This is the first of (what we hope are) a series of posts by Gazzetta's own British Cycling Commissaire, Richard. Hope you enjoy it and are inspired to volunteer on the British cycling scene.
I had tried racing before…I didn’t like it. Made me vomit and I was last. That’s not my way. The nature of my job stops me from training hard enough to race and thus be as competitive as I would like to be. Being the super competitive person I am and used to being alpha male and all puffed up chest, what else was there? I was desperate to be involved in cycling the sport I love so much and have enjoyed since leaving rugby. One day I was renewing my British Cycling licence and I saw a piece about volunteering. I had no idea that Commissaires were volunteers. And, more importantly, ANYONE could do it. All my preconceptions were just blown out of the water. You actually mean I can do this? NO WAY! I don’t have to be a former racer? Unbelievable. I signed up there and then.
I went to my training course and passed the tests. Showed I had a good knowledge of racing. I was now allowed to be an Assistant Commissaire. I could be a second Commissaire on races alongside a qualified Commissaire. This was brilliant. I was doing mostly cat 3,4 races, evening racing league stuff. I soon got through my Minimum six races and assigned to position of Regional Road Commissaire. My mentor was Julie Rodman and what a star. A UCI Commissaire all to myself. I was like a sponge absorbing knowledge and information. Almost every race I did in 2012 I learnt a little bit more off Julie.
The day I received my Commissaire clothing was the National Circuit Race Championships at the Otley Town Centre Races. Are you kidding me? I’m a Line judge in my first official role as Commissaire…at the NATIONALS. What a brilliant night. For years I’d been going to Otley to watch these awesome races. Now, I’m on the opposite side of the track in a grey tshirt with ‘British Cycling’ all over it. But wait it gets better. I actually told elite riders off in my first race. “one foot of the ground for the start please….You too Russ” snigger. That felt odd.
|Otley Town Centre Races|
Ten days later my next race was the National Road Racing Championships at Ampleforth, North Yorkshire. No No, I wasn’t a Commissaire here. I was offered the chance to drive a car at the Championships. It was thought that by driving a Commissaire I would gain experience in how to work during a major race. Vehicle movement and position, time keeping and dealing with Pro team Directeur Sportifs (that’s something for a later blog). I wasn’t sure what to expect when I turned up for the race. I knew I would be driving a National Commissaire and that was it. I attended the pre-race briefing. Paid attention to police and NEG advice, made note of route hazards and made my way to my car. I was stood chatting with Julie and another driver when my Commissaire turned up only for him to inform me that we would have Phil Ligget as a passenger. Suddenly I was a bag of nerves. Turns out, he was really nice. Also a qualified UCI Commissaire and loved his food.Time was ticking on and the radios fired into life. Radios = two of them. A Commissaire radio and radio tour. Cars were asked to roll to the start of the women’s race. I was lined up a few meters up the road from the world’s elite women cyclists. Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley, Nicole Cooke, Sarah Storey, Sharon Laws, Nikki Harris all in my rear view mirror. I spent the next three hours staring at the perfectly formed rears of Lizzi, Nikki, Sharon and Emma
|Start line of the Men's road race – Phil Ligget in the back|
After a short stop for food, drinks and a natural break, the radios once again burst into life. I was lined up at the start of the Men’s race. Holy Cow! And what a brilliant surprise, my daughter was there, beaming as she’d just met and cuddled Adam Blythe.
|Lydia meets Adam Blythe|
All I can say is, It’s going to take some doing for me to have a better day in cycling than that. Driving behind some of the world’s greatest cyclist for 7 hours in a seat that money can’t buy was a dream come true.
At the start of the 2013 season, I am looking forward to learning a whole lot more and starting my drive toward National Commissaire. I thoroughly enjoy being a Commissaire and would wholly recommend it to anyone wanting to be involved in cycling.