Sunday, April 27, 2008

I’ve Got Nothin’…Just the Way I Like It

Today was my first ref gig of the year and I was the head ref at the Atomic Man Duathlons in White Rock New Mexico just outside Los Alamos. There are two races going at the same time, the Little Boy, which is a 4K – 15K – 4K and the Fat Man, which is a 10K – 40K – 5K.

These are two tough races! I have done both and love them but this time I was called upon to ref, which is really for the best since I have the 50 mile Collegiate Peaks Trail Run next weekend. The Atomic Man Duathlons are run by the TriAtomics Triathlon team in Los Alamos…I have always envied them their name, and they do a heck of a job with a great race atmosphere and great sponsors. This race is definitely worth traveling for not only because it is so well run, so challenging and such a beautiful course but this is also a beautiful time of year in New Mexico and there is plenty to do and visit nearby including Bandelier National Monument and several sights in Santa Fe, not to mention the zillion outdoor activities you can still do this time of year.

Back to the race. I spent the mourning touring the transition area checking bikes and answering questions and then it was time for the pre-race briefing, which went off without a hitch. The Little Boy went our first and then the Fat Man. My motorcycle driver had never done something like this before but he was very good and we were able to keep a good eye on the field. One nice thing about these courses with big hills is that it breaks everything up so there is very little opportunity for drafting and the cyclists are all well spaced.

At one point I saw two guys riding side by side kind of wobbling along and apparently talking, maybe arguing so I told my driver to settle in behind them while I started timing them…13, 14, 15, (penalty), 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 seconds, ok plenty of time to know this is a definite penalty and no mistake has been made. I ask my driver to pull in closer so I can get a good look at them and get the identifying information I need to make the penalty stick. I notice that neither of these guys have their race numbers anywhere and they don’t seem all that concerned to see the head ref pulling up next to them. Because this is a popular area for cycling in general I ask,
“You guys racing?"

"Huh...oh, No”

“Oh, well, I was just going to give you a penalty but seeing as how you aren’t racing I’ll let it slide…please watch out for the racers. Have a good ride.”

So that was that, I had a few other pairs of riders out for a training ride but no bona fide penalties. By the way the penalty I was going to assess would have been on the cyclist on the right and it would have been “Overtaken.” It was clear that the cyclist on the right had broken the plane of the front wheel of the cyclist on the right at which point the guy on the right had been overtaken, passed, and it is therefore his responsibility to drop back out of the draft zone before trying to re-pass. You have 15 seconds to drop back and it does not matter if the person who just passed you jumps in front and then immediately blows up and stops pedaling, you have to get back and then go for the pass.

I have to admit to a little jealousy out there watching everyone race but I feel like my role as a ref is important…I feel a bit protective of the athletes out there and want to do my best to ensure a safe and fair race. No penalties, no injuries, no complaints and lots of smiles…who could ask for anything more?


  1. Brian-Thank you!! for ref-ing. I think the fact that you are giving back to community is fantastic..

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  3. What no penalties??? Big softy ;)
    But seriously where did you get that picture of me and my brother?

  4. Man! Those pictures look beautiful.

    One day, I'm gonna have to come down for a race or two.

    You guys have such wonderful scenery.

    And the course(s) sound great too.

  5. Are those ears "snap on ears".

    way to give back

  6. It would have been funny if you would have had some sort of penalty card you could have issued them anyway. Glad things went well. Sounds like fun. We are still fighting winter here. It snowed a dusting today and was only 40 degrees with a low of 25 tonight. Don't you guys have a guest house?

  7. Volunteers make races happen.

    Good for you!

  8. Right on Ref! thanks for keeping the peace out there and bustn` those two non racers! HA!

    good luck this weekend on the 50! you got it made Bro.


  9. I've alsways wondered what it would be like to volunteer or be a ref at an event if you were a die-hard athlete and competitor.

    Elizabeth (my 6yr old) and I are volunteering with the FCA Endurance Group at the Clemson Triathlon on May 10th. I'm not running this race since I will be in somewhat of a taper for the Florida Half Ironman the following weekend. I'm excited to get to help but I'm wondering if it will eat me up to not be out there......

    Now, what did I do with that cowbell (headiing off to look now.......)