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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!


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 ...



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

Filed Under:

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!


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.


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.








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 ...





Brit on TV

Filed Under:

Roller racing!


Cam Woolcock on TV!

Filed Under:

roller racing! - I don't know why I can't embed it, but check out Cam's Big Win!


Martial arts to help sprint

There's more in common than it may seem at first - have a read.  For us, as sprinters, we're not THAT dissimilar to martial artists.  We have skills that we need to master, moves and countermoves that use those skills, and then "tactics" which is essentially the application of the right moves at the right times.  Very similar to martial arts.  I think we can learn a lot from them.


Women's keirin!

In Japan!

This is a really good thing!


Big gears, big fears?

Has the world imploded?

Not everyone's a fan of the 7m rollout for J17's.  I've gone on to discuss this in the past.  We now have our first lot of in competition times from Vic titles to look at.  So let's have a look.  I'm going to just look at sprint, I am not interested in the pursuits!

This year :

Event 3: JW17 Time Trial

2 Laps 500m Final - STANDINGS

1. 32 Brook RAMSHAW (CAR)   38.735    
2. 31 Chloe BAGGS (BBN)   39.023 +0.28  
3. 33 Brit JACKSON (BBN)   39.145 +0.41  
4. 35 Jordyn HASSETT (BBN)   40.033 +1.29  
5. 37 Emily DUNK (BWK)   41.310 +2.57  
6. 36 Jamie GOODING (BBN)   41.909 +3.17  
7. 41 Freya WICKENDEN (CAR)   42.000 +3.26  
8. 34 Greta CURRAN (BWK)   42.063 +3.32  
9. 38 Madison FITZGERALD (BBN)   42.637 +3.90  


No new records.  Reasonably close times. 

Compare to last year

Courtney FIELD(CAR) 38.195
Emily APOLITO(BBN) 39.256 +1.06
Chloe BAGGS(BBN) 39.656 +1.46
Emma BILSTON(B-S) 40.629 +2.43
Zoe NICHOLSON(ART) 41.872 +3.67
Nicole CLARK(WNG) 44.980 +6.78
Rebecca THOMSON(LAV) 45.568 +7.37

Apart from the outlier (Courtney), they're pretty close.  A little faster with the bigger gears, but there's too much variation in te size of the girls fields and the quality of them to make any judgements yet.  There's a lot of depth (relatively) in JW17 this year.


And the F200 :

Event 15: JW17 Sprint Qualifying

Flying 200 Top 8 to Quarter Finals

1. 31 Chloe BAGGS (BBN)   12.737    
2. 33 Brit JACKSON (BBN)   13.046 +0.30  
3. 32 Brook RAMSHAW (CAR)   13.128 +0.39  
4. 35 Jordyn HASSETT (BBN)   13.373 +0.63  
5. 34 Greta CURRAN (BWK)   13.512 +0.77  
6. 41 Freya WICKENDEN (CAR)   14.029 +1.29  
7. 37 Emily DUNK (BWK)   14.193 +1.45  
8. 36 Jamie GOODING (BBN)   14.195 +1.45  


CF last year :

Courtney FIELD(CAR) 12.466
Emily APOLITO(BBN) 13.308 +0.84
Zoe NICHOLSON (ART) 14.670 +2.20
Rebecca THOMSON(LAV) 15.109 +2.64

Here we see some bigger differences - again, if we ignore Courtney as an outlier, the top three girls rode significantly faster this year.  For the girls this isn't a suprise in the F200, they can wind up the gear, rather than have to accelerate it from a standing start (and most of the girls are not very strong, I don't think many of them lift), so I'd expect to see bigger changes here.  What we are seeing is greater density at the top end.  The girls field in 2011-2012 was tiny though, so the sample size is too small to draw any conclusions from, except that we have more JW17's racing sprint this year and that's a really good thing, there's also no (that I have seen) dead bodies on the floor.  The horror of allowing 14 and 15 year olds to rev a little lower has not killed anyone.  If anything, it's leveling the playing field a little, the mashers can keep up with the hummingbirds. AMAZING!


Where do we have depth? The boys.  This is where we don't tend to see outliers so much because the talent pool is much bigger.

This year :

Event 4: JM17 Time Trial

2 Laps 500m Final - STANDINGS

1. 4 Gary RAMSHAW (CAR)   34.323    
2. 1 Ryan SCHILT (BWK)   34.592 +0.26  
3. 2 David KOROKNAI (CAR)   34.852 +0.52  
4. 7 Stephen ELLUL (BBN)   35.144 +0.82  
5. 6 Thomas MCFARLANE (LGA)   35.699 +1.37  
6. 5 Conor ROWLEY (BBN)   35.929 +1.60  
7. 3 Kurt SANTAGADA (BBN)   36.556 +2.23  
8. 13 Kyle MUIR (BBN)   36.626 +2.30  
9. 11 James TICKNER (CAR)   36.915 +2.59  
10. 8 Caiden HULL (CAR)   36.985 +2.66  
11. 9 Nicolas ABELS (BWK)   37.483 +3.16  
12. 12 Tomarsh LOKI (WNG)   37.853 +3.53  
13. 14 Ryan KILPATRICK (SHP)   37.935 +3.61  
14. 23 Jarrod WILSON (BBN)   38.223 +3.90  
15. 16 Hamish WEBBER (BBN)   38.779 +4.45  
16. 22 Lachlan VAN DER VELDEN (CAR)   38.970 +4.64  
17. 21 Sebastian PRESLEY (BBN)   39.614 +5.29  
18. 20 Adam PAYKEL-SAMUEL (CAR)   39.766 +5.44  
19. 25 Clancy LLOYD (LAV)   39.847 +5.52  
20. 15 Jacob MUMFORD (BBN)   39.910 +5.58  
21. 19 Indiana MICHEL (SHP)   40.463 +6.14  
22. 24 Ian HERMAN (BWK)   40.601 +6.27  
23. 17 Samuel BROWN (BWK)   40.874 +6.55  
24. 18 Stephen DAMM (LAV)   41.435 +7.11  


CF last year:

1 Jay CASTLES(SHP) 34.608
2 Mathew ROSS(CAR) 35.419
3 John COCHRANE(BBN) 35.484
4 James DANN(BBN) 35.600
5 Jack HICKEY(CAR) 35.775
6 Jerome BECHAZ(CAR) 36.075
7 Braeden DEAN(BGO) 36.142
8 Jordan STANNUS(CAR) 36.866
9 Angus LYONS(B-S) 37.349
10 Caiden HULL(CAR) 37.580
11 Thomas VERLEYS-DONK(CAR) 37.878
12 Pierce CONNOR(BBN) 38.381
13 Lucas HAMILTON(ART) 38.383
14 David KOROKNAI(CAR) 38.436
15 Jade MADDERN(CSL) 38.764
16 Angus FLOOD(BBN) 38.820
17 Jack WALK(WGL) 39.241
18 Steven CARROLL(PRS) 39.563
19 Nicolas ABELS(BWK) 39.679
20 Hamish HAYNES(SHP) 39.935
21 Ned EFE(CAR) 40.039
22 Tomarsh LOKI(WNG) 40.555
23 Michael STRINGER(BBN) 41.495
24 Jarrod WILSON(BBN) 42.294
25 Lex MUNOZ(CAR) 42.452
26 Stephen DAMM(LAV) 42.841
27 Jacob MUMFORD(BBN) 44.577


Quicker across the board.  Not dramatically, but it's significant.  No dead bodies.

In the F200, we're a little quicker, but interestlingly, a lot denser at the top end.  I wonder if any of the kids can get into the 10's if we find any real outliers?  Wouldn't that be amazing ...

Event 16: JM17 Sprint Qualifying

Flying 200 Top 8 to Quarter Finals

1. 1 Ryan SCHILT (BWK)   11.543    
2. 2 David KOROKNAI (CAR)   11.627 +0.08  
3. 4 Gary RAMSHAW (CAR)   11.651 +0.10  
4. 7 Stephen ELLUL (BBN)   11.662 +0.11  
5. 6 Thomas MCFARLANE (LGA)   11.785 +0.24  
6. 9 Nicolas ABELS (BWK)   11.866 +0.32  
7. 5 Conor ROWLEY (BBN)   12.019 +0.47  
8. 13 Kyle MUIR (BBN)   12.152 +0.60  
9. 11 James TICKNER (CAR)   12.176 +0.63  
10. 14 Ryan KILPATRICK (SHP)   12.477 +0.93  
11. 23 Jarrod WILSON (BBN)   12.480 +0.93  
12. 16 Hamish WEBBER (BBN)   12.669 +1.12  
13. 25 Clancy LLOYD (LAV)   13.066 +1.52  
14. 22 Lachlan VAN DER VELDEN (CAR)   13.366 +1.82  
15. 19 Indiana MICHEL (SHP)   13.410 +1.86  


Last year :

Jay CASTLES(SHP) 11.631
Jack HICKEY(CAR) 11.682
John COCHRANE(BBN) 11.733
James DANN(BBN) 11.780
Braeden DEAN(BGO) 11.809
Jerome BECHAZ(CAR) 12.154
Jordan STANNUS(CAR) 12.383
Thomas VERLEYS-DONK(CAR) 12.623
Lucas HAMILTON(ART) 12.659
Angus FLOOD(BBN) 12.791
Nicolas ABELS(BWK) 12.839
Hamish HAYNES(SHP) 13.038
Jade MADDERN(CSL) 13.546
Stephen ELLUL(BBN) 13.635
Jarrod WILSON(BBN) 14.136
Ian HERMAN(BWK) 15.915

 Any conclusions to draw?  Not yet, it's too early to tell and I have only done a very quick and cursory look at the times from two Vic titles and I haven't considered atmospheric conditions etc.  We'll see what happens at the Aussies and also when this lot of J17's move up to J19's next year.  Remember the whole aim is to make the J19 -> senior jump less of a killer, and that will take 3-4 years to show itself.  So far, no dead bodies, no velodromes lined with corpses and we saw some really good, close racing on the weekend, in particular in the JW17's sprint and keirens.



Cyclingtips Shane Perkins interview

Filed Under:

Unlike a prominent cycling magazine interview from a few years ago ...

This is full of interesting stuff about Keirin in Japan!

Have a read :


Keirins! At DISC! Go do 'em!

Filed Under:


Saturday November 24 at DISC.

Juniors at 5.30pm, Seniors at 7.30pm.

Entry fee: Juniors $10, Seniors $20 (pay on the night).
Entries close November 18 at
Early entries close November 11: Free entry for 4 lucky entrants.

$1810 for Junior program, $3750 for Seniors + $3000 in prizes.

Details on CV’s track fixture or Laurie Norris (0417 550805).

The program is chock-full of keirins!  Go enter it!



My best flying 200 at Blackburn!

SSS round 2, and close to perfect conditions,  I rode a 13.079, which is a big PB for me.  53x15 gearing, I rode a low entry line and it worked.  It put me into A grade.  Second last qualifier, so it was going to be tough ...

I rode a good race against Nic Mark, I had a good gap and had a chance, but flatted (lucky, back wheel!) down the straight with a lap to go, lucky not to bin it, so Nic got that one.  Next up I raced Dino, and again I lead it out, Dino got right on my hip passing me coming into turn 3 and I got spooked and backed off (Dino would have won anyway, this wasn't why he won!), and in the last, Kyle Muir went from 600m and I didn't bother to chase him. 

So, apart from race 1 I was a gumby, but I did ride a big PB for my F200 so the day was good!


Essential skills

Trackstands matter

How Anna won in London ....  Vicky's the best chaser in the world.  Anna didn't want to lead her out.  Watch ... I can't embed it here, but you can go to youtube and see exactly what happens




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.



A simple race

Oh, really?!

Check this out, it's good.

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