Ever thought of becoming a commissaire/official/referee?
We talk to National MTB commissaire Andrea Lockhart about what its like to be a commissaire and why you should get involved Cycling always needs new officials and training courses are available now!
So what is a Commissaire and what do they do?
Commissaire is the generic term for an official in competitive cycling, approximately equivalent to umpires or referees in other sports. The vast majority of cycling events require two or more commissaires to fulfil a variety of roles, including supervising pre-and post-race formalities, briefing riders and race officials, checking the compliance of equipment, monitoring compliance with the rules and maintaining safety during racing, resolving disputes and judging results. Sitting as a panel they serve as a "race jury" chaired by the Chief Commissaire to resolve contentious decisions. The Chief Commissaire is the holder of ultimate authority over the event.
We rely on a workforce of officials who ensure all events in the 6 cycling disciplines are conducted in a fair manner. With hundreds of cycling events every year in Scotland there is something for everyone. Events range from local grass root such as Go-Ride Racing right up to Commissairing at the Commonwealth Games!
The great news is, you don't have to be an athlete or a World Champion to play an important part, but you may still get to brush shoulders with them one day!
If you love cycle racing, have some spare time to offer to help support its future, becoming an official could be the perfect opportunity for you to put something back into the sport.
Why become an official?
- It is a great opportunity for you to put something back into the sport you love
- A rewarding job to see the best rider win
- Social side of meeting people with the same passion
- An enjoyment of being outdoors
- To be in the company of people who all want to enjoy themselves and a good atmosphere
- Your club needs more people to officiate so you can all race in a series
Name: Andrea Lockhart
Role: MTB National and Track Regional level Commissaire
How long have you been a commissaire and how did you get into the role?
My husband raced Cross Country and my son raced Downhill so I was going along to races most weekends and I thought I didn’t want to be that mum/wife sat in the car reading the Sunday paper with the flash of luke warm tea, I wanted to be out there actually doing something useful on race day. So started off helping out other officials for a season then did my training courses to become a qualified commissaire that was about 14 years ago
What do you enjoy the most about being a commissaire?
There are so many different aspects to it that I enjoy, naturally I’m a bit of a control freak, so I like order and processes which is really what the commissaire does on the day of a race making sure everything runs as it should. But then there is a massive social side to the events as well I have so many friends that I have meet through cycling all over the world. Then there is the satisfaction at the end of the day when your tired but you know you have done a good job working with organisers, riders, landowners and other volunteers to put on a great days racing and seeing the smiles on all the riders faces especially the younger ones that’s what I really enjoy.
What has been your greatest challenge as a commissaire?
There have been a few!! Mountain Mayhem last year facing 3000 competitors. The urban downhill in Edinburgh, a downhill race down flights of stairs and around streets in the city on a Saturday night with all the pub goers and a TV crew! Doing one of the first MTB Enduro race a new race format with rules and processes that are still very much evolving! The MTB world championships in 2013 was quite an experience as well.
What has been your best moment as a commissaire?
The MTB world championships in Fort William in 2007 watching Ruari Cunningham cross the line to win the Junior Jersey that was something special as I’ve know him since he was a wee boy. The same with Danny Hart, Lee Craigie, Kenta Gallagher and Grant Fergusson having been there when the started out in the sport and having watched them progress through to where they are now and the top level is amazing. At the Downhill national in Innerleithen I was talking to Rachel Atherton and there was a young rider there who I know from some of the local events I do who I know is a big fan so I introduced him to Rachel and she asked if he wanted a shot on her bike. He was made up!
What have you got planned for 2014?
I’ll be commissairing 3 rounds of the British National Downhill series, the World Cup in Fort William in June. The Scottish Downhill and Scottish Cross country national series and a few other grass root events. I’ll also be at the commonwealth games in Glasgow but no Mountain Mayhem this year as my son is getting married.
Why should folk get involved in cycling and become a commissaire?
Cycling is a great sport to be involved with it’s good for your health, you have that amazing social environment and interaction at the races it is like a big family sometimes. You can get a tremendous amount of satisfaction in what you can achieve, with work things can progress slowly but with cycling you really can write your own personal development plan and progress through the levels as quickly as you want. Plus you get to be there and be part of the event helping to make it happen much more fun that sitting in the car, reading the Sunday paper with the luke warm flask of tea!
Training to become a Commissaire
What does the course involve?
On the day you’ll learn all about how and who you’ll be communicating with, the technical regulations of cycle racing, as well as the ins and outs of all aspects of cycling competition that will help you in your role.
You’ll also find out how Commissaires help to ensure events are safe and offer quality opportunities for riders to compete.
The course is led by a qualified British Cycling tutor, and includes lunch as well.
There is an online module including a small test which you’ll be ask to complete before attending the training to help you understand more about what it takes to be a Commissaire.
After completing the training, you will be registered as an Assistant British Cycling Commissaire.
Scottish Cycling will help you to complete and submit a log book of activity at real live events to support your practical development.
Once your logbook is submitted and is approved by Scottish and British Cycling, you will be entitled to graduate to Regional Commissaire status where you can act as Chief Commissaire at events.
British Cycling offers pathways to National and UCI Commissaire levels for the right people.
To ensure impartiality, you may be appointed Chief Commissaire to any event other than those hosted by your club, for which you can only assist.
Training Courses in Scotland
9th February 2014 - Assistant Road Commissaire (Glasgow)
Tel: 0141 554 6021
2nd March 2014 – Assistant MTB XC Commissaire (Perth)
Tel: 0141 554 6021
29th March 2014– Assistant BMX Commissaire (Glasgow)
Tel: 0141 554 6021
ALL Commissaire courses are FREE of charge
If you would like to book onto these course please complete our online course application form. If you are interested in becoming a commissaire in a discipline that doesn’t have a course listed yet then for
MTB Downhill or Cyclocross commissaire contact Bob MacFarlane or for Road and Track contact Janette Hazlette.