The Best All Rounder?

While I respect the tiny number of riders who go out of their way to achieve times at the Scottish BAR (Best All Rounder), it is hardly a method of finding somebody who is a genuine best-all-rounder. It’s more an indication of who is willing to travel to time trials around the UK, in order to qualify for a championship which cannot be achieved by staying within the borders of Scotland, a championship of perseverance perhaps?

What is the current BAR?

There are two senior ones, a women’s one, a junior one & a youth one! All are compiled using a mathematic anomaly, you take the average speeds of your best times at each event throughout the season, add them together & divide by the amount of events. Which leaves a number which is in fact an average of averages, but is still listed as an average speed. A throwback to a forgotten era of the abacus & perhaps a trusted slide-rule for the more modern & ‘out there’ time trial enthusiasts in the last century. It’s now worked out on an excel table, but possibly checked over with the slide rule method by the one individual who cares.

Here’s where the medals are allocated:

The BAR (Best All Rounder) is for road time trials only, it includes the 50 mile TT, the 100 mile TT & the 12 Hour TT. There are only a fraction of the 50’s left now, they are becoming less & less popular every year, no matter what you’re told by that old guy in your club who’s not been to an event in the last 20 years. There was one ‘100’ in Scotland in 2013, in that there were only 29 finishers. There was no 12 Hour event in Scotland, as has been the case the last few years, presumably nobody is entering it, which tells its own story. This is awarded medals as a Scottish Championship!

  • 5 riders qualified Scottish BAR times in 2011 & 2012.

The Middle Distance BAR is another anomaly, we can presume that it was introduced to combat the dying BAR competition & attempt to get more riders entering it. It includes the ’25’, the ’50’ & the ‘100’ & is also a Scottish Championship.

  • 36 riders qualified Middle Distance BAR times in 2012, this dropped from 39 in 2011.

The Womens BAR consists of the ’50’, the ’25’ & the ’10’. So we’re getting into some events that riders support now, much more relevant that the men’s BAR’s, but still not exactly in the modern era.

  • 15 riders qualified for the Womens BAR in 2012, this fell from 20 in 2011.

The Junior BAR includes the ’10’ & ’25’.

  • 1 rider (yes, one) qualified for the Junior BAR in 2012, there were only 3 in 2011.

The Youth BAR also includes the ’10’ & ’25’.

  • 8 riders qualified for the Youth BAR in 2012, with 7 in 2011, an increase of 1 rider!

Regardless of the fact that average speeds at time trials cannot be compared, (see Comparing The Incomparable and A Demographic Time Trial), the overall pattern is of a dying set of championships. These medals could be much better utilised by issuing them to current events & developing the sport, the BAR does nothing to develop the sport, it makes it look old & tired.

Misguided & out-of-date Championships?

Riders support events they want to ride, riders don’t want to ride the BAR qualifying events any more, resulting in no demand & the qualifying events are ceasing to exist. Yet, the BAR is still a Scottish Championship, a very strange situation, when we don’t currently have the olympic disciplines of ‘Points Race’, ‘Mens Team Pursuit’, ‘Womens Team Pursuit’, ‘Womens Team Sprint’, ‘Mens Omnium’ & ‘Womens Omnium’.

This looks like a huge backward step for the sport, somebody somewhere in Scottish Cycling thinks the BAR is still relevant to something, while they don’t think that the current Olympic programme is relevant to cycle sport in Scotland in any way, otherwise the events listed above would be included as Scottish Championships. What kind of impression does this give to youngsters who take up the sport after being inspired by Laura Trott in the Omnium, or the GB Team Pursuit squad? You can win a Scottish championship in something that has been driven out of existence by the lack of demand, but you can’t win a Scottish championship at the Scottish track championships in the ‘Points Race’, ‘Team Pursuit’ or ‘Omnium’ because our governing body has decided not to include them. We may have a rider at youth level who could win a Worlds medal at one of these events in the future, but they are not given the opportunity to race them, surely somebody at Scottish Cycling will see sense over the winter & include these events in next years championship programme, while dropping irrelevant championship events, to show that we have a modern & vibrant sport, not one stuck in the middle of the last century.

An Interim BAR Idea

We could easily adopt a more modern & inclusive approach to an all-rounder idea, we could use the current & future timed events as markers for a true competitive best all-rounder, using the proven omnium system to rank places. So rather than having random events during the season, why don’t we have a Scottish Best All Rounder as somebody who performed at numerous Scottish Championships, directly against their rivals, rather than having benefitted from a ‘float day’ when nobody else in the running turned up?

We can include the still popular endurance events ‘Pursuit’, ’10’, ’25’, ‘Olympic TT’, ‘Hill Climb’. (I’ll not include the track sprint events, as they can have their own omnium championship if that’s seen as something modern & progressive). Of the five events, you get points from your highest finishes in 4 of them, this allows you to go on holiday & miss one, or a very bad result, or you don’t have a track bike. For those that don’t know, an omnium is scored on an ascending points score, so first place gets one point, 2nd place two points, 3rd place three points. This means that the best score that any individual can have from the 4 counting events is 4. This would really give us a true ‘all rounder’ in timed events, rather than just a flat course time trialist. You can have a youth BAR, spread across all youth timed events, but missing out a ’25’, so ‘500m’, ‘Pursuit’, ’10’ & ‘Hill Climb’. Where they’ve not yet specialised & generally ride all events they can.

Looking Forward

Lets move on, it’s time to ditch the BAR & move forward with a new 21st Century BAR. While we’re at it, we should really include the Olympic disciplines as Scottish Championship medal events, there’s really no reason not to when there are medals allocated for something like the BAR, it’s a backward looking approach that need some very easy to implement modernisation.

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