Motorcycling With The Peloton – Becoming A Moto Official
This guest post is written by Brandon Price – A USA Cycling Moto Offical, and former police officer.
Growing up in the 1970’s, I always looked forward to Friday nights. Friday night meant a family trip to Thrifty’s for a 10 cent scoop of chocolate chip ice cream, followed by some quality tube time. I didn’t know at that time how much influence that TV show CHiPs would have on my future, but I quickly learned that I was interested in motorcycles, driving fast, and law enforcement.
Next thing I knew, I was an officer. I eventually joined the street crimes unit that rode Kawasaki KLR’s. It was a fun position that netted me a lot of time on dual sport motorcycles. I moved to traffic enforcement and rode the Kawasaki KZ1000 motorcycle. I was was living my childhood fantasy – And being paid to ride a motorcycle. On days off, they let me compete in police rodeos around the state. I got to ride with cops from other agencies and compete against them. I even won a few awards and a spot on the podium a time or two. I didn’t think it got any better than this… In Colorado, magnesium-chloride is applied to the asphalt prior to a snow storm. I was turning in a parking lot where some had been applied and I went down fast and hard. As the motorcycle spun on the ground, my foot turned around facing backward. I had a severe dislocation and a spiral fractured tib-fib. I was looking down at my heel pointing up with my knee cap, where it should have been toes pointing up. Not good.
I spent the next 2 years having multiple ankle surgeries, hours of physical therapy, and worst of all… desk duty.
I soon found myself retired from police work after 18 years. As part of my lengthy healing process, I picked up a road bike. I started pedaling for sanity and exercise. I got better, skinnier and faster as it was the only form of physical exercise I could do without pain. I participated in a metric century, then a full century, leading up to 425 miles in a one day relay ride from Salt Lake City to Saint George, Utah. I even enjoyed watching international cycling events on TV. I watched the Tour of Utah, the Tour of Colorado and the Tour de France. When I started noticing the motorcycles in the cycling races I knew I wanted to ride a motorcycle with the pros, whether it was to carry media or be an official. But how? I got on the phone and on the web. I contacted anyone I could find with the info. I worked to become a USA Cycling official. I completed the online Moto Certification course and classroom Moto Official course. This has allowed me to ride and officiate in different events.
What Is A Moto Official In Cycling?
USA Cycling is the governing body of cycling in the USA. UCI governs USAC and the rest of the world. We can officiate at events but the moto officials usually ride the motorcycles enforcing a number of rules. Some of the most common are drafting when not allowed in a road discipline or crossing the center line on an open road course. We help notify the leaders of road course their lead position by time. For example, I will mark a location the lead racer has passed on a course, I set my stop watch and when the next rider or a field passes, I stop the watch and ride forward and notify the leader how far ahead he or she is in seconds. The most fun is a criterium where we have two motors. One in front and one in the rear. The lead moto has it easy and stays in front of the leader. If the lead moto starts to catch up to the riders in the rear, the tail moto will ask those riders to leave the race and that moto officials discretion. We have the ability to be mobile, fast, and don’t take up much room. We can ride up to a cyclist and talk with them, pull them, DQ them from a race and warn them.
Moto officials are also often tasked with media passengers. We take photographers or videographers on the back and into an event. We often are asked to Marshall events or Gran Fondos. We will put motos throughout the course and lead it and tail it to warn cars about the cyclists. We lead the cyclists through mountains or cities to guide them. I bought Denali lights to help with visibility on my BMW R1200RT so vehicles will see me better from the front and rear. My favorite is when I lead pro cyclists down a steep mountain grade and I have to stay in front of them. This means I’m going fast, leaning the bike and using the apex of corners to stay in front of the cyclists. It’s possible to be doing over 60 mph down mountain switchbacks to lead a field of cyclists. This requires my A game, white knuckles and a lot of fun.
I have assembled a group of 21 motorcycles for an Haute Route in Cedar City, UT this year. 20 of the motorcycles are BMW’s with a good mix of RT’s and GS or GSA’s. We have one Goldwing in the group. The BMW Motorcycles are by far the most popular and the GS is the most popular BMW in the events I’ve been a part of.
To become certified as a moto official with USAC, you must pass an online course and officials exam, complete a safe sport online class, pass a background check and submit an MVR to make sure the moving violations are in check. You can have one or two but more than that, you’re out. After you have completed all this, you must attend an 8 hour classroom to learn the rules and safety of a moto referee. This also has a written exam at the end. You are then eligible to work as a USA Cycling Moto Referee and yes it pays.
We ride in all conditions and we wear rain gear or Gortex incase it rains. If the bikes are out, we ride. A moto referee may only ride 20 miles for an event in one day or may be expected to ride 212 miles in one day. The large Tours like those in Utah and California may requite a moto official to ride 150 miles during an event then pack up and ride another 200 miles to the next hotel. Sleep and repeat the next day. We get paid per mile and you earn it. Some of that money may go toward paying a massage therapist that night to fix our backs. We also clean our motorcycles upon arrival to the next hotel so we look good the next day. We will be on TV also and want to shine.
I have mounted Denali D2 lights on my moto and Denali LED brake light on the rear to assist with visibility. I love how the Denali lights work with the CAN smart system on my 2017 BMW R1200RT. I use the yellow lens covers and have the D2’s set to alternate flashes with my emergency flashers. I have replaced the weak factory horn with a Denali mini-sound bomb to alert vehicles or cyclist better. I also mounted R&G Adventure Crash Bars from Twisted Throttle. I like the looks of the bars on my RT and the added protection of the valve covers in case of a crash or tip over. The bars also allow me to move my feet to the end of the bars to change leg position. This is crucial on those longs rides to move the blood around my legs. Being a moto-official has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done, and I look forward to seeing you on the course!