Commissaire's Corner

Comms Corner - Crossing Lanes part 2

 

This is an opportunity to share some of the processes and decisions Comms encounter during events.  Hopefully by doing this we can promote good, safe racing, and maybe even open transparency about races.  You are welcome to ask questions (maybe we will even address it in a future posting), but don’t expect to get a ruling here about something that happened.  One of the main tasks a Comm does if a situation arises is to gather information from multiple sources, not just a single perspective. 

Overall Commissaires are responsible for the running of events one hour before and one hour after a race.  Our main duty (first and foremost) is to create a safe environment by managing risks, and then there is officiating the race itself.

Crossing Lanes - Part 2

This is a continuation of Part 1 on the same topic.  You should really read Part 1 and 2 together as this post just clarifies FAQs we get on the subject of whether it is ok to cross lanes during a race. 

Another rides comes by you in the other lane
Let them go.  If you follow them, then you are just as guilty. 

Being pushed into other lane
Sometimes you are riding on the middle line and something in the peloton pushes you out into the other lane.  The choice is between bumping riders or crossing the line.  Before you cross, are you aware enough to know that there is no oncoming traffic?  Have you paid close enough attention the whole time?  Higher grades are accustomed to bumping each other in a peloton, and if you have ridden track you have probably trained specifically for bumping safely.  If you cross the line (and I’m not condoning it), just come back into the correct lane in the same position as before as quickly as possible and give somebody in the group a serve about holding their line.

A crash in front of you
There are 2 kinds of crashes for this situation.  The first is that you see a crash well ahead of you and want to avoid it.  If you see an unattended rider lying in the middle of the road, let your conscience/ morals guide you on the best course of action.  Even if they are being attended to, slow down and neutralise in order to pass safely.  You should be travelling slowly enough to reasonably find the safest path to avoid them.   

The second situation is when a crash happens right in front of you.  At this point instinct is likely to kick in before my instructions do.  So instead of spelling out the rules I will pose an economic question.  Let’s say you are faced with a decision of either running into the crashing rider in front of you or veering lanes.  Your choice is between the certainty of crashing versus perhaps a 1% chance of having a fatal collision with an oncoming car.  Is 1% of death worse than 100% of bike crash injuries?       

No road line
A number of circuits we use don’t have any line markings and are on skinny roads.  These are great circuits with roads for racing (rolling, scenic, little traffic, etc).  The Comm will generally warn you about this during the briefing.  This is a situation when the peloton needs to communicate well if there is oncoming traffic.  Stick to the left, be sensible and look after each other.  The Comm may warn the peloton if s/he feels too much liberty is being taken. 

Dashed lines (non-solid passing lane)
Technically the road rules allow you to cross lanes here (rule 3.8.02).  However there is rule 3.8.08 as well (see part 1 of this post).  If the Comm feels you are being unsafe, crossing lanes can still be considered an offense.  Crossing lanes is bad - don’t do it.  If you have a question or think an opportunity may arise, ask the Comm during the race briefing.  Barring this, you can roll the die and take a chance that 1) it is safe 2) the Comm agrees it is safe.  Again personally I can’t imagine both conditions being met in a Combine race.  So if you do it, also hope I’m not the Comm behind you. 

Sprinting
This deserves a whole post on its own.  It is never, ever ok to cross lines in a Combine sprint, solid, dashed or otherwise.  You are filled with adrenalin and not paying attention to oncoming traffic, especially if you have been taking sprint lessons from Caleb Ewan.  It is dangerous so Combine’s default position is to fine and DQ people for this every time. 

Let’s take a scenario we can encounter on a finishing straight.


Rider 1 was well ahead of 3 pursuers but fading fast.  Rider 1 swerved right in exhaustion.  Rider 2 & 3 seeing the finish line ahead swerved right too and crossed the middle line.  Rider 4 went left.  Automatically, rider 2 & 3 are DQ’ed and fined – no questions and Comms are watching like hawks for this at the finish.  Rider 1 should be relegated to last position in his grupetto for not holding his line.  Without the assistance of helicopters and media cameras, Comms rely on eyesight and rider feedback to make that determination.  I’d like to think we get it right. 

Unfortunately when Rider 1 swerves, Rider 2 & 3 are disadvantaged, but they should keep in the lane and lodge a complaint to the Comm.  Better to lose to Rider 4 than swerve into the other lane, be DQ’ed and fined for swerving to win.    

<Update 11 July>
NC now also films race finishes with tape marking the finish and the wrong side of the road (see pic below with X's marking the wrong side).  We can rely on the camera to be another set of Comm eyes in any decision making. 

 

I hope that helps.  You can This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about this or Comms’ topics you’d like to hear about.