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Entries For: September 2009


4 days 'til Round 1

And the sprint squad is strong!

Last night many in the aboc Sprint Squad set PB's in the PowerHaus, I did a couple of singles at 200kg which Emily told me were legal lifts (below parallel squats), the others set PB's.  It was low volume, high intensity in the 'Haus and the rest of the week is a taper so we should arrive at round 1 breathing fire.  The forecast is good ... Bring. It. On!

Roadies beware, cheap carbon wheels

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Not because they're dangerous ....

Those of you who are about to start summer criterium racing need to be aware, if you're not already, that many bling wheels are now effectively banned for mass start road racing.  This is the enforcing of a rule made in or about 2003 stating that non standard wheels must be tested with a UCI burst test and shown to be safe.  The test is flawed, because Mavic's infamous r-sys wheels pass it and they're hand grenades, but nevertheless, it's a test that all carbon rim wheels must pass.

Many have not been tested.

If you're shopping for new wheels at the moment, be aware that quite a few people are flogging their fancy wheels cheap in an attempt to get some money for them before everyone twigs that they're not legal for road racing, which is probably why you'd want them.  At Glenvale, Mal Sawford has the unenviable task of random wheel checks and if anyone places or wins on a non-legal wheel they don't get the result.  Any insurance claims are void if there's an illegal wheel involved etc ... Messy.

The list of approved wheels is here.

I'm a little concerned that Carnegie-Caulfield have put a few classified adverts up for wheels on their website that look like they're not on the list of legal wheels without a note saying if they're legal or not for racing.  I think CCCC have an obligation to add that information, especially as a road racing club where the people reading the adverts may be newbie roadies who don't necessarily know about the rule.  I reckon it's something a responsible club should make a note of on products they're involved in advertising.  Anyway, it's their website and they can do what they want with it, of course!

End of spin!

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It's with some sadness that we wound up Spin for 2009

Thankyou to everyone that was a part of our Spin Sessions this last winter.  In particular I need to thank Bev Vennix for all her help with transport and cleaning up, Karen and Merv for help with setting everything up and also cleaning and Lucie for helping me to make the UberBolla, which kept getting bigger and hotter as we got more and more people coming.

Nathan Larkin did a great job running at first the warmup and as he got more comfortable, more of the sessions themselves which meant I could concentrate on the second sprint group and make sure Em, Jamie and Merv got their dose of hurt.

Along the way Jamie Dann, Em, Dino and Merv also helped dish out the lollies and refill bidons, stir the bolla and generally help out with the roll and collecting the cash. The new DUCCs were noisy and enthusiastic, but guys, get fluid trainers for next winter, those wind trainers are LOUD!  The group's most satisfying thing, to me at least, is having Tom Leaper training with us, riding next to novices and people who will never race a bike.  That says that we have a program that's suited to a very wide range of abilities and desires and a great bunch of people.

I count this winter's Spin as an overwhelming success.  Our record attendance was 31 riders and if we got less than 25 we were surprised.  We were part of some riding successes, many of you who came won races, made state teams and moved up grades and our program contributed to your success.  Without everyone coming along the sessions would have been a flop, thank you to everyone that came along to share the suffering.

We'll be back next year, same format, same price, same place, same time.  For summer, we have our fortnightly 'Summer Spin Sessions" which will be on Thursday evenings from 7:15-8:30pm, shorter and sharper but still ending in a meal.  For dates etc see this website.

Thank you again for being part of it.




WADA changes for doping in 2010

Asthmatics, no TUE needed for Ventolin, for hayfever sufferers, pseudoephedrine is back on the list


So that's why our Spin sessions are so popular?

A study on group training and resistance to pain

From this extract titled "Rower's High"

Physical exercise is known to stimulate the release of endorphins, creating a mild sense of euphoria that has rewarding properties. Using pain tolerance (a conventional non-invasive assay for endorphin release), we show that synchronized training in a college rowing crew creates a heightened endorphin surge compared with a similar training regime carried out alone. This heightened effect from synchronized activity may explain the sense of euphoria experienced during other social activities (such as laughter, music-making and dancing) that are involved in social bonding in humans and possibly other vertebrates.


That might explain why it's much easier to train hard on an ergo (and keep coming back for more!) at our Spin sessions than on your own.

Vitamin D

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Is Vitamin D a 'sleeper nutrient'?

From this article in the New York Times :


Vitamin D once was thought to be primarily involved in bone development. But a growing body of research suggests that it’s vital in multiple different bodily functions, including allowing body cells to utilize calcium (which is essential for cell metabolism), muscle fibers to develop and grow normally, and the immune system to function properly.

“Almost every cell in the body has receptors” for Vitamin D, Anderson says. “It can up-regulate and down-regulate hundreds, maybe even thousands of genes,” Larson-Meyer says. “We’re only at the start of understanding how important it is.” But many of us, it seems, no matter how active and scrupulous we are about health, don’t get enough Vitamin D. Nowadays, “many people aren’t going outside very much,” Johnson says, and most of us assiduously apply sunscreen and take other precautions when we do.

Although few studies have looked closely at the issue of Vitamin D and athletic performance, those that have are suggestive. A series of strange but evocative studies undertaken decades ago in Russia and Germany, for instance, hint that the Eastern Bloc nations may have depended in part on sunlamps and Vitamin D to produce their preternaturally well-muscled and world-beating athletes. In one of the studies, four Russian sprinters were doused with artificial, ultraviolet light. Another group wasn’t. Both trained identically for the 100-meter dash. The control group lowered their sprint times by 1.7 percent. The radiated runners, in comparison, improved by an impressive 7.4 percent.

When researchers tested the vertical jumping ability of a small group of adolescent athletes, Larson-Meyer says, “they found that those who had the lowest levels of Vitamin D tended not to jump as high,”

A number of recent studies also have shown that, among athletes who train outside year-round, maximal oxygen intake tends to be highest in late summer, Johnson says. The athletes, in other words, are fittest in August, when ultraviolet radiation from the sun is near its zenith. They often then experience an abrupt drop in maximal oxygen intake, beginning as early as September, even thought they continue to train just as hard. This decline coincides with the autumnal lengthening of the angle of sunlight. Less ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth and, apparently, sports performance suffers.

Sunlight is one easy, if controversial, fix. “Most dermatologists will still tell you that no amount of sun exposure is safe,” Johnson says. But Larson-Meyer and other Vitamin D researchers aren’t so sure. “There’s no good, scientific evidence that five to thirty minutes of sunlight a few times a week is harmful,” she says. Or try supplements. “1,000 IU a day and much more for people who are deficient” is probably close to ideal, Larson-Meyer says. This, by the way, is about double the current recommended daily allowance. Most experts anticipate that this allowance will be revised upward soon. Consult with your doctor before beginning supplements. Overdoses of Vitamin D are rare, but can occur. Finally, stay tuned. “In the next few years, we’re going to be learning much more” about the role of vitamin D in bodily function and sports performance, Larson-Meyer says.
The most interesting study referenced in that article above

states :


PURPOSE: Activated vitamin D (calcitriol) is a pluripotent pleiotropic secosteroid hormone. As a steroid hormone, which regulates more than 1000 vitamin D-responsive human genes, calcitriol may influence athletic performance. Recent research indicates that intracellular calcitriol levels in numerous human tissues, including nerve and muscle tissue, are increased when inputs of its substrate, the prehormone vitamin D, are increased.

METHODS: We reviewed the world's literature for evidence that vitamin D affects physical and athletic performance.

RESULTS: Numerous studies, particularly in the German literature in the 1950s, show vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light improves athletic performance. Furthermore, a consistent literature indicates physical and athletic performance is seasonal; it peaks when 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels peak, declines as they decline, and reaches its nadir when 25(OH)D levels are at their lowest. Vitamin D also increases the size and number of Type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers. Most cross-sectional studies show that 25(OH)D levels are directly associated with musculoskeletal performance in older individuals. Most randomized controlled trials, again mostly in older individuals, show that vitamin D improves physical performance.

CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin D may improve athletic performance in vitamin D-deficient athletes. Peak athletic performance may occur when 25(OH)D levels approach those obtained by natural, full-body, summer sun exposure, which is at least 50 ng x mL(-1). Such 25(OH)D levels may also protect the athlete from several acute and chronic medical conditions.


Of course, it makes it clear that this is a "may improve" issue, and that this probably only applies to people who are Vitamin D deficient.  Exactly what that means isn't clear.  I suspect most cyclists aren't in much danger, our tan-lines suggest plenty of sunlight, but over winter when we train indoors etc? 


It's certainly interesting!


Standing Start

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A great video on Craig Maclean

Unfortunately I can't embed this one, but you can see it at Youtube :

Nicko sprinting

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Blackburn's president was a hell of a sprinter

John Nicholson : 2 times world professional sprint champion, Comm games gold medalist, Olympic silver medalist.

Old footage of him courtesy of Merv Tracy.

This is from the old Northcote velodrome sometime in the 1970's.  I don't know who he's racing against.

Sprinters up hills?

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Anna Meares in a promo video for the track world cup

She's riding UP a hill?!



Can't vs Won't

Not a quote from Star Wars' little green alien ...

I stumbled over this on one of the crossfit websites today:


When an athlete says "can't", a coach hears "won't".  To unlock your true potential you need to remove "can't" from your vocabulary.  Or at the very least, be honest with yourself and what you truly mean when you say it.  Try replacing "can't" with "I don't want to try because I might fail" and see whether your attitude matches your goals.

Anatomy of some sprints

Power data from today's practice day

Some data from the powertap for today's practice round for the SSS.

First up, my flying 200.  13.51 I think, hand timed as the electronic timer was 'teething'.  Gusty west/souwesterly wind, 98.4" gear.  Not a PB, but given the weather at the time, not too bad.

20090920 Flying 200

After that, the first sprint vs Dino Apolito. Dino got the jump on me in front of the clubrooms from behind and I didn't quite catch him. Close, but not close enough.

20090920 Carl vs Dino match sprint

Finally, my race against Craig Towers.  Craig had fallen earlier (not a crash, a mechanical as he rode to the start line!) and was a bit bruised and sore.  I jumped clear and won by quite a margin.

20090920 Carl vs Craig match sprint


Sweet home Chicago!

Some good bicycle-road stuff

The video tells the story .. pretty good stuff.



Traffic Enforcement for Bicyclist Safety from Chicago Bicycle Program on Vimeo.


About last night

Our committee meeting at Blackburn

This isn't an airing of dirty laundry! Last night we addressed (eventually!) the 300kg gorilla in the room - the Friday night DISC slot.

Nicko's initial suggestion was one that most of us were pleased with; retain Saturday's racing as-is.  Grab the Friday slot at DISC and use it for club training and once a month racing - something special, a niche that people would come to race like the SSS or Hawthorn's Sunday Roast.  Maybe do more Friday night races over winter? Most of us nodded in rigourous agreement with this.

Then Nicko had to go, family stuff, and we got bogged down a little.  To cut a long story short, almost everyone at the meeting was not going to move on Saturday's racing staying as-is.  The Saturday program at Blackburn is what makes the club special, it has broad appeal and is suitable for everyone, if Tom Leaper, Barry Woods, Stu Vaughan and Steve Martin can race on Saturday alongside the F grade novices and keep coming back then we have something very special indeed.   To steal the words of one of the people pushing to change that to Friday at DISC instead of Saturday at Blackburn, consistency IS important and the Saturday races benefit from being consistent.

So, at the end, nothing was really achieved and no firm decision was made (nothing new at  a BBN committee meeting!) except that the Saturday program will continue as planned this summer - The guys pushing for the Friday change have gone away to cook up another plan.  If they're smart (and they are and I mean no disrespect to them.  We're friends and we all want the best for the club) they'll realise the importance of Saturday's racing and NOT TAMPER WITH IT.  When I started the Summer Sprint Series we were very careful to compliment, not compete with, Saturday's racing, which is core to the identity and ideals of the club.

One of the things our racing on Saturday does really well is provide a venue for riders of just about every level to compete in a welcoming family environment.  Sure, some riders will out-grow it and will want and need to move to higher level races but that's a normal thing and I think a sign of the success of the race program and a win for the club if and when it happens - we shouldn't fight that, we should be proud of it.  We're awfully proud of Richard England, who came up through our program and now races professionally, we don't expect to see him very often but he does show up sometimes and race with us and he remembers where he came from, as does Tom and the other elite guys who race with us and have a lot of fun doing it.  That's what club cycling is all about and that's how it should be.



DISC was good!

We had a very good turnout at DISC last night

Motorpacing RussellFor our second last DISC training session for 'winter' we had a very healthy turnout - Lucie came along and took some photos which I hope to have to put up on the website in the next day or so, and we did some good quality training.

I tried out the new 5 spoke FFWD wheel but had to stop as soon as I got it onto the bank, it started wobbling - something was loose and I'm not sure what, so it didn't have much of a debut, I had to quickly swap back the Bontrager carbon front to do the warmup. 

The sprinters warmed up this time with revouts behind the motorbike (150rpm at 57km/h for me, not too bad) and then we did flying 100's.  Nath was timing but my old stopwatch is a bit flakey - He recorded me doing a 6.1s flying 100, which if it was accurate, I'd be thrilled with, but I'm pretty sure it's out by a bit.  The powertap did record 58km/h but not for the whole 7 seconds of the effort ... We'll see next weekend at the Practice Day when it's 200m, outdoors ... That'll show if there's been any significant gains made over the winter.

We did a few other drills, and Chris Ray punished all of us doing jumps in big gears.  We (sprinters) finished off with match sprints, Dino surprised himself by pushing a big gear and riding it very well indeed (maybe that gym work is having an effect Dino?!) and I matched up against Emily.  I was on 51x14 (98.4"), she's riding a 6m rollout with a 47x17 (73" or something?).  To be fair though, I put her in the lead and made the rule that I could only react to her, not initiate the sprint or I'd have way too much speed.  She did a really good job of covering all the moves I made behind her and with a lap and a half to go she blocked me up high, took a sharp line down at the end of the finishing straight when she kicked while I was still having to go up the hill, and I couldn't catch her.  Very impressive!

Afterwards at the traditional chicken & chips, we spoke of club politics.  I urge anyone reading this who is a Blackburn member to come to the re-scheduled meeting this Wednesday night - if you agree or disagree with the proposed move to DISC - come and have your say and vote.  I think this is something very important indeed for the future of the club and for accessible club-level appropriate track racing.



Tom Leaper is to blame ...

Amongst other things we spoke about on Tuesday, Tom asked "why are Tabatas only 8 reps?".  I had to tell the truth, I don't know.  Maybe quality dies off after 8 and there's no return?  That's the protocol and so that's what we did.  But.... We're always open to suggestions, so now there's a new drill, the Tomabata!  It's 10 reps of a Tabata interval (20s on/10s recovery) where a normal Tabata is 8 reps for 4 minutes in total.  Eh ghads!  5 minutes of torture!  Ok A stream'ers, when you're lying in pools of your own vomit at Spin next week, blame Tom, it was his idea!


We don't dabble in aerodynamics, but ...

Just to show that aerodynamics is a very fickle and often counter-intuitive thing ...

Roadies don't care much about aerodynamics, most of the time they're drafting.  MTB riders aren't going fast enough to care.  Time trialists and sprinters care a lot.  At aboc, we don't pretend to know much about aerodynamics, we prefer to claim that the only way to tell if something is aerodynamic is to test it and that many things that look fast aren't necessarily so.

So, here's something that took me by surprise.  Pedaling makes very little difference to drag, at least within the confines of this test (~13m/s, ~45km/h).  Here's a paper on it.  Intuitively, it seems obvious that pedalling faster would add more drag to the bike. 

Pedaling cadence showed little effect on the measured aerodynamic drag, with only a 1% variation between test conditions. Thus, any desired pedaling cadence can be used for wind-tunnel testing.

The drag measured for a rider when pedaling is not influenced in a significant way by the speed of pedaling, in the 40-100-rpm range. The drag measured while the rider is pedaling turned out to be a little smaller than the average of measurements taken with the rider's feet stationary at various positions around the pedaling circle. We do not know the reason for this difference, but it is quite small. We conclude that it is valid to take wind-tunnel drag measurements with the rider pedaling anywhere in the 40-100-rpm range.

So there you go.  40rpm, 100rpm ... no big difference in drag.  Not what I would have thought!  Aerodynamics ...

Placebos ...

Cycling, as many other sporting endeavours are, is full of snake oil and myths, a lot of stuff is placebo ...

From a thread on a coaching/training mailing list :
[Mod: The late Dr Siff noted:

Many of us who have worked in several fields including neuropsychology 
and psychoneuroimmunology have witnessed similar changes in response to 
various shamanic, psychological, NLP, placebo and touch therapeutic methods. 
In fact it is very  rare to find ANY therapeutic systems which DO NOT enjoy a 
level  of success at some time or another which is more than sufficient to 
ensure a regular clientele, whether the method is virtually  witchcraft or 
not.  Apparently a success rate of less than 40 percent is quite adequate to 
ensure that a given therapist maintains a successful practice.  By all means 
state that certain methods may work in certain situations, but don't presume 
that they do so for  scientific reasons which have never been proved.]

Blackburn - the case for our own velodrome part 1

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There's talk of moving Blackburn's track racing to DISC on Friday night, I say emphatically no, and here's why ...

Yesterday I got a call from one of the Blackburn race committee people warming me up for a discussion at the (postponed now ...) committee meeting that was supposed to happen last night.

The gist of it :

DISC may become available on Friday nights, and the person wanted to move our Saturday racing to Friday nights at DISC.

My response is a rigourous and emphatic NO.

Why not?

The first question to ask is why move to DISC?  What's the gain?  DISC is indoors so it's unaffected (mostly, it leaks when it rains and it's a furnace when its hot) by weather.  Ok.... That's a plus.  DISC is wider than Blackburn so you can, in theory run bigger fields in races and DISC is a faster track.

Ok, even if we pay those two advantages, let's look at the losses :

Blackburn's home ground - DISC is in Darebin (duh...), Blackburn's track is local to Blackburn members, DISC is not. If we move our racing the council will lose interest in us (we're not locals any more) risking losing our clubrooms and our local training venue.

DISC is not free for us to use.  It costs at present $70p/h to hire including lights - that means that no more cheap entry for the D-F grade riders etc.

DISC is a 42 degree banked track.  Great if you're riding at 50km/h+, terrible for novice and club level racing.  Really ... How many crashes happen at DISC? Lots.  How many happen at Blackburn?  Last season, I remember 2 crashes for the whole season.  Why is that?  It's because DISC is an unforgiving track.  The banks are too steep to ride slowly on and any mistakes rapidly turn into crashes.  I know many club level track riders who refuse to ride at DISC, and that's fair enough.  Blackburn's velodrome isn't a dangerous track, DISC is.

By running races at DISC Blackburn loses its identity.  We become just another Northcote or Brunswick.  Our Saturday racing at Blackburn has had a real resurgence over the last few years, why break that by moving to DISC for no gain except that 'we can'.  "We can" do a lot of things, but I don't think DISC is a good place for club level racing.



Training over summer redux

We're still thinking about summer ergo sessions ...

I had a good chat with Tom Leaper last night at Spin and was very happy and surprised  when he told me he found the sessions more useful than crits and would like to do some over summer.  This adds to the impetus to do some form of group ergo training over summer, once our regular winter Tuesday night spin sessions finish at the end of September.

Tom liked the idea of once a fortnight on Thursdays, he doesn't race at Sandown on Thursday nights so that would work for him.  Tuesdays will not be viable as many of you will be racing at Sandown with CCCC and the rest of us will be doing track work either at BBN or DISC on Tuesdays.  Thursday does present a problem for me, it's my long-standing 'boys night' with the lads, but it may be possible to do both, and just be late to the pizzafest.

So .... Thursdays once a fortnight at Blackburn from 7pm?  Maybe?  I'll need votes, so please let me know if this interests you.  Blackburn runs a novice track program on Thursdays but I think we could overlap with that with no issues, but I'll confirm at tonight's committee meeting.

Anna's got a brand new .. book!

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Anna Meares has a book out

Anna Meares book coverLong time readers of my blog will know I'm a huge fan of the Meares sisters.  Now Anna has a book out on her story and you can get it from here.  She's a great champion and a superb example of an athlete overcoming a major hurdle to go on to ride brilliantly at the Beijing Olympics.   As if just getting there isn't hard enough, Anna broke her neck in 2008 and had to deal with that injury before she could get to Beijing.  My copy is in the mail and will be available to aboc people to borrow, but buy it yourself and support one of the countries greatest cyclists.

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