2019.03.09 – First Race as an Apprentice Official – Grant’s Tomb Criterium

Disclaimer: I will not provide result, judging, or refereeing decisions here in this blog. For that please find the official race results, or contact the race director.
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A view from the Judges stand.

In February I completed the course and the requirements to gain my USA Cycling officiating license, see my last post: 2019.02.21 – Officiating for USA Cycling. After obtaining my license, Jeff Poulin, the NYS coordinator for the officials, suggested I come and apprentice at Grant’s Tomb Criterium, held at, yes you guessed it, Grant’s Tomb in New York City.

Jeff, being the Chief Referee, said he would show me the ropes of officiating and Mike Conlan, the Chief Judge, with his Assistant Judges Meg Conlan, Dave Graybeal, and Rob Quan would show me how to score a race.

I will say that being nervous before this event was an understatement. I felt that I would have been less nervous if I had been racing the event. It is a big event, and I wanted to learn lots, and not make a mess of things.

Just like when I go racing I was up at four in the morning with a departure time of five. That got me to the city and at the venue by six twenty. I ended up parking in front of the Chief Judge, Mike, right in front of The Riverside Church. Shortly there after, I meet up with Jeff, and the rest of the crew. We had four motorcycle referees, Karl Dittebrandt, Gary Bavolar, Richard Echenagucia, and Dave Robertson, while Jeff was assisted by Ed Nolan as an assistant  referee.

We had a small last minute meeting to discuss a few more details about the event. It was going to be a very busy day, since most races would be going off with a five minute gap from one another, except for the last four which would go off one after another due to a time constraint imposed by the city.

For the first bunch of races, I assisted Jeff and Ed at the starting line. My tasks were to check numbers, ensure they were pinned on properly, check for missing bar end plugs, and write down any numbers which did not match the sequence so we could inform the finish line.

During the race, I hung out with Jeff and watched his process of pulling dropped riders from the race. After a few races, he sent me to the finish line to learn how to score races. The finish line was equipped with a trailer and a platform to overlook the road. We had tables and chairs setup. Right at the finish line the finish line camera was setup to record the race.

I tucked into a spot, and got my pad and pencil and my new stopwatch ready. Except for the junior races, and a quick lunch, I spent the rest of the day there. I had to take down the bib numbers of the riders on each lap. It was quite challenging to pick numbers and write them down in a column with out looking. I will say, that Mike, Meg, and Rob where patient with me. They offered advice on how to better format my paperwork.

I think that of all the jobs, scoring was the most mentally exhausting one. I am sure it will get better as I do more of it, and I work out my technique. I just hope I did not make a mess of things. While I was scoring, I was keeping my ear open on other things going on. Mike had to deal with some issues that came up during the day, and although it was not my place to be involved unless asked, I wanted to listen in and see what was going on. At this point in my “officiating career,”  I am trying to be a sponge and soak it all up.

I am not sure when my next attempt at officiating will be, but I definitely want to get some more done this year in order to gain more experience.

I was very relieved when the last race finished. It was five twenty in the afternoon, which means I had been on site for eleven hours. After packing up our stuff, we had a close out meeting before we all went our separate ways. I would like to thank the whole crew whom were very accommodating, helpful, and encouraging. As a bike racer it is very nice to be on the other side of things, and be part of the process that makes these events happen.

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