Biketreks Racing Academy Coach, Sports Masseur and British Cycling Commissaire Jon Taylor (Bike & Body) gives a few tips to new riders. This week: Race Convoy!
(Images by Ed Rollason)
With the new found enthusiasm for cycling in the country many riders are getting their first licence and entering races. From a commissaires perspective this brings forward some questions.
- Are the new riders used to riding at a higher pace in a fluctuating group?
- Do the riders understand about a race convoy.(the vehicles that support road races)?
- Are all riders aware of the meaning of the commissaire flags?
There are many basic points that any rider should be aware of when racing, and even some of the seasoned riders forget the basics. So heres a few starting pointers. In this part we’ll cover the race convoy:
Race convoy set up:
Your first vehicle is your lead car:
This is the officials eyes ahead of the race to warn of any approaching vehicles or obstructions on the course. In the event of the race route being blocked this will allow the race to be stopped before meeting the blockage abruptly. You also NEVER pass this car.
2nd is the assistant commissaire:
This official is the eyes at the front of the race to ensure the riders are racing to the rules of the road as well as the rules of road racing under British Cycling. This vehicle will slot in behind any break away that reaches over 1 minute gap. They will also move forwards again if this gap is closed so as not to interfere with a chasing group, so be aware that they may pass you again. A simple ‘toot’ of the horn repeated rhythmically will warn riders that they are coming past. Normally on the right hand side of the riders but may also pass on the left if the riders and road allow.
3rd vehicle is the Chief Commissaire:
The overall ‘manager’ of the race. This person is in radio contact with all vehicles and is in charge of their movements. They keep the timing of break aways, with the assistant commissaire calling time check points that are landmarks on the route. This is also the person who has the authority to impose penalties for any racing infringement.
The final vehicle is the First aid provision:
This I hope is self explanatory [and that you'll never need it - Ed].
Other vehicles you may see are:
National Escort Group (NEG) motorcycles:
These are the outriders that guard side roads and assist
in making the roads safe for you to ride and will if asked act on the commissaires behalf to supply
riders with information such as time gaps or even disqualifications.
This is a commissaire on a motorbike and acts as any other commissaire but
can more easily move with the riders. In tighter country lanes you may even find that this person,
and also a NEG rider, may get caught within the bunch and will ride and move as a cyclist until such
time they can safely move away. They know their stuff and so there is no need to be nervous in this
On larger events you will find…
Neutral service – a mechanic that will supply wheels if you puncture no matter what team your on.
Team cars – To provide service to their team only and will only move forwards on the authorisation
of the chief commissaire. They can supply drinks, food and advice on the move and bikes to their
riders if a mechanical malfunction occurs. They must not however ‘tow’ their rider to gain an
Broom wagon – This I’m sure no one will see. A vehicle dedicated to collecting those riders that can
no longer continue and that will safely return them to HQ or the race finish.
I hope this gives a little insight in to the basics of road race and that you feel more comfortable
attending your first road race. Until next time