Some of you may remember a few issues back that I wrote of the role of the Commissaire at a cycling event. I explained a bit of what goes on with regard to checking and planning in the weeks leading up to a race. – Greg Griffiths
The attention to detail in the days and hours as the start time draws nearer. Then of the momentary sense of relief as the start gun goes off, before the tension again mounts as the race unfolds with all of the players in this drama playing their part. All of which needs to be scrutinised by the Commissaries. It’s often not an easy job, with riders, coaches, managers, promoters, police, media, team staff, councils, the public, the weather and any number of other variables all able, (albeit often unwittingly), to throw a spanner in the works. However I have found that many possible issues can be avoided through careful pre event planning. It’s not possible to envisage every scenario at every event, but previous experience is certainly one of the handiest tools a Commissaire can have.
Despite not always being easy, it is almost always an enjoyable experience. Sure, every now and then situations arise that if I had been picking the cards I wouldn’t have selected those particular ones. But, as with most things in life, you take the good with the bad. Look for the positives, and hopefully the good experiences will outweigh the bad. Every now and then though there comes a time when enough is enough, and rather than go through what I know is going to be another rough event, I simply decline the invitation to officiate. These though, are not the norm. What is the norm, though, is an event that has provided happy memories. Perhaps an event where I have travelled to a new place. Met new friends. Reacquainted with old ones. Or saw some awesome racing…up close! And had a hand in ensuring that the event was successful. I’ve been pretty fortunate over the past couple of years, being appointed by Cycling Australia, and Cycle Sport Victoria to some great events.
I have been the Chief Commissaire at all of the Revolution track events in Melbourne, the Melbourne Cup on Wheels, the Austral Wheelrace, the Bendigo Madison, the Melbourne to Warrnambool road race and also the past two Australian Open Road Championships, amongst other events. At all of these races I’ve worked with some great people who devote most of their spare time and often a bit more, ensuring that bike racing gets run properly, and as I said a bit earlier, I’ve seen some pretty good racing up real close which is one of the perks of the job. These local events are always pencilled in my calendar, but in the last two years or so my UCI appointments to International events have meant a reduction in the other local races I have time to attend. The guys at work joke that I am never there, and that could well be the case if I let it happen. For example. Last July I went to the Tour de France as I do each year with Phil Anderson. Nothing to do with commissioning, but still time away from the shop at a bike race!
I was back home and back at work in August, but spent five days in Canberra as Commissaire Two at the MTB World Cup with colleagues from the USA, New Zealand and Australia. It was a lot of fun and gave me the opportunity to wear my overcoat, gloves and beanie (which wasn’t so much fun).
In September I was back in Europe for the Road World Championships in Varese, Italy which so far has been the highlight of my Commissairing career. I had a number of roles there from Moto Commissaire for the time trials to Commissaire Two for the Elite men’s road race. The commissaries at the Worlds were from the Netherlands, France, Italy, Mauritius, Croatia, Belgium and the Czech Republic, none of whom I had met previously. But all were good commissaries and good company. It was an awesome 10 days and will take some beating. Back home in October I was Chief Commissaire for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which was an enjoyable position as I had been Commissaire Two for the previous three years and then a week later I was Chief for the Melbourne to Warrnambool race.
November turned from road to track as the Track World Cup came to Melbourne for the first time, with an international panel of commissaries from Canada, China, New Zealand and Australia. Revolution 4 (Melbourne Cup on Wheels), was my only event in December as it is the busiest month by far in the shop and I just have to decline any other events and help out my work mates! Now it is January 2009 and already my year seems to be pretty full with the Road Nationals just finished and the Tour of Wellington in New Zealand mid January. After that, a round of the MTB national series at Mt Buller at the start of February, the Austral Wheelrace mid February. Then it’s time for the Bendigo Madison weekend in early March. After that, another round of the MTB series at Thredbo in late March. The Australian Schools Cycling Cup in Shepparton at the start of April and (a holiday with my wife also in April). May and it’s off to the top end for the Arafura Games and Oceania Para Cycling Championships, which at this stage is my last event before going to France again with Phil in July.
Then in August, I have my most important appointment so far, as the Chief Commissaire for the World Junior Championships in Moscow. A real challenge, but with careful planning and the help of my colleagues (three of whom I know), I’m confident of doing a good job. After coming back to work for a couple of weeks I am off to Canberra again, this time for the World MTB Championships, again as Commissaire Two, as at the World Cup last year. That’s all that’s definite at this stage, but the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Warrnambool, Track World Cup and Revolution races will be on again and probably a couple of others, so maybe the guys at the shop will have to put my picture up on the wall as they have been threatening, just so they can remember what I look like! As you can see, commissairing has made my schedule very busy, but the places I go, the people I meet and the races I see are worthy rewards.
See you there somewhere!