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I was interviewed

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An article on the Cycling Australia website, no less ...



Here I am in South Korea

Today, I woke up in Gwang Myeong at the Guro Hotel (South Korea, Seoul, about 50km from the DMZ/border with North Korea) and for the first time since we got here last week, it was clear with blue skies.

It's been overcast and raining/very humid for every other day that we've been here. It's an amazing city, the scale of it is staggering. This is the first time I've spent time in a non-English speaking country (apart from the USA, which is still kinda English ...), it's a fun challenge to just buy basic things - yesterday Mikey (Michael Winter, the No.1 mechanic) and I found paint thinner to clean wheels we've been gluing tyres onto, after exploring the main road for a good hour.

It's quite a fun challenge trying to translate "do you have any kerosene?" into Korean!

Racing starts tonight, my job here is pretty simple, Mikey is the chief mechanic and I'm assisting - we pump tyres up, make sure all the right wheels are ready to go, fit them in the bikes, change gears etc so all the kids and coaches have to do it concentrate on racing. It can be challenging if there's an issue that needs sorting in a hurry, but that's pretty rare, if we're organised, things run like clockwork from our position. We're organised ...

It is a little frustrating to be out of the coaching loop, but our job is important to the team and Rik Fulcher, who is the team manager, places a lot of trust in us to do the job right.  From my own professional development, it's great experience - not only from the "see how it works at a big championships" perspective, but also, and probably moreso - getting the experience of the mechanics job.  I think a good leader (coach) needs to understand all the roles in the team that they work in, and getting your hands dirty and doing the actual work is one of the best ways to get this experience. 

Mikey only got here on Wednesday (he flew in directly from the Comm Games in Glasgow, 30-odd hours of traveling and then directy to the track to work with me, hard core!), so for the 3 days prior to that I was the only mechanic for 14 riders.  I did a lot of carrying wheels up from our storage pen, inflating tyres etc.  I was getting to the track about 2 hours before the team would, getting everything ready so when they arrived, it was relaxed and easy.  Having someone as experienced and competant as Mikey to work with is a real pleasure.  I'm learning lots about how things work at International level, it's quite an eye opener in some ways, in other ways, it's just another bike race.  The big challenges are logistics and the varying levels of respect and competance of riders while using the track for warm ups.  Think an early season NJTS round, and make it more chaotic, warm up is *the* most dangerous part of the program for the riders. 

We're one of, if not the most, organised and professional teams here, some of the teams are clearly full of kids that are here so they can say they've been to Junior Worlds, not that serious about racing it and it shows in their behaviour and organisation.  Others are deadly serious - the Russians, Germans, Kiwis, Koreans, Japanese and us are deadly serious and well organised.  We get a lot of interest in how we do things from other teams - all our efforts on track get watched.  There's no GB team here, the French only have a couple of riders.  We've seen the Polish guys and the Danes and they look pretty serious.  We'll see what they're made of in the next five days.

The Speedom velodrome is just staggering in size - it's an indoor, 333 meter concrete track with a very grippy surface similar to the Bendigo track surface.  It's about a 30 minute drive from here.  The track itself isn't that interesting, but the building around it is use awe inspiring.  It's huge, it makes its own weather!  The stands extend up for the equivalent of about 4 or 5 stories, it seats around 30,000 we think.  It's set up with huge display screens and it's mainly a venue for Korean keirin.  A lot of the seats have desks for the gamblers to fill out betting slips and read form guides.  We watched a keirin round on the day we arrived.  It was a very surreal, sterile kind of thing to watch.  There was a lot of people there, I'd guess around 5,000 or so?  But the venue seemed empty, as it is so big.  The racing was mostly pretty dull to watch and the crowd wasn't all that interested in it save for the results (gambling, that's all it is to most of them). 

We've been exploring the local part of town a bit as well.  Our hotel is right in the middle of what must be a bit of a hub of food and entertainment - imagine a cross between Brunswick street, Chinatown and very narrow alleyways.  Almost all the signs are in Korean (of course!) but some also in English.  The food is amazingly good.  I've been asking the people in the eateries we've visited to tell me what they like that's local, and just giving it a go.  The hot BBQ chicken is pretty special!  At least, that's what I think I've been asking, in a combination of mangled English, my three Korean phrases and sign language. 

The currency translation is pretty simple, the local currency is the Won, and roughly, one Australian dollar is about 1,000w.  So we just drop three zeroes and the sums are pretty simple.  Food and drinks are cheap and just up the road is an EMart, which is, as far as I can tell, the Korean version of a Kmart/Target.  While the numbers are all in Arabic numerals (same as English), they're not spoken the same way, so when something has no price tag, we can write it down or the locals write it so we can understand.  I'm sure they think we're just dumb foreigners!


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


Junior worlds

I'm off to Korea

A quick note, I will be away in Perth from the 26th of July (2014), then South Korea (Seoul) from the 2nd 'til the 14th of August as I am working as a team mechanic at the UCI Junior world track titles.

Sessions will run as normal, I just won't be there to run them.



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.


A great quote

It's not over for us, it is just going to be different

Yep, things are changing in the Vic sprint scene, quite dramatically.  Hopefully very soon we'll be able to quash the rumours, put out the fires and show you all a new structure, with progression and direction and it will be a big win.



juniors, flying 200's, oh my

Lots of room for improvement

At the Aussies, we saw the best under 15's, or at least, the best that came through the state teams.  We saw them ride flying 200's and make poor pacing choices.  Read this article on it that I wrote.


A break?

I need one!

I just got back from the Junior Aussies on Saturday, after driving the CV Van that Rocked home.  Another big week at titles, I need a rest or a holiday or something.  At the titles the Vic boys broke (twice!) the previous JM17 team sprint Australian record, Conor, Ryan and Tom blew it to bits in qualifying, then beat their record again in the final.  All their changes were spot on - no DQ's.  Conor also managed to break the Aust record for the 500m ITT but only held the record for about 6 minutes, as Ryan Schilt and Cam Scott broke it again in the last heat.  Exciting times indeed.  Brit Jackson managed a couple of solid bronze medals in the Sprint and the TT, and missed out, with Alana Field, on the bronze in the JW17 by 4 thousandths of a second.  Everything matters in this game.

The team performed above expectations and other records that went included the JM17 team pursuit and the JW17 500 and F200, both broken by a very talented Tahlay Christie from Perth.  Tahlay had a superb titles, winning the sprint, TT and keirin and setting two Australian records along the way.  Tahlay's a great kid and a gracious, well mannered athlete.  Clay Worthington from WA is coaching her and they're a teriffic team.

For us, Aust masters champs are coming up and I am going to fiddle around with my new Garmin VIRB Elite and use it for some F200 pacing analysis over the next couple of weeks.  Sometime, I'll get a rest ...



Video toys on the way

Mum got me a VIRB for my birthday!

I know .. I'll be 43(!) in March, mum asked, I told her, she said yes.  I have a Garmin VIRB Elite ANT+ video camera coming.

Why is this any funkier than my collection of GoPro Hero's?

It does power.  Last week Garmin updated the firmware in the VIRB to store power meter data.  No, this isn't a substitute for a power meter computer, I'm not replacing my Cyclops Joule 1.0's for VIRB's (at 4.5x the price!), but it does make overlaying performance data onto video a lot quicker and easier than it has been 'til now.  The old way, was to use Dashware to overlay power data onto video, but it was a messy, time consuming task.  With the new VIRB update, I can get video data much more quickly combined with power and speed, so it becomes practical to do, maybe even during a training session.  Handy?  Yes, for teaching and explaining what happens in, for example, a team sprint.  We take hand splits with stop watches, but if we have video, with power and speed, we can actually see what's really happening and make more intelligent gear choices and pacing decisions.

Same sort of thing with flying 200's and the like.  I'm excited at what I think we can do with this toy.



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.



Senior Aussies

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I'm off to the Aussies again

Tomorrow morning I'm driving to Adelaide to coach as part of the Victorian team at the Senior Australian track titles. It's game time after a year's preparation.

No live TV this time, but hilights will be on SBS. A significant percentage of the Victorian sprint team have, at some point, been coached by me and are now coached by Hilton or myself (Emily, James, John, Jaegan). Almost the entire Victorian sprint team has been through Hilton's squad. We're very proud of these sprinters. Medals or no, I know they will all do the best the possibly can, and that's the thing.

While I'm away, Brit Jackson will be doing the Vic junior track titles, go Brit!


Cereal killers screening sold out!

But you can see it online ...

I'm stoked, Cereal Killers' screening at the (ironically!) Jam Factory this Friday is now sold out. 

You can see it online though ..



Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.

Cereal Killers


The film follows Donal – a lean, fit, seemingly healthy 41 year old man – on a quest to hack his genes and drop dead healthy by avoiding the heart disease and diabetes that has afflicted his family.

Donal’s father Kevin, an Irish gaelic football star from the 1960s, won the first of 2 All Ireland Championships with the Down Senior Football Team in 1960 before the biggest crowd (94,000) ever seen at an Irish sporting event.

When Kevin suffered a heart attack later in life, family and friends were shocked. How does a lean, fit and seemingly healthy man – who has sailed through cardiac stress tests – suddenly fall victim to heart disease?

Can a controversial diet consisting of 70% fat provide the answers?



Come see my film!

Well, I helped kickstart it anyway ...

Get on it!  Ironically, it's at the Jam Factory!


Modern nutrition

And the old school

The "old school" of nutrition isn't really old school, it's middle school, but I digress.  Read this :


Bring on 2014

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2013 was full of frustration ...

A lot of interesting, but confidential, stuff happened in 2013 with me, in terms of career development.  I got to spend a week embedded with the AIS sprint program, which was great (the big secret : there is no big secret, it's just consistant, specific, hard work).  2014 is going to see some big changes, which will be .. big!  We don't know what they'll be yet.  Sorry for the ambiguity, but I can't say any more at this time except that the VIS has a new cycling head coach coming (Glenn Doney from ACTAS) in mid February, and there's other irons in the fire.  We're in limbo until February, but to keep me busy and out of mischief,  I'm off to Adelaide for the Senior Aussies in 4 weeks.

Limbo ... sucks!  But hopefully it will be over soon.



Is winning everything?

How important is winning?

Over the last few months I've had reason to answer the question, in a couple of different contexts, "How important is winning?".

It's a very interesting question indeed.

Ultimately, we race to win. In sprint, it's not about finishing the race, unlike most of the people who race endurance events.  Just to finish the Warny for example, is a win.  Second place in a match sprint is not a win.  Finishing a flying 200 is not a win. It sucks to lose a sprint and still get a medal.  In some ways bronze is better than silver, emotionally.  You won bronze, you lost to get silver.

How important is it?  It's very context-sensitive.  If you're a recreational sprinter racing the Summer Sprint Series, it's important to be competitive and have fun, that's why we grade it and it's a round robin format.  For development purposes, this is an ideal format, plenty of racing, plenty of chances to win, and try things and to try things that don't necessarily work the way you expect them.

If you're a coach in a government funded elite squad, winning is all-important.  Head sprint coaches at the Olympic games for Australia, Great Britain, Germany, France etc are there to win.  That's their job. It's absolutely vital that they win. They can't all win, and those that don't can get the chop by their organisations if they don't.  It's very intense and the stakes are high. It's only a bike race, but it's not!  Millions of dollars of goverment and private funding, years of dedication and sacrifice from the athletes and the coaches, there's a lot at stake. When it goes badly at that level, it's brutal. 

Compare this to Cool Runnings.  We've all seen it, it's a classic and one of the best sporting movies ever made.  Those guys won, not the race, but a battle against almost overwhelming odds to get to the start line.  If you're not at the top level, getting to the top level is a win.

Think about Lori-Ann Muenzer in our context, or Sir Chris Hoy, who was a pioneer of what is now one of, if not the, best sprint programmes in the world.  Hoy's story really is amazing.  His autobiography is a must read for anyone in sprint cycling.

From a development perspective, working with a development group like I do with the Vic sprint group (15 to 18 year olds, mostly) and some of the aboc guys, winning bike races isn't as critically important in the short term.  It'a a long term goal - we ARE training the kids to win races and it's important that they do, but it is at least as important that they develop the strength, power, speed, skill and emotional maturity to cope with the pressure to win that they will face if they make it into an elite squad.

These attributes can take time. A junior athlete with potential may not be winning much at first, it may take years of hard work for them to progress to the level where they are winning races and if winning is everything, these guys drop out.  We need them (and the seniors!) to concentrate on improvement and processes.  You'll hear a lot of "focus on the process". This means focussing on what you're doing, whatever it is, and letting the results take care of themselves.  If you're focussing on a solid start out of a gate, arms straight, head up etc and not on "I must win this race", you'll usually do a better start, and are more likely to win, or at least, give yourself the best chance you have to win. The athletes need to protect themselves from this pressure (pity the coaches!) and have sports psychs to help them with it. In order to win, they need to forget about winning.  Just like tennis in a lot of ways.  There are some very good books on tennis winning, I can recommend The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey.  Get it, read it. It's good.

Back on topic, winning is, ultimately, what it's all about for us, but we must approach that with a long term plan and process and with athletes fully aware that while we're preparing them to win, we want to see focus, dedication and improvement.  Tick those boxes and the wins will come.





Track racing holder technique

How to hold and push riders


Don't fear Fat

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A movie I helped fund (kickstarter!) is out now ...

Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.

Cereal Killers

The film follows Donal – a lean, fit, seemingly healthy 41 year old man – on a quest to hack his genes and drop dead healthy by avoiding the heart disease and diabetes that has afflicted his family.

Donal’s father Kevin, an Irish gaelic football star from the 1960s, won the first of 2 All Ireland Championships with the Down Senior Football Team in 1960 before the biggest crowd (94,000) ever seen at an Irish sporting event.

When Kevin suffered a heart attack later in life, family and friends were shocked. How does a lean, fit and seemingly healthy man – who has sailed through cardiac stress tests – suddenly fall victim to heart disease?

Can a controversial diet consisting of 70% fat provide the answers?


Working with athletes on tour

Some pointers/reminders

I've been dropped in the deep end on a couple of occasions now with teams and travel and working with athletes I'm not familiar with. Here's some notes on what you need to work out with the athlete before race day :


When working with a new rider on tour, the following need to be discussed between coach(es) and the rider :


  • "What do you need on race day to perform at your best?"
  • Pre race briefings – what do you need? Focus/humour/leave me alone?
  • "Debrief after races? If good result? If bad? When/how?"
  • "Food/drink/suppliments"? What/When/How/Why? (legal?!)
  • Warmup and cool down support?
  • Logistics?
  • Any special needs?
  • Equipment, any quirks? Power meters? Special gears? Tyres? Pressures? Can do own gear changes etc? Spares?
  • Push starts? Ok with pushing on body? Lifting on start lines? Ok with hand on top tube? Check with parents as well if a junior?
  • After racing – pack up protocol, a rush? Talk with other competitors? Allowed time for socialising?
  • Who packs up equipment? Any special requirements?
  • Travel – any after effects, and travel medication?
  • Medication/illness – anything?


What not to do?

Do NOT challenge an athlete's training or race choices.  You're there to get the best out of them, not to change them. If they're working with another coach, it is NOT your role to change what they do on race day.

There's more, but these are some key things to start with.

Noakes, Brukner, low carb athletes

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