For hardcore bikers intent on World Cup glory, the term commissaire is likely a familiar one. For the rest of us, maybe not. But for Invermere resident Mylene Lefebvre, the term is not only intimately familiar, but is assigned to her: she is now a fully-fledged, Union Cyclist International (UCI) Commissaire of the highest order.
Commissaires are basically referees for UCI bike races, overseeing registration checks, course inspection, monitoring incidents, verifying results, and more. According to Cycling Canada, commissaires ensure quality, leadership and rule applications.
“We work very closely with organizers to make the event to the standard of the UCI,” Ms. Lefebvre explains.
Ms. Lefebvre has been involved in mountain biking for more than 25 years, first as an athlete then as a commissaire for the last 15 years.
“I was a racer back in Quebec. I moved to B.C. – classic story – for a couple months, and never left.”
While she loves mountain biking, she found the bike races cost-prohibitive and demanding. She was working as a snowboard instructor and met a commissaire. He suggested she try it out, as it would allow her to attend bike races and get paid for her time.
“I loved the race environment, but was not interested in paying to suffer to do the race,” she shares.
She started at the provincial level, working up to the national elite level in 2015, then needed two years under her belt before she could qualify for the international level. To become an internationally-certified commissaire, the Canadian UCI federation had to present her to the international board for the course which only happens every five years. Ms. Lefebvre was the only Canadian to qualify for the last set, and went to Switzerland in November alongside 16 other participants from 16 countries. She said much of the training revolved around race management and conflict resolution.
“Once you’re at that level, yes, you need to know the rules and how to apply them. But you need to first be calm, take all the parties in and make a decision, allow yourself to consult with other commissaires when not sure, and how to manage your commissaire team. You have the coach involved, team managers, you have the organizers, sometimes the media that gets into play. You have all these types of people in the race and they all want something different.”
At the end of July, Ms. Lefebvre passed her final UCI practicum test. She was chief of the race, overseeing a team of commissaires, at a major US bike race inVermont. Now she can chief at UCI races all around the world, including World Cups and, hopefully some day, the Olympics. But for now, Ms. Lefebvre would like to use her training to help new commissaires starting out, and to bring her input and advice to race organizers.
Ms. Lefebvre is grateful for the community support that allowed her to attend the international training, including A&W, the Lake Windermere Lions Club, Cycling BC and Cycling Canada.