2019.09.14 – Officiating Merrick Criterium #4

A day after racing in NJ at 2019.09.28 – NJCX Cup Race #2 – Lucky Charm Cyclocross v2.0, I was scheduled to officiate as a Chief Judge at the fourth in the Merrick Criterium series. The prior week I was racing therefore I was forced to miss out officiating. This time I would be paired up with chief referee, Alan Atwood, a veteran official with years and years of experience.

It would be good working with him as he does a good job in trying to work with newbie officials like myself.

A little sluggish from traveling and racing the day prior, I arrived at the venue at about ten thirty in the morning. The first race, the Juniors, would be starting at twelve. This gave us plenty of time to prepare, chat, and go over some of the things we wanted to do to make for better and safer racing. For the Junior race, we decided to split the field into an A and a B group. The four oldest would make up the A group, while the five youngest would make up the B group. We would then track both races side by side, and finish the B group on the same lap finish of the A group, no matter how many laps down they were.

This would help us score the race, while making it less demoralizing for the youngest. If not we would have eight year olds competing against eighteen year olds. Tracking this race started to get a bit difficult when both groups had dropped riders, and the A group a lead rider way off the front. Alan did a good job of helping me keep track of them all, and I was then able to write up the results sheet while he performed the junior rollout.

The next race was the Men Category 4/5. I had some former teammates in this race and a few other acquaintances. At close to forty, this was going to be the biggest field of the day. The group was comprised of riders with a wide range of ability. With in the first lap we had riders dropping off the back. These are forty lap races, at half a mile a lap. Alan did not want to pull riders until the very end, mostly to ensure a clean finish with out stragglers all over the place.

As the race progressed, we rung the bell for two sprint laps with prizes for the top three. these usually start creating havoc in the field. With roughly fourteen to go, we had a four man break off the front. The main field did not seem interested in chasing, and it was obvious the yellow jersey, who did not make the break, was getting upset he could not get people to work with him. With about ten laps to go, it was getting very messy tracking the dropped riders, the lapped riders, etc.

Finally with roughly six to go, Alan pulled the riders off the back. I am glad that he was also keeping track of them, since it was getting quite messy. With three to go, I climbed up to the bleachers to get a better view with my phone to record the photo finish with the dedicated app on my phone. During the finish there was a crash right at the line. Again, anyone who is sprinting all out for a ninth place finish seriously needs to reconsider their priorities.

After sorting out the main group, Alan gave me the an index car of the lapped and pulled riders. There was a bit of confusion on the order close to the bottom, but in the end the top ten and the sprint results were accurate.

After sorting out the medical issues, and having one of the crashed riders taken to the hospital, we got the Men Category 1/2/3 going. This was a group of twenty riders. They ended up staying together the whole race, even with the sprint laps. One rider retired from he race. I think that is the nice thing about the more advanced groups, they tend to be self pruning. Once again, I got the finish on video, and working up the results sheet was very easy.

On reflection, I must say the larger Men 4/5 race was the most confusing and daunting. Next weekend I am once again Chief Judge with Robert Marcus as Chief Referee. Rob has been officiating a fair amount this summer although he has told me he still gets a bit overwhelmed in these criteriums. Later this week, he and I will have a discussion on how we want to run the event next weekend.

Some of my ideas would be the following:

  • Go back to what we did with Ed, and pull riders whom are about forty seconds behind the main field and have no hope of getting back in. This would be the easier route and enable us to concentrate on the main pack and or the break.
  • If we want to follow the Alan method and leave the riders in as long as possible, then I think we both need to be taking tons of notes on riders getting lapped, and then eventually pulled. Alan kept a separate index card noting the bib numbers as the riders were getting lapped, and possibly on which lap. I would feel more comfortable with this method if we had an extra set of eyes on the field.

For sure this was a good learning experience. Alan does a good job of talking out the race as it is happening, which helps when us newbies are trying to learn the ropes. I will admit that judging at the Kissena Track is a lot easier. Finally Alan went over my photo finish app and suggested better settings, making the scoring much easier.

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