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Entries For: August 2007


A technical development we've missed -ANT+Sport

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It seems that a long-wished for development has happened and no-one noticed in the field of wireless bike computers, power meters etc .. time to bring you up to speed

ANT+Sport.  What is this?  I'm glad you asked (go on, you've been dying to ask for years, right?).

It's a standard.  On your bike, you have many standard bits and pieces - this is a Good Thing. It means you can put on any tyre you want (clincher, 700c standard, MTB clincher, 26" standard and so on), use any groupset, mostly, and any pedals (standard thread in cranks).  Mostly we have standards for most bits and pieces, so you have a choice about handlebars, stems, saddles, seatposts etc etc - you get the point and I'm labouring it.

So, along comes your new bike computer, but you have an existing wiring set - will it work?  NO!  Will your new heartrate monitor work with your old HRM, or the speed sender, or the funky wireless cadence sender you bought (and it wasn't cheap, was it?). If your bike computer has a power recording feature (eg Polar S72x) will it work with a PowerTap, or SRM crank?  No. A wireless cadence sensor from VDO?  Nope ...

Until now.

Or, to be precise, until a year ago or so when ANT+Sport started cropping up.  The few of us who have Powertap or Garmin computers may have noticed there's a logo on the HRM strap that says ANT+Sport.  You didn't notice?  Shame!  That's what it means, so now you know.

The new Polar CS600 uses ANT+Sport, I think, the new Garmin 705 GPS bike computer not only uses it for the HRM, but also can work with suitable power sensors, including the (unreleased, this is vapour at this time) new SRM cranks and the quarq power meter.  Maybe the Polar CS600 (wild guess-o-meter when it comes to wattage, but that's not the point of this) will work with the quarq sensor or the Powertap SL 2.4 (so you -can- get accurate power readings from a Polar!).

What does this mean to you?  It means you can buy a computer that has ANT+Sport (eg the Garmin, or the quarq 'Qranium' or maybe the CS600) and be reasonably confident that you'll be able to get sensors for it in future that will work with it.  You should be able to mix and match - say you like the way a particular manufacturer's cadence sensor works with your bike, you should be able to get it to work with your other manufacturer's computer.  The big bonus is for those of us using power meters.  We should be able to use different computers with different power meters - say for example you were me (stop screaming, this is only temporary) and you have a Saris PowerTap SL 2.4 on your road wheelset.  You can then use the new SRM cranks or the (hopefully they do their sensor for track cranks, they plan to, according to emails I had with them today) quarq power meter on your track bike, but use the same computer for both - this simplifies uploading training data to your copy of CyclingPeaks WKS+, for example.  You also know by now that the Powertap computer is a bit sucky, but the Qranium has much nicer features, but you want a hub as the power meter, not your cranks - no worries! It'll work with a Powertap hub. Say you have the new Garmin 705, you'll be able to use the Garmin with both your track and road bikes with other branded sensors, and for a reasonable definition of forever, be able to replace bits as they break without having to throw the lot away.

This will probably only happen at the high end of town, K-mart bike computers won't support this standard (the cheapies are generally not wireless anyway ...) but I expect that in a year or so the smart manufacturers will all do ANT+Sport for their wireless stuff, which gives us choices to mix and match.  Good! I'm a little excited.  Now if there was a standard for wired computer wiring mounts ... don't hold your breath ... break a wire, chances are you can't get the right wiring kit anymore, you have to throw it away. A pox on that.

My Truvative Omnium cranks should arrive in a day or two, so I can ditch the old and bent Bontrager (Truvative) 'track' cranks on the T1 at last. I'm hoping that the quarq sender will work with these cranks when it ships, that would solve my power meter on track bike problem without having to get the hacked PowerTap Pro from or forking out $fartoomuch for SRM cranks.

I missed DISC tonight, had to replace a hard drive at my real job.  Next week ...




Chris Brewin's Paris-Brest-Paris adventure

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Chris's knee flared up after 450km and he had to withdraw, but in four years, he'll be back

Hi Carl,

After some frantic last minute packing, we finally boarded the plane last Friday and landed safely in gay paree on Saturday morning.

The Hotels in France are rather small and there is not enough room for the bike (or its case) so I had to reassemble the bike on the edge of "La rue de monge". Which is just a fancy name for the street that runs outside the front of the hotel!

We hit our first hurdle trying to check into the ride on Sunday morning. French Rail decided to do track work on the line that takes us to the start at St Quintin. They were running a replacement bus service, but I was not allowed to take the bike. So after studying one of the local tourist maps, the only option was to attempt to ride accross Paris and get on the train accross town. If you've ever looked at a road map of Paris, you will understand this is not as simple as it may sound.

As I was studying the map for the umpteenth time, a Spaniard who was also doing the ride pulled up along side me. He had a bigger road map than me and as we were headed to the same place, we road the streets of Paris together. We had a lovely ride alongside the Sienne River, Notre Dame qnd the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately we weren't supposed to be anywhere near these landmarks. It took us nearly an hour to do the 8km to get to the station. I got to St Quintin an hour and a half after my checkin time, but no major dramas. I got myself registered, bike inspected and ride card issued, ready for the 9.30pm departure on Sunday night.

The start was staggered into waves of 600 riders departing every 20 mins. I choose the wrong line to queue in and ended up leaving in the final group at about 11pm. The amosphere was fantastic. People on the streets clapping and yelling "ally, ally, ally" (Still no idea what this means, French equivelent of Aussie, Aussie,Aussie???). Volunteers were stopping traffic at the intersections to let bikes through and the drivers of the cars got out and clapped. Very different to Around The Bay ride in Melbourne where stopped motorists honked their horns and yelled abuse!

The first 50km of the ride were reasonably uneventful, except for some near misses with some low cobble stoned roundabouts that are just about impossible to see in the dark. Then the heavens opened and the rains came. I took shelter in a Patiessery at about 3.30 am and munched my way through a Cafe Eclair before continuing onto the first official food stop at the 122km mark.

The first stop was a high school gym kitted out with seats, kitchen and a bar. I didn't really feel like a beer at 4.30 in the morning, but a nice steaming plate of spag bog went down a treat.

I left the food stop just as the sun was coming up. The rain had stopped and although there was a wind, it started drying everything out. I really enjoyed the next 90km into the second checkpoint and got there a few hours ahead of the cutoff.

I'd had a few gear issues on this stretch, could not get the gears to run smoothely or change down properly. I found the cable had frayed and a couple of strands had jammed into the cable covering, stopping the cable sliding properly. I worked with the local bike mechanic to change it ( He had a new cable but no idea how to get the old one out of brake/gear lever - i'd never changed one either) and after paying the huge sum of two euros I was on the road again.

The next 90km I refer to as the "hungry kms". Just could not get enough to eat. Every pattiserie or road house I would stop and look for food. Got into the next checkpoint at about 5pm on Monday.

The next stretch was a short 52km. I started having knee trouble. A pain in the top of the quads that extends into the knee. Very similar to the knee problem I had before I left, but the other knee this time. I survived into the next checkpoint (about 360km) but was in a bit of trouble. I rested for a few hours and went and saw the local ambo's who could only give me some gel to rub into the knee and they suggested I spend the night to let the swelling go down. Unfortunately, due to the cut off times I had to keep moving. The plan was to use my lowest gears, spin lightly and make it to Brest (250km away) where I would get a time bonus and a chance for a decent rest before heading back to Paris.

This plan worked well for the next 30km, then hills and a strong head wind caused me a lot of grief. I rode another 50km ( which took nearly 3 hours) in quite a bit of pain to the next major checkpoint. I couldn't stand on the pedals and had to conpensate with my good knee to keep going.

I got 4 hours sleep at the checkpoint and and woke feeling a bit better. But a quick spin around a flat car park still caused me pain and I realized I couldn't finish the remaining 750km and withdrew after 450km.

Pretty devastated after waiting four years to compete but as Lina keeps reminding me, there is always the next one in four years time.

All that is left now is to get the bike shipped home and enjoy the next 3 weeks of our holiday as we tour around France, Switzerland, Italy and the UK.

Will catch you at spin class when we get back.




How Dino went down

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An update on Thursday's DISC, not such a good night for Dino

As a few readers of the aboc site know, a few weeks ago Dino Apolito had a crash in a motorpace and got a bit of concussion etc, and just got back onto DISC to race two weeks ago.  Last night was his second night back after that crash.  He's written about it in his blog here.

So what happened last night?

Dino got to DISC a little earlier than me, and was warming up on the track when I got there.  I got sorted and we did a few efforts together to get ready for the nights' racing.  We went high up the bank and Dino reported that he was feeling better than last week about it, and feeling strong in the legs. 

After a few more efforts we were just pootling around the track keeping warm on the black line at around 30km/h or so, Dino was sucking my wheel when a rider who was up above us on the blue line (I only saw this out of peripheral vision) slipped off the bank (bad tyres?  Too slow?), slipped down into me, bounced off me, and swept Dino's bike out from under him.  I didn't actually see the crash itself, it was all right behind me, but I heard it, felt it and I heard Dino hit the boards.

Being a track bike there was no way I could stop and turn around immediatly, so I completed my lap and pulled up and saw Dino lying flat on his back and in considerable distress.  A couple of officials were milling around, I asked them to call an ambulance once we'd determined that this wasn't a quick tumble, Dino had clearly been hurt pretty badly.  A few of us with first aid tickets got Dino as comfortable as we could, and then a doctor who was there helped out so we handed over to him, and got Dino's kit all sorted out.  I called Rich who came and picked up Dino's bike and pump, and we basically waited for the ambos to arrive and tried to keep Dino as comfortable as we could.  He had a reasonably normal pulse, no obvious neck or collarbone injury, no damage to his helmet etc, but his ribs on his right side were very tender - at least bruised.  I called Ann (Dino's wife) and let her know.

The ambos arrived after about 10 minutes, and took over, gave Dino the anasthetic straw and then some morphine (no more racing tonight Dino, that's on the banned list!).  We organised to get his clothes etc sorted, one of the ambos took his bag and the ambo's oxy cviva kit away, and just after he'd left Dino's condition worsened, he started to have breathing difficulties.  One of the club officials ran off after the other ambo to get him to come back with the oxyviva.  While this was happening the other ambo had to cut Dino's jersey, knicks and undershirt (but we salvaged his Polar HRM !) to get to his chest to check for bubbles.  None evident, but Dino will need a new jersey and knicks (again!).  I think aboc will give him a new jersey as a get well present. He got back, and they put an O2 mask on and more morphine to stabilise Dino's pain.  Then we popped him on a sled, and then the ambos organised their stretcher. We called Ann again and told her Dino was going to the Austin (by co-incidence, Dino used to work there!), then the ambos took him away.

Discussing the crash with a few other people who saw it, it seems that Dino landed ribs-first on the top tube or stem of the other bike, basically spearing himself.  It was the most rotten, awful luck for this to happen.  There was just nothing we could have done.  Many crashes can be avoided and learned from, but this was a real 'struck by lightening' incident.

The rest of the night was pretty subdued, I raced as the only aboc rider there, doing a slingshot for a young lad in the scratch race but unable to hold the wheel of the motorbike in the motorpace in the last lap.  Embarrasing!  The program was shortened as Dino's crash blocked the track for about 45 minutes, so no points races for the night. Dino sent me an SMS message at about 1am with an update, he has, at this time, two broken ribs and a punctured lung.  Not much fun at all, I've had broken ribs before and they're a uniquely painful experience.

I'll keep everyone informed as to Dino's progress as soon as I know any more.


One fixed wheel!

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My new toy - a unicycle!


nimbus ii unicycleIn the constant pursuit of new things to learn and fun to be had on wheel(s), I invested some of my wage from Cycle Science in a unicycle.  It just arrived today.  One of the lads here, Alex, is quite a wizz on one, and I hope to be able to have him and myself rolling around the Blackburn velodrone over summer between races for a bit of a laugh.

Now I just have to learn to ride the thing - the 1st aid kit is full of Mefix, what could go wrong?!

Details : it's a 24 inch 'Nimbus 2', which I'm told is a good size to learn on and my lardy arse won't be too heavy for it.


Track cranks - not 1900s anymore?

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From the 'old news but I just found out about it' file', SRAM/Truvativ's new Track cranks...

For some time I've been unimpressed by the stock Bontrager branded Truvativ cranks supplied on my Trek T1 track bike - they're not track cranks, they're short (165mm) road cranks.  This is probably because the T1, as shipped, isn't really a track bike - it's a track frame but comes with road bits for singlespeed road use.  Versatile, but that's not what I got it for.  They do, at least, have outboard bearings which helps stiffen up the bottom bracket area.

I've been looking for a decent set of track cranks for a while, Sugino and Shimano are still using old-school bottom brackets with square tapers.  No thanks.  My roadies have gone way past that, why hasn't track?  Luddites ... anyway ...

Nath suggested I check out the SRAM/Truvativ 'Omnium' cranks.  Seen at Interbike in '06 it would seem, as is shown here on bikehugger's blog and also seen at Monza's trade show last month (where was my invite Pete?!)  Nice ... So I'm trying to track down a set in Oz.  Rumour has it they're here already in Oz, but our wholesaler (Monza) says 'September'. Nothing on SRAM's website at the moment so I can't tease anyone with any more photos or details, but they sure do look the part.

UPDATE: These will ship from Monza on Sept 1st, and RRP is ~$400 without the GXP bottom bracket. There will be some Uber-flash ceramic bearing variant of the GXP BB for these, but I'll stick with steel bearings I think.




Don't test us, we're footy players

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Footballers don't use EPO, apparently it's too dangerous to test for it?

In today's Age, Leigh Matthews states, when talking about EPO use in AFL football :


"Blood testing is invasive. It's very different. The one thing you know is there's no health risk in taking urine. Blood requires putting a needle in your vein and the AFL didn't like us doing that with the IV hydration. It's a health risk," he said.


Uhuh .... We'll just bury our heads in the sand, Leigh.  Thankyou.





Recovery days rock!

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A hard weekend on legs and lungs, today - rest!

I had a pretty good weekend on the bike - the weather did the right things (mostly!) and I rode with good company and had a go at a few things new. 

After a bit of a bummer night at DISC on Thursday where I just couldn't get my legs going - spent 18 laps chasing the points race, for example (but at least I kept chasing, got a decent high intensity training session out of the night ...) and then Nandos in Ivanhoe being out of chicken(WTF?!) and having to resort to Red Rooter, I was due a positive bike experience.

On Friday Mark G from Trek brought in a new Trek Madone 5.5 (performance - read 'the old pilot') for us to look at at the LBS.  It was much prettier in the flesh than it looks on the 'net.  We poked and proded at it but I didn't get to keep it for the weekend - Maybe Mark knew I had a few hundred k planned? Mark assured me that we'll get it as a loaner for a decent test and review.  Stay tuned ...

Saturday morning, Bev & I rode in to meet Dino (late!) and then we did a tootle down the Yarra Boule, I stopped off at the crit loop for a few hillsprints and downhill sprints, then we rolled on to Port Melb for muffins and hot chocolate.  By the time we got to Port Melb a fair breeze had sprung up.  Bev and Dino rode with me to Fitzroy St before they turned back, and then I did a hard ride to Mordialloc - tailwind assisted. It was late enough in the morning that all the serious cyclists had finished for the day, so I spent the ride to Mordi chasing rabbits and trying to stay above 280 watts on the flats.  A bit of ego-flogging, no-one managed to hold my wheel for more than a k or two (even on the hills!) so I felt strong.  I caught one bloke who was in boardshorts with v.hairy legs in Mentone, but I couldn't shake him all the way to Mordi!  Including a kick to 800watts for a bit at the Parkdale yacht club and 50km/h on the last kilometer or so.  A good wheelsucker.  I eased off at the last set of pedestrian lights and he went past. 

After that flogfest, I noodled to Edithvale at around 180 watts, before turning into the headwind to ride home back up Springvale Rd.  120km for the day, that'll do.

Sunday was a race - of sorts - the Blackburn/Hawthorn ITTs had been a bit down on numbers last time, so I figured I'd donate $10 to the winner and have a bit of an E3 session.  No-one took me up on an offer of the back seat of the tandem so I had no excuse and had to ride it on my own.  Lots of bling at the ITT this time, Trek TTX's, a lot of aerobars and fancy wheelsets, and a decent turnout - even Barry 'The Wizard' Woods came along (a sprinter at an ITT?! There's two of us stupid enough to be here?!).  It was good to see Jono Lovelock back from his European jaunt, and Jamie Goddard, Steve "The Master" Martin and Tom Leaper turning out, as well as a few fresh faces and a healthy size field.  It was also nice to meet up with Wendy and Lisa, who I hope will have a go next time.  TT's are only as hard as you make them, remember?!

I pushed as hard as I could, but this fat lazy sprinter, even at 450 watts up the hills, was overtaken by his 30 second chaser after about 2km.  I came in at about 20 minutes for the course, ok I guess, it's not my baby .... I'm no climber nor am I a tempo rider, and the Boule has nary a flat centimeter.  HR peaked at about 175bpm (HRmax is 188) so I was working pretty hard - around 93% of HRmax for the last 5 minutes. 

Thanks to Nicko, Sue Dundas, Alan Barnes et at for running the 'race' (cruel ... cruel people!).

Then it was a tootle to Rich's place to drag him to DISC, but it turns out he'd been out all night on the grog and wasn't home when I got to his place.  Ok ... off to DISC - stop off en-route for a chocolate big-M and a couple of Wagon wheels.  Yum!

At DISC I met up with Nath & Dino and the rest of the old farts, it was good to see Liz Randall doing some fast laps and Lawrence Maskill turned a pedal a few times too.  Big Stu Vaughan got me by a cm in the warmup sprint, I thought I had enough gap, but not -quite- enough!  Nath & I (and Dino after one or two) did some standing 100's before I rode the DISC motorbike for the rest of the training group doing fast leadouts.  Nath & I managed to squeeze in a couple of flying 200's between my leadout sessions, and Dino looked flash with his new wheels. Nath's getting strong, he got over me on both flying 200's.  The summer sprint series is going to be interesting indeed.  Riding the motorbike is bloody cold too!  I had a jacket, but no leg warmers, so my legs were frozen stiff as I span around the velodrone on the motorbike.

After that, it was time for a 50 lap 'take a lap' grand prix.  I set myself a target of taking 5 laps, and I got 'em, a couple on my own and two with Mr Green from Albury and one with Nath.  That got rid of any coldness ... 3 hours at DISC and an ITT for the day, that'll do.  I groveled, and Nath gave me a lift home in the Rayvan. No way would I have been able to ride home, *smashed* legs. Thanks as always to John Lewis for running the session. It was good to catch up with Paul Parker (Mr Cycle Finess) and to watch his charge as she trains for the masters games.  Strong ...

Today, recovery ... 30 mins of tootling ... -easy-


Tomorrow, more strengh work and E3's ... Summer track season approaches and I have a date with Alan Barnes and Alan Doran that I want to keep ... I'm not going to beat them much, but I will keep them honest (and will try and stay ahead of Dino, who's gunning for me too ... ), summer's going to be a lot of fun.



Multiple licences - the insanity ...

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There's at least three organisations running road races in Australia, all with different licences and competing for riders, roads etc ... it's beyond crazy, it's stupid.

A couple of days ago Nick Bird posted a note about the Hawthorn/Blackburn ITT at Kew on the Bicycle Victoria forums.  This prompted a number of healthy questions, and a subtle bomb from an ATTA (Australian time trial association) member, I suspect. 

So what's the problem?  If you're a racing cyclist in Australia (let's leave out the triathletes, MTB'ers etc for the moment, just roadies for the sake of this polemic, and yes, MTBA is a special case, and a good one ...) there's now three different organisations vying for your membership.  Each one has infrastructure to a varying degree, each runs races.  Healthy competition?  No.  Why?  Read on ...

I need to establish some basis for what I think is valuable in context before I go on. 

First and foremost, racing cycling does not exist in a vacuum.  We race on public roads, closed velodromes, car race circuits, special purpose built tracks (eg Casey Fields) and so on.  Each of these types of venue has unique requirements, but of all of them, roads are probably the most difficult to organise access to, once the venues are built, that is.  It's important for a racing cycling peak body to invest in racing venues.  It's also important to invest in other infrastructure to support racing.  This includes training of officials, so we get fair and consistant rules and their enforcement, training of coaches to provide a development path for riders who wish to improve, junior development, age group racing support, managing insurance requirements for races, officials, racing organisers and coaches, managing licencing and grading and so on.

Doing all of that is a big job.  It's fair to say that Cycling Australia is far from perfect, and it's rare to find someone that hasn't butted heads or been frustrated by CA at some time, but the organisation exists, is mostly democratically run and it provides a lot of infrastructure support.  Of course, this means it costs money.  In the overall scheme of things, not a terrible lot and CA seems to me to be reasonably cost-effective in terms of what it provides compared to what it costs.

I think the service CA provides is very important and I do not complain about my membership fees to race.  I know that the money I pay is being used to support not just my racing, but racing across many disciplines.  This is, I think, important to remember.

Along comes the ATTA.

What does the ATTA do?  They run time trials.  That's all they do.  No development, no coaching, no training for officials, no infrastructure. Happy to use CA's infrastructure though, but not contributing to it.  They're cheap to join - I think it's $20 to join, so for most of us, that's 10% of a CA licence.  The ITTs they run are cheap to enter, $7 at this time, I believe. In WA, according to the ATTA website, they are affiliated with CA, but each state body appears to be intependant.  What is the state of play in Victoria?

To be fair to the ATTA, in Victoria they do appear have a significant amount of membership overlap, but that just adds to the crazyness of the situation.  This means that a racing cyclist who wants to do regular ITTs has to join yet another organisation (and one that provides very little to the racing community save to run these races).  Yet another licence.  Woe betide the rider over 35 who has three licences now, thanks to the ATTA, the Vets and CA all being different.  I'll leave the Vets out of the picture for the moment, that's the subject of another essay on stupid sports politics that costs us all.

The immediate problem for those of us who race is that there's two (or three, if we're over 35) bodies that we need to be licenced with if we want to do ITTs and mass start races.  It's inconvenient and it's more expensive than it should be.

The structural problem is deeper, and arguably more important. The ATTA and the Vets are essentially taking from CA while at the same time competing with CA.  CA provides the infrastructure to support racing cyclists all the way through from juniors to masters.  Vets and ATTA riders train on CA provided infrastructure (who pays for the upkeep of the velodromes you all do intervals on?), they copy from the CA rulebooks, CA clubs have organised permission to use roads and established precedents and so on.  ATTA and Vets clubs organise competing events using the same roads, so CA clubs and Vets clubs and ATTA events have to compete for the use of the roads through local councils etc. Fields get split between competing bodies in the same regions which means the standard of racing is compromised. The world won't cave in and the sky isn't falling, but this is far from ideal when it comes to seeing our sport grow and prosper.

So what would be the sane thing to do, given the three organisations?

Here's what I think :

Roll the Victorian ATTA body back into CA if it isn't already.   It should be if it isn't.  If the ATTA people want to just run ITTs they can run them through CA clubs.  Clearly there's a healthy demand for ITTs. Rather than buck CA, work with CA.  That's what I'm doing with the Trek Summer Sprint Series, and everyone will benefit from it.  It took some politicing to get past some club stalwarts who had reservations, but it can be done and everyone wins.

Roll the Vets back into CA as well.  Not likely?  Why not?  All it takes is some sanity and a recognition by the Vets clubs that CA provides infrastruture that lets the sport grow and that that is something that all racing cyclists should contribute to.  The Vets, without junior development, will become extinct. They need juniors, so there's people old enough to race against in 20 years who have a clue about bike racing.

What does CA need to do to make this happen? 

Review the licencing system and talk with the other organisations. 

The licences need a revamp, there's the mostly useless 'Ride It' licence that CA provides (and many of my non-racing and vets licenced riders have a Ride It so they can attend my training sessions).  Ride It needs to be upgradable to a racing licence as a first step.  It's dumb that you can't upgrade it. 

Revisit the masters licencing fees, and talk to the Vets clubs about some level of licence parity - MTBA and CA have a swapover licence system now, which while not ideal is at least a step in the right direction. Many riders in the current generation of the Vets are dual licenced, it's just dumb. AUDAX can do it, MTBA can do it.  Why can't the Vets?

Introduce a cheap CA ITT-only licence that's then upgradable to a full racing licence.  There's a huge opportunity to grow the sport by mining triathalons and the Beach Road wannabes and poseurs and ITTs are a great way to get people involved.  Bunch racing might not be for everyone but ITTs will get these people mixing with those who do bunch races and some crossover is bound to happen accordingly. This is a market that the ATTA has tapped into and CA needs to pay attention to this.

And finally, get the CA licences to be valid for 12 months from date of payment, not the current archaic system it has at the moment.  This is 2007, membership records are computerised. There's no excuse anymore.

And wouldn't it be nice if Bicycle Victoria had licence/membership links with CA too? One can but dream ...



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