A huge weekend
Last week I had a bit of a cold, which meant I stayed away from the NTID training session on Wednesday (didn't want to give anyone my bugs) but by Thursday I felt ok. By Friday, my voice was getting pretty croaky, and by Saturday I'd almost totally lost my voice. Now, I'm not a shouter like Hilton, but I do shout at my riders, and every attempt I made to shout encouragement was a feeble squeak! Not ideal for coaching at a championship ... Quite amusing for everyone there though, I'm sure!
The Metros ...
It was a hectic weekend, I had the aboc'ers to look after as well as the VIS and NTID riders. Saturday morning was pursuits and I didn't have too much work to do then, I did walk the line for a couple of riders, including aboc'er Cam Woolcock who got himself a medal, Liz Randall (also a medal, gold!) and Emy Huntsman (NTID endurance) - I made a mistake while giving Emy her pacing, a bad one that may have cost her a gold medal. I need more practice if I'm to do this again at a championship - In my defence, it's not what I'm concentrating on, but I probably shouldn't have done it for Emy. Emy, if you're reading this, again, I'm sorry.
In the afternoon it was time trial time (sprint!) - the aboc Sprint Squad was there in force, Dino, Emily, James, Chris, Cam, Yasmin. All of them rode well, we got a couple of gold medals, a silver or two and a load of PBs on a slow day (thick air and cold). The NTID and VIS girls I was also looking after (although mainly just carrying bikes, Hilton had the floor) rode solid races and as you'd expect, won or placed in everything. That sounds like a big deal, but it is what we expect. The NTID and VIS program cherry picks the best talent, if they don't win everything we're not doing our job.
Sunday ... Sunday's the biggie for me. I love match sprinting. Also coaching the 500 (Emily & Yas, don't worry, the 500 is a very high priority!) but match sprinting stuff is where there's actually something to do on race day, the TT's are all won in the weeks and months leading up to them from the point of view of a coach, match sprinting has a lot more on the spot coach involvement, at junior level in particular. For the TT, all a coach has to do is make sure the rider is at the right brain-space at the start and warmed up well. Match sprinting is another level.
Hilton was going to be busy loading vans to take over to Adelaide, so I was left on the floor to run the show for all the guys. I think I had about 15 or more riders in my care : Dino, Emily, Ruby, Courtney, Madeline, Adele, Caitlin, Yasmin, Stuart (V-Train!), Clint, Emerson, Jacob, Luke, James, Chris. I think that's it? Anyway, Hilts had the NTID and VIS guys do their warmup, I had the aboc'er do theirs (different! but all coaches do things differently).
Then things got messy. It started when the organisers decided (but didn't tell us) that they'd changed the flying 200 from 3 laps to 2. This is a big deal for the 15's and up, they train for 3 laps and last minute changes like this are simply not acceptable, it stuffs up their timing. We made a fuss about it and Hilts managed to get them to change it back for the 19's and above, but it was unfair and caused a lot of angst and slow times by our riders, save for Courtney, who unofficially (the electronic timing didn't work ... I'm not joking, it was a bloody disaster) smashed the JW15 Australian record.
Then some of the races got dropped from the program. I'm not going to mince with words, this is unacceptable. The kids that show up to race care about their racing. They train and they work hard. To have their races chopped from the program to save a few minutes is not on. I'm still very angry about this. One of my guys was heartbroken and there was nothing I could do about it.
After that, the rest of the day went well. My job was to council the guys on tactical decisions and hold them on the line. It looks like I have a conflict of interest when I'm involved in coaching multiple riders who are racing eachother, but I'm careful not to tell one rider anything confidential about the other and I think they all trust me to be ethical in this area - it's important that they do, and that I am 100% on this. If any of you read this, I assure you I will never tell your competion anything about you and I will never tell you anything you don't already know about them either. My main job while in the thick of it is to get the riders feeling confident and motivated (a challenge indeed sometimes!) and to encourage them to be assertive and aggressive on the track, to make their move and commit to it. The older, more experienced sprinters need less tactical guidance and I mostly left them to themselves except to check if they needed anything and give them an ear to talk to if they needed it.
Again, everyone rode well and the NTID/VIS combo swept the field, as they should. My aboc'er did well, with another bootload of medals and a lot of very valuable experience gained for the Vic titles coming up soon.
At the end of the day, Speed is the best tactic. 90% of the races will go to the faster rider, but the thrill is in getting a slower rider over the line first. It happens, and we did it a few times on Sunday.
Leanne Cole got some good photos, go have a look.
Phew .. that's done. I'm off to the Oceanias tomorrow, back on Sunday. More of the same. Bring it on!