Cyclocross pit etiquette

Though cross season is winding down for most of us, a few die-hards are gearing up for late-season events and the nationals in Austin. This season there have been quite a few violations of the rules in the pits across races, including some by elite athletes.

Service pits in cross are unique to that discipline. You must stay on the course in a cross race to get to the pit, and if you pass a pit exit, you cannot go backwards into that pit for service, but must continue on the course to the next pit entrance. Most courses have a double pit with entrance/exit on each side, obviously you must exit on the same side you enter. Also, if you enter the pit you can’t just ride through, you must “do something” – stop and work on your bike, or change a wheel or entire bike.

A principle that applies to all disciplines of cycling is that you must make no progress unaccompanied by a bicycle. This rule is a common cause of pit violations – riders have dropped/thrown their bicycle immediately on entering the pit (once hitting the Sram neutral service mechanic!) and then run some distance to where their pit bike was located. That will get you disqualified. How close do you need to bring the bike you’re leaving to where your pit bike is waiting/being held? An International Commissaire told me that the entire exchange must take place within the space allotted to each team for its pit box at a UCI event – 4 meters or about 13 feet. That means at most a step or two between dropping one bike and grabbing another.

Other violations which may get you penalized is dropping or placing equipment in the pit lane (3 meters/10 feet closest to the course tape) and unauthorized feeding, either in the pit when it hasn’t been authorized by the chief referee prior to the race or anywhere else on the course even if feeding is allowed

Applicable rules:

  • 1N10. Competitors may make no progress unaccompanied by a bicycle.
  • 4A15. Feeding is generally not permitted unless specifically authorized by the Chief Referee. If authorized, there is normally no feeding in the first two and final two laps of the race, and a temperature of at least 68 degrees is recommended. All feeding takes place in the pit lane, unless the Chief Referee specifies otherwise.
  • 4C1. A rider may use the pit lane only to change a bicycle or wheel.
  • 4C2. Changing of equipment shall be done at the same point with no advance in the rider’s position.
  • 4C3. A rider passing the pit entrance and continuing beyond the pit exit (yellow flagged area) may not enter that pit, but must continue around the course to the next pit. A rider not passing the pit exit, may enter that pit after dismounting and walking backwards on the course to the pit entrance.
  • 4C4. The exchanging of wheels or bicycles between riders shall be forbidden.

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