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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.


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).


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




A simple race

Oh, really?!

Check this out, it's good.



Check your reactions at the door

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


Making you guys go faster


Quick notes from Adelaide's professional development week :

Team sprints - it may be faster to be spread out more, but really good at holding the line behind the lead rider - it may be that the slipstream is longer than a "perfect" team sprint needs, but is very narrow.  We'll do some fun experiments to work this out, look for a motorbike chasing a rider, with a few bits of welding wire and streamers attached!

Peak torque really does matter.

anna_meares_500m_33.9s_powerWe can learn a lot from how much speed is maintained (or how quickly it decays) after it hits peak.  Ie: the power required to slowly decelerate is much less than that which is required to hold constant speed, timing where we hit peak speed in a flying 200 is even more important than we've been thinking it was.  (later is better!) - averages are misleading at best when it comes to analyzing sprint performance with power meter software. Have a look at Anna's data from her old world record.  Look at the power put out while speed (slowly) decays.  Remember KE = 1/2 m.v^2.  Which is to say, momentum matters.

Female sprinters are a long term project - making them strong is a priority for their success in the long term.  I am not alone in thinking this. Those of you who are female reading this - if you're not already - GET STRONG and be prepared for it to take a long time to happen.  Anna spent 10 years getting strong.  It's paying off now in spades.  She spent her junior days being kicked in the arse by her sister, but she kept on getting strong and look at her now.  Junior stars don't always become senior stars, the quick route to success isn't necessarily the best for long term development, ESPECIALLY for girls, ESPECIALLY where the rules are such that strong kids get handicapped by small gears.  (we all know my rant on that!)

Get strong, go fast.  Simple!



Wow ...


Just .. wow!




relief or anticipation

Do you look forward to a big race, or the break afterwards?

I had a debrief conversation with one of my sprinters recently, long after the dust had settled from a tough national titles campaign.

One of the things that came out of it was a key element of mental preparation.  When you're thinking about race day, and it's a major race day (nationals, states, grand final etc) - how do you look forward to it?  Do you think "here's my chance to do my absolute best,to put into practice all the things I've trained", or "I'll be so glad when this is over so I can have a break"?

The answer to that is important.  I think, putting it in that context, that the answer that will lead to your best performance is obvious.



Adelaide again

So here I am in Adelaide for another week

I've been very lucky in this sprint coaching caper.  Right from the start.  So here I am in Adelaide again, after a weekend's assisting Hilton with the Vic VIS and TID kids at a sprint camp.  Now I'm spending this week (I'm here for the first week of a three week junior worlds preparation camp) with Sean Eadie, assisting him as much as I can, working on The Book some more.   Amazing opportunity to learn and develop, and hopefully be a tiny bit useful to Sean for the week too.

The water here still sucks, and finding an open supermarket on a weekend is a challenge, but that's Adelaide for you!

The weekend's racing was good - everyone learned a lot and developed skills and confidence.  The format was similar to the SSS, which as we know, works!


Feedback for Blackburn's Friday night sprint night

What I'd like to do next time

As I mentioned in a blog entry last week, I only did the flying 200 (rode a reasonable time, considering, 13.05, not that far off my PB), the team sprints and the keirin (I was rubbish in the keirin!  Totally pissweak effort! anyway ....)

At the end of the night I was asked for some feedback.  Here it is :

Do flyng 200's every time to start and grade everyone - these are an important sprint discipline and practicing them (and racing them!) is important.  Do them over the full 3.5 lap distance, not 2.5 laps.  It's what we train for, and how we race.  The juniors whop are along to have fun should get exposed to this properly.

Team sprints - we did them in teams of 2 (good) but with the fastest and slowest combined, second fastest with second slowest and so on.  This meant that it wasn't really a race and the kids felt bad for holding up the seniors they were teamed with, despite our best efforts to encourage them.  They did learn, but I'd suggest we do two team sprints - one like this, and one graded with nominated teams that we can be a bit more serious about.

Keep the keirins, and keep them at the end of the night.  To give the sprinters time to recover, run scratch races between the sprints for enduros (or enduros that want to also sprint, go for it guys ... who needs recovery?!).

If numbers are low, match sprints, if numbers are high, more keirins.






The countdown sample on FGF is crappy ...

Anyone who practices standing starts wants to 'sync their clock', which is to say, to get your timing spot-on.

At championship events, you get a beep at 10s to go, then 5,4,3,2 & 1 are beeps, then a different tone beep for 0.

There's a recorded sample of this over on Fixedgearfever, but it's full of background noise and is generally a bit ordinary.  So I sat down for 15 mins or so with Audacity and made a new one.  Here it is.  Feel free to use/abuse/distribute as you see fit.


Example flying 200's

At DISC, on the motorbike

Here's a headlight-view of a flying 200 at DISC that I shot yesterday from the indicator mount of the motorcycle at DISC.  Speed is around 70km/h for the actual 200 metres.




It was shot with a GoPro Hero HD in 720p mode mounted to the right indicator stalk (so the chrome thing is the side of the headlight).



Back on the (old concrete) track

Sunday last (3rd Oct) was the practice day for the Summer Sprint Series.  I'd spent a bit of time at the old Blackburn roundy-roundy-drome doing some weeding, burning weeds, chopping weeds, sweeping etc over the last fortnight but hadn't done a lap as any sort of speed since the last round last summer. 

With a pesky shoulder injury keeping me seated and spinning, I did a couple of demo rides of the two most common flying 200's with a funky little "GoPro Hero HD" video camera attached to my trusty track bike.  These little cameras are brilliant.  Cheap enough to not worry too much about if they get damaged, waterproof, high-def (can do 1080p at 30 frames/second!) and with a stack of clever mounts.  I slapped the camera under my stem, popped on an 86" gear and did some demo laps for the camera.

Here's the video from those two lines




After that, and a warmup sucking the wheel of the ubersprinter for a few laps, it was time to do some practice.  I figured I wasn't good for much, so dropped my gear down to 82" and cranked up the cadence.  I rode a 14.4s flying 200, which was about a second off my best at Blackburn, but it wasn't a full gas effort and was way off the sort of gear I'd normally ride (when I can get out of the saddle to get over a bigger gear anyway, bugger it!).  I'd probably ride 92" or so if everything was working well, and bigger if I felt good and there wasn't much wind.   As it is, I'll be happy if I can hold 86" next week without pain interfering with my ride. We all did a few flying 200's, most of us were way off the times we'd been riding last year.  With no aero fruit, fancy wheels or helmets etc and a strong nor-easter blowing it wasn't all bad.

I did two practice races against Emily, and one against David Thomas, we were all getting the feel for the slacker banking at Blackburn after a winter's training indoors and on the 42 degree timber banks of DISC.  It went well, everyone did improve through the session and I'm looking forward to next Sunday




Almost the end of winter

Also posted to the aboc mailing list

It's the second last Spin for winter of 2010 tonight.  We've had a bumper year with big turnouts and lots of 'fun' (if you can call being flayed on a trainer fun....) through the winter.   Lucie and I have cooked an enormous amount of the aboc bolla over the year. There will end up with a total of 25 sessions this winter, 4.5kg of beef in each session, that's 112.5 kg of beef!

Details of the session are, as always, here

Thank you to Nicole Holt who initially suggested we publish the program online way back in mid 2009, we've done so ever since so you can see what we're doing (there are no secrets at aboc!) and we're always open to questions and suggestions for improvements to the spin program.

We've also had a pretty good winter in at DISC, in the past Spin has subsidised DISC to a significant extent.  This winter that wasn't necessary, again, we're doing something right because you keep coming back.  We can always do better and I always want to hear suggestions for improvements to the sessions at DISC as well as Spin.  We introduced an early warm up for the sprint stream midway through this winter which has worked well and our enduros, under Nathan's guidance, have learned skills and become more confident on the track.

We're running the Summer Sprint Series again this summer at Blackburn, the details are on the series website

That will be a lot of fun and some pretty good competition.  Andrew Steele from Avanti Plus Croydon and Gary Jackson from Riviera Cycles are sponsoring the series again and we'll have some good prizes.  Sue Dundas and the team will be back to make it work seamlessly and efficiently again.

What else is coming up?

We're going to run fortnightly Spin sessions over summer, probably again on Thursday evenings.  Last year these worked well and a small core group of you kept coming to them, maintaining the rage, so to speak.  We'll also run fortnightly DISC sessions or Blackburn track sessions on Sunday afternoons.  I am yet to set a date for our Hotham trip, the calender is so full this summer that it's quite difficult to squeeze anything in.

Personally, I've moved to more specialisation with the sprint squad and Nathan's looking after more of the endurance program that we run so everyone's getting well looked after, but as I mentioned earlier, we can always do better.  We do best when we receive feedback, so please, if there's something we can do better, let us both know!

Thank you


I have a confession to make

I can't trackstand (yet!)

What sort of a track sprinter (and track sprint coach!) can't track stand?  Me!  But, we're working on it.  I'm not the only one with this big gap in my skill set.  We're practicing a lot on Sundays at our DISC sessions while the enduros do their warmdown and last night I managed to roll to a stop and hold a track stand for about 10 seconds.  Progress!  Next week we'll be going up onto the boards to do them.  Still wearing shoes rather than clipped in, but it's progress and in a few weeks the whole squad will be bunny hopping up and down the track!  Or at least some will and the rest of us will be standing still watching.

This afternoon I'm off to get my left shoulder scanned with an ultrasound, I damaged it about two months ago, rest hasn't helped, physio made it worse, so it's time to find out what's actually wrong with it.  Wish me luck!  It's at the point now where I can't rotate my shoulder back far enough to do a squat and I'm not enjoying front squats as a substitute, even if I'm reaping the novice gains from a new exercise, I know I'm bleeding raw strength by missing my core exercise in the gym.  C'est la Vie!




Settling a debate

Josiah went to Keirin School

For many years we've wondered, but here's the truth:

At Keirin School in Japan riders are trained to not release the handlebars when crashing.  This is to (in theory) protect their arms and collarbones.  Many keirin riders in Japan wear body armour that includes shoulder padding which protects them when they fall and they're trained to land on the padding not to extend their arms.  This is also why keirin gloves have armoured knuckes.  If you hold the bars when you crash, guess what hits the deck .. yep, your knuckles!

This is according to Josiah Ng who just got back from a racing tour of Japan where he rode some 90-odd keirins and had no crashes!


One time, at sprint camp ...

I'm in Adelaide, looking after a bunch of NTID sprinters

For the last two days I've been over here in Adelaide, at the Superdrome and some motel close by, looking after the Victorian NTID sprint squad as part of the NTID sprint camp that's running here for four days.

I've been lucky enough to work with Sean Eadie (who regular readers will know of) and Bryce Mitchell who's one of the WA NTID coaches, running a couple of training sessions on the track and also generally looking after the squad.  I've got 10 riders in my direct care, and while we have support from Josh (NTID co-ordinator) it's a daunting task.   To put it in context, we'll have to do two days of racing (sprinting, which is very coach-intensive) with my squad having just me to look after them, after two days of training sessions and other 'camp stuff'. The state squad, which isn't that much bigger, has three coaches and two mechanics and a host of family people to help out.  And they reckon they're over-worked!  Heh!

This is not a complaint,  I'm loving the opportunity to learn from these kids and also the other coaches, I roomed with Sean last night and we had some really good talks on sprint training philosophy and so on which I hope will end up with Sean and I co-authoring "the" book on sprint training ("the" book because there isn't one at the moment).  I've got Gary West's (national sprint coach) list of sprint drills to add in to our standardisation project that you can see a glimpse of here.  We have to dispel the old ways (no, sprinters do NOT need to do lots of road miles and race road in winter, that SLOWS THEM DOWN! FFS!).  I'm thrilled to be on the same page as Sean on this and we'll be able to work together to drag a lot of the current coaching practices for sprint out of the dark ages.

I'm incredibly fortunate to have been given this opportunity by Hilton and Team sprint startthe guys at the NTID.  Today I got to assist (in a very minor way, I was just a start-line holder for a drill) the AIS team training, getting to work with champions like Anna and Kaarle is just brilliant.

We're going to be seriously under the pump tomorrow, the racing starts and there's a full afternoon-evening's sprinting for all my guys and also research to carry out on how the other guys are racing and so on.  The kids have to manage their food for the afternoon/evening on their own, we're taking them on a 'guided shopping trip' tomorrow to help them choose foods that they can race on during a long block of track time, then lunch, then in to the track at ~1pm.  We don't expect to get out of there 'till 10pm or so, then a very late dinner and back at 8am on Sunday for more. 

It's my job to look after them all, get them in the right state of mind, manage any incidents, provide pre-race tactical support and post-race debriefing.  I'm very excited by the opportunity and the pressure and it's going to be a blast. I have a great team of riders to work with and we're all going to work together.  Don't call me, I'll be busy!  Bring it on.




Get in the habit

Every time ...

Every time you do a drill that involves crossing a finishing line, throw your bike.


Every. Single. Time.

Make it automatic, a reflex.

Races get won and lost at the throw.  At the end of a race it has to just happen.  Make a habit of it now.


On the up ...

Good things happening

I'm pretty pleased.  Apart from a positive trend in my peak power output (up, not as much as I'd like, but still consistently going up is good, after a bit of a slump for a few months) I got offered a paid position with the NTID on Tuesday night when I was up at the AIS at the NTID coaching conference.  I didn't want to write about it here until I'd had a chance to talk to a few friends about it.  It's a very part-time position working as an assistant to Hilton Clarke with the Victorian NTID sprint squad.  This is basically what I've been doing for the last few months and it's been recognised by the guys at the NTID and they've committed to paying me to continue to do it.

As you can imagine, I'm very happy about this.  Paid coaching positions are few and far between and this is a great opportunity to develop further as a sprint coach and learn so much more, with a little bit of financial help.  I've done a lot of hours (I guess at roughly 250 hours since February, ~20 weeks, ~13 hours a week, give or take) helping that squad so far for 'free' (really, it's like being at school, I don't expect to get paid when I'm learning and aren't really a lot of use) as well as a bit of paid work while Hilton's been having his knee replaced, which will soon be over. Hilts will be back on deck and I'm sure the guys in the squad will be glad to have him back. 

I've done my best but I'm far from perfect when it comes to running some of the drills, in particular some of the motorpacing stuff is quite tricky to get right and I have a lot of practice and instruction to receive before I'm competent.  Getting the pacing right is critical in drills like motorbike entries, each rider needs a different entry speed, different rate of acceleration and so on, and some need me to go very fast indeed (getting close to 80km/h) which I'm still not comfortable doing.  I hit 80km/h on Saturday pacing one of them, and that's scary-fast on the velodrome on a motorbike.  In some ways it'll be frustrating to have to go back to being the assistant at the training sessions when I've been running the show for about a month, but I'll suck it up and it'll be a good, humbling experience when it happens.

Martin Barras (former Australian Sprint coach) is going to be at DISC on Thursday as part of the level 2 coaching course that's running there at the moment and I'm going to sit in on his session (and not ask any questions, ok!  Yes I will behave, Brendan!) and see what interesting things he has to say.  At the level 2 course I did back in November last year in Adelaide, Craig Colduck was one of the presenters.  Craig was Martin's strength coach and we got the chance to see a lot of the nuts and bolts of his programming style, getting a chance to see how Martin did it directly from him will be great.

We had a good turnout at our DISC session tonight too, I'm pleased to see growth in our little sprint group, I'm gradually handing over the reins to Nathan for the enduro programming and session running, having two of us means I can concentrate on my sprinters while Nath looks after the enduros, so far it's working well and I think everyone who attends is benefitting from having the two of us working together.

We're running an invitational sprint round at DISC on the 9th of July too, which I need a few more riders to attend, if you're interested you can read about it (and the invitational criteria!) here.

And ... I'm going to the AIS/NTID sprint camp in Adelaide in mid July to help out, I'll miss one of our DISC sessions, but Nathan's ok to run it on his own and the sprinters will have plenty of stuff to do without me.

Finally, I've got more track powertaps to play with, I think we've got, between myself, Hilton, the VIS and NTID six of them.  I swapped over the axles in two of the VIS ones today to use studs (conventional track nuts) from the rather fiddly bolts they originally came with.  Darryl Perkins is building the most recent pair of hubs into two more wheels which we should have in a week or two.

It's all go ....


Sweet home Chicago!

Some good bicycle-road stuff

The video tells the story .. pretty good stuff.



Traffic Enforcement for Bicyclist Safety from Chicago Bicycle Program on Vimeo.


And the hipsters think they've got some tricks when they skid on their fixies ...

Filed Under:

This is where female gymnasts go, I'm sure, once they've grown too big for Olympic gymnastics

 It's called "Artistic Cycling" or "Kunstrad" and it's a cross between figure skating and track cycling.  It's been around for almost as long as bikes have as a sport.  So the next time some hipster fixie rider gets you up against the wall telling you how skillful they are with their skids, show them this and watch their jaws drop.  Then. suggest they get themselves a leotard!


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