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Entries For: 2009


The track powertap is fantastic

I'm very happy with this piece of equipment

I know I've banged on about this before, and I'm going to bore you again with it.  We debut'ed the new powertab wheel last night at DISC.  I'm no stranger to training with power, I've had a Powertap SL 2.4 in a road wheel for a couple of years now and it's a great tool there, but my emphasis these days is track and once you've trained with power, it's very frustrating to not have it.  

After a bit of show and tell as a few of the Sunday Roast diners had a look at it and asked me a bunch of questions I either didn't know the answer to (How much will it cost? How does it work? "same as all the other PT's!" Is there a Zipp 1080 option? How much is that doggy in the window etc) or wasn't at liberty to discuss (How much did I pay for it?!) or wasn't going to answer yes to ("Can I borrow it next Sunday?" No, but you can hire it!) Nath showed up with the valve extender and we put air in it and I slapped on a 17 tooth sprocket.

As with any new toy, I was a bit mesmerised by it, doing the warm up on a damp track (yes, DISC still leaks .... the irony of an indoor velodrome that gets water on it when it rains!) we had to dodge a wet spot (cue the jokes, now ..) at the end of the finishing straight and I had to pay attention to riding, not looking at the computer all the time. I wasn't going to be the first to test the hub in anger though, that was Emily's job.  After we warmed up she was set to do a 500m ITT and we popped the gate on the track and the wheel in her bike (and the computer up her sleeve!).  A 10 count, and she's away at full torque for 500m (two laps of DISC).  She rides a great time on it which would have won her last summer's JW15 state titles again, but by more (2 tenths faster than her Vics winning time last summer).  No worries. 

My turn.

Our sprint training for the day is low speed jumps.  This'll show if the guys over on FGF's fears about axle slip are real.  I'm matched up with Rob Tidey, on 91.8".  From 6km/h to 50km/h in 10 seconds, peak power 1501 watts, peak crank torque 199.6nm.  No movement.  No worries!

To be sure, we did this 4 times.  Still no movement.  I'm very far from the strongest track sprinter around, in fact I'm a 'never was' and a hack at best,  but that was a pretty good test and it passed with flying colours. Arr, it's nice to have power again!

The rest of the session went well, except we cut short the finish as the track was slippery and damp and we had a tumble during a practice sprint.  Everyone was toast anyway so no-one felt like they wanted more track time.

I took the laptop to Nandos and grabbed the data.  Here's what my 4 low speed jumps looks like

4 jumps with power

I can't show you Em's data, that's confidential, but I can say that the meter allows us to see where she's really strong and what we need to target to get her faster much more than we've been able to with simulated stuff on the road Powertap on an ergo.

The device isn't perfect though - rare indeed is it to have a version 1 of something that's 100% sorted.  It comes with bolts instead of the more standard axle and nuts and these can be a bit fiddly to do up when setting chain tension.  I spoke with Rich from Wheelbuilder today and he's going to address this with a set of studs and he tells me we'll have the first ones to test out. Also, and this is nothing to do with the track adaptor Rich made, Powertaps do tell you cadence, but in the same sort of 'random number generator' sort of way that Polar and iBike do power - ie: not reliable.  If you're interested in cadence and can't be bothered working it out from speed and gear, get the Cyclops cadence sender as well.

I'm not going to make a fuss about the rest of the wheel, it's an Edge Composites 68 carbon clincher laced with 32 Sapim CX-Ray spokes by Wheelbuilder as per our spec (build it strong, Rich, it's going under heavy sprinters!).  As I'd expect it was stiff and felt fast.  With a Veloflex Record at 140psi it felt just as good if not better than the tubulars I run on my regular indoor track wheels (Bontrager carbon track rims with Tufo S3 Pro's).  It may be faster, it certainly looks fast and feels as stiff as anything else I've ridden except the disk wheel. The White Industries sprockets look solid and feel reassuringly heavy.

So, overall, I'm very happy with this device.  At its first outing it's providing us with very valuable information which will help us all to go faster and that's what we want to do, and it's around half the cost of an SRM crank system here in Australia.  For us, this is a win, thankyou Rich Sawiris!



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

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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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Very ...



Track Power!

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At last

The Powertap track wheel has arrived.  It's the only one in Australia at this time and one of the very first of this version in the world.  Wheelbuilder did a fixie adaptor for the first generation of Powertaps but they've been unavailable for quite a few years now.Track powertap wheel

Now we can swap wheels on track bikes and get power readings.  From now on, a laptop comes to every track training session and we're no longer guessing.  I need to work out a hire price structure for it.  It's a very nice wheel, Edge 68 clincher rim (60mm deep carbon clincher), Sapim CXray spokes (32), Powertap SL+ hub with Rich Sawris's fixed gear modification and White Industries sprockets and carrier.  We chose a clincher so that we can quickly and painlessly swap tyres for indoor and outdoor use, it'll have a Veloflex Record for DISC and probably a Bontrager Race-Lite for outdoor use.


185's - at last

Old news ...

Last Saturday (8th August) while training in the 'Haus with the Sprint Squad guys, I managed to grind out 3 x 3 @ 185kg squats at last.  I stuttered on the second set and had to revisit it (repeat it!) because on rep 2 I lost control of the bar and had to regain balance, but I got the lifts. In the end it was 3, 1(stumbled on 2), 3, 3.  So I'm happy with that.  

We had a solid session at DISC last night, it got cold very quickly after it being quite warm at 4:30pm, but by 6 it was an icebox and we all rugged up a lot.  Come 7pm and everyone was pretty-well shattered, so job done for another Sunday.  Our 1/2 lap chase onto the bike, 1 lap paced 1/2 lap sprint drill is starting to get challenging and we'll keep making it harder (the bike goes faster!)

At the moment, according to FedEx the track Powertap wheel is in Australia!

In other news I'm pleased to see that Alan Dorin won CCCC's Lenny Hammond handicap on Saturday down at Modella.  This year it was their hilly course, way back in 2004 I won it, when it was flat!


"Tracks of Glory"

I found a cycling film I'd never heard of!

Normally I wouldn't write about something as trivial (you could make the case for this blog being trivial, and to everyone but me it is, but you're reading it ...) as my local video library shutting down.  My local video library is shutting down.  It's a shame, they were a great independent library with a lot of interesting stuff.  Still the days of the video library are numbered and once there's nothing left but the big chains, I won't shed a tear to see them go.  If only McDonalds would die the same death ... Anyway ... To cut a dreary and long story short, they're flogging off all their stock.  So Lucie and I, while waiting for a souvlaki, had a bit of a poke around.  I found something quite unexpected in the video tape section.  Tracks of Glory.  Never heard of it?  Neither had I.  We've all seen Breaking Away, American Flyer, Overcoming (yes, Bjarne, it is a hard sport ...), Hell on Wheels and Triplets of Belleville, but I'd never heard of this one.

It's a story about Major Taylor, who was a black American track cyclist at the turn of the century (1900's, not 2000's!) and Don Walker racing in 1903.  So I bought it.  I don't have a VCR anymore but I'll find a way to rip it to DVD and then we might have a video night at the clubrooms soon.  I think it's quite an important film to see.

I spent this morning with the DUCC's at the 1:20, pacing one of the guys there and back and observing his ride up the hill. He was a bit off his time, but we looked at the graphs afterwards from the power meter and next time it'll be a much faster ride.

In other trivia, the track Powertap wheel is currently in Honolulu according to FedEx. I expect to have it for our DISC session next weekend.


A little bit of progress

More weight, sorta

Over the last two days I've lifted :

3,2,3 squats at 185kg (one more rep than last week's best effort) on Tuesday just before Spin.

10 x 150kg squats yesterday and then 5 x 162.5kg deadlifts.

Today, easy spin to CS-M and back on the bike and maybe some ergo time tonight if I get the chance. It's windy, the ride to CS-M will be directly into a big headwind! Lucky it's only 2km!

Got to go, or I'll be late for work!


Craig van der Valk, HAF!

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Vanders, despite a freshly broken arm, trained last night

At last nights (record again, 31 people!) Spin, Vanders (that's Angles to the 9:23-am'ers out there, if any of you read this) came to train.  Not much of a big deal, he's a regular, but the difference, a few days before he'd binned it snowboarding and broken his arm.

I'm certainly not one to say train when you're injured if it'll impede your recovery at all, but that's a pretty HAF effort from Vanders!

We had a huge night, I'd had some bizarre premonition that we'd have a big turnout, despite the A stream having two Tabata intervals to do (they were warned!), so Lucie and I had arranged an extra-big pot for pasta and I'd made the biggest bolla I've ever made on Monday, 3kg of mince beef, 4 big cans of crushed tomatoes, 3 big jars of tomato paste, 2 kg of mushrooms... It was heavy ... anyway ... A few regulars weren't coming, but a few newbies came along and most of the regulars were there too .. so thirty one people.  No need for a heater, we had to open the big sliding door to keep the place cool and make room for them all. Nathan and I were stuffed at the end of the night, even with the megaphone it was hard to communicate.  The noise during the final E3 rampup was ... significant!

I wonder how many we'll have next week?

The DUCC training session this morning went well too, they quickly got the point of blocking and how to spot blocking, when to use it and how to do it such that it's harder to detect than just soft pedaling on the front.  They're a good crew and very keen to learn, working with them is a real pleasure.


Summer Sprint Series - a hint

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A big announcement is coming soon

No, it's not a sponsor (yet ...) but we've been in touch with some people and this summer's Summer Sprint Series will be a bit special.  I'll make an announcement as soon as it's formal, but it will be pretty snazzy!


Stalled on squats

I'm stuck at 185kg!

The last three times I've gone to squat heavy I've not been able to finish the sets.  I'm stuck on 185kg.  I got 3 x 3 @ 182.5kg out ok a week or so ago, repeated it a few times to bed it in, then went for 185.  My three attempts over the last week at doing 3 x 3's :

1 rep

2 reps, 3 reps, 2 reps (almost!)

1 rep

Argh!  It may still be a bit of the 'flu floating around, I'm not 100% and to lift heavy takes everything I've got, so maybe that's not helping. I might have to back off to 180kg again and start from there.  I'm not all that concerned though, it's time to really swing the emphasis from raw strength to strength and power on the bike.  Time to get the watt meter to tell better stories!

Lucie took some ace photos of the last DUCC training session we did on Wednesday too.  They're a great bunch of kids, very keen and switched on.  A real pleasure to work with.


Swimming comes to grips with technology, sorta

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Interesting to see how another sport copes with the influence of technology

It's been hard to miss this week, swimming's world record smashfest at the world championships in Rome.  Previous "nobodies" (sic) beating world marks set by famous swimmers.  Why? Swimming suits that reduce drag and increase buoyancy.

They (swimming) started down the slippery slope years ago, but it's finally become obvious that their records are now a farce.

Cycling addressed this issue quite a while ago to howls of derision by some, who still whine about it now.    There's really only one major record in cycling, and that's the Hour.  One hour, fixed gear, velodrome.  If you watched Graham Obree's semi-biographical film or read his book 'The Flying Scotsman' etc you'd remember.  How did Graham break the record? With a special narrow bike, less drag ... How did Chris Boardman break it again? With a bike designed 'On a Computer'.  Eventually the UCI said enough, and now the Hour must be set on a standard bike with standard bits and pieces and there's a separate section of the records that covers the fancy bikes used to set the hour record.  If you want to break the record now you have to do it at sea level on a standard bicycle.  So the Hour is a record that means something.  If you break it, you're actually faster than Merckx was and that's how it should be.

All the other cycling disciplines aren't really based on times, they're all relative (save for some track time trials), so as long as everyone has roughly equal budgets they're on a level-ish playing field.  Our sport coped with the issues swimming has blindly plunged into (who seriously didn't see this coming?!), it'll be interesting to see how swimming copes.  It's a pretty boring sport to watch, the only thrill is the breaking of a world record or seeing someone you're connected to do well, so how they cope with the records issue will be intriguing.


Mobile 'hands free' driving ... Don't Do It!

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There aughta be a law ....

In today's Age, something many of us already know ...


If you think you can drive safely when chatting on your hands-free mobile phone kit, then think again.

Mounting evidence reveals that hands-free mobile phone calls can significantly diminish your driving skills, in spite of claims to the contrary by equipment manufacturers.

It's not news, but it's a timely reminder.


The Griffith study concluded that “a driver’s sensitivity to prospective information about upcoming events and the associated perception and awareness of what the road environment affords may both significantly be degraded when simultaneously using a hands-free mobile phone”.


And of course, the phone companies and gadget floogers spin away ....


“Hands-free car kits allow the convenient and safe use of your mobile phone so you can maximise down time while driving,” Telstra says on its website.


10 points to Telstra, evil bastards.  Money, must make more money ....

Working with the DUCCs

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This morning we had our 6th DUCC squad session

The mighty DUCCs had their 6th racing skills session this morning at Blackburn.  We practiced chasing breakaways and everybody was happy!


Didn't get a new PB!

Well, sorta ...

Warming in the 'Haus I felt pretty flat, got a headache and generally still snotty and clogged up from this lingering 'flu.  The aim, 3 x 3 @ 185kg.  The result?  1 x 185kg, and only just!  So technically I got the PB, but I didn't get any reps or sets at it.  Will try again tomorrow if I feel ok.  I finished off with some light cleans and snatches so I felt like I'd done something at least ... Now off to Spin to see how that goes.  At this rate, pretty shabby, I bet!


Mother's got a brand new ... bar!

Replacement equipment, this time no cheap stuff.

The aboc PowerHaus now has some new gear.  We've got a set of wooden training plates, a pair of 10 kg calibrated Olympic bumper plates and a flash new barbell from the Australian Barbell Company. (There's differences between barbells? You bet there is .... quite a lot of different types and levels of quality.).  Just in time for two of the DUCCs to come over for their strength session tonight.  Merv's fixed the damaged one too, so now we have two barbells which means when there's four people in the 'Haus we can train more efficiently.

The old bar was damaged on Sunday when I was doing power cleans with it, dropping the bar from shoulder-height stripped the thread of one of the retaining bolts that holds the rotating sleeves on at the ends.  The short story is - Cheap Olympic bars are cheap and nasty, don't use them for Olympic lifts, they will fail!  They're fine for squats, deadlifts etc, but no good for dropping.


Broken barbells


I was just doing some warmup weighs before heading out to DISC this arvo, a set of warmup squats (12x20, 8 x 60, 5 x 100, 2 x 150kg) and then some power cleans.  My PC's are pretty feeble, I was only doing 6 x 60k, anyway, at the end of them I always check the retaining nuts on the end of my barbell, it sometimes comes loose when dropped.  One of them was looser than normal, hrm.  Tighten it with the 12mm allen key .. oh noes .. it's stripped!  No more weights today.  I'll either have to fix it, which isn't that hard to do if I can find the right tap and die set, or replace it.  I need another bar anyway, so I think I'll replace it.  Have to get it by Tuesday though, so we can do our lifting on time.




Some possible changes to how we run Sunday at DISC

I'm calling for feedback and suggestions for improvements

One of the guys writes :


Further to our Nando's chat...

Warmup/Scratch race. (WU/SCR)

1. At 4.55pm we announce that the WU/SCR shall commence in 5 minutes and all riders wishing to participate to meet on the fence in 5 minutes.

2. The length shall be 20 laps. The first 15 laps are under control - no attacks or surges. This means the people who just want to use it as a warmup will not be disadvantaged.

3. Everyone to be encouraged to use no more than 86" for the WU/SCR to even the field up. In fact you could almost set gearing according to strength in order to handicap the stronger riders. Like we used to do at Saturday Morning Race Skills.

Race Skills and Tactics

At the moment the emphasis of our DISC sessions is on fitness, strength etc. And rightly so at this stage of the year. I wonder if as we get closer to the race season we can introduce some race tactics drills. For example...

1. Keeping someone on your hip. S. Vaughan did this one with us last year when he took one of the sessions in your absence. It was a good one

2. Accelerating into the gap. This is a killer. I did it to John Lewis in the Kieran. Most people try to overtake the rider in front from right on their wheel.

3. Using the sprinters lane. When to hug the black line. When to come up to the red. (See point 1)

4. Gate starts. I've only done two in my life and the ITT is a target event. Craig's in a similar position

5. Kieran tactics. What to do when you have the motorbike. And when you are further back.
These are some things that have been thrown out for discussion.  We can always do better and improve our sessions.  YOUR feedback is wanted



Spin just keeps getting bigger

26 spinners (28 if you count myself and Nath!)

In a winter that keeps breaking records, we've just notched up our biggest Tuesday Spin Session yet.  It seems the harder we make the sessions, the more people come.  We had 28 in total last night, 5 sprinters and the rest doing various enduro streams and it was huge.  The Blackburn clubrooms are proving to be TARDIS-like, we can keep finding room for more spinners.  I'm glad I made a big bolla, it all went!  The A stream had 3/4 Tabatas to do and mostly survived intact, we haven't been able to break Tom Leaper yet, but next week, maybe ... We missed Andrew Jordan, and wish him all the best for a rapid recovery and also wish Bridgette Thomas good luck and good speed for the Vics this weekend.

We didn't have any takers for the Tuesday night Tour watching, but it was a school night.  Sitting at home watching it on the little TV afterwards Lucie and I were amazed and thrilled at the plays up the final climb and the stunning descent.  When Armstrong bridged up to the leaders after getting dropped ... wow!  Class.  Our last Tour night will be Ventoux, the beast.  This Saturday.  It should be brilliant.

This morning the mighty DUCCs trained at Blackburn and we worked on leadouts and started learning how to throw the bike, before finishing with a couple of 2 on 1's to get them thinking race tactics.  The weather was good, cold and a bit windy at first but it soon warmed up once the sun poked over the clouds and a good session was had by all.

Tonight most of the Sprint Squad will be over in the powerHaus for their usual Wednesday strength training session too, so as usual, it's all go at aboc HQ!


Everyone's got it?

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This damn 'flu!

Blergh.  Taking another enforced day off (difficult when self-employed).  Hurry up, immune system, and win this battle!


Being more coachable

Or avoiding the 'I know everything' syndrome

Remember when you were a teenager (or if you're younger than that, just put yourself in old-man-shoes for a few moments and bear with me!).  You knew everything.  Certainly.  What you did was perfect.  You were the best car driver in the world.  You knew all the tricks, all the facts, everything was perfectly clear and if anyone spoke to you about what you were doing, or dared to give you some advice or relate their own experience they were WRONG or out of line, you'd get angry, you'd tell them off, you'd rant on your blog/twitter/facebook page after fuming for days etc, what do they know?!

Then, when you grew up a bit, you began to slowly realise that you didn't know it all and that other people are worth listening to, and even seeking out, their experiences and ideas.  That the things you were so sure about maybe weren't cast in stone and a little bit of humility and grace began to be a part of your personality?  It's part of growing up.

Around cycling in particular (although I'm certain it exists in other sports and social groups as well) there's a particular breed who are still stuck in that adolescent (my apologies if you are an adolescent, although I don't think a lot of you read this blog, so I'm pretty safe!) mindset.  Defensive in their certainly that no-one can tell them anything.  Some of them have even coined a name for this unwanted discourse, they call it ADvice and they bandy it around like some sort of a badge of honour.  "Don't give ME ADvice, I know it all".  That's analogous to  "I'm a closed-minded fool who won't listen to anyone else's ideas or experiences, and I'm proud of it".  Yah, smart .. very.  When, for example, a world champion hands out a bit of advice on the discipline in which he's world champion at, that's damn valuable information.  Only a fool would cast it aside and be offended about it being freely given.

Mark Rippetoe wrote of his own experience (we all go through the phase, it seems) where he was training in a gym, and some old guy started to talk to him and make a few technique suggestions.  Mark was training like (and he'd say it himself now) a muppet, doing "silly bullshit".  He was sure what he was doing was the best.  But, he was very very wrong, and after he learned a bit more, came to the stunning (at the time for him) conclusion that he should learn to be more coachable.  Ie: learn to listen to the experience and ideas of others.  Sure, some (lots!) of it will be bogus, but some of it won't and being exposed to other ideas is never a bad thing.  We all need to get better at being coached, we all need to grow up a bit and learn to accept advice and experiences and ideas with grace and humility and to accept it in the spirit in which it is intended - as help and support and interest.  Remember, no-one knows it all and ideas and suggestions are valuable, even if the ideas themselves aren't terribly useful sometimes.

We all think what we're doing is the best way to do something (or we wouldn't be doing it that way, right?) but then, often it isn't, and that's when we get to improve.  Closing our minds to suggestions and ideas from others is stupid and immature and taking offence at the same is the sort of adolescent behaviour that we should all try and grow out of.  Being given advice isn't something to be threatened by, it's an opportunity to learn something new or different and it's given by people who take an interest in the progress of others.  Be one of the people that learns things, not one of the ones that knows it all.

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