Tech Director Update 1704



Tech Director's Update 1704

I hope the Cyclo-cross season is going well for everyone who enjoys the cold and mud (dust and high heat this year!) Before we get to the magical moment of no race officiating for a few days in December, in the southern states, to 2 months and more elsewhere, I’d like to take on some topics that will begin to guide your “recovery and spring training”! First, thank you for the many comments and feed back to my TD Updates. They are appreciated because I know you care about your work and development and that of your colleagues. 


Regulation Changes

Understanding the sport’s transition and how regulations help the development of the sport is our first topic. Why do rules change?  Do you know someone who can remember more rules that have been removed from the rule book than those that are still there?!  I say that with a smile, having nearly memorized the rule book in 1991 for my Cat 1 class! That is when I began to understand that rules are about situations and people and rarely about the concept of the sport itself. If you were to discover bicycles today and decide to create races for them, it should be pretty straight forward, shouldn’t it? People on bicycles compete against other people on bicycles until they finish. But, how do we decide what the finish is, what does a start look like?  Then, there’s the day someone decided to cut someone off in a sprint, the day someone showed up with unusual cranks and then the day someone showed up at a muddy cyclocross race with a miniature, working model of a bicycle, put it in his pocket and ran the entire distance and won.  You get the picture, regulations are about bolstering a particular notion of a sport; what fair play should look like, how you start and finish and what equipment you can use.

As officials, we see trends and developments and we are often called upon to make rulings upon things that aren’t specifically covered in the regulations (1G4). Let’s take the development of junior gear regulations as an example.  Bikes don’t come from any store that I know of with “junior gears” as a sales feature.  You might be really lucky and find a shop or two in the US that even knows what that term means.  Finding equipment that fulfills the fair play aspect (belief that young riders shouldn’t blow their knees out pushing big gears, learn to spin, be more equally matched in their developmental years, etc.) comes into conflict with access to the sport.  So, how did “blocked gears” (1I4) come into play?  Someone understood this intersection of intent and access and agreed that riders could limit the gears they arrived with to meet the specified gear development. If we know that blocking gears works, why do we need a regulation that says it is OK?  Because there are people who can’t “feel” this intersection and demanded that there is only one, correct way, to enforce the regulations.  (This is by no means limited to officials, as I know that many coaches who have insisted on something that is black and white). If it works at the local race, why shouldn’t it work at a National Championships?  If it works there, why shouldn’t we expect to do the same thing at the World Championships?  Hopefully you can understand that sometimes we need to codify acceptable practices and also when to limit them. 

The enjoyment of single speed bikes, especially in cyclo-cross racing, is a phenomenon borne out of fun, perhaps a lack of equipment or someone’s idea of “can I do this course with one gear?” It arrived on the scene quite a few years ago as a tolerated exception to the norm.  It was enjoyed by a few, then 100’s and now it’s a national championship event!  As a national championship event, a rule was needed. What is a single speed bike?  1I1(i) defines Single Speed bicycles narrowly. It was written to define equipment and eligibility for a National Championship, not to deter local racing and experience. 

At times as officials, we are asked to make judgement calls of this nature. Can single speed bikes be “created” from existing, fully functioning 22 speed bicycles? Yes. We allow road bikes to be used on the track in certain circumstances.  We allow blocked gears for local junior events. These examples show access while maintaining intent.  Is single speed racing gaining interest in your area and could participation be enhanced by allowing a normal bike to be used (modified to a single gear)?  I’m guessing so.  When we see access and intent achieved with exceptions, we likely need to expand an existing regulation.  That’s where you as officials come in.  This need to interpret means the regulations should likely adapt a bit. When something like this comes up, feel free to call and discuss the issue.  Maybe your intuition will assist the next surge in racing opportunities for our members.

Regulation changes for 2018: The proposed regulations for 2018 have been given to our Sport Committees to review and provide comment.  While we have officials on each of the Sport Committees that review these, you’ll be asked to enforce changes when they are made.  You deserve a chance to comment on that aspect.  We will be putting the major regulation changes out for public comment shortly.  You’ll be allowed to comment there, but please look for the full text of proposed changes in the near future.  I invite your input and comments to me directly.  We want to know how we are affecting the sport, creating access and only putting up restrictions that are necessary.

Accident Reporting

The First Report of Occurrence (FRO) is something we have covered frequently and recently.  First, what are FRO’s?  

  • They are a verification that something happened to a member or volunteer at a USA Cycling event, 
  • They are a protection of that member’s right to medical insurance coverage that we offer,
  • They are a tool for gaining information about injury and treatment in bicycle racing, perhaps defining future policies to make racing safer, 
  • They are the part of the required paperwork that is filed, post event.

That last bullet point is ours to deal with.  Some of us may have drawn our own line in the sand to decide when we submit a FRO.  Let’s visit that.  What is the line between submitting every possible thing that you or the medical support team saw at a race and what should be reported?  

  • Medical transport?  
  • Patient refusing treatment or transport? 
  • First Aid response? 
  • Advisement of further medical treatment?   
  • Broken helmet that a colleague saw?

All of those can be answered with a yes.  A FRO should be completed any time medical treatment was given or may be required. Please be diligent to understand the nature of the FRO’s that you are responsible to collect.  Have you or the Race Director (RD) met with and discussed the FRO reporting requirements to the medical support staff? Are you medically competent to evaluate an injury?  Ask questions to assure you understand if an injury is more than just a bandage on someone who scratched themselves on a frayed derailleur cable. 

Please error on the side of too many FRO's rather than “they walked away, so nothing was wrong”.  Think about what you’d want reported for yourself in case of an injury if it came to a medical or insurance claim.  HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, specifically Title II, Privacy Rule) creates some roadblocks for us on occasions.  Some EMT’s and medical professionals might refuse to discuss the nature of an injury or treatment with you.  What did you observe, what did you hear?  While it isn’t medical opinion or fact, you can still describe the nature of an injury, whether or not some kind of treatment was offered and whether an ambulance run interrupted your event.  Finally, report information, not conjecture or speculation.  The check boxes are pretty clear and satisfactory for what you are reporting.  “Rider to Rider collision” is better information than “rider x didn’t like rider y and rode aggressively to overlap his wheel and then crash him”.  Most likely both answers are conjecture, but the check boxes are related to understanding the basics of an accident and the injuries that resulted, not providing the foundation for a discipline report in the accident description.

Safesport Training

Our USOC mandated SafeSport training is undergoing changes by the US Center for Safesport.  The new training was announced to begin January 1, 2018.  While we don’t know what the changes are, we believe it will still be a similar three-part format, but with new material.  We believe that members required to have the certification will eventually be required to take the entire new course once it is available. As the details of the training become known we will begin to communicate them as well as any changes that may be required.  In the meantime, the existing training (refresher) is still available through December 31, 2017 for those that need to renew now.

SafeSport is something for all of us be aware of, and be a resource for, our fellow members.  With the creation of the new US Center for SafeSport this year, all matters involving a sexual component (i.e. misconduct, abuse, harassment) must be reported to the the US Center for SafeSport .  Any concerns of this nature will be dealt with outside of our organization for the greatest privacy and effectiveness.

For all other concerns related to SafeSport, please report them diretly to our Risk Protection Manager, Jon Whiteman. Please do not feel intimidated to report.  Please reach out to Jon, who is happy to answer your questions and help guide you through either reporting process.  Reports can be filed anonymously with USA Cycling as well as the US Center for SafeSport.

Concussions and Heads Up

USA Cycling, like many other sports administrative bodies is reviewing policies on concussion management. Most of you will remember this year’s Tour of California crash, where a rider with a concussion was dazed and confused after an accident. Who decides if a rider has had a concussion and whether they should return to competition afterwards? What can we learn and what will the future hold in sport management for such injuries? This is a difficult question and cycling is one of many sports where full medical response staff may not be at the same location as a participant when an accident occurs. Coaches and parents are not likely to be at the scene to assist, either.  Some of our LA’s have already instituted concussion policies to create concussion awareness training for their officials.  The CDC has a good, free, training program, called Heads Up.  I encourage you to consider taking this training as a step towards understanding the issues of concussions.  It is not mandatory, but I believe it is important for us as officials to be informed and the only downside is taking an hour or two to be able to recognize a life-threatening injury. Please find the training at the following link:

Assistant Judges/Timing and Results Companies

Many of our events hire timing and results companies. High speed cameras, chips and other technologies used, bring the ability to deal with greater participation numbers and member expectations for placing every participant.  As officials, we know how good it is to have camera back up to search for missed riders or when a 100-rider field comes across the line in less than 5 seconds.  It’s also nice to not be hand writing results for several hours after an event instead of starting the next field of riders.  The results process is not simply about listing names on a sheet of paper.  For officials, “Full Results” means accounting for things like free-laps, bad number placement, non-starting registered riders, revisions for relegations or protests to name a few. Through historical experience, we know approximately how many officials it takes to give speedy results, resolve protests and manage the results process.  It’s not the same everywhere because venues and participation are additional variables in this equation.  Because the timing and results company can provide a lot of information and can compile and print results faster than we can do so by hand, we’ve accepted that we can do event results, with fewer assistant judges. Some of our ranks have worked for these companies, trading valuable scoring and management skills as an official to do a portion of the same job for these companies.

Historically, there has always been the cost vs. efficiency dilemma between RD’s and officials tasked with providing race results.  Some RD’s have suggested that they really didn’t need officials when they hire these companies.  Some officials and LA assigners knew that an assignment to a particular RD’s event can mean literal 18 hour days to provide the results advertised or required by the regulations, with understaffed crews or a bad timing system.  In an effort to standardize crew size, to some degree, Policy IV, Assignment of Officials was developed.  This policy contains guidelines in the form of charts and attempts to formulate the possible size of the officiating crew based on the level of the event, number of participants, race technology, venue, etc.  

Currently, regulation 1G8. Assistant Judges, allows one or more of the assistant judge positions to be replaced by timing/photo finish operators.  Are these timing/photo finish operators part of the assigned officiating crew?  No, they are performing an associated task of an Assistant Judge.  Why?  Look at regulation 1G2. Assignment (b).  Only officials assigned by USA Cycling or the LA’s, and who attend the race for the sole purpose of officiating, shall be paid in accordance with the Schedule of Fees.  Working for or as a results and timing company is not working for the sole purpose of officiating. Assistant Judges, assigned by USA Cycling or the LA, score and assist in results verification, resolution of protests of results, etc.  They aren’t tasked with running results software, photo or video finish nor are they under contract as a Timing and Results company. 

Again, Results and Timing companies may hire officials or be licensed as officials themselves. Although licensed as officials, they are not tasked with the same responsibilities and duties of the assigned officials nor are they assigned as the officials to a race.  On a secondary note, liability insurance for race officials is limited to the officials assigned as noted in 1G2, to the permitted race. 

New Definition/Old Problem: Prizes

Prizes are a part of our sport governance.  In the past, we were regulating amateur status, now we are regulating event categories and payouts of advertised price lists via a race announcement.  As a benefit to all of our members, we have specific regulations and guidelines about prize lists. Truth in advertising, to some extent. A Race Director encourages people to come to his or her race.  Sometimes that incentive is in a prize list.  How many places, a stated value, etc. is stated and then translated into an actual prize list, per placing/monetary (cash or merchandise) value breakdown, at the race site. Over the last few years, there have been increasing numbers of events where a metric of some kind is applied to the prizes for the whole or specific events within a permitted race.  While some are straight line increases; more riders = greater payouts, some have become “if I didn’t get the number of riders I wanted = no prize money for you”.  We are revising policies immediately and introducing regulations this next year to describe this prize type and what and how it can be used.  To protect our members, we want them to know when they get up in the morning, the prize list might be $0 and possibly increase instead of the anticipated prize list is $1,000, but then is $0 after committing to drive and participate in the event.  We are calling this a “Dynamic Prize List”.  Look for the new regulation/definition for 2018.

  1. Dynamic prize lists, whereby a Race Director may increase the prize list based upon a set of published criteria, are allowed as long as a minimum prize list is stated and the criteria to increase the prize list are published in the race announcement. A prize list may only be increased. A prize list may not be reduced below the published minimum if the dynamic criteria are not met. If the increased prize list causes a change in the permitted Race Category, any additional fees will be owed

National Official of the Year

For the past many years, we’ve attempted to recognize outstanding officials by bestowing a National Official of the year award. The program has had some ups and downs as of late, mostly from a lack of priority in light of some of the bigger challenges facing the officiating aspects of our sport.  This serves as an announcement that we will be opening up nominations and statements for the selection of the national official of the year as well as recognizing runner ups in the selection process.  As a long-term advocate of recognizing the achievements and hard work of USA Cycling Officials, in assistance with the National Technical Commission, here are the guidelines for this year’s selection.

National Official of the Year Award
The USA Cycling National Official of the Year Award seeks to recognize outstanding contributions of our race officials to the sport, including and beyond their officiating practice.


    • Significant contributions to the betterment of officiating
    • Exhibits a high degree of integrity and ethics
    • Exhibits qualities that are held in high regard by the sport
    • Consistent record of presenting officiating in a positive light
    • Exhibits a “service above self” attitude; public service to officiating, having a motivating effect on others and/or strong community involvement 

Nominations are encouraged from any portion of our officiating spectrum and as such, we wish to create an open nomination system.

  • The nominations for and by are open to any current and active official.  Anyone can nominate a candidate by following the submittal of a candidate with a statement.
  • All nominations must include a statement as to how the nominated official meets the criteria.
  • As Local Associations are encouraged to develop their own recognition programs, we encourage them to utilize their leadership/committees to formalize processes or form nominating committees that best serve their LA.  We ask that the LA’s Official Coordinator/Assigner be the formal point of contact in these cases.
  • Nominations will be submitted via Survey Monkey (date TBA), with supporting candidate statements being entered by either the LA’s Official Coordinator/Assigner/Committee or an independent nominator.

Selection and Recognition

  • The National Officials of the Year Committee*, comprised of selected members of the National Technical Commission (NTC) and selected LA Official’s Coordinators, will review the nominations submitted and narrow the selection to five (5) candidates and present selections to the broader NTC.
  • The NTC will perform the final review and select the top 3 candidates who will be recognized for their achievements, with the top candidate awarded the National Official of the Year Award in January 2018.

*Committee yet to be determined

UCI Elite National Commissaire - Track

USA Cycling has just been granted permission to conduct one of the first UCI Elite National Commissaire's course for Track Racing. The course is scheduled for February 1-4, 2018 and will be conducted in Colorado Springs, CO. Requirements, qualifications and applications will be announced shortly.

Randy Shafer
Technical Director



Photo credit
Daghan Perker / @dperker

This Article Updated November 6, 2017 @ 11:48 PM For more information contact: