Entries For: December 2009
This is my bicycle, there are many like it, but this one is mine
Reflection time ...
I often think about this, as a coach to others. Why do we ride bikes, and even more interestlingly, why do we compete?
The first one's easy and multi-faceted. I had lunch recently with a friend, and she told me of the joy she felt riding home with a tailwind, gliding effortlessly along in a small bunch with some friends. I think most of us who cycle will know that feeling. The riding's effortless, the speed, the distance, the good company ... Then there's the doing something you didn't know you could do. Another good friend comes up to Hotham for our camps up there, and I can still remember the emotion he felt when he first topped out on the big monster. That's such an intense feeling, it's worth working hard for. There's also the somewhat egotistical 'I can do this' side of it, back when I rode a lot of road miles, I remember riding out to watch the Bendigo Madison, from Brighton (~220km for the day). I stopped off at some small town for a snack on the way, and the staff asked me where I was going. Bendigo? That's 100km from here! Sure .. Where've you ridden from, Brighton?! heh .. It makes us feel like super people. Of course we're not, almost anyone can do that sort of stuff, they just don't think they can, so they don't try.
There's lots of other things, but I think they're probably the big three. There's heath benefits, transport cost savings (until you start buying expensive bikes!), environmental reasons and so on as well, but for the people I work with, I think they're the main ones.
Ok, so why do we compete?
Again, many reasons. I can think of a few, but they're very dependant on the situation of the individual.
Some, are very promising athletes (I'm lucky to work with one and she's a potential Olympian in 10 years if everything goes well). They're motivated to compete because they can be the best in the world, or at least, they won't die wondering if they could have. These are the very talented juniors. They're very rare and when you find one, and if you're really, really lucky, get to coach one or even just be close to one, it's an amazing experience. Some of you will know who I'm talking about. I have been incredibly lucky to have had the chance to work with this junior and am humbled by it and her trust, every day.
Then there's the rest of us. Some juniors, some masters, some 'elite' but a bit late to get started or without massive talent. These people are the bulk of the people I coach (99%!). I've spent some 8 years now coaching mostly masters, and I'm a masters racer myself too. That said, I don't really understand why 'we' race. I can only really relate it to my own case, and I'd love to hear your comments on why you do, if you do, or why you don't, if you don't. Ugly sentence, I'm sorry!
So I'm going to prime the pump with my own story and a guess at my reasons, as best I can, and I hope you feel like commenting too.
I race because I feel bad if I don't. I'm too old (38 now) to consider any sort of an elite career, although I was a chance as a kid playing Rugby Union my dad was right, I didn't have enough mongrel in me to be a senior elite rugby player. I played state representative for Victoria in the 1980's from under 12's to under 16's and I was a pretty good player (a natural, in some ways), took a couple of years off (HSC, year 12, Uni ...) and then got back into it living in Perth when I needed some family. I got one run on in the UWA rugby club 1st grade, and played 2nd grade as captain for a few years until, at the ripe old age of 26, I blew my knee up ski-ing and that was it. I still miss the sport, its cameraderie and the whole 'being in a team' thing. I dabbled in ice hockey for the Melbourne Sharks for a couple of seasons, again, got one skate-on in their 1sts (but only because they were short that day and no-one else in the 2's had the balls to go out and get smashed! It wasn't because I was good enough, that's for sure!). Found my limits, I'm an unco-ordinated skater. Big and strong, but a crap skater. I worked hard at it, did an awful lot of time on the ice, trained twice as much as everyone else on the team, but was only ever going to be a struggling-to-get-a-place-in-the-team B grade player. I didn't have the skills at a good enough level. I had the brains for it, tactically, and the work ethic, but not the skating or puck-handling skills.
So pretty-much from the age of 10 I competed in something - while I was at Uni I player water polo, and again, got to a reasonable standard (state-league 3, and two intervarsity championships) but I wasn't a natural at it, it was all from hard work. As a really young kid (10-14 or so years old) I won all the school swimming stuff, and I think my old under 11 25m backstroke record may still be standing, from 1977! I raced rallies (won the Rally of Melbourne PRC1 in 1999) and so on. So I've always been a competitor. That's the gist of the above self-indulgent paragraphs.
I raced road for a few years, won my way up to B grade (thankyou Lorraine, I'll never forget you, and the day you told me to go up to B grade after Dunlop Road, RIP). But, I was always a sprinter trying to be an enduro, wrong body type for hills. So now I race track sprint and I feel like I'm racing the right thing for me. The training feels good, the racing, I love. I don't win much but I love the one-on-one match sprinting, can't get enough of it. I'll never be any good at it though, if I'm lucky and train hard enough I'll achieve a few personal targets, but world masters? I don't think I have the talent for it at any age group and I would feel bad if I pretended otherwise. I'm just not fast enough and going 'just because I can' devalues the achievements of those who are genuinely good enough to go. Maybe, if I'd raced bikes as a kid and burned in the motor patterns for high cadence power .. but I was playing rugby at the time and swimming and I'd do it the same again if I had my time over (but I'd train smarter and do better strength work!).
That still doesn't really answer the question of why do I race? Maybe it's a distraction from work/eat/sleep? Maybe it's some deeply seated psychological thing that needs competition as an outlet? I know if I don't compete in something I can be a real grouch and I feel bad about myself. But why? Why get on a bike and do efforts that end in nausea and vomiting, why get into a gym and lift very heavy things, why spend a fortune on go-faster bits? I don't know. What's the reward at the end? Why do relatively old men like me and many of my friends and aquaintances train so hard, modify our lives, risk our relationships and devote so much time to what is only a recreation? We take it so very, very seriously (some to an amazing, and probably an unhealthy degree!). But we can't do it as a career, we're only doing it for ourselves and our own vanity, or is it something more?
I'd really appreciate your thoughts on this ... Why do you race and train?
And if you're a sprinter, so should you!
Recognise this man?
That's Chris Hoy. Squatting around 225kg. From this article.
And just for a laugh, this is how not to build leg strength. Really, bodybuilders are a zany bunch of guys ... Zany ...
Over at the Powerhaus ...
You read right, I'm selling books now. If you've been doing strength training with me in the 'Haus, some of this will be old-hat, but it's how we do it. Mark Rippetoe's 'Starting Stength: Basic Barbell Training' 2nd Edition is THE book on strength training techniques for beginners to strength training and for those who've wasted years in gyms doing silly BS on isolation machines, like most of us who knew no better at the time.
That's it for the spam in my blog ... I promise!
Lorraine was CCCC's handicapper and known to just about everyone who races bicycles in Victoria and around the country. I remember her well, and very fondly. She knew everyone, and could spot a sandbagger at 100 paces.
One of my proudest moments in cycling as a competitor was being told by her I had to move up a grade. I was lucky, she had to tell me twice.
Lorraine, you'll be much missed by all of us.
We had a very good training session last night at DISC
Thanks to everyone who came to DISC last night for our training session. The AIS-inspired K1 drill went well for the sprinters and the revouts .. what a blast! Em's legs were a blur! We were very happy to have Fast Eddie come and train with us, and hopefully he'll be a regular, he's looking strong and is blisteringly quick and is one of those genuinely good guys that's great to have around.
So what else has been going on? I've been to Adelaide and done the first part of the level 2 cycle coaching course. Mixed feelings on that. Some of the presenters were excellent, Craig Colduck (strength coach) and Shona (AIS recovery) in particular were superb. Some of the presenters were presenting some quite dated material and some were clearly poorly prepared and not willing to explain what they did in much detail. To be fair, that wasn't always their faults, John Beasley was brought in at the last minute to fill a gap and even with limited preparation he was a solid presenter.
It was a pretty intense 6 days and I met some really good people and caught up with some old aquaintances as well. There's a lot of work to do to finish the level 2 but I don't see it as being terribly difficult, just time-consuming.
We had the third round of the SSS just after I got back, and I rode a shocker of a flying 200 (despite near perfect conditions!), a 13.8-something. I knew I'd be flat after the 6 days in Adelaide doing bugger-all, sitting down a lot and eating sugary food too much. My warmup in the 'Haus on the Sunday morning was no false alarm, I was flat and weak!
But I did manage to win a couple of races, despite being in a hole. I'd qualified slowest in B grade, which wasn't a good sign, but Leon Simms didn't bring his race-face and I got him in the first heat :
But in the second, Ed Osbourne has a savage jump and he used it to smash me to bits!
Too easy, Ed! Well done!
In the third heat I was up against Wayne Arazny. Wayne has a habit of racing Glenvale in the morning, which means he comes tired and hasn't the snap I know he's capable of. After a f200 and two sprints, he's toast, and it shows :
So two wins, but with a bad F200, I'm not in the finals this time. C'est la Vie. Next time ... There's two solid months of training between now and round 4. I'm a bit burnt out, but with an easy week I'll be right, and I'm gunning for a 13.2-something at Blackburn this season. That's the goal. I've done a 13.4, I can find another 0.2s ... Somewhere!
The round went really well, our team was superb (Thanks Sue and Jodie and Anne and Lucie) and everyone had a ball.
Tonight's last Spin for 2009 went well
I'll write more tomorrow when I'm feeling less nauseus after a smashing at Spin tonight. The data (after a heavy set of deadlifts yesterday) - Ppeak : 1459w, Torque : 202.9 N-m. Peak cadence (using the wild guess Powertap, but the graph shows it might be right) 198rpm.
That'll do. Sleep .. trashed now ..
I appologise for being a bit quiet, after I got back from Adelaide I've had a lot of real-world work to do to keep the debt collectors away and also we had the (fantastic!) SSS round 3, that sucks a lot of time. Things will be 'normal' soon.
Gene doping, for real ...
Remember the super-kid from a few years ago? A genetic mutation that allowed a lot more muscle growth than a normal human can grow.
Well, sure enough (and maybe this isn't a bad thing overall?) it's soon going to be available to all of us, sorta ..
If it's not happening already, this is going to be used by athletes to get an edge. Superman? Here we come ...
Not the men, the boys
Revolution is back (after the cancelled round this winter due to some sponsor pulling out at the last minute ...). If you haven't been to one, it's a track race night, at Melbourne Park (sometimes called Vodafone, or Hisense). It's like a world cup but all rolled into one evening, with, so far, an emphasis on sprint events (ace!). It's a bloody good night's entertainment if you're into track sprint events.
It's not strict UCI format, which can make for a more entertaining format at times (like the Summer Sprint Series isn't UCI format either). There's a keirin being run there, not unusual .. what's unusual is that this time, it'll be mixed.
Mixed. Girls and boys. Sprinters.
Hold on a minute, how does that work?
Elite female sprinters do flying 200's in low 11 seconds, elite men are breaking 10's (Hoy rode 9.8s in Manchester recently). So the women can't race the men, but they can race the boys. There's not a lot of depth in the female sprint ranks. At the recent UCI world cup there was 4 or 5 women who were competitive, the rest were a lot slower, so the women don't have a lot to race against. Until they race junior men, who are also doing low to mid 11s flying 200's. There's a bold thought (we do it at the SSS ... no gender seperation, grading on performance and we're not the only ones). So at Revolution 5, Anna Meares and co will be racing 17 boys in a Keirin.
Good on 'em.