By Vince Cucco
The Arkansas Bicycle Coalition in coordination with CARVE will hold this year’s first officials clinic on Saturday February 25th. The course allows a participant to become a licensed USA Cycling official. It typically lasts 6-7 hours and participants are encouraged to work their first race the following day at the Crosswinds Classic in Little Rock. Below is a list of particulars participants will need to know and general info:
TAC Air-South2201 Bond StreetLittle Rock, AR
9am until 4 or 5pm. Depends on class size and a few other things. Most classes are 6-7 hours tops.
Who do I contact to let them know I am interested?
Reach out to me (Vince Cucco) at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 479-531-1708.
$25 for the course, exam (which is impossible to fail), and first year’s official license. Note: This $25 may be reimbursed by the local cycling association if an official works 5 race days this year. Plus, you earn that back plus some by working the race the next day if you are able.
What’s the class like?
Like mentioned above the class is usually 6-7 hours and includes an open book exam. It is impossible to fail. The morning starts with an overview of USA Cycling, various official roles, and rules you’ll need to begin familiarizing yourself with. Basically, everything you need to know to pass the exam. then we break for lunch for about 30 minutes. After lunch we spend time going over real world examples and best practices of the types of things officials do during races, such as how to score a finish, how to conduct junior roll out and practice it on real bikes, how to work as an official in a follow vehicle, radio protocol during a race, etc. We’ll actually practice those so when you’re faced with it in real world situations you’ve had a chance to see what it feels like and aren’t going into it blind.
What does an official do and what makes a good official?
First, the easy answer to what makes a good official. Two things make a really good official. First is a passion for the sport. Many of us are current racers, former racers, spouses of racers, or even parents of racers. We began with a passing familiarity of the sport and just wanted to get more involved often to help out our race team/club or figured we’re at the races watching our loved ones we might as well get paid to watch the race and help offset the cost of this expensive hobby. Second, common sense. In my opinion (which doesn’t really amount to much according to some!), common sense trumps all else when officiating. You don’t need to know every rule in a 300 page rule book. But you need common sense to work in a follow vehicle or score a race.
Second, what does an official do?
Most people hear official and immediately have images of umpires and referees from team sports growing up. That’s only a very small part of what we do. The most important aspects of being officials include helping keep the races and racers safe, and work with the promoters and the racers so that all have an enjoyable time. Third, we help ensure a fair event as much as possible. From an officiating stand point, it’s a successful event when there are no serious crashes, people generally seem upbeat about an event, and results are accurate and timely.To do this, officials work a variety of positions. The two main types are at the finish line and on the road. Officials at the finish line work to record the order of finish on riders using video, voice recorders, and writing as fast as humanly possible to capture rider numbers as they cross the line at 40mph. Officials on the road help maintain a fair and safe event by enforcing several rules on the road (such as the center line rule which dictates that a rider must stay to the right of the center of the road to avoid oncoming traffic), recording riders who attack or are dropped, helping wheel truck drivers if there is a flat, etc. We all work together as a team to help produce as safe and fair an environment as possible.
Why should I become an official?
Good question. We each have our own reasons for becoming officials. I became one in 2002 with one of my fellow teammates and official (Shawn Garls) so we could learn which rules could be bent to our advantage when racing. Turns out no matter which rules we could bend, we both went off the back so fast it didn’t matter, so we kept officiating because the payout at the end of the day was more than finishing DFL. Since then, I have gotten to meet people all over the country and create friendships with bike racers, other officials, mechanics, team managers, and others through the years. In fact, I fly to Chicago in the morning for work and plan on catching up with two friends for dinner – one from Chicago and the other from Dallas, but we all know each other from working races together the last 10 years. The people we get to work with and for are a great and diverse group of people.
I can’t make this class. Will there be another?
There will be another class help up in Northwest Arkansas sometime this spring. I don’t have dates in mind yet. The spring road race calendar is largely vacant with the exception of the University of Arkansas’s Arkansas Classic (2 day stage race) and the Joe Martin (the premiere stage race in the Central US and one of the only UCI races on US soil), there are no weekend races on the schedule. There is a weekday race every two weeks with the Avoca Road Race. I may try and hold one before the Joe Martin and in time for the Avoca Road races so that new officials can work a race soon after they take and pass the exam so the skills are fresh.
Where Can I find a copy of the rules?
In an effort to go green, USA Cycling is no longer publishing the rules in hard copy. You are able to download PDF’s of the rules here though: https://www.usacycling.org/usa-cycling-rule-book.htm
Again, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or call me or text me at 479-531-1708 with any questions, comments.
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