video surfaced on facebook that showed Bowen (#226) not only having a great day of racing, but perhaps actually getting a head start.  The video shows him racing up with the Cat1s at the very beginning of the race which heavily suggested he actually started with the Cat1s who were released several minutes before the Cat2s. 

Bowen responded to this video:

"I thought this was a field start, where u line the classes up and we all go..... At saturdays event, I was on the FRONT row until the guy wiith the bullhorn said experts on the front, sport behind them, so I MOVED BACK (at least thats what I thought he said, so I even looked around at the numbers of everyone around me and we ALL were 200 something!....I dont know who is a sport racer, I have raced 3 many mtb races in my life besides dirt crits! but I did recognize several of the fast experts and they were on the front row, so again, I MOVED BACK! . I logically concluded that I was at the right place to start. one may assume that since I have a fairly strong engine and can handle a bike offroad that I would know the "mountain bike rules" but realize, there were no signs indicating classes, no spraypaint on the ground whatever or number differentiation between sport/expert. and maybe the guy clearly stated it, honestly I am not sure, I am not running down the promoters, these guys did a great job. I am just stating my case."

So after admitting to starting with the wrong group, he concludes with the comments:

"I ride for fun win, lose or draw. apparently some of u dont and I feel for u. but I must say, its pretty cool to be so famous now! thanks!

it may be necessary to invoke the courts to remove the sand filled jersey from the shop floor, it is being used to hold the door open.

....so does this mean I can still race sport? ahaahahahahahahaaa.. joking!"

And Bowen added some validity to his claim that he was using his Missouri State Championship jersey as a sandbag door stop by posting a video of him doing just that on YouTube.

At the time of this posting, USA cycling headquarters has asked Bowen to return the jersey.  I hope he cleans the sand out of it before handing it over to "Big Fro 29'er."  And despite the fact that I'm certain God cares deeply about Cat 2 Mountain Bike races in Missouri, I hope he goes easy on Justin.

Some unresolved questions, however remain:

1) When can someone truly call "sandbagging?" in amature racing?
2) Does 'Big Fro 29'er' indeed possess a big fro?
3) How much sand can a large Missouri State Championship jersey actually hold?


  1. This is truly pathetic, and he seems to be trying to weasel his way out of it by making it all a joke.

    Anyway, I've never raced before, but I've been MTB riding for fun since 1998. I've considered racing for the first time next month in the Show-Me State Games, but I'm not sure what class would be appropriate. Some have told me that 'Beginner' would be fine, since I'd be a beginner racer, while others say that's technically not right, since I'm not a beginner rider. Thoughts?

  2. USA cycling says regarding MTB: "Riders may advance as quickly as they wish up to Cat 2. However, once a rider has upgraded, he or she will not be permitted to downgrade to a less difficult category without making a formal request to USA Cycling." I would start in the Beginner (Cat3) group, keep racing and cat up until you are getting your ass handed to you....then you are in the right place.