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TED talk on dropping out

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Well worth the 15 minutes if you're interested in keeping participation levels up in sports


SSS as a WSS, in Perth?

Check this out, we're spreading ...

From Clay Worthington, WAIS sprint coach :

Hello All,

Please pass word around that TCWA has agreed to run a winter sprint series in Perth. We have targeted the last Friday of every month starting in April (and with one exception … please see attached), and we think it doesn’t clash with many major events (although there are likely to be clashes with road events). The better it is attended the better the racing experience will be for everyone.

Racing format is still being developed, but we’ll start smart and let it grow. At this time we’re planning a F200 qualification to determine racing groups by ability (not age, gender, or category). We’ll run 2up match sprints, derby’s, and Keirins depending on numbers and all in sprint formats and distances (i.e. sprints 2-3 laps, derbys 2-4 laps, Keirin 6-8 laps). I’m not planning any “Coach’s Kilos”, but will keep working on DB and Muzz to line up opposite one another. J If you attend, expect to race 4-6 times plus a 200.

Registration will run through TCWA as per a typical Fri Night Racing (i.e. Tues midnight deadline, through TCWA website, or email Ken Benson), but please feel free to express your interest to me as we’ll need attendance to keep it running. Same $15 as is typical.

At this time, I’m expecting to be registration desk, session coach, commissairre, motorcycle driver, etc as it’s being listed as a TCWA Sprint Training session; but we’ll be racing for training. Warm up starts at 6p and racing starts at 7p with qualifications, and we’ll plan to finish by 9p. Electronic timing gates will be on track with hand timing for back up and to deliver splits.

If you have questions, please call/email/text me. If you know of folks who want to sprint but haven’t gotten a chance yet, please tell them their opportunity is here!

Thanks for your attention.



How to not be an arse

How a prominent Melbourne bike shop got in hot water

Many of you may be aware, a prominent and very visable Melbourne bike shop got in trouble last week for posting online some topless photos from an event they had at their shop.  A lot of fuss has been made about it, I think justifiable.  What this shop did was pretty damn stupid at best, but to make it worse, they then posted online a pathetic justification of it. It blew up all over Melbourne, as well it may have been expected to.  It was a wrong thing for them to have done, and their "management" of the issue just made it worse.  If they'd said "sorry, we did a dumb thing and have learned not to do it again" and left it at that, all would probably have been forgiven by most of us.

Given the unrepentent behaviour of the shop owner after this all blew up, a complaint was raised to the shop's major supplier, and they, to their credit, did the right thing.  The suppliers brand will survive untarnished, but the shop? The guy who runs it has shown his true colours.  There are many, many bike shops in Melboune that respect their customers and female cyclists and who stock all the same stuff as this mob.  You have choices with regards to who you take your business to.  Please choose wisely.

Now we can all get back to training and racing our bikes!



New rules in Queensland?

Wait & see ...


Even when they have it all

They want more!

Minor rant time.

Sprint is starved for competition.  Famished.  We get next to nothing.  Until the NJTS came along (and I, and a few other coaches, lobbied like mad to get more sprint-ish races included in it, thank you Max Stevens for listening) if you were a sprinter as a junior, you get two, maybe three or four if you're in Melbourne, chances a year to compete.  Club championships, state titles, metro/country/Vic Track Cup and nationals if you made it that far.  I'm going to take credit for my Summer Sprint Series as well, but that's only club stuff and we have 5 rounds a year.  So maybe, if you're in Melbourne, not including NJTS, you can, at most, have 9 chances to race sprints per year.  Nine.  Count them.

Enduros - HUNDREDS!  Clubs fall over themselves to offer junior tours, there's track racing two to three times a week or more for enduros, more road races, crits and other stuff than I can count.  Hundreds of opportunities to race.  The "sprint" races at the NJTS are not match sprints, they're short (2 laps) events and baby keirins that enduros can be competitive in.  The NJTS gives us (sprint coaches and talent ID people) a chance to see potential sprinters if they pop up from the default endurance setting that all clubs impose and maybe we get a chance to rescue these kids if we're lucky.  It gives the kids born with some sprint talent a chance to actually stand out in some racing before they give up and go play footy because they're all fast twitch and can't hang on up some hill somewhere because that's not how they're made. 

The NJTS program is weighted to the advantage of the sprinter? Take a step back and look at the big picture. Our sport is so massively, overwhelmingly biased to endurance that the suggestion is absurd.








Finding the girls

Success should not be by accident

Over the last few weeks I've had some time to think(!) and also some interesting discussions with parents, kids, fellow coaches etc on the topic of finding more girls and getting them racing.  In my case, sprint, but in general as well.

The few girls we have (who, lucky, are very talented) have been found mostly by accident or it's been a struggle for them to get involved.  I've had parents tell me that they've been to come and try days at DISC then mostly given a runaround when they expressed interest in going further by calling Cycling Victoria.  This is not CV's fault, the structure as it stands at the moment is that CV has to tell parents (or adults!) to "call your local club".  This can be quite a hit and miss approach, some clubs have better responses than others and it's then down to volunteers who may or may not have female cyclists as priorities.  So we miss some kids.  I suspect we miss a lot of kids. If we want a high peak and consistant international success, it is fundamental that we have a broad talent base.  We can't just bumble along hoping that volunteers will have the time and the motivation to do right by people who have already expressed an interest.

In retail, if someone walks into a shop, the battle is 90% won.  Sales people are just finishing it off.  We need to learn from this.  If a kid goes to a come & try day, or schools racing, or HPV racing; they're already interested, they've walked into the shop.  All we need to do is make eye contact and talk to them.  But to do that, we need to be there.  If you walk into a shop and there's no staff to help you, or if there is, they ignore you or wait for you to come to them, you're much more likely to walk out and go somewhere else.  The same applies to us and recruiting junior female cyclists (and male, but there's so many more of them that it's not such a critical issue).  I think we need a visable, friendly club representative, preferably female (because CV can't do it, politically and resourcefully) at every C&T at DISC, and where possible, at school cycling championships and major HPV events.  We shouldn't get lucky every now and then, we should structure for success.  It needs to be deliberate and planned and resourced.  We are letting kids slip through our fingers.  We need to stop it happening. 

Building development squads for kids already in the sport is the easy, sexy thing to do*.  Converting the kids who have shown an interest into kids who will have a go is the vital part. Not sexy, no big public relations coup for sponsors, but MUCH more important to the long term success of our sport locally and internationally.


* - not that it's not valuable, it is, but it's not going to get girls started in the first place.




What it takes

So YOU can race!

Remember, whenever you race, ALWAYS take the time to thank any vollies you see running it.  They've donated their time so you can have fun.  Oh, and BE COURTIOUS even if you get DQ'd for something.  Play nice, or no racey-racey ...






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It's not what I do, but if it was .. - Andy White's annual ride around Melbourne gets better every year.  Check it out for an adventure!


Women's keirin!

In Japan!

This is a really good thing!


In defence of the new gear restrictions

Not everyone's happy

Earlier this week CA announced that J17 gear restrictions would be lifted to a 7.0 meter rollout, which is around 90 gear inches, it was to be lifted to 86" (6.75m), up from the previous limit of 82" (6.5m).

Many of you reading here know I am very much in favour of this, but not everyone is pleased.  I hope to calm the storm a little, or at least provide some argument in favour.  Note please that this is my opinion, and I am not representing any organisation except for aboc Cycle Coaching (me!) when I write this.  Furthermore, I don't have any influence on the people that made the decision that I am aware of. I don't even know who they are.

Enough with the preamble ...

Firstly, the rule change does not mandate that every J17 rider ride 90".  It means they are allowed to, which is not at all the same thing.  J19's are allowed to ride up to 104" or something, they don't, because they usually can't.  I work with J19's who can squat small cars and deadlift your fridge, full ... they're not anywhere near being able to rev out the J19 gear restriction yet,. and managing them through J17's is a challenge (be patient, your time will come, being restricted to 82" sucks, but next year ... repeat and hope the kid buys in to the argument).

If a J17 is a great revver, they will choose smaller gears, if they're a big, strong kid, they will push bigger gears.  Up 'til now the rules have biased against strong kids and towards super-revvers, at least in sprint, which is where my attention is focused.  I expect it's the same in enduro circles.  Big, strong kids can't rev as fast as the hummingbirds (heavy legs, can't move 'em quite as quick, but they can accelerate!).  We build kids up to be strong so that they can be competitive as J19's and seniors, and not spend another 6 years trying to get them strong enough, this is an even bigger task with girls than it is with boys - they put muscle on a lot more slowly than boys.  One of the causes for the loss of elite sprinters after J19 is the almost insurmountable gulf between a J19 and a senior (hey, kid, race Perko, who is pushing 108" or more and Anna who is superstrong! good luck ...).    I've interviewed a number of guys who've given it up after J19's and this is a common theme.  They don't want to spend 5 or more years getting smacked before they're even at a level where they can keep up and not be embarrassed.

By better preparing J17's to use bigger gears, we hope to lift the standard in J19, and thus, make the transition to senior riders be less daunting.  If J17's filters out a lot of the strong kids in favour of super spinners (which, at present, it does), that means J19's are in general, weaker than they could otherwise be as a population, and then less likely to manage the jump into senior ranks.  There's loads of examples of this in sprint in recent memory, in particular in the girls, but also many of the boys have failed to make the jump past J19.  This is for many reasons, but one is that the jump is too big for most of them to manage in a realistic timeframe.

Some of my colleagues have mentioned that by allowing J17's to push 90", that this will kill the sport and other hyperbole (and a half!), or that we shouldn't change a working formula (hey, it's NOT working!  We bleed riders after J19, you haven't noticed?! Where are they all?).  Nonsense.  The current situation is that strong kids are held back (and they're often some of the best talents, so they go off and play some sport where their talent isn't nobbled), hummingbirds prosper and the less talented kids are off the back on 82".  The only difference by allowing bigger gears is that the strong kids will be able to keep up with the hummingbirds.  The less talented, or younger, or less developed kids will be off the back no matter what anyway. It happens now, it will continue to happen. I don't think much else will change.  If it does, the rules can be changed again.


And this is the rub.  Many are suggesting that club racer kids will give it up because 90" is too big and they can't keep up, there'll be no tactical development etc etc.  Here's the thing.  At club level, clubs are free to introduce their own gear restrictions anyway.  You want a race where no-one can push bigger than 82" - NO PROBLEM!  Just put it in the race rules.  Brunswick did this on Saturday, everyone was on 90" (magic number?!) and it was great.  Close races, lots of skill and tactical development.  GOOD!  We had first year J19's (the ones I trained overgeared last year and got strong and who hated being forced to ride 82" in competition) keeping up with senior sprinters, which made for good training races.  But, for opens, state and national championships, the talented kids should be allowed to display their physical talent.  It may well keep them in the sport longer and help us find the next group of champions.  State and National titles are not "every kid's a winner" races, they're championships and the best kids should be able to win them.

I'm sure there will be people who will cite examples of successful riders who came through our current system, they do exist, and this is good (look closely at their development path before you cite them though, some will surprise you at how they got into the system, Cadel rode MTB, Matthew Glaetzer was a pole vaulter and did not come through gear restricted juniors etc), but we can do better (we have to, everyone else is!) and we can't say everything  is great because some physiological freaks have survived it, if they even came through it.  Our rules and development programs should not be judged by the success of the very rare genetically gifted athletes that pop up, but rather by the health of the whole ecosystem.

Finally, the knee injury furphy.  Where's the corpses?  We train our guys overgeared ALL the time, putting out much greater torque and power numbers than anyone else in the state (wanna bet?! I have data ... ), I have not seen a single knee injury.  Not one.  If a kid isn't strong enough to push a gear (86, 90, whatever) they simply won't be able to push it.  They can grind at 60rpm up a hill (that's ok ...) in a road race out at Eildon or the 1:20 etc already if they want or have to.  Knee overuse injuries come from throwing kids at huge miles and on badly fitted bikes, not from pushing a gear that's too big for them.

So there you go.  I don't think it will kill anything, I think it's for the long term good of developing better senior riders






Tour de Frankston

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In case you haven't already seen it ...


The pointy end

Why everyone defaults to enduro

How do most people get started in a sport?  Usually it's at school, or you get invited by a few friends to join a team etc.  Most of the 'sharp' sports (Olympic or other elite level, football, criocket etc) get their talent young, at schools or by blind luck and co-incidence.  Then there's everyone else who maybe missed that boat.

Why did you start riding your bike?  Most of the people I speak to (and after almost a decade of coaching, that's quite a large sample) started out wanting to get fit.  They're mostly older (not juniors, most of my coaching clients have been masters age or mid 20's starters), mostly got a bike, went off and rode Beach Road, did maybe a few things like the Bay in a Day or the Alpine Classic (or wanted to but didn't think they could). They saw Glenvale, got interested and had a go (it's easy to start with crits).  Kids do it a bit differently, maybe it's a school around the bay program, or they pick it up from their parents, who maybe raced or are racing.

What do they do? Endurance racing.  It's all endurance.   Crits, 90% of track racing (certainly Blackburn's track program is endurance based, I expect most other clubs do the same or similar), road racing ... everyone's doing endurance.

The same thing with running, there may be a few sprint races at schools and a couple of the fast kids go off and get popped into little aths or similar if they're lucky enough to have a PE teacher who notices and is well enough connected to get them started, but everyone does the cross-country run, adults train for half marathons or triathalons.  Who trains for sprints?  Who even thinks they could?  Very few people, in my experience.

I want to change this.  I want sprint to be big.  I want YOU to have a go, and if you've got kids, to have your kids exposed to sprint. It's the pointy end of the sport and it is not inaccessable.  We're making more sprint races, we run a sprint series, we want YOU to have a go.



Making it happen

If you want something ...

Check these guys out ...

They didn't have a track, so .. They made it happen.  There's a lesson in that for many of us.



On a lighter note ...

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This is my bicycle, there are many like it, but this one is mine

Spotted by Euan over on the BV forums :


The Messenger's Creed from Dan Gingold on Vimeo.


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.


Freeways don't work!

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Oh, really?!

From today's Age (Thanks to Dino for pointing it out).

Melburnians are spending hundreds of thousands more hours on freeways - leading to zero gains in speeds or travel times, as roads fill up as soon as they are built.

Speeds on Melbourne's roads have dropped since 1995, from an average 44 km/h to 40 km/h. Average speeds in Melbourne in the morning and evening peaks are the lowest they have been since 1994.

Hands up who's surprised!

When we build more freeways, we encourage more people to live further from work, making our city more dependent on cars for travel.  It's a BIG LOSE!


Of course, the people who build the roads disagree - Are they unbiased?  Do the roads pay for their boats and holiday houses?  Uhuh ...

''Perhaps the German word schlimmbesserung - meaning an improvement that makes things worse - is an apt descriptor for the massive program of new road construction that has marked Melbourne's 'solution' to its transport challenges over the last several decades,'' Mr Odgers' report concludes.



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Very ...



What does it mean to support racing?

How best to make racing better?

Lots of people would think the best way to support a race or racing in general is to sponsor things.  Hand out cash for King/Queen of the mountain, primes in crits (does anyone do primes at crits anyway?!), donate cash to add to prizemoney pools and so on.

I think that's sub-optimal.  I think the best way to support racing is to get involved in organising, promoting and competing in races.  I personally don't know anyone that cares terribly much about how much prizemoney there is for a race.  I won a moderately big handicap way back in my enduro days (Lenny Hammond H'cap 2004) and it paid $250 for the win.  Not bad, but to be honest, if it was $10 or $500, it wouldn't have made any difference to me and I didn't even consider prizemoney when I entered.  The win was the thing and Mal Sawford's writeup in Cycling News and the CCCC website was the crown jewels. 

Most of the people I race with and work with don't care about prizemoney.  They like bling prizes though, but using bling prizes to effect is the key.  The way CCCC use an aggregate for their crit series, for example, is fantastic.  Riders from every grade have a chance (although with CCCC's crits, realistically it's won by A grade riders most of the time but that's because they promote grades on wins and winners trickle up until they stop winning) and it encourages regular participation.  Aggregates, rewards for outstanding performances and the like are good, I think, and our experience at the Summer Sprint Series seems to hold that to be true.  The few A grade lads that win most of the races most of the time don't make the field, it's a quality field across the grades that makes for great racing for everyone and I think prizes and event structures should reflect that. 

At the SSS we scaled our aggregate performances by grade and while an A grader did win the overall, daily aggregate prizes were split across each grade and in '07-'08 the aggregate was tied between an A grader and a C->B grader and it was decided by fractions of a second in the end, so really, everyone did have a chance.  I reckon we've stumbled onto a good model that allows riders at any level to have a chance at the 'big' prizes, without us as organisers spending loads of cash. If I give you $50, you pop it in your wallet and spend it on who knows what, it gets lost in general revenue and forgotten .. but if you win some 'thing', it's a better prize, I think and if you have a chance to win the same prize as the top riders, then grading really does work.

Back to supporting ... The best thing riders can do is to hype the events they want to happen.  If you want a quality field to race in, YOU have to help get people there.  That means talking up events with your riding chums etc.  Just showing up on the day to race is not enough.



Hope the break isn't for too long, Yehuda

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A good web comic has a break. I hope for not too long.

If you haven't seen it, Yehuda Moon is an excellent webcomic about a bloke (Yehuda) who works in an LBS. It's entertaining and written by someone with a real clue about the issues involved in riding on-road and also the funny stuff that happens at bike shops.

One of my favorites is this one.

I hope Rick Smith (author) gets back into it.  It's an entertaining and poignant comic that often strikes a chord with our experiences on road and in shops.  I hope I haven't ruined your day's productivity if you haven't seen it before and spend the rest of the day catching up from the first strip! Nah, you know the risks ...



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'.

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