• Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, MI

  • Racing the Provincial's Crit 2014

  • Forest City Velodrome - London, ON

  • Larkenville Challenge, Buffalo, NY

  • Winning the Sprint at the ForestCity Velodrome

  • Track Nationals 2014: Keirin

  • Track Nationals 2014: Points Race

  • OCUP #1: Feb 2015

Today, I completedly my first official commissaire duty. I worked at the finish line for the Tour of Bronte which is a local citizen's race that runs through Bronte Provincial Park. It features closed roads with 50% road/50% gravel to simulate the Paris/Roubais style race.

As a racer, one never really appreciates the importants of race numbers. Today, I saw the other side of the equation. The race numbers are the only thing that identifies you, the rider, to the race officials and they are used much more than track when you cross the finish line. The race numbers are used in the following manner:


  • At the start line to identify who is starting the race. Your race number must be visible and must not be covered up by a vest or anything else.
  • During the race at the finish line. The finish judge tracks all riders that cross the finish line ON EVERY SINGLE LAP. This is done to help with things like tracking who is off the back, who is in the main or other pack, who is off the front in a break away, and if any riders have gone missing. Yes, you are tracked throught the entire race so if you happen to take off to land in a ditch somewhere, someone will eventually notice you are missing.
  • During the race from the mobile commissaire - this is the guy in the car beeping the horn when you cross the yellow line and where you will be DQ'd for crossing the yellow line, but you are also tracked while riding to track who is off the pack (if you fall off the back of the pack, and the car passes you, your number is recorded), who is in what pack, and if they can see it, who is in the break. In a lot of cases, it is the mobile commissionaire that is also tracking the time gap for any break away and your number will be recorded as being in the break. That info is usually relayed to the finish line so the annoucer can keep everyone informed.
  • At the end of the race. Obviously, the order where you finish is important. As you cross the finish line, a high speed camera is usually recording the race finish but commissaire's with voice recorders are reading numbers as you cross the finish line. Even if there is chip timing, there isn't one fool proof way to track riders as they finish, so all methods are used to make sure the results are as accurate as possible.

Having your race number visible is generally important, but more important so if you happen to fall off the back of the pack or worse, get lapped. The fact you got lapped is recorded manually because the camera at the finish line does not know who got lapped. The same would be for a crit where you lap the field and are a lap up on the field.

Today, I saw a few things riders should never do:

  • Wear a vest over your numbers. We can't see them. We can't record them. We might be nice and take note your jersey colour or team name, but don't expect that to happen at the finish. Either freeze or put your numbers on the vest.
  • Numbers pinned on the wrong side. They are placed on the right or left side because they is the side the finish line judge is standing and the side the camera is recording. It takes less than a second cross the line in a sprint. I'd like to see the average riders try to record 20 numbers in that time or read numbers in the high speed video that are not 100% visible. You may be set to DNF if we can't see your numbers, and then you have to argue with the finish judge when the results are reported. Race number position is in the tech guide and there is usually a jersey with numbers on them at registration to indicate where they belong.
  • Numbers pinned on losely. It is important to use enough pins so they are not flapping around in the wind. Numbers flapping around are about as useful as no numbers at all. The finish judge can't read them and the finish camera won't see them.
  • Sitting up at the finish line. Tour of France riders do this, but they have a whole system in place to track the finish. If you sit up, the one camera we have can't see you and it makes if harder for the finish judge to see your number. You can also be fined. Sitting up with your arms off the bars  is not allowed in Ontario races for these reasons.

During OCUP races, commissaires may actually refuse you to start in the race until your number is on correctly and visible. If you are cold, with freeze until you get moving or put your numbers on your vest (and never take it off). If it is raining, sorry, but they go on your rain jacket or your get wet.

Do not assume the finish judge knows who you are. When you have 50 riders flying in front of you, you have to count the number of ridings in the pack, and record the time they passed. If there are a small group of riders, we are also recording your number and the time you passed us. Today, I had riders I know say "Hey Mark!", I had no time to even look for who they were. I even saw riders after the race I had no idea that were in the preceeding race. Like I said, your race number identifies you. The mobile commissaire has the benefit of more time, and I saw that last week at the Good Friday Road Race. I was riding in with the mobile commissaire, and I was able to use my knowledge of who the riders were to figure out they numbers, but that won't happen at the finish line....and most of the commissaires haven't raced in years and have no idea who you are.

So, bottom line: Put your numbers on correctly and make sure they can be seen.



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