The Cat6 T-shirt is available from The Bike Station, Brighton, Star Cycles Elizabeth and online here (sizes limited for the moment online).
There was much snickering and apparently some out loud coffee spit on the computer screen laughing a few months ago when I posted my story about my Cat6 race while commuting home on the Linear Park. You can read it here to get up to speed.
Since then it’s been great to read Cat6 racing, or commuter racing, being dropped in posts and on rides so I thought I’d do some research into the history and psychology of the Cat6 event. Cat6 was not my term. It came from the US to me from the Eco Velo blog. Category 6 being the next available ranking number used by US amateur cycling clubs.
Cat6 works because we all inherently do it. We all want to catch that cyclist up the road ahead of us even if they are 80 years old riding a 1972 single-speed stepthrough. We must chase them down. We want to win and the joy of Cat6 is only we know where the finish line is.
My research has, not surprisingly really, discovered this is not just something common to the US and Australian cyclists. No! The British are into it as well and this led me to ‘The Game’ or in short SCR --- Silly Commuting Racing.
The story goes that in the middle of 2008 ChrisL S posted on the BikeRadar forums a story that was summarised with the line
...it's not a race I'm just riding to work...
From that post (with 500 pages of replies) a racing movement was formed -- SCR or Cat6 racing. Not only has it a loyal following, a website of its own (with poems & haiku), and a Facebook page, a hashtag on Twitter but it also has rules, rules we have in Adelaide been breaking.
The unspoken game had been spoken about and, what’s more, named. Before long the unwritten rules had been written, argued over, scribbled out, thrown away and re-written. The brethren were split, “Heresy!” was cried, but the existence of ‘The Game’ could no longer be denied. Thus, from a single forum post “Silly Commuter Racing” was born.
From History of SCR.
So the warm-up has been had Adelaide Cat6ers. Get off the rollers, you’ve been racing too long now with no handicapping. It’s time to take it international by adhering to the SCR Cat6 Racing Handicap Rules.
But before you can work out your handicap you need to establish your FCN -- Food Chain Number.
Your Food Chain Number (FCN) determines where you are in the great SCR hierarchy. A higher FCN places you lower in the Food Chain, but gives you a lot of targets to aim for. A lower FCN and you’re swimming with the big fish, so watch your back!
Your starting point is determined by the type of bike you ride and the type of cyclist you are, but your attire, luggage and other factors can raise or lower your final FCN. Once you have calculated your FCN, it won’t change unless you change your bike, attire or accessories.
Sounds tricky? It’s been taken care of for you with this simple FCN calculator.
Now you know your FCN go forth and race -- here are The Rules:
If you drop/pass anyone who looks faster than you (i.e. has a lower FCN) +1 point. If you get dropped by anyone that looks slower than you (i.e. has a higher FCN) -1 point. It couldn’t be simpler!
Some Basic Rules:
No Dangerous Manoeuvres – Don’t be a danger to any other road users or yourself. Falling off causes pain to you and others around you, don’t do it! (oh and you lose yer points)
Don’t ride like a fool, we’re all just trying to get somewhere!
No passing at Lights/Junction/Crossings, if you do, it doesn’t count
All passing on open road ONLY. Filtering in traffic is null and void (you know whether you’ve dropped someone fairly, and haven’t turned off straight afterwards)
Pavement passes, either you or the target, are void
Show no pain, unless your face is just like that
Starting FCNs 2-5 (ONLY) can gain points for overtaking the someone of equal FCN as well as Higher Chainers (i.e. lower FCN), due to the reduced numbers of potential prey
Recumbents, Tandems and Segways are worth +2 points as a rare bonus
Sinclair C5 +20 points as a hens teeth bonus
How many points for mismatched personalities.
What did you say that for
I didn't it was him.
I got an 8, it's gonna be a hard summer.
As a urban commuter I'm a 13 too... orange mountain bike with panniers. around the cbd.
Its on like donkey kong.
They call me unstageable because Im so unique....a big hairy Chewbacca :)
FCN - 4 eek! I'm a target! That was the roadie, the MtBike - 9 ;-) bring it on!
you shouldnt need areo bars for your commute!
on my Blingy single speed apparently i have a FCN of 2, on my roadie i have a FCN of 3 and on my MTB my FCN is 9 .. assuming i'm not wearing a cycling cap at the time.. which would reduce those numbers by 1 ...
FCN of 10, Should we put these numbers on of backs/paniers/helemts so other Cat6 riders know whom to count? :P
On my roadie I came up a 3. I guess I'll just go paint a massive target on my back right now.
A score of 8 on the beater/fixie gives me a better chance..
BTW, I laughed my bits off at this article on the Cat 6 boom in New York Bike Snob NYC blog
where he also has this cracker picture sent in by a bikesnob reader. Imagine this coming down the bike path at you. It's allegedly a surfboard rack, but looks more like an insane airfoil on a speed car.
Or perhaps fit some cloth as a sunshade...could be something in that!
All you'd need were some domestiques waving peacock feathers to cool you...and maybe a Gin and Tonic drink bottle!
Don't get any ideas Angus...i'll only supply the lead out for your Cat6 sprints!
How would one rate those Schwinn bikes that have a stubbie holder in the top tube?
(The yanks have taken ugliness to an art form!)
Now yr talking- fit it with some tassels and curtains like the tents over the emperor's elephant