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Entries For: March 2009


The last sprints for summer

Round 6 is this coming weekend

The last round of the Bontrager Summer Sprint Series for 2008-2009 is this Sunday.  After that I have a few weeks off and then we start the spin sessions on Tuesday nights and DISC sessions on Sunday evenings in late April.  I'm pretty happy with how the summer has gone, we've had good attendances at the BSSS and great racing and I think we're looking good for it for next summer.  I had a brief chat with Mal Sawford and we may run a round at CCCC next summer to try and involve them a little bit as a step to making the series go statewide in a year or three.  My dream is to have a state (and national?) sprint series so as to foster the growth of track sprinting in Victoria and Australia.  From little things big things can grow ... We'll see how that pans out over the next couple of years I guess. 

For now the growth we had for this past summer was good, and I think we may be close to a critical mass of riders interested in racing this format, which means we may be in with a chance.  If Andy White would come along it'd be brilliant, and the V-Train has promised to come to the last round this year too...

One of the things Alex Vaughan and I discussed on the drive back from Hotham was madison racing and the possibility of a madison series next summer.  Like match sprinting, it's a niche, and one that maybe we can dig into a bit to build it up.  It's another of those branches of the sport that don't reach down from elite levels much, and maybe that's something else we can change.  The Blackburn AGM is coming up soon (although you wouldn't know it from the BBN website! There's nothing about it there, maybe we can put something on Carnegie's site ..) and we might raise it as an idea at the AGM once the new committee is in place.  It'll be up to Alex if he wants to make it happen as I'm too busy with the match sprinting but if he can put together a small organising team I reckon it could be a good thing.

Hotham was ace

We had a great time up at Hotham

The weather was perfect.  Cool overnight, around 4 or 5 degrees, days were sunny and cool, which made for perfect riding conditions.  Flinty, our Darth Vader crossover rider from the 11:53am-ers was the hard-arse of the weekend, he rode from Marouka to the summit of Mt Buffalo and back on Saturday, and PB'd Hotham from Harrietville on Sunday while the rest of us were flexing back at Dinner Plain basking in the glory of the day before.  HAF!  Shane Miller got KoM with a 1:25 climb, Karen Wiggins was QoM with a new pb by some 30 minutes.  No-one rode to Omeo, no-one hit any cows, no crashes, no hangovers and all smiles for the weekend.  We missed you, Neil! No-one cracked 100km/h.

Photos from the trip are here, thanks to Dino for taking most of the climbing shots.

I drove Dino's and Bev's cars for support for the weekend but did do some sprint work in the morning on Saturday and rode to Dinner Plain and back on Sunday, so got some use out of the bike I took up.  We also did some cross-training on Saturday evening with the sprinters who came up, bounding up the Marouka stairs to the amusement of the enduros sitting inside after their climbs.

Special thanks to Bev and Donna and Rich and Alex for your help on the weekend with logistics and cooking and cleaning up!



We're off to the big mountain tonight

The 10th aboc Climbing Camp is this weekend, Rich and I have just done the shopping for the usual aboc mother of all bollas, and his car and my kitchen are full of food for around 17 people.  It's the 10th one of these I've run, aboc's in its 6th year of coaching and I'm amazed it's been going for this long.  No time for typing, got stuff to pack and then I have to work at the LBS until 5ish before we hightail it up to Marouka for the weekend.


Big gears

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Chris Hoy rides 52x14

While trolling the 'net today I stumbled onto an interesting article on Pez news about Chris Hoy.  Interesting to see the gear choices in particular.  Chris says he's running 52x14, or 100.3 gear inches, for pretty-much all his racing.  Compare that to the gears Gary Neiwand rode at Sydney in 2000 (92") back in the Charlie Walsh days.  Looking at pictures of Hoy, he has the leg muscle to push that sort of a big gear and be able to accelerate it.  Probably not as snappy as Neiwand on 92", but his top speed is less limited by cadence, and more by sheer horsepower, and if you watch how Hoy races, he's got a very long sprint (he's been the kilo world champ after all) and he rides away from the front of keirins.  Strong ...

Roady sprinters often sprint in 53x12 (119") or bigger, but they don't have to start from slow speeds to do it, so don't have to worry about the huge amount of torque required to get such large gears up to speed, they have leadout trains and they generally have spindly legs by comparison to track sprinters.  If you put Sean Eadie next to Robbie McEwen, for example, the difference is ... significant.  One of the riders who contested the sprint at the Australian titles a year or so ago peaked at a feeble 1350 or so watts, and that was a top 3 position at the nationals out at Buninyong.

I wonder if bigger gears for track sprinters favour those of us who are a bit older, it's generally accepted that as we get older our peak power drops due to less nerve innervation into muscles, but strength doesn't drop so much, perhaps this means that the older we are the more we gain from using bigger gears, thus relying on torque moreso than high-rpm power?  My experience recently suggests that I'm faster on bigger gears, my F200 on 98" was significantly faster than when I rode it on 91.8".  Then again, some riders are great at spinning like the clappers and they're well into their 40's.  The 'ideal range' for RPM vs power seems to be around 120-130 rpm for most of the riders I've tested on the Powertap.  Once you get above that power drops off reasonably quickly.  Picking the gear that lets you use your peak power is going to help.


Good cycling press

Today's Age has a good article on cycling for transport

It's about time?  Maybe ... Or maybe they're just seeing what's happening? Anyway ... In today's Age


Roads Minister Tim Pallas yesterday said that the Government's new cycling plan was about cycling's emergence as a "mainstream" activity.

"We are mainstreaming cycling as a legitimate transport mode," Pallas said at the launch of the cycling plan, in a beautiful little corner of Northcote, next to the Merri Creek — prime cycling territory.

In suburbs such as Northcote, Brunswick and Fitzroy, up to 13 per cent of adults now ride to work.

That's not bad.

The point is made that in the 'burbs it's not as good, maybe distances are greater, or it's more 'conservative' in the 'burbs, everyone's bought in to the car as a status symbol and can't even consider riding for transport?

But in outer Melbourne, cycling remains distinctly marginal: in the city of Brimbank, which covers suburbs such as Sunshine, 0.2 per cent of journeys to work in the CBD are made by bike. In Glen Eira, covering Caulfield, it is 1.7 per cent.

 Brumby also said :

"(Cycling) is good for your personal health. It will get your blood pressure down, it will get your cholesterol down. It also takes pressure off the public transport system and our road system,"


"Cycling is now an essential part of the transport plan," the Premier said. "That is a big shift from where we were a decade ago, where really what funds were available to cycling were just an add-on."


 All this is good.  A big increase in spending, but of course, how it's spend is key.  More bikepaths?  They're good for beginners, but if you're using bicycles for transport, we have a network of paths in place, that go everywhere.  They're our roads and the best thing we can do, I think,  is to educate drivers and riders (potential and actual) in effective use and sharing of our roads.  Not all that expensive to do - start with adding a few questions in licence tests and the occasional TV add explaining the rights of cyclists on the road to drivers who often are ignorant of the rules and requirements for safe on-road riding.

That's not what's going to happen.  They're going to build more paths.  BV are thrilled, but BV's real name should be 'Bike Paths Victoria".  Making more paths just reinforces to drivers that bikes don't belong on the road and doesn't really help.  Bike paths are dangerous for commuters, arguably moreso than roads, especially at intersections with roads, and onroad bike lanes are a disaster.

So we have a step forward in recognition (people are riding! Good!) but the same old BV 'build more paths' bull that now will get more funding and legitimacy.  It's not all bad, tucked away at the end of the article is a list of things to do (emphais of the good by me):

  • Significantly improving the on and off-road cycling network within 10 kilometres of the CBD.
  • Completing cycling networks in the six so-called "central activities districts" — Footscray, Broadmeadows, Box Hill, Ringwood, Dandenong and Frankston.
  • Completing cycling links in regional centres.
  • Developing bicycle facilities as part of road and rail transport projects.
  • Safe cycling programs in schools.
  • Campaigns to encourage cycling.
  • A review of cycling accidents, and the creation of counter-measures.
  • Launching a "look out for cyclists" safety campaign.
  • Establishing a public bike hire system for Melbourne.
  • Installing 33 bike cages at train stations by the end of 2009.

The last few of these are good.  Very good.  I hope they don't get swallowed up in 'bike path mania'.

Goals for next summer

What to aim for?

I got what I wanted out of summer 2008-2009 on the bike.  I got my flying 200 down below my initial goal (13.5 outdoors) way back in November (round 2 of the sprint series), revised the goal to a 13.2 outdoors, and surprised myself with a 12.916 at DISC on the weekend, which tops the 13.2 outdoors.  So, mission accomplished with interest.

What to do for next summer?  I have a few years left as a MMAS2 rider, so I think the Vic masters sprints are something I'd like to at least make the semi finals of.  To have done that this year I'd have needed to have ridden a 12.5 to get into the top 8.  Possible?  Can I find half a second in a year?  That would also have me riding in the A grade group at the sprint series.  I don't think that's too far out, or too easy.  So for 2009-2010 my main goal is a sub 13s flying 200 outdoors and a 12.5s flying 200 indoors.  I'd also like to squat 5 x 5 at 180kg and get my cleans up to 100kg.

I'd like to get my standing starts quicker so I can be a better asset for the Blackburn masters team sprint as well.  I have no interest in kilos or 750m ITTs for now.  As much as I admire the kilo champions, it's an event that sucks to do.  It's too long to be a sprint (1 minute+ is too much for anaerobic systems) and too short and fast to be an enduro race. It takes a special breed of psycopath to ride the kilo well and I'm not one of them.

I'd also like to keep the aboc website at the top of the google search results for cycle coaching in Australia, so will need to keep on writing articles and hopefully entertaining you all with my writing.  Suggestions for articles and content are much appreciated, please send them on through.  Along the way there's plans to write a book on sprint training for cyclists (yes, I'll be picking the brains of the best around here to do it) and also a guide to bike fit that dispels some of the myths (like KOPS, Lemond methods etc) that will be the product of the experience I've gained fitting hundreds of people at the LBS over the last few years. I'm going to improve the facilities in the PowerHaus (better lighting, more space etc) too.

What else?  Continue to work with the Foxy Ox and to build up aboc as a coaching resource, run more camps up at Hotham, break even on our winter DISC sessions, find a few seconds in Em's legs so she can shine at the Aussies next March and keep on having fun coaching and racing.  To keep on riding with friends as much as I can squeeze in and get my kayak roll working again.  Look at maybe doing a level 2 AS&C or Cycle coaching course if time and budget permit.

Of course, this season isn't over.  Round 6 is in two weeks.  Bring it on!



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Not exactly a journal of scientific repute ... but all the same

In the April 2009 edition of "Ralph" magazine.  Yeah ... I know ... it's not exactly the journal of sports science, but if you're the type to buy such things, towards the back there's an article on riding bikes, which I have contributed to.  Fame at last ... Sort of.  It's only a page and it's not really very detailed, but there you go.


Got to be happy with that

But the kilo? Evil! Never again ....

Yesterday's Vic masters.  Got up around 7, did a warmup set of squats in the 'haus, then Pat picked me up and we scooted in to DISC.  First event is the sprint, and of course that starts with a flying 200.  We're (MMAS2) the 6th lot to go.  There's some fast lads here.   Ok.  My turn, I've got the disk wheel on the back, 98.4" inches of gear (51x14).  That's the biggest I've ever used for a F200, but it's a bit of an experiment.  The air is hot already.  My line is good and smooth, I hit the tape at flat chat and hold the hammer down.  Felt pretty good.  Look up at the clock.  12.916.  W00t!  New PB by lots!  First time sub 13s.  My revised season goal is a 13.2 at Blackburn, I didn't expect to go sub 13 at all anywhere this season, so I'll take that as a major goal achieved.  It's not fast enough to qualify though (the quick boys are doing high 11's) but I'm very happy with that.  I commentate for the match sprints. 

Then it's time trial time.  We're doing a kilo (thought it was supposed to be a 750 for MMAS2?).  Awful.  absolutely awful.  I think I rode a 90 second kilo or something.  Spent the next 15 minutes coughing.  Never again.  The V-Train (Stuart Vaughan) rides his 750m ITT (MMAS4) in a time that would have won the club team sprint last week!  And he says he's not a sprinter ... heh ... Jessica Laws sets a worlds best time for her masters age group for the 500m ITT and has to wait for the ASADA people to come, and she has to be chaperoned until they arrive.  The costs of world records!  She was pretty chuffed.  Her smile was lighting up the place.

Finally the keirin, I'm not entered, not silly enough to think I'm fast enough to mix it with Carl Cubitt and Andrew Shannon just yet.  Maybe next year ... I commentate for it as well, earning a free drink from the officials esky .. helped calm down my ravaged throat after the kilo-coughing episode.

Along the way a number of people rode really well.  Craig Towers set a few PB's, Martin Lama made it through to the finals in the sprint at his first attempt, Pat got three bronze medals after some brilliant match sprinting and a great ride in the keirin, Mick Thomas got a silver in the keirin, Cam Woolcock rode a solid Kilo, John Lewis continues to come back into form and as the only MMAS8 rider there he was far from disgraced when mixing it with the MMAS7 men.  Leah Patterson got a couple of medals too and would have got different colours if she'd carried on to contest a sprint finish after a nasty hook during a sprint round.  Lessons learned there!

I handed out a lot of promo cards for the sprint series, spruiking it as best I can to the sprinters.

All up a pretty good day.  The enduro stuff is on today, so I'm going kayaking!


Em, the rocket!

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Emily's over in Adelaide and she's flying!

While we (Pat, John & I) were training this morning at Blackburn, I kept looking at my phone .. Emily's over in Adelaide at the Nationals and today she has sprint qualifying (flying 200's) and later the 500m time trial.  Due to a misunderstanding of timing (we thought she was riding around 9am, but it was 11:30 SA time, 12:00 here) I was watching the phone for no reason, but the news came flooding in around 12.  Em set a new PB in the flying 200, with a 14.145s (50.901km/h) ride, she's qualified the fastest of the Victorian girls and has qualified 6th fastest overall in JW15.  This on an unfamiliar velodrome at the end of a long long season, is amazing in itself.  Consider also that she's just (yesterday) turned 13, and is one of the youngest of the JW15 girls and the F200 is not her favorite event.  Tonight she rides her pet race, the 500m time trial.  She won this by quite a margin at the Vics a month ago beating the older Victorian girls, and we've worked a lot on her strength and standing starts since then.  I'll be waiting for the SMS's to roll in tonight.  Go Em, you're flying!


Racing this weekend

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A good week so far training ...

A bit of routine is creeping back into my regime.  I got my 'regular' Monday night swim done after a month or so out of the pool and was happy with how that went, then on Tuesday Pat, Big Johnny Lewis and I did a couple of hours in at DISC around midday sprinting, Powerhaus on Tues evening with Merv, where I didn't lift all that heavy after a week or so out of it, only did 5 x 5 @ 150kg squats and some cleans, but that felt good, and today the weather is perfect for my Wednesday tootle.

This Saturday is the Vic masters champs. There's some fast boys racing my class (MMAS2), but I'll give it my best shot and see what happens. I haven't done much match sprinting at DISC, it's different to Blackburn, the bank is a lot less forgiving.

Lifted from CSV this is the entry list so far for MMAS2 sprint, entries closed on Monday, but they do take late ones :

Blackburn Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
Carnegie Caulfield CC MMAS2
St Kilda Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
LAMA, Martin
Blackburn Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
Carnegie Caulfield CC MMAS2
St Kilda Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
Carnegie Caulfield CC MMAS2
Ballarat/Sebastopol C C MMAS2


and for the 750m ITT :


Blackburn Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
St Kilda Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
LAMA, Martin
Blackburn Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
Carnegie Caulfield CC MMAS2
St Kilda Cycling Club Inc MMAS2
Carnegie Caulfield CC MMAS2
Ballarat/Sebastopol C C MMAS2
Hawthorn Citizens Youth Club MMAS2




In the end we didn't do too badly

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At the club teams championships at DISC that is

The official results :


Carnegie Caulfield No 1 51.91 1st

Brunswick No 1 52.06 2nd

Brunswick No 2 53.92 3rd

Carnegie Caulfield No 2 54.80 4th

Blackburn No 1 56.61 5th

Brunswick No 4 56.82 6th

Brunswick No 5 57.09 7th

Brunswick No 3 57.72 8th

Brunswick No 6 58.47 9th

Preston 59.31 10th

Blackburn No 3 60.04 11th

Blackburn No 2 60.11 12th


So we did ok, 5th by not much, given the bad start I got next year we may be in with a chance for some medals, if we can find another 3 seconds somewhere anyway. We were at least the fastest of the Blackburn teams!

One thing's for sure, Brunswick have a very strong track presence in masters racing.



The season is almost over ...

It's been a long week.  I've had a headcold for days, on Friday I got stung by a European wasp, Saturday was the club teams championships at DISC, some irony, some of it was delayed by rain just after Rhys was telling us all over the PA about how good it is to have an indoor velodrome!  I was (eventually) teamed up with Dino and Martin Lama as the Blackburn 1 team for the team sprint.  After a false start from Brunswick 1, we got off to a shocker because I got stuck in the gate and must have dropped half a second at the start.  We ended up riding a 56.something 750m, Brunswick 1 rode a 52.something.  The stuck in the gate thing was entirely my fault, I tried to predict the start and must have gone a fraction early and maybe twisted a little?  Anyway ... my fault.  I don't think we would have made the final even if we'd ridden a perfect race, but it was frustrating all the same.

I've not been near the 'haus since yesterday morning's warmup sets before the teams championships, and I still haven't decided if I'll ride the sprint at the Vic Masters next weekend.  I know I'm not fast enough, but it might be worth it to do a flying 200 and see how I'm going.  The main problem is fatigue.  I was chatting with Mick Thomas while we watched the rain leak on the boards at DISC on Saturday and we're all hanging out for the end of the season.  We started racing in October and we're all burnt out.

In the Good News stakes, Emily Apolito and Bridgette Thomas won the JW15 500m team sprint this morning at the junior version of the club teams championships. Em's off to Adelaide with her family next week to ride in the Aussie titles, so Dino will miss the Vic Masters, but if he feels anything like me, that's more a relief than anything! We're all desperate for the end of season and a break from training and racing all the time.

I know what I'll be doing over most of April (break-month) - Kayaking with Lucie and whoever else wants to come along!  We'll be starting spin sessions again in April and also the DISC Sunday evening sessions.  The motorbike at DISC is now an issue, due to some problems with it recently the system's been changed and it's now $1,000 for the first 1,000km.  So our use, which is over about 25 weeks, for about 45 minutes to an hour a week (around 30km at most per session) means I'll have to find $1,000 to use the bike this winter for sprinters leadouts and paced enduro sessions.  Hrm.

I've just about finished the videos from round 5 of the BSSS, I'll have them all done today (just got 2 more finals to do!)


Feeling shakey

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Yesterday I was supposed to train with the lads at 8am at Blackburn, we got there and I tried to warm up, but no go, my legs felt like two bags of dry cement.  So I ran the session and did the motorbike work and then went home.  In the afternoon, the plan was to lift heavy if I felt up to it (you have to be motivated to lift heavy!).  Nope.  Hot, sweaty and feeling very flat.  Lucie & I went down to Baxter to have dinner with my Dad, and I kept feeling flat and lethargic.

Today, I think I know why.  Got a virus!  Or at least, a headcold or something.  Pete at the LBS had it last week and that may be where I picked it up.  Hopefully it'll clear before this weekend, when we have the club teams championships in at DISC.  We don't have the teams yet (Nicko!  Who's in the bloody team?!).  So a soft week this week, I get to put off lifting the 165kg for a few days yet! I'm going to see how I feel this arvo for our (Bev & I and whoever else shows up) regular Wednesday night tootle.  I think an hour of E1 noodling will be ok.

Hotham's coming up soon, payments are trickling in and we have a healthy crowd coming this time. It's good!


Racing is training

In many different ways

I used Saturday's Blackburn track racing as a training session, using the scratch race as a warmup, the handicap as a 500m effort and the mystery distance points race(!) as a single sprint effort.  I ended up winning the first sprint in the mystery distance race by accident.  I took off at the whistle and had half a lap on the field (everyone was quite content to let me go), then Doug blew the whistle for a mystery sprint, and I was still half a lap up!  I rolled over the line and took the three points.  Heh!  Then John Lewis and I rolled turns to finish the race together, lapped off the back, but finishing all the same.  Not a bad bit of fun for some training. It was great to have Steve Martin back racing again in A grade, he's always a very entertaining and exciting racer to watch.

Yesterday Lucie & I took the kayaks out to Aura Vale Lake again, she to practice some basic paddle strokes and I wanted to work on my roll. I used to play canoe polo many, many years ago and could roll reasonably well, but not having done it for almost 20 years it's taking time to get back into it being automatic, or for that matter, even reliable.  I might see if I can hook up with the lads at Canoes Plus at one of their pool sessions and get them to tell me what I'm doing wrong and fix it.

After our paddle around the lake, the Apolitos came over to the 'haus to do some training, as Em's getting close to the Aussies, we're focusing in the 'haus on power and on the bike with power and short distance endurance (35s efforts, jumps etc).  So it was squats to warm up, then hang-cleans and clean pulls.  Everyone set PB's except me, but I was backing off, I lift heavy on Tuesdays, and am hoping I feel up to heavy lifting tomorrow, at the moment, I'm a bit shaky, but 24 hours from now it should come good.

Tonight we have club teams training and we'll also find out the teams, I'm angling for lead rider in the masters team sprint, so I'll get to do one whole lap of DISC at the races.  One lap! Woo hoo!



Rain, wonderful rain!

A couple of days of rain, so we missed a training session? Rain is GOOD!

The last two days have been rainy.  We pulled the pin on Tuesday and today's (Thursday) sessions at the Blackburn track.  No matter, the rain is worth so much more than a few sprint efforts.  It's wonderful to hear rain on the roof again after two months of nothing but dry, hot days and frustrating cooler, but dry days, and fires ...

I'm editing video today for the sprint series.  I hope I'll have most of round 5's video online by the time I have to go out to Lilydale tonight to fix more computer stuff.  Got to pay the bills somehow!  There'll be an ergo session and some light weights work thrown in today somewhere too.  It's a backoff day for weights, so I'll just be squatting light (140kg or so) but will do some cadence efforts on the ergo, it's time to work on more leg speed.



Slow progression in the gym, and video of a rare win!

Yesterday in the PowerHaus I managed to knock over 5 sets of 5 squats at 162.5kg, for a total squat tonnage of 4,062.5kg.  No wonder I'm a bit slow today.  It's time to go up to 165kg now .. Urgh.

Here's some rare video of my having a win at the sprint series. It was very close, but I got it.



Round 5 rapid report

A few wins at last!

A dog-slow F200, 13.85s confirmed my suspicions, I was busted from Saturday's efforts.  Even my warmup squats in the Powerhaus in the morning had felt lethargic.  C'est la Vie.

I'm up first against Rob Tidey, and to cut a long story short, I won it by a very very tight margin.  Wow ... Unexpected. Rob went on to win the grade.

Second race is against Chris Dann, who is on a bender at the moment and he wins it. He went through the rounds undefeated but lost in the final to Rob.

Third is against Julian Vince, I shut the door hard on him and take another win.

Two wins! I'm in the finals!  Three of us in B grade tied on 12 points and my bad F200 time means I'm racing Peter Vlahos for 3rd overall.  Over 3 laps .. against a pursuiter who beat me in the F200.  Heh ... Anyway, he jumps 2 laps out and wins, I never caught him.  Still, very happy, a good day's racing. We raised $683 for the Red Cross and everyone left with a smile after some fantastic racing.

Will write a proper write-up tomorrow.  Bed time.  Broken tonight, everything hurts!

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