All About Upgrades

USA Cycling sets the specifications for rider category upgrades. Authority for approving upgrades is given to Local Associations, such as the Wisconsin Cycling Association. Race officials cannot authorize upgrades, nor can riders decide to upgrade themselves. Below is a brief overview of the requirements.

Not sure if you need an upgrade?

It’s time for an upgrade if…

  • You’re a category 5 and have raced in 10 races
  • You’re a category 4 and consistently in the top ten places
  • You’re a category 3 and consistently in the top six places

Go to www.usacycling.org and click on “My USA Cycling”. Create an online account page for yourself if you have not already done so. Select the “License Information” tab. On the right side of the page are buttons for “upgrade/downgrade” for the various disciplines. Click on the appropriate button; indicate the category you are requesting, and include a resume of pertinent experience and/or results. This request is automatically forwarded to WCA’s Technical Director, Heidi Mingesz, for approval.

Want to know if you qualify for an upgrade?

Upgrade Requirements

Click here to view USA Cycling’s upgrade requirements.

How does one receive an upgrade?

Most upgrades are done at the request of the rider in question. Riders are expected to compile a resume of their experience and results and to submit this when requesting an upgrade.

Mandatory Upgrades

Riders who earn the specified number of points in any discipline will be upgraded.  In the case of a race series run under one permit, the mandatory upgrade may be delayed until the end of the series.

Race Resume

You should keep a race resume to assist you in applying for upgrades. The following table is an example of the information that will be required of you:




Field size



5/12/05 Muskego Park 22 miles 36 5th 2

You do not need to have the exact distance or field size; approximations will do. You may simply specify that the field size was greater than that required.

How to request an upgrade

  1. Go to your account page at www.usacycling.org and log in.
  2. Select the “License” tab. On the right side of your account page is a button for “upgrade/downgrade”. Click on it.
  3. Indicate the category you are requesting.
  4. Type, or cut and paste your resume into the space provided.
  5. The request will be automatically forwarded to the person responsible for action.
  6. You will receive an email to confirm or deny the upgrade.

Proof of upgrade

You may request that your license be reissued. There is a $15 fee for this. You may also print an “Authorization to Ride” form from your USAC account page which will show your new category.

  1. Follow the ‘View Order History’ link just above your name.
  2. On the next page look for the order date that corresponds with your upgrade request and click the blue ‘View Order’ link.
  3. At the top of the next page you will find the link to ‘Print Authorization to Ride’. You will need the Authorization to show proof of upgrade at registration until your sticker or new card arrives.

Race Scoring

Riders can help themselves by understanding how race results are obtained. Here goes: is a process and riders can help by knowing the process. Here goes:

  1. At the end of the race, the judges review their scoring notes and photofinish data, and post a copy of the results for rider review. This can take half an hour or more if there are many riders on different laps, but is usually accomplished within about fifteen minutes.
  2. The riders then have 15 minutes to review the results and take any complaints or questions to the chief judge.
  3. The chief judge checks and rules on all protests. If needed, a new copy of results may be produced. This takes….as long as it takes.
  4. Only when all protests have been answered are the results final. If you check the initial posting and go away, it is entirely possible that those results will change before they are final.
  5. WCAs Technical director does not make any changes to the results after race day. She relies on what the judges have given her.

WCA strives for 100% accurate results. Still, riders can help themselves by knowing the process.


Code of Ethics

The Wisconsin Cycling Association is an organization of racing cyclists that is passionate about bicycle racing in our state. We believe that bicycle racing allows the individual to test one’s limits, compete with others, and meet new friends. In addition, we are aware that as racing cyclists, we represent ourselves, our sponsors, and the sport of bicycle racing every time we appear in a public venue. Therefore, we are establishing this Code of Ethics that outlines our responsibilities as racing members of the WCA. This document will outline three basic principles.

The first principle is sportsmanship. We will treat our competitors fairly. We will compete fiercely within the regulations, but will be good winners or good losers at the end of the day. This applies to riders, parents coaches, and teammates.

The second principle is respect. This applies to everyone. Bike races occur because many volunteers come together to make it happen. Therefore, we will go to bicycle races with the expectation that the people who work at these bike races (registration volunteers, course marshals, and referees) are there because they love bike racing, just like we do. Because of our mutual love for the sport, competitors will treat race volunteers and officials with respect. Examples of this respect include smiling, saying thank you to volunteers, thanking the officials, asking questions if there is a conflict instead of complaining, and using respectful language.

Another important concept which is similar to respect is ambassadorship. This is where we show our respect and positive attitude to the many people we may interact with in our travels. We are ambassadors of our sport when we are good guests in the communities that host us. We are good guests when we respect traffic and traffic laws and respect the local laws in regard to public indecency and urination. We are also good guests when we thank the townsfolk and answer their questions. We might even give a curious child a water bottle. We may thank the promoter for all of their work. In short, we represent to others what we are—hard working, kind, positive people. We believe that we can never underestimate the value of ambassadorship.

The Wisconsin Cycling Association embodies the true meaning of amateur athletics. We race for the love of the sport. It is our expectation that WCA members will take this Code of Ethics to heart, and practice the principles of sportsmanship, respect, and ambassadorship in their racing endeavors.

Rider Signature/date

For printable format of this form, click here for a pdf version.




Junior Riders – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have an old bike, can I use that for racing?

A: Most older bikes with proper tuning will suffice for your first year of racing. As you get more comfortable with the sport you may want to upgrade equipment to suit your needs and budget. Club mates can help new members decide what equipment to upgrade, help find used equipment or provide advice on how to shop for a new bike.

Q: I’m 16, how do I fit in?

A: USA Cycling, American Bike Race and other cycling organizations have special race categories for juniors. Young riders race with other riders in a similar age bracket. Some larger races have special points series like the Lance Armstrong Junior Race Series (LJRS) so aspiring riders can earn their way into training camps based on their performance!

Q: How do I learn about race tactics?

A: Most riders join a cycling club and learn from others who pass along information to newer riders. Some clubs have coaches and some riders hire their own coach as their cycling goals change. Most newer riders though learn tactics with time, experience, and the advice of other riders.

Q: Are there special cycling clubs for women?

A: Yes, but even clubs that are mostly male are open to accepting women riders. In some cases women will form their own riding group and invite members of other clubs on rides to help them learn.

Q: How much do I have to train?

A: Training volume varies by the rider, rider goals, and athletic background (ability). Some recreational racers train on the road 4-6 hours per week and race on the weekend. Serious amateur or elite athletes will train 10-20 hours or more per week while professional cyclists will train over 30 hours per week. There are many different race categories offered so that riders can match their skill and time available to the race that is best suited for them.

Q: Do I need a license to race?

A: It depends on which organization a particular race is organized under. A WISPORT race does not have a license fee, while races sanctioned by USAC, American Bike Race or similar organizations will require a one-day or annual license. To find out more about each of these organizations, see the links below.

Q: What is a “citizen” racer?

A: Citizen usually refers to a novice rider or an experienced but not licensed rider. Riders who wish to compete for fun and to learn or gage their progress may find racing with WISPORT to be a terrific place to start among a friendly atmosphere. The race courses are challenging and there are many races in a season–usually every weekend.

Q: I’m not sure how to ride in traffic. Are their rules to follow?

A: Bicycles are considered a vehicle, just like cars, and must obey the same rules as cars. Wisconsin has a terrific organization called the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin that has safety information and classes on safe cycling. Also, when riding in a group, it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure the ride is a safe–and traffic abiding–ride.