Last month Greenville, South Carolina resident Chuck Hodge was named the Southeast Region Official of the Year. Cycling has been a part of Chuck’s life for a long time. As he said in our interview, “I’m lucky enough to have my avocation also be my occupation.”
Just two days prior Chuck had returned from the Santos Tour Down Under in South Australia and now was already packing his bags for his next trip: Denver for meetings regarding the Quiznos Pro Challenge.
However before this life of jumping from plane to plane attending meetings, Chuck was a bike racer.
“I started out in the late 80s racing mountain bikes in Atlanta. I switched over to road and raced up to the category 2 level until 1998. I topped out and switched over to more the race officiating and organizing side of things.”
And just like categories in racing there are different officiating categories. Hodge moved up through the ranks to a national commissar, the highest level to reach domestically without going to Switzerland and applying to be a UCI certified ranked official.
Chuck was awarded the Southeast Region Official of the Year for his work on the national racing calendar which includes being the chief official at numerous events. Hodge has worked with USA Cycling to help develop their motorcycle referee programs, developing a whole new training program for new moto officials. Hodge is also on the national technical commission for USA Cycling which mentors and develops officials as well as develops new referee training programs. He is also charged with the responsibility of selecting refs for other major races.
Chuck’s day job is technical director for Medalist. He works the major tours which means inspecting the course, coordinating security and ensuring that the caravan, communications, medical services, and officials are all on task for that stage or race.
“Really all back of the house stuff,” is how Hodges describes his duties.
At the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, Hodge played host to attending Santos Tour Down Under officials. This year the Australian officials were kind enough to return the favor and host him at the Tour Down Under. While there he looked at a variety of things the Australians do to run their event and examined what could work here in the States.
“There’s hardly an event that you can go to and not see something that they are good at.”
As a veteran of all of America’s biggest stage races how does the Santos Tour Down Under stack up?
“They (Santos Tour Down Under) have some strengths – a big strength is that they are at a time of year that the race almost serves as a training camp. The racers stay at the same hotel every night, the mechanics set up a base camp that doesn’t need to be moved every night. Everyone is in the same hotel and the longest transfer to another stage was never more than an hour.” This kind of environment makes the first race of the year a little more palatable for the staff and riders alike. The constant moving and driving wears everyone down.
We’ll be checking in with Chuck at the Amgen Tour of California and of course back here at the USA Cycling Pro Championships in Greenville, his hometown.