Monday, July 28, 2014

Privacy Policy

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 Motocross | High Point

Photo: Cudby/racerxonline
We are evolving here at the Roost'r camp in ways I hadn't anticipated.  My interests have been progressing more into the periphery of the "roosty" sport of dirt bikes, make no mistake though the racing and the bikes still drive my passion.  I've tried to keep a balance between quantitative and qualitative analysis but lately the numbers seem to be winning the motos.  It's no surprise, numbers flash at me 8 hours a day and uncovering a new way to enjoy my favorite pastime keeps my wheels on the ground.

Statistics is not unlike riding a new track; trust your instincts, give it a couple of test runs then twist the throttle and hope you don't crack your dome.  Alpha in my industry is the driving force behind many of our decisions.  It's a factor in determining the value of a portfolio given a level of risk and only when we've identified significant alpha will we deploy capital.  This week I decided to put my "El Capit├ín" hat on and talk about how one might employ statistics to identify the M.U.V.R. or most undervalued rider.

My buddy, I'll call him Jimmy Jack, asks me why are you taking all the fun out of motocross?  My reply, "because I can."  All joking aside, the business side of the sport can be equally exciting with non-stop maneuvering behind the scenes creating a unique and dynamic season year after year.  Billy Beane couldn't stand to watch a pitch but he absolutely loved the sport of baseball.  A live game was only confirmation of a game he'd already played on paper and since there is not much attention being paid to the subject in motocross I thought I'd concentrate my efforts here.

The best I can do as a casual observer is to simulate what I might do as a team manager to uncover the MUVR.  Alpha should at the very least assist in identifying value in motocross and only a combustible mix of statistical analysis and applied mathematics can rut it out.  So what's the alpha generator in motocross? Having pondered the question for some time I've come to the conclusion that there are three main factors to consider.  Obviously part of the equation lies in the rider and his abilities.  Now he doesn't run around the track so another factor to consider is the equipment and the support he receives.  Finally there is the level of competition he faces and to a lesser extent the track itself.

Of course one moto or one race is not enough to come to any kind of conclusion so historical data and a keen eye are critical.  Given my time constraints I doubt I'll be able to provide any meaningful results in this post but at least you know what's in the works.  I understand alpha looks great on paper but it ultimately comes down to execution and that's really where the nobby meets the dirt.  In the meantime, below are two traps from High Point.  A TRAP for those not familiar is my proprietary scoring method for evaluating individual performance.

A quick glance at moto 1 of the 450 class revealed a lot of parity with 31 riders all scoring within tier 2 and 3.  Roczen was the top performer followed closely by Grant.  You may have also noticed Fredrik Noren from Sweden clawing his way up the rankings, now sitting 13th in points.  Another glaring fact is that KTM has officially arrived with some very impressive showings.  In moto 2 of the 250 class I had 3 riders scoring in the top tier, 2 of which I had never heard of; Dylan Slusser of Butler PA and Brandon Riehm of Annadale MN.  The rest of the field held their own in tiers 3 and 4, Matt Lemoine being the only rider scoring in tier 2 but just barely.

In the off season I hope to score every moto in every race so I have one full season of stats to work with.  I can't say how this will translate to supercross but then that's why I do this.  Muddy Creek profile up next, till then enjoy Budds Creek.

The Roost'r

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2014 Motocross | Thunder Valley

It’s been a busy month so far and I’ve not had much time for blogging.  I made it out to Thunder Valley a couple of weeks ago to catch round 3 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and it was everything I had hoped for.  The weather was superb and the racing was even better.

It’s always a topic of discussion over the conditions surrounding the elevation in Lakewood and this year I could actually see it play out over my spreadsheets.   It’s no surprise to all the insiders of the sport but for us lay people it’s cool to see actual numbers.  The 250’s had a harder time with the conditions but the 450’s saw the greatest impact.

In football it’s the weather that is the great equalizer but in Colorado it certainly is the altitude.  In moto 1 of the 450 class, 18 scored within Tier 2 (20 to 25 points), 15 for the 250 class in Tier 2 (20 to 30 points).  By way of comparison, at Hangtown, 9 in 450 moto 2 and 13 in 250 moto 1 scored within these respective ranges.

So what are we to gather from these statistics?  Well, looking at these 2 motos only, if I were racing at Thunder Valley I would hop on a 250 because I may have a better shot at qualifying, assuming I had the perfect setup of course.  I’m working on High Point over the break so check back in a few days for some HP stats.  Till then thanks for clicking in!

The Roost'r

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014 Motocross | Hangtown

Photo: racerxonline / cudby
A friend and I were sitting at a bar in Boulder with a supreme view of the Flatirons, sipping on a couple of Moscow Mules from a copper mug while sharing our best mountain bike stories when the conversation turned to motocross.  The debate revolved around my TRAP scoring and why the leader rarely has the highest score.

Great question I told him but the answer is really quite simple, I replied.  Of course I had to answer his question with a question; is the winner always the best and fastest rider on the track?  He thought about it for a moment and answered yes, of course, he won.  Wrong!  There is only one absolute in racing; the winner of a race is always without question the first to cross the finish line.

Want proof?  Just listen to the riders themselves.  Every week they give us their secret; a good start.  So why is that?  Because they know there is a distinct advantage for running up front.  For one, first place has one race and that’s to protect his position.  Everyone else, except for last place, has 2 races; protect his position and gain a position, never mind the Roost and every other hazard that comes with running from behind.  So when you think about it you have 40 individual races going on at the same time.  Here’s the twist though, when normalized, the leader has nearly maximized his competitive advantage.  His response; whatever.

I live in Colorado but the local riders I’m sure have no idea I exist but I keep up as often as I can so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see one of our local guys score big last weekend.  Bobby Fitch has no idea who I am but he had earned the top spot on my 450 TRAP this week, easily outscoring some of the top riders in the world; kudos my man.

So now let’s take a look at Moto 2 in the 450 class.  It’s important to remember that we’re talking about relative performance, or how a rider did relative to his peers and not how he did against his peers.  At first glance you’ll see that Fitch scored highest on the grid followed by Lamay, Canard, Peick, Mikhaylov, Reed, McConahy, Tedesco, Endicott and James Stewart to round out the top 10.  When we isolate performance further we find the largest concentration of riders outside tier 3; 57.5% to be exact.  We can conclude from these numbers that Fitch, Lamay and Canard had noteworthy rides in terms of personal effort and relative performance.

Tier 1 – 5%
Tier 2 – 15%
Tier 3 – 22.5%
Tier 4 – 27.5%
Tier 5 – 5%
Tiers 6 thru 8 – 25%

The fact that most riders fall outside the top tiers is of course no revelation, some riders possess far superior equipment and resources than others but over time we should be able to determine an Equivalent Average (EqA) for each rider and if I were a team manager I would look at riders who score consistently in the higher ranges of these EqA’s and let them have a run on a factory machine.

Perhaps you’re starting to get a sense of the level of complexity that goes into building and maintaining a professional motocross team and I believe to build a solid team you need to look past lap times and box scores.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be working on an Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) for forecasting rider performance – this is a system used in baseball so it’ll be interesting to see if it can be applied to motocross.

For the casual observer most of this may sound about as fun as bamboo shoots being jammed underneath your fingernails but if you’ve ever had the desire to be part of a pro motocross team, having deeper knowledge of racing wouldn’t hurt.  There are no guarantees in racing; the best we can do is improve our chances.

Thanks for clicking in and see you in Colorado,

The Roost'r

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Motocross | Glen Helen 250

Photo: racerxonline (cudby)
Dissecting a race is common practice and the factory teams take it to a whole new level.  All I’ve done here is quantify what we’re seeing then illustrating those results for anyone who cares to follow.  Commentary and opinion are very entertaining and keep the sport alive but the numbers tell the story.

With my charts I can illustrate not only how well a rider did among his peers but with further analysis I can determine to what degree, among other things.  Follow along throughout the season and you’ll be able to gauge the momentum of a rider, or what I like to call relative strength – a technical indicator used to chart strength or weakness.  I assume the factory teams already do this and only out of curiosity did I decide to develop my own method of evaluation.

Let’s take a look at Moto 1 in the 250 class.  According to my calculations Jessy Nelson was my top performer followed by Kyle Peters, Dean Wilson and so on.  If I sort by CLAW score you would find another unfamiliar name in Jacob Baumert in the top 10 and Matt Bisceglia uncharacteristically in the bottom 10.  The meat of the curve begins with Christophe Pourcel and ends with Justin Starling.  You may have noticed that my scores have very little to do with the AMA Point Standings and that’s because I wanted a method of evaluating a rider rather than tallying points.

So how did I get to these results?  Well, it took a lot of hours of grinding out numbers until my results reflected what I saw.  I had to apply some advanced analytics to compensate for some of the random variables in a race and the result is what you have here.  It’s tough to watch every rider at all times during a race and this chart illustrates in one frame the performances of all 40 riders.  Over time the spreadsheets I use to figure all this out can be manipulated to evaluate multiple scenarios and should lead to some very interesting statistics.

It’s all greasy kid stuff but it’s interesting to know that there is so much more going on behind the scenes and I hope that I can bring us all just a little closer to that motocross team experience – enjoy! 

The Roost'r

2014 Supercross | Season Closer

Photo: racerxonline (cudby)
Supercross is over and what a fantastic season it was.  Not a lot of surprises in the 450 class but we did witness a bit of history.  The rookies had outstanding performances and some veterans moved in opposite directions.  The 250 class sometimes seems to take the back seat to the big bikes but I find the proving ground among the younger riders is by far more exciting to watch.

By now you’ve read all you can about the season that was so I won’t bore you with details.  I do however have a couple of observations on the season finale that I’d like to share.  First was the anticlimactic 250 shootout.  With 10 laps and 20 of the best riders you’d think you were about to witness one of the greatest spectacles in Supercross but it didn’t quite measure up.  Simply, there was too much distance between the front runners for anyone to give chase.  Not sure why, perhaps it was the track plus I think the broadcast crew could pick it up some (check out the Canadian Motocross broadcast crew, they’re awesome).  I had my brother all amped for the 250 shootout and it just kind of fizzled.  The main events on the other hand sure lived up to their billing.

The anticipation builds so much more when the series comes into Vegas without a winner so the 450’s put on the best show they could – I’d still pay to watch.  To be quite honest it’s the 250’s that stole the show, again.  I’m still not sure how I feel about no heat races in the 250 class.  Of course I know why but not sure that’s the best solution.  If I could offer one suggestion, perhaps something more like the Monster Energy Cup or Lucas Oil Motocross – have 2 “motos” for a combined score – that would really mix it up.

All in all it was another successful year for Monster Energy SX and we don’t have to wait long for the insanity to continue.  Lucas Oil Pro Motocross is on deck and for those purists out there this is where the rubber meets the road.  I love natural terrain so I’m super stoked for the outdoors.  We get one round out here in Colorado and yours truly will surely be in attendance.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this experiment as much as I have, Glen Helen is right around the corner; see you in Colorado.

The Roost'r

Friday, May 2, 2014

2014 Supercross | Vegas Finale Predictions

Photo: racerxonline (cudby)
It's L'Egregious Silo out of Southern Utah that has the guys on The Fan Morning Show here in Denver buzzing as the Broncos first round pick but the tasty morsel of sports news they're ignoring is the 4-time SX champ Ryan Villopoto.  We all know the significance by now so I won't get all schmoopy about it here but what a year it's been for Monster Energy Kawasaki.

The 450 class has been settled but the 4-time champ won't let up in the final round and the race for second place is still up for grabs.  The injury bug hit again in practice this week and our Colorado boy Eli Tomac is out with a collarbone injury.  Sounds like James Stewart will line up but not sure how strong he'll be with a bum knee.  This weekend could be a race between the KTM teammates, Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen, for rule of the Roost, should be fun.

The 250 class is oozing with excitement and this final round should once again be a night to remember.  The West is tight with Jason Anderson heading into Vegas with the momentum.  His closest competition is Cole Seely and the Troy Lee Designs rider is going to give it his best shot – man I wish I could be there!  In the East it is Justin Bogle's title to lose.  The real race is for second place.  With Martin Davalos out and Baggett a game time decision, the privateer Vince Friese is on the verge of a podium spot and that has to have the Factory Metal Works camp pumped.

Vegas is what we wait for all year – the track, the drama but nothing more so than the 250 shootout.  Who will be the best 250 rider for 2014?  With all the injuries we'll never know but you have to be in it to win it and the best rider who I believe will emerge victorious is Jason Anderson.  He's been pounding out laps and wreaking havoc on the competition all season and if he takes the West title he'll be tough to stop in the shootout.

Prognosticating is a futile exercise in the sport of Supercross but there's nothing like sport within a sport.  Here we are, the 2014 season is coming to a close and Motocross is right around the corner.  "History is written by winners."  Ryan Villopoto is in the history books; who will join him when Supercross concludes in Vegas?  Thunder to descend in the Nevada desert; picks in the gate…

450 SX (+/- handicap)

1.       Ryan Villopoto (-1)
2.       Justin Barcia (-1)
3.       Ken Roczen (+1)
4.       Josh Hill (+1)
5.       James Stewart (+1)
6.       Ryan Dungey (+1)
7.       Trey Canard (+1)
8.       Weston Peick (-1)
9.       Andrew Short (+1)
10.   Mike Alessi (+1)

250 East SX (+/- handicap)

1.       Justin Bogle (-1)
2.       Vince Friese (-1)
3.       Jeremy Martin (+1)
4.       Kyle Cunningham (-1)
5.       Matt Bisceglia (-1)
6.       Alex Martin (+1)
7.       Matt Lemoine (+1)
8.       James Decotis (+1)
9.       Mitchell Oldenburg (+1)
10.   Gannon Audette (-1)

250 West SX (+/- handicap)

1.       Jason Anderson (-1)
2.       Cole Seely (+1)
3.       Dean Wilson (-1)
4.       Justin Hill (+1)
5.       Zach Osborne (+1)
6.       Malcolm Stewart (+1)
7.       Cooper Webb (-1)
8.       Jessy Nelson (+1)
9.       Jake Canada (+1)
10.   Shane McElrath (+1)

250 East/West Shootout (+/- handicap)

1.       J. Anderson (-1)
2.       C. Seely (-1)
3.       J. Bogle (+1)
4.       D. Wilson (-1)
5.       J. Hill (+1)
6.       J. Martin (-1)
7.       V. Friese (+1)
8.       Z. Osborne (-1)
9.       M. Stewart (+1)
10.   C. Webb (+1)

The Roost'r