It is important for all riders to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations of competitive cycling. For detailed information, particularly for riders wanting to compete in Open events, we recommend members review the current rules/regulations on the CQ website. The most commonly asked rule is detailed below for your convenience.
What do I do if I am riding in one grade and catch another grade?
This is quite a common occurrence in Criterium races. You may be in a group or on your own and catch another Grade. It is your responsibility to ensure that you do not take any advantage from the Grade you have caught (especially if you are in a breakaway).
You have two choices:
1. Back off from the group you have caught and ensure you are not taking an advantage (more on that later - a general rule is 20 metres), or
2. Pass the Grade you have caught as quickly as you can (staying as far over from them as the situation will allow).
In some cases passing is very difficult to go past another group and you may choose to ride parallel to the group while passing (do not cross a white line on the road and ensure you do it safely). However, unless this is on a controlled circuit it is pretty unlikely you can do this for long. Also, the commissaires (usually for the right reasons - after all we are bike riders) are pretty suspicious of riders riding in this manner, and you can imagine the conversations being had by the chasing bunch if they see it, and you can also imagine the questions that are asked after the race.
When you catch a lower Grade it usually isn't that big a deal and you can go over the top of them and keep going. But when you catch a 'soft pedalling' Grade that is higher than your own it becomes difficult. You may pass them, but then they pass you and slow down again. You then pass them again and so on. It can be very annoying. To top that off you will have commissaires calling for you to separate or you will be disqualified. The question is who needs to separate - Do they need to pass you and hurry up or do you need to pass them or back off.
The answer is generally the latter - as a rule if you are on your own then you pass or back off. If you are in a group and your group either passes or backs off. The higher grade will not usually be penalised as they are deemed to take no advantage and to have the ability to pass you whenever they wish.
Now we get to a real issue. What is 'gaining an advantage’? Is it drafting only? This depends on who you ask and their 'interpretation' of the rules. Some commissaires may say that that is all it is and ask that you act in a manner similar to a Time Trial where you hold back 20 metres and then if you do pass, you do it as quickly as you can with a lateral distance of 2 metres. Others may say that it is still 'taking pace' from the other grade if you hold off at a constant 20 metres for the rest of the race. This means that if you are a C Grade rider and you sit behind A Grade for the entire race at a constant distance of more than 20 metres you can be seen to be being 'paced' and/or receiving 'outside' assistance and may be disqualified accordingly ( Rule 3300.f.1 - General Road Racing Rules - Assistance - A competitor who holds onto, receives pace from a moving vehicle, or receives any other outside assistance may be disqualified).
So what do you do? Pass or Back Off? If the commissaire is still yelling at you Pass or Back Off. Do not be seen to be 'sitting in' especially on the back section of a course. commissaires are very aware of riders that separate when they come around and then 'sit in' on the back end of a course and then separate again. We have all seen it. If you can't get passed the group then back off more than 20 metres and if you feel that this is causing still more issues ask for them to tell you what to do.
To find out more please check out the Queensland Rules on the CQ Website. Remember it is the riders responsibility to know the rules - Not the Commissaires to coach you, guide you or give you a break because you didn't know. If you want rules explained please contact a commissaire in your club and they will be more than willing to explain the rules to you away from the race and without the pressure of running a race at the same time.
What do I do if I am not capable of riding in the Open grading I have been given?
Query Grading or Handicapping
If you are not happy with your grade or handicap, please refer to the Cycling Queensland website under Road or Track grading for options and instructions.