On the mend and reflections on Manchester World Cup
This time last week I was lying on a bed at the Austin hospital doped to the eyeballs on morphine waiting for surgery to repair a hernia. Today I'm home, with a new belly button that looks like something out of an Alien movie (it will get better!) after spending the weekend doing what little I could to help at Hilton's sprint camp that we held at DISC. I'm pretty tired, but am well and trully on the mend. Jayne has been awesome, but I feel terrible (and you should see the looks I get!) when she loads up with rollers, backpack, bags etc and I saunter along with her, carrying nothing ... It won't last, in a few weeks I'll be carrying stuff again. Live it up, eh? heh ...
It's been a very interesting week in sprint cycling. At the track world cup in Manchester, the mens sprint qualification times were simply stunning. Manchester is not Moscow, it's not a track where times need to be asterisk'ed out, it's a "real" track. It's not summer there, it's coming into winter, so the conditions would not have been amazing for speed.
Have a look at this :
The top 27 riders rode faster than 10.2s flying 200's. To qualify in the top 16, you had to ride 10.115 and even then Azizul missed out. 9.9 didn't guarantee top 8! This is not the Olympics or the world champs, this is just a world cup. Jason Kenny, the 2012 Olympic champion, rode 10.154 and did not quailfy. Marty Nothstein, who won at Sydney in 2000, with a 10.166s (fastest qualification time) would not have qualified for this world cup. He wouldn't have made the cut.
I discussed this somewhat with John Beasley on the w'end (Malaysian track coach). He's got Azizul up to 10.115 and Josiah at 10.247 over the last few months. What's the huge change? It's big gears. The guys are so much stronger than they've been before and the obsession with small gears and high cadences is over. I've personally seen Josiah riding very low 10's flying 200's at DISC recently on training wheels with minimal tapering, and he's mid 30's, he's the strongest he's ever been and also the fastest he's ever been.
No-one is riding 90's anymore, they're all up in the high 100's or bigger. We know Forstemann rode 114" at Cottbus when he rode 9.7 there a few months ago (~148rpm average for the 200m, outdoors on concrete). This is a far, far cry from the "old" days of 160+rpm. Why is this? Is it a recent discovery? I suspect a lot of it is increased specialisation, modern sprinters aren't doing the road stuff they used to do, at least, not nearly as much. They're getting stronger in the gym, stronger on the bike and riding lower cadences where there's less overall contractions, so greater endurance. It's possible to hit 73km/h on smaller gears, it's certainly been done, but it's very very hard to hold the speed on small gears, you just run out of neural capacity, or "too much revs!". Put on a bigger gear, and as long as you're strong enough to get it going, you can go further at the same speed.
Very interesting indeed.
Will anyone break the world record, which was set at Moscow (9.572) at a normal track? They're getting pretty close now ... and not as a one-in-a-million freak, but dozens of riders look capable of it.