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Pathways update

Things are changing, for the better

About a year or so ago I wrote this article on pathways into sprint in Victoria.  Things are changing a little, Glenn Doney is the new VIS head coach and he's making some changes to how riders are recruited into the VIS sprint program.  It's now reaching down a little lower in age groups than it has in the past, watch for some interesting announcements soon from the VIS on how that's working.

The pathway is now :


Some of you may remember the sprint academy, it was a layer between the state institutes, eg VIS, NSWIS, SASI, WAIS etc and the AIS program, designed to fill a void.  It looks like the SIS/SAS layer is being broadened a little and mostly absorbing the role that the academy filled for a year.

So, how is this relevant?

We're working on setting up a layer below the VIS to develop sprinters, to feed riders into the VIS program.  A little like the old NTID program was, a layer where identified promising juniors are pulled into a sprint squad that will train seperatly from the VIS squad.  The VIS squad is now quite large, and coached exclusively by Hilton Clarke, with my assistance doing motorbike work and power meter stuff etc. I'm not directly coaching anyone in that VIS sprint group.  I think we're going to call the new developent squad the Victorian Sprint Developent Squad, or VSDS.

So the pathway will end up, as soon as we can get it all sorted :

Club -> VSDS -> VIS sprint -> AIS Sprint

There's a lot of work to do to get it running and we need buy-in from a number of groups, so the politics will be a challenge, but I'm confident that we can have it going soon and it will be a leading structure, that the rest of the country may duplicate in time.


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.



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 ...





Standards, safety, syllabus

Making Blackburn's Friday night DISC session safe and efficient

At present there's no standard for riders who lob up on Friday nights at the Blackburn DISC sessions I'm running for the club as the senior coach present.  This is a problem, there's a culture of "just show up, you'll be right".  This is NOT acceptable - we've had a number of close calls and some crashes resulting in injury due to this problem. 

I don't whinge about things, I fix them.  Here's a fix.  A set of skills a rider must demonstrate before they come :



Skills required to attend Friday DISC sessions run by Blackburn Cycling Club


  • Ride sprinters lane solo at ~30km/h

  • Ride blue line solo at ~30-35km/h

  • Ride the fence solo at ~35-40km/h

  • Competently display 1/4 lap RAC (Rolling acceleration/Powerjump)

  • Competently display solo flying 100

  • Competently display held start and gate start

  • Competently roll turns in a bunch at 30km/h

  • Follow motorbike at 50cm distance or closer

  • Follow motorbike for motorbike acceleration

  • Roll turns behind motorbike

  • Roll turns with motorbike

  • Change own gears

  • Accelerate out of saddle in bends



On its own, that's not enough.  Here's a rough syllabus to teach these skills :



Progression for attendance at DISC sessions


Eash session is ~30 mins, small groups – no more than 4 riders per coach, coach to ride with riders as a demonstration, leader, pacesetter etc


  • Change gears

  • Understand appropriate equipment for DISC – tyre selection, range of gears, warm clothes for winter.

  • Recommended tyres for DISC : Vittoria Rubino Pro-lite, Vittoria Rubino Pista

  • Expressly not permitted at DISC : Michellin Pro-*-race, Michellin Lithium.

  • Default warmup gear 82" (49x16)

At BBN on 82" (49x16) or relevant junior gear if J15 or younger

Session 1

  • Ride sprinters lane 30km/h 82" gear (49x16)

  • Ride blue line 30km/h

  • roll turns in small group


Session 2

  • Held start

  • Gate start

  • 1/4 lap RAC15 (powerjump)

  • Accelerate out of saddle in bend

  • Flying 100


Session 3 :

  • Motorpace 50cm from motorbike

  • Roll turns behind motorbike

  • MAC

  • Roll turns with motorbike

At DISC on 82" (49x16) or relevant junior gear if J15 or younger

Session 1 :

  • Ride the sprinters lane at 30km/h

  • Ride the blue line at 35km/h

  • Roll turns in small group


Session 2 :

  • Consolidate rolling turns in small group

  • 1/4 lap RAC15

  • Accelerate out of saddle in bend

  • Ride the fence at 35-40km/h

  • Flying 100


Session 3 :

  • Motorpace 50cm behind motorbike

  • Roll turns behind motorbike

  • Roll turns with motorbike

  • MAC



Let it be known that I am volunteering to teach this, but NOT AT DISC ON FRIDAYS DURING THE SESSION (6:30-9:30pm).


rule changes

It's our responsibility to know

There's been a bit of a thread on the Blackburn Cycling Club facebook page about UCI rules, some of which is ranting, some is not very constructive, some is tilting at windmills and some is complaining about the UCI or CA not doing enough to tell us what the rule changes are. Some is fair comment and it's all well intentioned (or at least, mostly ...).  In my role as a moderator on the BBN FB page I've had no need to delete anything, so it's well behaved.

With regards to the dissemination of the rules, in some other equipment-specific sports, for example motorsport (CAMS) it is a requirement that each year competitors purchase a rulebook and adhere to the rules.  We don't have to buy a rulebook, we can just download it for free (cheaper!).  It is still "our" obligation to read and understand the rules and if in doubt, to discuss the rules with a commissaire to seek clarification.   I have had reason to do this recently with the 5cm/aerobar rule change.    So whether or not the rules agree with your philosophy, it is OUR (everyone who races under the umbrella of the UCI) obligation to know the rules and keep track of them.  In particular, coaches need to be up to date. Yes, this is a little bit of work to do each year when rule changes get published and YES it can be inconsistently applied at races by well intentioned but not necessarily up to date or well informed commissaires, but it is still our obligation to know the rules of our sport.   It's a lot easier these days to do so with the advent of social media, websites and so on.  The following website may be of use :

And for local variants :


Women's keirin!

In Japan!

This is a really good thing!


New locals

Filed Under:

Whittlesea Cycling Club!

They're very new, check them out :


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






Experiment successful

Thank you Brunswick!

Last Saturday afternoon (juniors) and evening (J19's and seniors) Brunswick ran the first of their "DISC-O" night Saturday racing.  I'd had a little input into their race format.  As anyone reading this knows, my big beef (apart from actual beef!) is that there's never enough racing for sprinters and we wanted to redress that a little.

The format had some of the usual enduro stuff, but it had abbreviated flying 200's (two lap windup) and lots of baby keirins.  This is a format that I nagged Max Stevens about until he capitulated for the NJTS for this summer, and I can say, it works!  It works really well.  The baby keirins were 3 laps (kids) and 4 laps for the seniors (and we'll make them 4 laps for everyone from now on I think), with the bike swinging off with 1.5 laps to go.   This is a pure sprinters keirin on little gears.  Seniors were restricted to 90". Just about everyone was buzzing about how much fun it was, and how close most of the racing was (and no crashes in any of the sprint events). It was great to see how many of the guys learned and practiced keirin tactics in a low pressure, but very close and intense, format.  Everyone got three keirins in the racing.

I got to have a bit of a look at some of the juniors and see if any showed any spark too, so that was handy.

Tick that one off as a win, a big thanks to the guys at BWK for having the courage to run it, in particular Cam McFarlane and David Morgan who made it entertaining and kept everything moving along well.



Friday night lights

We might have a slot on Friday evenings at DISC to train

Blackburn has a Friday slot at DISC that was used for a mixture of training and some random-ish racing, but it's lying fallow at the moment for reasons not 100% clear.

So ... I have asked the committee if they'd like us (aboc) to help/assist/share the time to try to make it viable for both BBN and us to use that time, it'd be 7-10pm on Fridays for nominally "winter".  More news as it comes to hand.  This would be as well as, not instead of, the Sunday evening sessions and would be a mix of sprint and enduro training like we do on Sundays.


Blackburn AGM

Filed Under:

I had a Wednesday off ... so we went to the AGM

No fights, which was good!

Anyway .. Brian Harwood fed me a Dorothy Dixer, to which I replied, or at least the gist of my reply was :

"If a kid wants to specialise, or anyone, for that matter, let them.  Sprint, hills, TTs, whatever - let them make their own choices and try to provide pathways to support those choices."

Not everyone agrees, that's fine.  This is a big world and it would be very boring if we all agreed.  BUT we have to disagree without being disagreeable.

I'd like to thank, in particular, Rob Montheath who stepped into the club secretary role and did it for four years at Blackburn.  It's a monster job and Rob did it very well, thank you Rob.








Things we can improve

Sprint pathways, communication ...

Not many of you will have heard of "Junior Worlds Syndrome", it's not in wikipedia that I know of, but it's a big deal for coaches and program directors who work with junior track sprinters.

What is it?

Kids come back from junior worlds, and leave the sport or change tack and go race endurance. 

It's quite common.


I had a chance to have a debrief with one of the kids who did this after a recent junior worlds, and three main things cropped up from this discussion.

I'm going to focus on one.

Sprint pathways aren't clear - Once a junior comes out of J19's they have to race Shane Perkins, Anna Meares etc.  Daunting, and it takes a long time (3-5 years or more for most of them) to build up to that level.  Professional road racers have a defacto grading system with lesser races and second division teams etc for riders to be part of, track sprint is Olympics/World Cup or nothing, or at least, that is how it's perceived.

Interestingly burnout was not mentioned

Bearing in mind that this is essentially a brief summary of one discussion (ie: I just listened and prompted a little) It does raise some interesting points for discussion.

What can we do as sprint coaches and program directors do to alter either the process, or the communication of the processes, to our riders such that we might increase the chances of keeping them in sprint programs?

We need to provide more sprint racing.  This is fundamental.  We need to get event directors to put in more (some! even just one!) sprint events into track carnivals.   I rant about this a lot, we need my sprint series to grow, get some real sponsors, not just me and my wonderful band of volunteers, and be a viable pathway, perhaps integrated with the Sprint Academy.  

We need sprint to be taken seriously and for track carnivals to reflect this.  A few years ago the Revolution races had a really good mix of sprint and endurance racing, but it has fallen by the wayside despite it being a very entertaining format.  Copying it or some parts of it will help.  The J19's and early senior sprinters need more than just another wheelrace to aspire to as a stepping stone.  Sending developing sprinters to Asian Cups and so on is of value and needs support from the state sports institutes.

We need the various event directors to understand that the modern sprinter is a specialist, they wouldn't put Usain Bolt into a 800m running race, why would you put a cycling sprinter into the equivalent except to embarras them?

We need the National Junior Track Series to allow sprint to feature more.  I've spoken with the organisers and hopefully the next season will showcase more pure sprint events.  We need clubs to "get" sprint as a seperate part of the sport and to be a bit passionate about it.






Racing tonight!

Not quite what I had in mind, but they are sprints ...

aboc, ie: me, is sponsoring this; Blackburn's running five sprint nights at DISC over "winter".  The rough program is this :

Flying 200 for grading.

1.5 lap dashes (4 riders at a time I think)

Team sprints (graded by your f200, not able to nominate your own team - this is still being 'discussed', I am not happy about not being able to nominate my own team or starting order).  These at least will be no longer than 3 laps (they originally wanted 4 laps, huh?  What 'team sprint' has 4 laps? And then expects the poor bugger that rode 4th to race again in 15 minutes?!)

1k handicap, held start, no push (The kilo is dead, no-one trains for it anymore ... why is this in the program?  To embarras sprinters?)

Scratch races for the leftovers

If there's enough time, keirins to finish.

I will only be racing the F200, team sprint (assuming an acceptable team and I'm lead rider) and the keirin, assuming the program doesn't have to be cut short because there's too much going on.  The other stuff is just silly and I'm not doing it.

Those of you who were at the last round of the SSS will know that the above is not what I planned, but since I'm not running this, it is what it is and it's better than a night of scratch, points, h'cap and/or motorpaces. It's a start.  If it's a bit successful, we can lobby to make it different for later rounds or next year etc.

So that's tonight's festivities at DISC.

I've been pretty busy with the NTID squad and helping Hilton for the last few weeks, as well as coaching in the 'Haus a lot, running Spin, Sunday DISC sessions, and that's my excuse for not writing much here in May.  I have loads ot writing to do for The Book too ... lots of gaps to fill!


CCCC's new website

Filed Under:

Congrats to CCCC, who continue to lead

Those of you that haven't noticed, Carnegie-Caulfield have launched their new website (that's two re-launches that I can remember). It's a modern CMS (They're using Wordpress), not all that dis-similar to Plone - that some of you might remember me pitching to Blackburn 3 or 4 years ago now?  Anyway ... Congrats to CCCC, and Adam King in particular.  It looks good.

Side-note - if you get onto their site and have a look at Adam's avatar, it's a photo taken at a round of the SSS!


Congrats to Monas!

Filed Under:

Monique is on the board

Last night, as well as our usual scheduled NTID/VIS training session at DISC, was also the CSV AGM.  To cut a long story short, Monique Hanley had stood for election.  Monas is Good People, she's Been There and Done That as a genuine elite level rider, she's fought some amazing, courageous and determined battles to get where she is, she's honest and passionate and she's got her feet well planted on the floor. She has a vision that I agree with with regards to growing teams riding as well.  She's been elected to the board.  Good stuff Monas!


They woz right

I was wrong!

On Saturday night Blackburn ran a sprint program at DISC. I was pretty unhappy with this on two fronts, one, it clashed with the SSS round 1, but that wasn't really BBN's fault, and two, I thought the program was too much racing.  I was quite outspoken about point 2.

It turns out I was wrong and the night was a big success.  My apologies to Brian Harwood and his team for my skepticism.  You were right and I was wrong.





Are not made to be broken

I take my responsibility as a coach pretty seriously.  I believe that the example set by a coach and the culture that a squad adopts is pretty important.  I haven't been coaching kids for long. For a long time I swore off coaching kids, this junior thing is pretty recent for me.  So perhaps I'm off the track here, but I want to draw your attention, my reader, to the tech regs of racing in Australia.  In particular, to this section :

3.6.01 Gearing - roll out distances
 For all junior categories, male and female, the following maximum roll out
distances shall apply for:
Road Events Track Events
1. Junior U19 7.930 metres
2. Junior U17 6.5 metres Junior U17 6.5 metres
3. Junior U15 6.0 metres Junior U15 6.0 metres
4. Junior U13 5.5 metres Junior U13 5.5 metres
5. Junior U11 5.5 metres Junior U11 5.5 metres
3.6.02 If, for what ever reason, a junior rider has been granted approval to
compete in a higher age division event, the maximum roll out distance
applicable to the rider’s age division must be maintained 


The emphasis (bold face) of 3.6.02 is not mine, it's in the document.

What does this mean?  It means, any junior MUST RIDE THEIR JUNIOR GEAR IN COMPETITION.  No matter what the race is.  If it's Glenvale, or Sandown, or the Saturday night spring sprinting at DISC tonight.   We as coaches, and the race organisers, don't have a choice.  The rule is clear.  We can campaign to the rule makers to change it, but we can not encourage our riders to break it and if we see it being broken we have a duty to see that it's enforced.

The culture I'm concerned about is one of selectively breaking rules.  If we, as coaches, commissaires and parents, say to the juniors in our care that it's ok to break some rules that we find inconvenient, then we set a pretty poor example and we foster a culture that encourages rule breaking.  The junior riders I'm working with now are on the cusp of elite programs and will be exposed to doping and other rule breaking in the near future.  If we want them to play fair and stay clean, we know what we have to do. We have to treat the rules with respect.




Who wants to help me paint lines at Blackburn on Friday morning?

“Say - I’m going in a -riding, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work

- wouldn’t you? Course you would!”


Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

 “What do you call work?”

 “Why, ain’t that work?”

 Tom resumed his velodrome line painting, and answered carelessly:

 “Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know it suits Tom Sawyer.”

 “Oh, come now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

 The brush continued to move.

 “Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. does a boy get a chance to paint lines on a concrete velodrome every day?”

 That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth - stepped back to note the effect - added a touch here and there - criticized the effect again - Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me paint a little.”

Tom Considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

“No-no-I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Nicko’s awful particular about this velodrome - right here on the street, you know - but  if it was DISC, I wouldn’t mind, and he wouldn’t. Yes, he’s awful particular about this 'ol track is ; it’s got to be done very careful; I recon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”


“No-is that so? Oh, come now - lemme try. Only just a little - I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”

 “Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Ol' Nicko - well, Studog wanted to do it, but he wouldn’t let him; Lucie wanted to do it, and he wouldn’t let Lucie. Now, don’t you see how I’ fixed? If you was to tackle this track and anything was to happen to it --”

“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say - I’ll give you the core of my apple.”

 “Well, here - No, Ben, no you don’t. I’m afeared --”

“I’ll give you all

of it!”


Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to paint lines. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy fisher for a kite in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to sing it with - and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling wealth. He had, besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jew’s-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spoon cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar-but no dog - the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated window-sash.

And after all that, the Blackburn Velodrome had new lines!

But seriously, I need two people to help me paint the track at Blackburn, it will take about two hours and it's easy work.  I want to start around 7am and have it done by 9ish.  The other possible time is early on Saturday morning.  So, who's wantin to whitewash my Aunts fence now?


Saturday the 9th

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I won't be there

To any of you who've seen the Blackburn Saturday the 9th of Sept 'sprint night' (apologies for the PDF, not my fault ...) at DISC, and seen my name there as part of the team running it.  I'm not.  I won't be there, not in any capacity.

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