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Entries For: July 2008


Population - the elephant in the room

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Off topic, but maybe .. maybe .. a politician's prepared to discuss it

Today's Age also has an article on population.

About time a polly had the courage to bring it up, we still have too many people, not enough water etc, but at least it's on the table now.


Doping mice turn into super athletes

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Gene doping is very real

In today's Age :

Reaping the benefits of exercise could be as simple as popping some pills, according to scientists who have found that drugs can turn mice into marathon runners - even without any training.


After four weeks and no training, the mice ran 44% longer than ordinary mice. "That's as much improvement as we get with regular exercise," said Dr Vihang Narkar (Vihang Narkar), lead author of the paper published in Cell.


But the researchers stress the results will bring no advantage to sports cheats, as blood and urine tests for the drugs have already been developed.



A great thing for the general public, but more evidence that gene doping is real and coming soon to a sport near you.

while we're at it with video ...

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2006 UCI track world cup at Dunc Gray

I don't think this made it onto TV here, but here it is, track sprinting at its best :


Trek ads

We don't get the good ads ... the Yanks got these during the tour, while we got .. Skoda?!



A weekend in the mud

While Nicko and Nath ran the DISC session on Sunday, I was up at Boonie Doon, it rained most of the weekend, which was good for the trees we planted around the gradually evolving MTB crit course I'm building (Vanders, I'm making the berm below the jump bigger!), I went for one ride before the heavens opened, from Peppin Point to the bridge, and that was luckily before it started to get really sloppy - the tyres I had on the EX8 were for hardpack, not good for very slippery wet clay.  Luckly I managed to get a foot out on the occasions that the bike decided to go whatever way it wanted to, with zero traction.  Heh ...

Looking up at Mt Sterling from the balcony at the house, I think there's some snow there, which will be good for Rich & I when we go up for a week's XC ski-ing, and I'll take some more suitable tyres.  We might do a little more snow MTB'ing for fun too.

I watched the final ITT of the Tour, and Cadel just didn't have enough left in the tank to take the race.  This year's tour lacked a lot of the excitement of last year's, the Tour has always been a soap opera of sorts, but this year it was just a bit dull.  The only really interesting stage was l'Alpe d'Huez, and even than was more because Sastre finally showed his class, not because of any really inspired riding.


Some days I love my coach

Steaky goodness

When I did my S&C Level 1 course, one of the things we were told was that chances are, if we're working with strength athletes, that they're not getting enough protein.  I was a bit surprized by this, but ok ... the coach that tells me I need to eat more steak has won my heart and mind!

Yesterday the stupormarket had lots of little bits of porterhouse and rump steak, cut thick, but small (150-200 grams) quite cheap, so I bought a few, and today, I've had steak for breakfast and lunch!  Mmmmmm.  Protein is yummy! I've just done my session in the powerhouse, and tonight will be riding in to the Mermet, coaching there, doing some cleans, then riding to a mate's place afterwards.  That steak is good fuel!  I'm almost benchpressing 100kg (97.5kg, 5, 3 and 3 reps, which is getting close).  Bench isn't a terribly useful exercise for cycling, but it's still good to see improvement, it wasn't that long ago that 70kg was hard, now it's a warmup.

Peter Cayley's not in at the Mermet tonight, so I'm taking my charges in but we'll be unsupervised.  I wanted to ask him about a nutritional challenge, when you're training for strength you need to keep your food intake up (or you catabolize all that muscle you're working hard to build up ... bad!), so the challenge is, if you're in a strength or power phase of training, how do you keep body fat under control?  Sensible eating, sure, but the balance is pretty fine - I'm not in the best shape at the moment due to a combination of too much pizza and a lot of time off the bike working and coping with life's curveballs, but I need to be building strength and power at the moment.  How to address both at the same time?  A close look at most elite track sprinters shows that they're often a bit overweight, so I suspect they're erring on the side of too much, not too little, but I want to pick a few other coaches brains to see how they approach the issue.

John Nicholson's going to run the next DISC session this Sunday as I'll be up at Bonnie Doon planting trees and hacking about on the EX8, it'll be good for my people to get some exposure to his methods, especially my sprinters. If you didn't know already, Nicko's a former world champion track sprinter (1975 & 1976).  He has, you might say, some clues about track sprinting!


Cadel can still do it

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He's not ideally placed, but is still in with a fighting chance, and the aboc dinner was great!

Firstly, I'd like like to thank everyone that came to the aboc dinner earlier this week, we had a record attendance (29 in total) to hear a fantastic talk from Stu 'V-Train' Vaughan, as he showed us his 'Cycling Journey' from 125kg couch potato to world masters pursuit champion in 4 years, by way of marathon running, cross-country ski-ing and triathalon, before Stu finally settled on bike racing as his sport.  In particular, I'd like to thank Bev who did a heap of the organising for the dinner which made my job a lot easier, and Dino for taking some photos for me.

I've had a lot of positive feedback for the dinner and Stu's talk, so thankyou V-Train for taking the time to tell us your tale.  It'll be a hard one to follow.

And to le Tour.  Wow .. CSC did what everyone expected, ah-la Lance Armstong in the past, but with a two-pronged attack in the end, with Carlos Sastre launching up l'Alp de'Huez at the very start of it, and gaining a lot of time on Cadel (and everyone else).  Cadel bogged down in a flurry of false attacks and stutters driven mainly by Valverde (being paid by CSC?) and Andy Schleck which conspired to keep the chase group's pace low (attack and recover is always slower than a tempo effort up a climb).  Sastre remarked afterwards that he knew it's faster to climb at his own pace than it is to attack and surge etc, it was unfortunate to see Evans get caught up in that, maybe he'd have been better just riding his own tempo up the climb and if he towed the rest up and they attacked him at the end, it wouldn't have mattered, he needed to limit his losses to Sastre more than he needed a stage win.  The fact that Menchov managed to get back into the bunch just by riding tempo shows that it's sometimes better to get dropped by a surge and just ride your own pace than it is to go over threshold.  Ullrich used to do that, he'd get dropped by surges, but would catch back because the surging riders would, once they settled, drop to a lower speed than Ullrich's tempo.

The final time trial on Saturday night will be a nailbiter.



Tour Lag, positive cycling in the paper

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It's now blurring into week three of le Tour.  Simon Gerrans has just won a stage in the Alps, Cadel's lost the yellow in what we can only hope was his bad day on the tour where he didn't look strong and the race is far from having a clear leader, with 6 riders within 50 seconds of Frank Schleck's tenous grip on the yellow jersey (everyone has a bad day on the tour).  Tonight's a rest night for the Tour, phew ... some sleep at last. The next two stages in the Alps will sort that out though.

A good article on bikes as transport in today's Age some exerpts from Chris Saliba's article, called

A bike often gets you there quicker

A recent report says that 52% of typical car trips in Australian cities are under five kilometres long. That's about a 20-minute ride. Broken down into energy costs, such a trip will set you back about 200 calories.


I soon learned how much fun it was whooshing along and enjoying the fresh air. I was hooked and couldn't have cared less what people thought. I now have a large basket attached to the back of my bike and can easily do all my shopping as well as commute. As far as I can see, bikes are a great positive. They save you money on petrol, burn up body fat, help the environment — and they're fun. On top of that they're very reliable and, in some situations, faster than cars.


Our DISC session last night ended with a few of us utterly trashed.  Need. New. Legs.


A very long weekend

And I did manage to get a ride or two in ... just!

Last weekend was the Blackburn Cycling Club's 'Eildon Junior Tour' and I'd drawn the duty of race announcer for Saturday and general dogs body for Sunday.  We went up to stay at Bonnie Doon on Friday after I knocked off from work at Cycle Science, and arrived there in time to grab a few moments of the Tour before hitting the hay.  I'd taken the big Fuel EX8 up to do a lap of the Hurt Hill Loop with some hope of having time and energy to do it. Saturday  we were at Thornton running the individual time trial, being stage 1, and then the finish of stage 2, the road race, for J11's through to J17's.  A long, long day, I think we started work at around 8:30am for a 10:30 start for the ITT, and finished at around 5:30pm after wrapping up the road race.   I spent most of the day yapping away over the PA system, which many here will know I'm fond of, but it's also quite tiring, and in particular, I was standing up all day. 

It was quite cold so my ushanka and down jacket came in handy!  At the end we formed a little convoy and drove back to spend the evening at Bonnie Doon again.  I was way too tired to even think about Hurt Hill, but did briefly entertain the notion of a jaunt to the scoops under the Maroondah Hwy bridge, but even that idea was put to rest.  Dino and I fired up the barby, chilli chickenwings were dealt with but my big steak was off! I had to throw it away!  The agony! After a meeting with a new rider, it was again time to sleep, before having to be up again at 6:30 on Sunday to do it all again.
Sunday and we're at Eildon, I helped out Merv at the start line getting the J17s and J15s under way, before scooting over to the finish on the Eildon dam wall to do the PA again and call the finish of the Sunday stage.  After that, we ran around like headless chooks setting up for the final criterium, only to have rain cause it to be cancelled after the J11's completed their 10 minute crit.  I don't think anyone disagreed with Brad Robins' call on the conditions, Brad did a great job through the two days as chief commissaire. Pack up and go!  I had to be at DISC before 5:30 to get the DISC session happening.

It's great to see how quickly Carnegie-Caulfield have a race report up for their juniors.  You can see it here. We (Blackburn) were stretched pretty thin for this event and I don't think we had anyone available to do race reports. That's something CCCC does extremely well, and we can all learn from how they do it.

We made it in plenty of time, and the DISC session went well and I got a few laps in, so finally got a tiny bit of riding in for the weekend.  At the end of it, I wasn't able to lock up, the sliding doors to the velodrome had been locked open with a real key (I have a magnetic keypass) so I couldn't close the velodrome, and the CSV office was similarly locked shut with a key, so I couldn't turn off the lights either!  We called the council and let them know before heading for home via a Chinese takeaway.  Dozing through the first stage of the Tour in the Pyronees ... so tired ... Cadel's next big test is tonight, Hautacam ... Go Cadel!





Making our own videos

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Youtube, powerdirector .. fast!

Here's a video I shot at the Blackburn ITT on Sunday morning. 


Riding in soup

Last night's DISC session was like riding through soup

Very cold, very heavy air.  Everyone was slow slow slow! The enduro's worked hard, but the lazy sprinters (except one!) were all way off the pace.  A productive session, but not one to post the times from.

I used the new video camera at the Blackburn ITT in the morning, and once I get my head around the editing software I have, I may be able to put some stuff here or on youtube (use their bandwidth not mine!).  I got a lot of shots of concrete and bitumen, but some ok stuff of people riding their bikes.

A couple more people have signed up to go to the dinner, we still have around 10 places left, and it's getting close!

Tour lag ... *yawn* It's only day 2 ...


Working for the man

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Twice a week at the LBS, and I love it

I'm in at Cycle Science today, and it's a cold, windy and rainy day, so it's going to be a quiet day.  Wednesdays are normally reasonably quiet compared to the chaos of the weekends and Friday evenings. Pete  (the boss) takes most of the morning off to see his dad, and leaves me here to look after things 'til lunchtime.  When it's bad cycling weather, it's very quiet. 

One of the fun things about working here is the new bits we get all the time.  A truck arrives and we get a whole pile of new bits to play with, or a rep shows up and shows us new bling bits and we waste time crapping on about the Tour, what's selling well, what's been on the shop floor for years (anyone want an older Trek 8000?  We've had that one for 4 years at least!), what do we think will sell well next summer (commuter bikes, I'm betting on) etc.  Today won't pay many bills, but it's still fun to work here, if you can call it working.  I've had one customer come in and talk about riding the new Eastlink bikepath and we had a look at some bikes that might be suitable for that, but other than that, a quiet day.

On the mend

Happy new financial year

I'm relieved, after a couple of quite painful days hobbling, today my ankle felt ok, ok enough to consider a strength session.  In the mail on Monday I received my new video camera (Sony VX2100), and then today, a tax refund cheque, a new book (Might as well win, by Johan Bruynell, famous for directing US Postal and Discovery to 7 Tour de France wins with Lance Armstrong and one with Alberto Contador) and an invite to my old school's 20 year reunion.  Along the way a very frustrating SCO UNIX install in VMware finally started to behave itself a bit.  Not a bad couple of days, despite the hobbling around and missing training at DISC on Sunday.

So when I finally got a spare 30 minutes, I put on the lifting shoes and headed out to the Power House. I've put some lights in at last, and can use it when it's dark.  I had a go at some unweighed squats, and felt ok.  Warmed up on a few sets of 20kg, 60kg and 100kg.  Felt good.  Ok, we'll try for 5 x 5 @ 142.5kg .. got 'em!  Work set tonnage was 3,562.5kg.  My form wasn't 100%, so I'll repeat the lifts at the same weight on Thursday, but I'm happy with that.  I didn't have time for any other lifts.

I didn't leave myself much time to recover from the squats before tonight's spin session, I finished in the Power House at about 5:50, and got picked up to be at Spin at 6 (thanks Bev!).  An hour later, warming up on the bike with a healthy turnout at the spin session, we had 18 of us tonight, that was good.  I quickly found that while I could clip in, clipping out was not so pleasant, twisting out of cleats with an ankle sprain .. heh .. ouch.  Enough moaning .. I managed to hit 1332 watts in the first 10 second max effort, not a PB, but ok, given the closeness of the squat session.  I might have a play with timing of that, to see if different times between strength work and bike work has a significant impact on peak wattage.  Had a bit of a chunder at the end of our lactate efforts, but more of a retch than anything chunky. No carrots anyway. They hurt, those efforts, lots of blood lactate, very high heartrate ...  We had a good session, the enduros all enjoyed, if you can call it that, their work for the night and there was enough food to keep even Tom happy.  Luckily Vanders is overseas .. he normally eats everything!  I'm sure he's a latent sprinter hiding in an enduro's body.

Everyone's gearing up to watch the Tour, there's a lot of home town expectations on Cadel Evans, who is going in as a favorite to win it. It's pretty exciting to have an Australian ranked so highly as a possible winner, whatever happens I'm sure he'll ride as well as he can and if the recent press is any indicator of the truth, he'll be graceful and decent no matter what the final result.  Many years ago now I was lucky enough to ride with Cadel for a few k's and while we didn't speak much, he was polite and a decent sort of bloke.  Camster and I were riding to watch a Bay Crit and tootling along Footscray Rd towards Williamstown, when we met up with Cadel and we rode the rest of the way together, as four of us (Cadel was riding with a friend).  Back then I was a half-decent B grade flatland roady and we (Cam & I) worked the front of our little bunch to speed Cadel to the crits as he was running late. It was kinda fun to be his domestiques for a few k. We'll be camped on the couch for the tour, cheering him on and also seeing how well the other Aussies go, Robbie again, who seems to have hit some form just in time, O'Grady of course, and even Baden Cooke is back, one to watch for as a bit of a dark horse in the sprints.  Bring it on, and go Cadel!


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