Motoref / Chief Ref Meeting - Part 2

In part 1 of this thread, we described the basic nature of what constitutes a center line infraction. In summary, any touching of the line or crossing over of the line is an infraction unless it is judged by the officials that had the same movement occured on the far left side of the road, the rider would have chosen to go off the road instead of any other option. 

In this part, we will review what some of the possible pentalties / actions may be applied for an infraction. Some of the officials noted at the meeting that there are procedures that are common in Colorado, as well as in most parts of the country, but they may not be well understood, especially by newer riders.'

So, here are the most likely actions when the center line is being abused:

1.   Warnings -- These can come in a couple of different forms:

-Direct warning to the competitor. An official may pull up alongside the rider who is on or crossing the line and tell him or her to move over and off the line. Such a warning will usually also happen at the beginning of the race. It was the feeling of most of the officials at the meeting that riders need to know the rules, and that by reminding the riders at the start that the center line rule is being enforced, the riders have all gotten a preliminary warning, and any subsequent infraction will be dealt with more severely. In simpler terms, riders are not due a warning before anything more serious happens, and no claim that a rider was not warned first will be considered.

-Another type of warning is what is often referred to as "sheep herding". This is a technique used by a motoref to try to encourage the riders to stay to the right. It usually involves the motoref placing his motorcycle on the yellow line at the front of the problem area and then going just a little bit slower than the field is going. It is also often accompanied by lots of pointing and honking of horns. Riders will have to move over when they come upon the motoref, and anyone who chooses to pass the motoref on the left has just disqualified themselves. Motorefs hate having to do this all day, and most at the meeting felt they should not have to, so if a couple of sheep herding runs do not do the trick, then more severe responses will quickly ensue.

2.   Relegation -- Again there are a couple of ways one could be relegated. 

The traditional meaning of relegation is that when the race is over, the places are changed such that the offending rider is moved back. For example, you might have crossed the line first, but the instead you are moved to second, or third, or last in the field. This type of relegation does not work well for centerline violations becasue it does not deal with the offending rider at the moment. It also gets very confusing if it happens to multiple riders. The other riders in the field could go nuts trying to figure out who is vying for what place if mutliple riders are relegated in this way. 

A procedure that started decades ago is to do a rolling relegation, often referred to as the penalty box. When this happens, the official will draw alongside the offending rider and tell him or her to drop to the back of the field. If it is a race with a caravan and there is a commissaire in a car behind the field, sometimes the rider is told to go have a chat with the commissaire, but barring that, the procedure is to tell the rider to go to the back of the field. The point of this is to neutralize any benefit the rider may have gotten by a momentary crossing of the line, and nobody likes being taken to the back, whereupon they will then have to start all over again working their way up. 

This was discussed at the meeting as well, and the conclusion was that motorefs should not take the riders way off the back of the field and make them chase, thereby often getting them dropped. The point is to just neutralize the misbehavior's effect and to discourage future misbehavior. 

It is also important to realize that the proper way to drop to the back is to first move to the right. Many times, the motoref tells the rider to go to the back, and the first thing the rider does is swing way out to the left to do so, thus totally defeating the point of why the penalty is being issued. 

3. Disqualification -- This is the second most serious penalty and will be the first response for certain actions, such as advancing while on the line or over the line, as well as other scenarios that will be described in part 3 of this series of articles. It simply means that the offending rider is done for the day and must withdraw from the race. A rider who is disqualified may not continue to ride in the group he or she was with or any group for that matter. Failure to withdraw when told that he is disqualified is another offense that will lead to the next penalty on the list. 

4. Disqualification and recommendation for suspension -- If the initial infraction was serious enough, such as a blantant, dangerous attack on the left side of the road into oncoming traffic, or on a blind hill, etc, then along with a disqualfication there will be a recommendation for suspension of the rider. This recommendation goes to USA Cycling and initiates a long procedure of disciplinary action. A recommendation for suspension will also follow any disqualification that is met with resistance to withdrawing from the race and any verbal abuse of the official that issued the disqualification

That is all for part 2. Stay tuned for part 3, where we will look at specific scenarios often seen at the race and the consensus of the officials as to how these scenarios will be handled.