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Entries For: May 2007


breaking even

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A win at DISC pays the entry fee

Thursday night, and it's time to debut the new wheels.  My new Bontrager Race-X-Lite carbon singles, with Tufo S3 Pro tyres, all glued up and ready to race.

bontrager race-x-lite carbon trackThe wheels are the hr0n!  First impressions - these things are responsive.  I don't feel any faster (how can you tell anyway outside of a wind tunnel with a power meter?) but they have thought-control steering.  I'm glad I have a solid 10 months of track racing in my legs, they'd have been way too responsive for me as a beginner.  But now, I like .. yes.

It's only Dino and I tonight, and Bev, the Llama and Von in the crowd. No other aboc'ers present (slack ... but Nathan has an excuse, he starts racing there again in his next block)

Anyway .. did ok in the scratch race, maybe 6th or so?  Lain Hammond won it, which was pretty impressive, she's maybe 17 or something?  I don't know how old she is, but for a female, and a female junior, to win (ok, only C grade .. but still, some strong boys ride it) is pretty impressive.  Well done Lain.

The points race and for the first time since I've been racing at DISC I don't get dropped.  Positioning and knowing who's who, and not working as a leadout. Thankyou to Dino for my leadout for the first sprint, I should have talked to you more, my fault! I contested every sprint, got 3rd in the final sprint but 4ths or worse for the rest, so no points to speak of.  Still felt good though, good to not have to chase for 10 laps. A bit crampy in a leg, but that soon settles down after an easy roll around.

Along the way we're cheering on big Stu Vaughn and Mal Sawford, Mal had come over because he's afraid of the dark and wet, and wanted a ride.  His track bike looked pretty clean for something that had been (he claims) not ridden for years.  Uhuh ...

On to the motorpace, and I'm feeling pretty good.  It does the usual thing, I manage to be in almost the perfect place, on the bike for the last paced lap, the bike pulls off, I surge for 50m or so, then sit up, no-one comes over the top, I surge again for aother 50m or so, sit up .. still no-one, 1 lap to go, put down the hammer and go ... and ... 250m later, still no-one comes over the top!  That'l be a win, thanks Eddie. w00t!  Wave to the aboc cheersquad, do the 'touch the tyres, burn the hands' thing, roll around and think 'that was pretty good!'.

I felt strong all night and never felt like I was struggling or in any danger of not being able to contest the finish of any of the races, which was a first at DISC - I'm getting close to how I felt at Blackburn over summer racing C grade, where I knew that I could win anything if I did the right things tactically.

So what did the win pay?  $10!  That's $16 total DISC prizemoney.  $10 to enter, so for last night, I broke even (if you don't count the new wheels .. the tyres, dinner ... etc etc one does not race for the money ... )

This morning I picked up the prototype of the new aboc polarfleece jerseys.  Very nice.  Perfect for cold nights at DISC. Royal blue with yellow trim, and the aboc logo on the front and back, 300 weight fleece, good quality, low pill and made in Australia (no Nike sweatshops here!).  It looks pretty snazzy.  Once I have a firm price from Rowbust we'll be putting in an order for a bunch of them.  Got a prototype skinsuit (size L) for evaluation too .. I think Dino will fit into it so we'll try that on Sunday afternoon at DISC. If he likes it, we'll get the pattern done up in Illustrator and then I'll do a design with aboc colours.  I'm reviewing Steve Hogg's (of Bicycling Australia and fame, as well as being regarded as one of the bike fit gurus in Australia, with John kennedy as the other) DVD at the moment, 'Sitting pretty'.  Interesting to watch, I like the layout of his fit studio, will have to negociate with Pete from Cycle Science about my fitting 'space' at the shop.

I'm also trying to convince Dino to ride the BBN/HCC ITT on Sunday morning with me, on the aboc tandem.  Place your bets .. but if he's crook I'll have to look elsewhere.  Maybe Rob Monteith? Rob? You want to do it?

Now it's time to go and get some extra hot chilli noodles and work at the shop for the evening.  I have bikes to fix, people to fit and stories to tell.  Thanks for reading.




How to be a bad sportsperson

There's lots of talk about what makes a good sport or a bad sport ....

Those of you that know me, know that I'm big on being graceful in victory and defeat, and that I do my best to get riders I work with to also be graceful in both. Even if someone does something very wrong, dangerous or stupid (and that does happen in bike races!), we have to always respect each others' safety and fight fire with water.

The following video from a US Keiren race is a great example of the worst kind of sportsmanship. 

Jame Carney gets knocked off at the finish line.


I'm sure most would agree that there is never justification for that action.


Reflections on the De Bortoli Tour, and I win some cash at DISC!

Mixed feelings ....

Good news first.  I got my first lot of prizemoney at DISC last Thursday.  After a messy scratch race where I surged a couple of times to break things up a bit, and getting boxed in, then leading it out and Dino missing my wheel, the points race was going to be worth a go.  Unlike the last few weeks, this week I wasn't riding as Wayne's leadout/chase monkey/shock trooper.  I got dropped at the first sprint, but chased for 10 or so laps, and got back on to the bunch about a lap before the second last sprint.  I took 3rd in the sprint, but I had momentum, and rolled through and before I knew it, I had at least 80 metres on the bunch.  Oh well, let's see if I can hold them off ... 4 laps and a new HRMax later, and I did, winning the final sprint by about 50 metres or so.  Gets me 2nd in the race. That hurt .... that really, really hurt.  I've often told my riders that the race that hurts the most is the one you win, and that was a reminder - I didn't win it, but I did win the final sprint, which feels almost as good, and hurts just as much!

Last race, the motorpace, pans out beautifully, I'm 4th wheel when the bike pulls off, with big Pooley on the front hammering, but in front of me is a girl, and when Pooley kicks, a gap opens, and it's too late.  4th ... that'll have to do.  Payday for the night, $6.  Entry fee is $10.  So I lose $4.  Heh ... There'll be more, I'm getting a feel for DISC now and who to watch for and the timing of sprints etc.  Dino's a real threat too! He's got a sprint on him ... that's for sure.

So to the De Bortoli Tour.  A lot of aboc'ers helped out with this, which was great.  Nick, Nathan, Rob, Mick and Will, Bev ... all the troops.  Byron and Wayne Evans and Simon Alder racing.  My role, web site and photography.  I took some 1,200 photos, and published about 1,100 on the website.  The aim was to get at least one photo of every rider in the event, and most of the officials and volunteers.  I think I managed.  A hell of a long weekend, especially as I had to drop Vanders off at the airport on Sunday morning at 6am.

Everyone did a great job, except we had one glaring, disasterous problem.  Race results.  I don't know what went wrong, but even now, 2 days later, we still don't have the final results.  Why is this a problem?  In a stage race, times count and gaps count.  The riders couldn't make smart decisions about breaks etc, because they didn't know any times or places.  Feedback from some (and I agree with them) is that the Tour was, because of the results failure, a collection of social rides, not races.

One feedback email contained this :

First and foremost, Results? WTF? How can a tour be run without results?
Can you imagine if The winner of the 'Bathurst 1000' was announced the next day?
Or if by the time the TDF winner was determined Lance Armstrong was back at
home on the ranch. This is a major issue for everybody from Riders,
Teams and Sponsors (Both of teams and of the event i.e. De Bortoli)

This is from a friend, and it's completely fair critisism.  I can't agree more.

So what can we do?  I don't know ... I know Nicko and Alan spent ages (up 'til midnight on Saturday etc) trying to sort out the mess, but the key thing is why, and how can we make sure it never happens again?  Blackburn has an unfortunate reputation now for stuffing up results - a 1:20 ITT not long ago had a similar problem, and we've become rather famous for being the club that can't run races properly.  That's not fair, because for everything that went wrong, heaps more went very well, but the lasting impression that most riders who rode the race will have is of not getting any results. 

As a club, we have to look very hard at what went wrong and how it can be fixed in future.  I've held the belief for a long time that the Tour is simply too big for a single, small club to organise.  I think it's a club killer, as it's too hard and uses up too many people.  I hope I'm wrong, but the washup from this tour is going to be messy. Then again, the Colleraine Tour seems to work pretty well, maybe we as a club need to have a talk to them, and see how they do it.  That's outside my area of interest within the club, my line in the sand is clearly drawn.

Enough said on that ... Spin is tomorrow night and I've a bolla to cook to feed hungry cyclists!


Summer Sprint Series progress

Filed Under:

A progress report on the summer sprint series

Just in case anyone's been wondering, we've been busy at aboc HQ working on ideas for how to run the Summer Sprint Series at Blackburn.  Here's my latest correspondance with the Blackburn CC :

G'day Rowan, Brian and John,

I'd like to get the summer sprint series stuff started so I can start to promote it and people can start to train for it.

Here's how I think I'd like it to work (details to be finalised) This is a proposal, I'd like your feedback on it.

Once a fortnight (say 1st and 3rd week of the month?) on Sunday, starting at 12 for Flying 200's, match sprints start at 1.  Graded based on F200 times, at least 3 grades, ideally 4. Round robin match sprints to accumulate points, then a ride off for first & second, and third and fourth for each grade.  I expect each match sprint would take 3 minutes at the most? 

Nicko?  If we ban anything slower than walking pace they can't take longer than that! That would be about 20 races an hour as long as we can keep them flowing.

Round robin points as follows :
2 points for a win, 1 for a loss, 0 for a forfeit, -1 for a disqualification.

All grades pay $10 to enter, we divvy up the prizemoney in the usual way.

Have an aggregate points system leading to some prizes at the end of the season (I'm working on some sponsorship for this).

Points for attending, points for places, points for going up a grade, lose points for relegation to a lower grade.
Something like 2 points for entering, 6 for a win, 4 for a second and 2 for a third, 6 points for a promotion, -4 points for a relegation. The winner of a grade when there's more than 6 riders gets promoted, last place gets relegated. If there's less than 6 riders on a day, no relegation or promotions occur.

What do we need to run it?  I'm thinking 3 people?  Entries, a commissaire and a line judge/score recorder.  Do we also need to register it with CSV? Could we promote it through the CSV summer calender?  What are the requirements for a commissaire?

Would it be an 'open' as such?  The summer track season seems to run as an open, or at least, it has no restrictions on
members of other clubs attending?  Would this be the same sort of thing? Would we need a 1st aider present?

I think I can recruit a few aboc'ers to help run it, in return for free entry, but am not sure of the club's requirements?


Any thoughts?  I'd appreciate feedback and thoughts from you all, either here or by email to me.


What you can do with Plone, and the BBN AGM tonight

An example of a very nice Plone site, and don't forget the BBN AGM!

Some readers of this online diary of mine may know of our efforts to revamp the Blackburn Cycling Club's website.

Have a look at this for a superb Plone site : Team Priority Net (Richard England from Blackburn is in this team fort 2007). I think that's an excellent example of what can be done with Plone.  The aboc site is a pretty basic implementation, but that one's very well sorted.

In other news ... The Blackburn AGM is tonight (Wednesday the 9th of May) at the Blackburn clubrooms at 7:30 pm and I urge any Blackburn members to attend.  I'm sponsoring it with food - if you show up you'll get free grub!  Hopefully this AGM will see a few changes in the club that I think it needs, and it's an opportunity for you all to voice your opinions and thoughts re the direction the club is taking and to suggest improvements (and maybe even make some contributions!). 

I hope to see as many of you all there as can make it.




Bug eyed!

Filed Under:

Casey Field, rain, Dandenong Creek trail and a bug ...

Saturday I rode down to Casey to do the first Casey Field crit of the season. Not long after I left aboc HQ the rain started, but assisted by a decent northerly tailwind I averaged 29km/h to Casey and did the trip in a bit over 90 mins.  The race, we won't mention, combined A & B grade due to low nubers of A graders, and I got blown to bits after a hard turn at the front chasing down an early attack when we thought the bunch was under control.  I was the only aboc rider present. Where was everyone?!  It's just a bit of rain! Rather than waste the day, I did a couple of 20 min E3 efforts and then rode home.  Being in no mood for traffic or hills, I thought I'd try the Dandeong Ck trail rather than Stud Rd. Nice enough, partially sealed, partially gravel, ok on a roady, except in places very poorly signed (where's the trail go, again?!). The usual collection of loose dogs etc ...

As it was getting dark I tok off my sunnies and next thing, a bug flies into my left eye.  No big deal, except I've always had eyes that react badly to any scratches, and before I knew it I was monocular.  10km from home, 125km in my legs and one eye, into a headwind up a hill (Boronia Rd to Canterbury Rd on my crit cassette!)... not happy, Jan!

When I finally got home Vanders fed me and I went out for eye drops and dinner.  Spent most of the night unable to sleep and finally woke up with one eye glued shut.  Today, I took the masters track session at DISC, but didn't ride as I basically can't see from one eye so have poor depth perception until it's better.  Only two people came, Nath (thanks for the lift!) and Nick, an Australian/Canadian former semi pro MTB racer. With a split between enduro and sprint riders I couldn't do much interesting stuff for them, so we did reaction drills and Nath did flying 100's.  A bit sad to see how poor the resource (DISC) is utilised.  It's cost a fortune to build, but trackies aren't taking advantage of it.

I'm going back to bed, hopefully I'll have stereo vision tomorrow!


Success at DISC!

Filed Under:

I rode as Wayne Evan's leadout man tonight, and we got results

Nick Bird and Bev Vennix came along to watch the racing tonight, so we had to put on a show to make their trip worthwhile.  The only aboc'ers who made it this week were myself and Wayne Evans.  I offered to ride for Wayne tonight, as a leadout and potentially a chase monkey (fortunatly, not required tonight!).

The scratch race took off fast, but when I got near the front I attacked and stayed off the front for maybe half a lap or so, but it had the desired effect of shaking up the field a little and making everyone work when they didn't expect to.  With two and a bit laps to go the field had bunched right up, time to do my job.  Wayne, get on my wheel!  Bang, I hit the accelerator and jumped off the front and held my speed for about a lap and a half, before fading with half a lap to go, and Wayne sailed past and took the win.  Chalk one up for the team.

Race two, as always in the rather unimaginative Thursday night program, was a 15 lap points race. I was still recovering from the scratch race and didn't really play much of a part, I lead out one sprint, but that was about it. Wayne took third.

Race three is a motorpace, and that was a perfect opportunity to get the leadout spot-on.  With 6 or 7 laps to go I peeled off from behind the bike and Wayne opened up a gap for me to drop in front of him and we're set to go.  With 4 laps I'm second wheel, which wasn't quite ideal, but the kid on the tail of the derney stayed put for 2 laps - perfect!  The bike pulls off with 2 and a half laps to go, the kid slows, no-one wants to work at this stage .... right ... Wayne's set up camp on my wheel and I ramp it up, over the top of the kid, and hammer down for two laps.  With half a lap to go I'm spent and Wayne and some other rider go past, and then I get jostled by one rider who got a bit close, considering by then he was out of contention anyway.  Wayne had left his run a shade too late and got second.  Almost perfect.

A good night ... kept the fans entertained and we got one of each place for the night.  Thanks Wayne for riding well and taking the races, it made my efforts worthwhile.


Equipment reviews?

Filed Under:

Does an 'Equipment review' section belong on this website?

I'm tempted to start a section of this site devoted to equipment reviews.  This is a dangerous area, because a lot of reviews are very poorly written and either biased towards (I bought it, therefore it's good!) or against (I bought it, it had a minor problem, so it's terrible!) the product being reviewed and it's difficult to be objective, especially with things as subjective as bikes.

So, if I was going to put up a section with reviews, I'd want some form of editorial control over it and I would want sensible reviews.


Here's an example - I got a set of Ay-Up headlights this week, here's a basic review (without photos ... they'll come if and when I do this properly) :

AYUP headlights - available from

I've only just put them on my wet weather roady, haven't actually used them yet.  I was most attracted to the handlebar mount, which is the best of any I've seen in terms of not getting in the way. It's a 'bridge' over the stem faceplate/clamp and that's a great idea.  Very clean and unobtrusive. I have my computer on my stem, which does cause an issue with the velcro-on battery but I suspect that's an unusual case.  If your stem is clean and at least 70mm long it should fit beautifully.

The light heads come in a range of colours, so you're in with a reasonable chance of them matching your bike. I chose electric blue to match aboc colours (of course!).

The design choice to make the light and battery easy to remove is a blessing.  It's great for avoiding stuff getting nicked.  You do have to remember to take the bits though, if you're planning (or it just happens!) to be out after dark.

Not having a switch is a pain because to turn the light off, you have to remove the lamps and battery pack, or have a live wire flapping around and a plug and a socket that can get crap in them. I think it can be tucked into the strap, but that's still messy.  I understand the decision, switches are chronically unreliable, but it's still a PITA.  It is easy to remove both, except if you have a populated stem. I might have to hack into my velcro strap so it doesn't foul on my computer mount (Sigma BC1200). If you were trying to set it up at night in the dark you'd need a torch or a decent moonlit night, no
'grope for the switch' here.

I'm very impressed by the construction of the thing, it seems sturdy and robust, and the 2 3w luxeons seem significantly brighter than my old 10w halogen Vistalite (now residing in the 'lend to friends' bucket :) ).  Compared to the "seeing"[1] lights we sell in the LBS, the ayup is great value and I think, a better solution than most I've seen in terms of mounts. I'm going to see if it's possible to sell them through the shop, as they're really good.  My 'roady' kit cost about $240 delivered to my door in a sturdy box from the supplier.

[1] seeing lights - ie: see where you're going, as opposed to 'be
seen' lights, which are generally LED flashers.

My only other suggestion to the makers is to redesign your website, it's a huge flash animation site and thus not good web manners.

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