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A decade of coaching!

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aboc is 10 this year

Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I was working with Neil and Trevor Cameron as my first victims while I got my level 1.  I still get to work with Neil sometimes!  A decade of coaching ... It's been a lot of fun and an amazing journey, but I am still a grasshopper with MUCH to learn!  Bring it on!

Oh, and Neil's lesson to everyone : Wear your gloves eh?




Check your reactions at the door

Now, are you racing chairs around your office, padding?! Be honest ...


Wow ...


Just .. wow!





What a mess ...

I'm trying to sort out a workable, scalable calendaring solution for the millions of things, people etc that I have to keep track of.  Google Calendar seems to be pretty nice, it has the ability to show and hide things, share calendars, delegate permissions etc.  I'm trialing it with some of the guys in Norway and hopefully will find a way to integrate Plone events (this website, the site) with it somehow.  Adding things in multiple places is error prone and a PITA.  Watch this space ...


the art of good teaching

Or putting the shoe on the other foot.

I was going to write about SSS round 2, which went pretty well (ok, it was great!) but that can wait a bit.  You can see all the videos and results over at the SSS website if you want.

I want to write briefly about learning, learning new, alien skills and the art of excellent teaching.

I'm lucky enough (wellll ... pretty lucky, wellll ... extrordinarily lucky ...) to be being exposed to a new skillset by a teacher/coach with some of the best teaching skills I've ever experienced.  Learning new skills is hard, especially in an environment where you're way outside your comfort zone. 

In a really fortuitous twist to this tale, at the same time as I am being taught new skills, I am in parallel, teaching new skills to the teacher who's teaching me (a swapsie, you might say).  I am teaching whitewater kayaking and basic track cycling, I am being taught .. wait for it ... Ceroc modern jive (I think that's what it is anyway? All I know is I keep tripping over!).  Yes, dancing.  Me .. Dancing .. You want to push my comfort zone, that is IT!  I can fly a plane, SCUBA dive to 55m on mixed gasses, play violent contact sports, climb rocks and ice, race sprints, paddle down rapids, kill spiders and ward off snakes .. you name it, no worries, but dance?  Ohhh ...  I'm game enough to admit to being petrified of dancing.

This is a very interesting position to be in, when teaching skills a teacher needs to know when to back off, say nothing, let the student experiment and make (harmless) mistakes, and when to intercept and cut off any frustration or danger with the right cues.  Timing of this is critical or the student either doesn't get the chance to learn (over teaching is waayyyyy too common, just SHUT UP, STEP BACK AND LET ME WORK THIS OUT FOR MYSELF!) or gets hurt and/or frustrated to the point that they can't learn (spit the dummy time or get injured!).   

The teacher must have the absolute trust of their student that they are looking after them.  I'm putting my student into dangerous situations in whitewater rapids and on steep banked velodromes. I'm being put into a social context that I am deeply unfamiliar with as well (who wants to look like a dickhead in front of your partner's peers?).  Trust is vital.  Having a teacher or coach that you trust gives you the backing to be able to push you limits.

I also think it's important that the teacher not pretend that a new skill is easy - track stands are not easy, eskimo rolls are not easy, swan drops are not easy (really! I threw that in because I tried to learn that last night and last week and it's tricky!), power cleans and proper squats are not easy.  None of these things are natural, they need to be learned and pretending that they're easy harms the trust relationship between a teacher/coach and their students. They're worthwhile to learn and will take time and effort and will be rewarding when learned.  They are not easy to learn.

To cut a long story short, I think it's a great experience to be taught something new and totally alien and I'm not just (slowly!) learning how not to bowl over dance partners, but more importantly, I'm learning a lot more about how to teach and coach, by being a total novice student all over again in the hands of a brilliant teacher.

Oh, I won B grade on Sunday at round 2, undefeated (although Ian McGinley and I were very very close) and rode a PB flying 200, I'm only a 10th off breaking into 12 seconds at Blackburn.  I think it was world Vegan day on Sunday, I had a couple of steaks to celebrate.





Room for rent!

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In Vermont, aboc HQ!

I have a spare room I need to rent out. Possibly the most bike-friendly house in the universe. 5km from BBN velodrome, 1.7km from Mitcham station, 2km to LBS. 20 min ride to Glenvale. House has :
Gym (my shed)
Bike storage room
I think there's a dunny, a kitchen etc .. all the usual stuff - I live upstairs, so you basically get your own bathroom & toilet (shared, mainly only used by others when people train in the gym)

Actually it's two rooms - and there's a bed in one of them so you have a bedroom and an office/whatever room.

$450pcm and 50% of bills (so around $575pcm at a guess)

I don't mind mess, as long as it's clean mess. Currently the lounge room is my kayaking gear drying room, for example :)

Interested? ...


Rescue rescue rescue

totally off-topic - Canoe Vic whitewater rescue training ...


My next purchase will be a dry suit ...


No more ads

I got ride of the Adsense adverts ..

No-one wants to pay to read this (why would you?!) and no-one clicks on the Adsense adverts I had on it.  So, they're gone!

I hate 'em too ...


Calling Yasmine!

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Hello ...

Yas, or your dad, can you give me a call before Saturday?  Sorry for putting this up on my blog but I don't have your contact details and there's some stuff on Saturday you will be interested in.

Everyone else reading, carry on, nothing interesting here!



I've been busy!

On Sunday at our regular DISC training session, we did K1's for the sprinters.  I had a little help from Rachael Matties who started putting data into sprintTracker for me.

Here's what the data entry form looks like :


 This is only a small part of this application, but it's the one that will get the most use - we will use it to add data into an SQL (sqlite3 at the moment) database for all our sprinters times.  Yes, it doesn't do power (yet).  For now my goal is to have it able to store all our training data from both aboc and NTID Sprint sessions and allow us to analyse rider performances quickly.  Just getting the data into the database is the first step.  Once it's in there we can query to our heart's content.

So I've been busy - the application is written in a programming language called Python, using a GUI toolkit called wxPython and a database/object orientation toolkit called SQLAlchemy.   I'll be using matplotlib to generate charts and graphs, but that's another toolkit I have to learn to use and it'll take some time to get something useful out of it.  I'm very very rusty as a programmer, the last time I did any even vaguely serious programming was way back in 1996 and that was a horrid mismash of code at Westpac to maintain a DNS database written in Perl.  Ugly ... I'm not proud of it!  Anyway, sprintTracker will hopefully scratch an itch I've had for some time re keeping records of sprint performances that a conventional spreadsheet isn't powerful enough (or I don't know enough about!) to do.

Along the way I've had a shoulder injury that's kept me out of the gym, the doctors diagnosed it as a supraspinatus bursitis, which is an inflamation of the bursa (sort of like a bearing) around a tendon in my shoulder. It's sometimes known as a subacromial bursitis.  They (the doctors I saw) insisted I have a cortisone injection in the shoulder.  Cortisone is on the banned list both in and out of competition, and so I need to get a TUE for it, which is a pain in the arse but must be done if I'm to keep my racing licence.  Round 1 isn't that far away ....


Population, and David Attenborough

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The biggest issue we face ...

Sir David is onside.

Relevant quotes :

"I've never seen a problem that wouldn't be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more."


the Trust accuses policy makers and environmentalists of conspiring in a "silent lie" that human numbers can grow forever with no ill-effects.

We can't keep breeding forever ...


The Big Merv

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I'm doing Movember this year ...

If not shaving worked for Sean Eadie in the leadup to the 2002 worlds, I figure I'd better do my bit for the third round of the aSSS.  So far I've made two finals (3v4) and lost both, to take the next step doesn't involve training, eating smart, riding smarter, it involves the one thing all great Australian champions have, a dirty great Mo and there's only one real mo, and that's the Big Merv.

If you want to chip in, here's my donation page.  The lucky aggregate winner of round 3 at the aSSS gets to shave it off me. Now there's a prize worth winning!  Mal, you're tempted, you know it ....



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heh ...

While I'm sitting here waiting for Ride to arrive and the new power rack ...

Gutted .. a lot of people say they're 'gutted' by something or other, usually reasonably minor in the overall scheme of things.  To be gutted is to have your intestines removed. It's pretty ... dramatic ... Symptom of our times that it gets used by someone who's lost a footy game, a bike race?  Hardly the same thing as gutting!


Banning bottled water!

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Totally off-topic, totally GOOD!

In today's Age, the NSW government has banned all departments buying bottled water, and a town has banned it altogether.

Brilliant!  Sanity!  Bottled water is an evil triumph of marketing and waste over sanity.



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The server the aboc website lives on is all new!

My old server was an old Intel Celeron 2.8GHz  box, with a clunky old hard drive and was old, well overdue for replacement. I think it was 4 or 5 years old?  Way underspec to run modern CMS's like Plone (the CMS this site runs on) and such, that's for sure.

Tonight, the server got a big upgrade, it's now a shiny new Intel Core2Duo E7400 with 4GB of RAM, NetBSD 5.0 (amd64), mirrored 320GB hard drives and other nice fruit.

It should be a bit quicker and more stable, the old one was starting to get quite unreliable.  Good-o.  I've got to get up at roady-o-clock (before 9am!) tomorrow morning to help out at the time trial at the 1:20, so I'm glad this upgrade seems to have gone well.


Deakin training starts tomorrow

Our first lot of training sessions for the Deakin CC start tomorrow morning

As I've mentioned before, aboc has been asked to, and is, providing a set of 10 one-hour training sessions at Blackburn for the Deakin Uni Cycling Club.  We're also sponsoring them a little, aboc IT Consulting is hosting their web site.  The forecast is ok ... it might be cold but probably dry.

The BoM says :

Forecast for Tuesday

Cloudy. Dry for much of the day although a lttle patchy rain at times. Light northeast to southeast winds.

City Cloudy, mainly dry.
Min 9
Max 16

So it'll be cold for the first one tomorrow morning, at 8am.

Before then, tonight I'm doing a plone training course, from 1am to 5am and then have to be at Blackburn at 7 to take a new lad through the basics of riding fixed on a track.  Not much sleep tonight and I think I'll need a very easy day tomorrow before the spin session.  I've had some news from the Apolito branch of the aboc Sprint Squad.  The hotel they're in in the US (California) has a gym and some excercise bikes.  I'm expecting to hear that Emily has broken at least one by the end of the week!
Speaking of spin, Lucie and I have cooked another big bolla for dinner and it tastes pretty good.  Bring your appetite if you're coming.
DISC - as it's the long weekend this weekend, we're considering not running a session at DISC this Sunday.  Will confirm with Nathan tomorrow night and put a note up on the website and do a bit of a ring around to let everyone know. So, who has Julian, Carmel and Jonathon's contact details?!

Speaking of DISC, last Sunday's session went well.  Despite the Apolito's being absent and Mason and Jason being under the weather, we had a turnout of 7 (9 if you include the coaches, myself and Nathan).  The enduros all left pretty-well shattered, the drill where we pace them behind the motorbike and then they have to attack off the front is a toaster, that's for sure.  It was popular, if brutally hard.  With Em and Dino away the sprint squad got to do 4 x 1/2 lap jumps in pairs, 2 seated and two with out of the saddle starts and we finished with 2 baby keirins.  4 laps at 40km/h behind the bike and then 1 and a half laps to race.  We were all on little gears, 86" or so which made it interesting and a real tax on leg speed. I was pretty happy with how I went, I've not been feeling all that well (swine 'flu jokes, bring 'em on!) but I managed to hit the bunch pretty hard in the baby keirins and get 55km/h on the small gear from not much of a leadout.  Certainly not unhappy with that effort.

The Vic masters time trial series got underway on the weekend as well, and both Martin Lama, who many aboc'ers know well and Shane 'The Llama' Miller won their grades (B and A respectively).  I'm not sure how Martin managed to get into B grade, but it won't be for long!  Great effort, lads.  The turnout at the event was pretty healthy despite the 450km driving to do a 20km time trial.  It shows that there's a definate market for time trialing.  I'd like to think that Blackburn has had something to do with it, as we've been pushing the ITT thing for a few years now at the Boule' and it's growing.  A lot of early promotional work was done by Nick Bird last year which really brought about a critical mass of riders who knew about the event and gave it a go, and it goes to show that if you build it, and you PUBLICISE IT! they will come ... I ran out of time to do the promo cards for the Australia Day Madison for tomorrow night's Brunswick Madison No.2 but hopefully they'll run another and we'll get something for that in time.


Squats, weights, easy days and lunacy on TV

I'm ashamed to admit it, I watched an episode of 'reality tv'

This last two days have been mainly easy days, I lifted moderately heavy on Wednesday in the 'Haus (5 x 5 @ 150kg squats, 1 set of 10 130kg deadlifts, total tonnage 5,050kg) after Tuesday's spin session and on Wednesday night had a couple of short E1 rides for a total of about an hour and a half's riding.  Thursday was just an easy tootle to the LBS and back, no lifting and today was again around 45 minutes all-up E1 stuff. 

Tomorrow I'll lift heavy when I get back from the Baw Baw if I'm not too knackered from riding the motorbike out there. It's time to bump it up to 162.5kg squats again. I'll be trying for 5 sets of 3 reps, and depending on how that goes will up the deadlifts to 140kg.  130kg was hard, but I think I can manage 140kg for 10.  We'll see about that anyway. If it's not done on Saturday I'll do it on Sunday after Lucie and I go for a kayak paddle ... My arm's slowly getting better after the bursitis incident on Monday, I guess I'm starting to get old though, injuries take a bit longer to heal and mystery injuries crop up without explanation.

Speaking of lifting ... I'm a bit ashamed to say I was a bit bored on Thursday and watched a bit of 'the biggest loser' (the biggest loser is the person watching that rubbish... never again).  They had the punters all lined up in a semi circle with Olympic bars on their shoulders - except they weren't on their shoulders, they were way back off their necks on padding.  A big no-no when squatting heavy - it increases the moment arm around the lower back and increases the risk of lower back injury because to keep the weight over the lifter's feet they have to lean further forward, and they'll slump sooner or later and put a huge dynamic load on the lower back.  To make matters worse, they were doing it to failure and they were loading up the weights while the punters were holding the bars.  This made for asymetrical loads and twisting on the lower back as the 'trainers' (dangerous idiots) pushed the weights around while the punters were holding them up.  You wouldn't dream of doing that to experienced and strong lifters, let alone this bunch of untrained gumbies.

Could they do it in any more of an unsafe manner?  I'm not sure ... That was a pretty comprehensive catalogue of things not to do when holding a bar on your shoulders.  They got away with it ... But it was terrible.  So very irresponsible.  They should have had them progressively deadlift greater weights or something if they wanted to do something like that, at least a failure wouldn't risk blowing a back to pieces so badly. They'd just not be able to pick the bar up.  Shame on you, whoever came up with that stupid and dangerous stunt.  Lifting isn't a dangerous activity if it's done properly with good instruction from people who know what they're doing and with progressive and managed overload.  These idiots, on the other hand, threw essentially untrained people (who were no athletes) into a situation where they had to hold a (relatively) heavy weight in a biomechanically poor and dangerous position (padded out from their traps) while it was loaded up to a failure and twisted and pulled while they were doing it.   If I did that to anyone I was working with I'd expect to go to gaol for gross negligence when they got hurt.

Anyway ... Tomorrow I'm off to take photos of the lads racing the Baw Baw, I'll be at Winch Corner where it's an ~20% gradient.  Good luck to you all doing it. Pay no attention to the chalk writing on the roads! I've also been in touch with the bloke who built one of the AIS's sprint training ergos (the 'Wombat') and arranges wind tunnel testing - watch this space, we may have some slots to get into the tunnel and test sprinters for aerodynamics.




Jobie Dajka

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Found dead this morning

Jobie Dajka was a world champion track sprinter as a junior and senior rider. His palmares etc are listed on his wikipedia page.  A few of us saw him race and raced with him at DISC on Thursdays and at some of the country carnivals.  He wasn't in the best of shape, but had a huge burst of power and was an amazing athlete.

Our condolances to his family and friends.


Rain, wonderful rain!

A couple of days of rain, so we missed a training session? Rain is GOOD!

The last two days have been rainy.  We pulled the pin on Tuesday and today's (Thursday) sessions at the Blackburn track.  No matter, the rain is worth so much more than a few sprint efforts.  It's wonderful to hear rain on the roof again after two months of nothing but dry, hot days and frustrating cooler, but dry days, and fires ...

I'm editing video today for the sprint series.  I hope I'll have most of round 5's video online by the time I have to go out to Lilydale tonight to fix more computer stuff.  Got to pay the bills somehow!  There'll be an ergo session and some light weights work thrown in today somewhere too.  It's a backoff day for weights, so I'll just be squatting light (140kg or so) but will do some cadence efforts on the ergo, it's time to work on more leg speed.



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A working bee at DISC!

I spent this morning helping out at a working bee at DISC, mostly up a rope on the bank with an orbital sander in a team of two with Nathan from Brunswick as we took turns sanding and taping divots and splinters etc.  I got to use my old mountaineering gear!  Prussic loops and harnesses and my old climbing rope. It was good fun and we got a fair bit done, there's a lot of gouges at the eastern end of the track there.  I think I recognised Dino's dent from when he crashed last year and broke his ribs.  It's a huge job, there was 8 of us there working from about 9am 'til around 12:30 (when I had to go, had to do 2 and a bit fits at the LBS)  and I think we only got about half to two thirds of the track done.  John Beasley's Malaysian tigers were getting ready to train when I left. 

Not much else, club championships tomorrow, match sprints. I'm a bit keyed up for them.  Will be interesting to see if I can get a medal in my age group (MMAS2, 35-40).

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