Saturday, July 30, 2011

Know the rules

It seems like life is nothing but a learning experience.  We make good decisions and bad decisions and hopefully learn from BOTH.  Today I learned a lot from making a "bad" decision as a Starter in a Time Trial because I wasn't clear on the rules.  A rider also made a "bad" decision for being late, having a mechanical, and thinking that they'd get a NEW start time.  It didn't affect the outcome of the race but I made a rider very upset..which also upset me.  In this case, (I don't want to go into specifics) we BOTH didn't clearly understand the rules.  Yes, as a relative newbie official I'm still learning.  Trust me, it's not easy making quick decisions as an official during an event.  Here's the USA Cycling rule for Time Trials regarding the start:

3E5. Start.

(a) Each rider shall report to the starter at least three minutes before his or her scheduled starting time and shall start at the scheduled time. If a rider appears later than the appointed starting time, the start will be allowed only if it does not interfere with the riders starting on schedule. If it does interfere, the rider may be further delayed. In case of a late start, the appointed time shall be used in computing the results.
I've underlined the most important part of the rule.  That is, if you miss your start time the clock is still running on your Time Trial.  For example, if you were scheduled to start at 8:00:30 and you don't start until a minute later (9:00:30) your final time is based on your published start time NOT your actual start time.  In most Time Trials..there is usually some time to insert you in-between other racers (if you miss your start time) as long as it doesn't interfere with other riders.  The key there is as long as it doesn't interfere with other riders.  During the same TT today, I tried to insert a racer earlier that missed their start time in-between two other racers that were scheduled 30 seconds apart.  When that person got to the line I asked them if they were ready and they said, "Yes".  When they came to the line they had problems clipping in and almost delayed the start of the other racer that was scheduled to go off.  (So much for being ready).  What I should have done is pulled that rider to the side and had them wait longer..until they were TRULY ready.  Why should a late rider disrupt the flow of riders that were waiting and on time?  Everything went off ok..but I upset a rider in my decision making process.
So, here's the moral of the story- KNOW THE RULES.  It doesn't matter whether it's a Crit, Road Race, TT, etc.  In the case of a TT, if you're late and miss your start..because of traffic congestion, a broken down car, a bike mechanical, or're going to be inserted IF it's possible.  If not, you wait until the last rider leaves which obviously're NOT going to be competitive.  i.e. you're pretty much done for the day.  So, let that be a lesson to everyone.  If you're racing a TT, be there at the starting line AT LEAST 3 minutes early to get in the que.  The only exception to an excused late start is if they closed a road to the event in the case of an emergency/accident or something that you had no control over.  If that does happen, realize it's still up to the Chief Ref as to whether it's excusable.  If that does ever happen, the first thing I would do is seek the Chief Ref out, plead your case, and hope that they grant you a new start time.
Here's a link to the USA Cycling Rulebook. PLEASE read the rules and know the rules. If you don't understand them, or need further clarification..ASK.
Oh, one other thing.  When you are at the starting line of a TT being held by the holder, ready for your 5 second countdown,..please don't back pedal excessively.  I see riders do this all the time.  If you drop a chain during your 5 second are SOL.  The clock will start on your ride while you're putting your chain back on.  Also, make sure that you are in a gear that you can pedal away on your own power.  A few riders today had their bikes in too big a gear and almost couldn't turn the cranks out of the chute.  And, they almost fell over.  I had to hold a couple people up from falling over into me.  The holder WILL NOT push you.  They are not allowed to.  If you fall out of the gate you do NOT get a FREE re-start...the clock is running. Sometimes even the top Pros forget.  If you saw the final individual TT of this years Tour de France (on Saturday) you may have noticed that Alberto Contador almost fell out of the chute.  I'm not sure what happened.  I'm guessing he thought the holder was going to push him down the ramp or that he was in too big a gear..because he almost fell over.  If he didn't unclip and put a foot down..he probably would have fallen.  Or, who knows, maybe the holder held him back..ha  (just kidding).
Power ON!  Coach Rob

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