Neil Robinson was one of my very first coaching "clients", waaay back in 2003 I think, I use the term coaching loosely, I was getting hours up for my level 1 coaching qualification and I helped him a bit and probably did more harm than good. To cut a long story short, and to make it clear, I take no credit for this achievement, Neil did this without my help, but certainly with my full support, Neil won C grade in the Warny this weekend past. Read his story.
Chapeau, Neil, Chapeau.
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
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.
I've ranted about good race programs for ages to anyone that will listen, here's a great example.
Picture this, a velodrome, a sellout crowd, 3,000 people. Food vans, excitement ... Almost everyone staying 'til closing (10:30pm). Thrilling racing.
Where was it? Perth at the Speed Dome. Was it good? You bet!
What was the race program? Over one day, starting at 4pm was sprint qualifying (yes, flying 200's really aren't that exciting, even I have to admit, for spectators!). Then, round 1 of the sprints and some enduro stuff and an attempt by the local JM17 team sprint squad (who had just won the Australian title a week before) to break the Australian record (they didn't, but they gave it a great go, got loads of loud, enthusiastic support from the crowd!) . All over by about 5 or so.
The evening session started at 7pm, with sprints and points races. Then more sprints, a few scratch races which were entertaining - the women's racing was great, full of attacks, due to a strong field of German girls who were determined to light it up. There was an elimination in there somewhere too. Then, short (6 lap) keirins to finish. The field was a second string field on the whole, a couple of world class riders but mostly second tier guys, but that didn't matter, there was great, close racing and the crowd loved it.
So did the 4 sprinters I was looking after. We flew to Perth to race this stuff and all the guys got a full program of racing, no-one left feeling like they'd gone all that way for one ride. I will be begging my masters to let me go to this again and take more sprinters.
All this without a single handicap/wheelrace in sight. Awesome.
If only our Victorian race directors could see beyond the wheelrace occasionally, spice up the program with more sprints interlaced between the endurance races ... This format works and it showcases sprints. If we want kids to race sprint, they need to see it as a priority race at the major events. Austral, MCOW, Sid Pat, PAY ATTENTION. National Junior Track Series (Max ...) guys, look at what the WA guys are doing, it works.
A huge thanks to Darryl Benson and his crew at WAIS for their passion and drive to make it happen. This was a great race program. The rest of us should pay Darryl the most sincere compliment, and copy what he's doing.
I'm in WA!
4 days after the Junior Aussies and here I am in Perth with some Victorian sprinters for the Perth GP. Some big names here in the lead up to the worlds in Melbourne in a couple of weeks. We'll be racing sprints and keirins (note to race directors in Melbourne, see, two sprint events!).
The track here is narrow and long with very sharp bends and a hard transition into the bends - I had a ride around it on the WAIS motorbike (thanks Clay and Darryl), interesting. We spent some time working out the fastest line for a flying 200 yesterday and today the guys will practice it on race gearing. Fun times!
Start today ...
Today is day one of the Junior Aussies (track). I have a heap of kids on my "look after" list, and today is sprint (J15) and 500m time trial (J17) day. It's going to be amazing. Some of these guys I've been working with for years, and I am very, very proud of them.
I hope the other states have brought their A game, because we are ready!
The risks of coaching!
Watch closely ...
hint, it happens at 14 seconds!
Don't drop your rider, even if they have you seeing stars!
We did pretty well!
It's racing time!
We've done our strength blocks, our capacity work (ouch ....) and this is a taper week, because on Sunday it's round 1 of the 2011-2012 aboc Summer Sprint Series. The weather forecast is good (enough!) - the team is ready, and my sprinters are ready!
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.
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.
What we did ...
I'm focussing a lot of us older guys who train in the Sprint Squad on legspeed and power at higher cadences, one way to do this is to do a motorpaced drill called a "windout", where, on a small (or at least, not a big gear) gear we follow the motorbike through a flying 200 windup, then a flying 200 entry line, chase the bike for a set number of laps while it speeds up at every corner. This doesn't use up our power getting to speed so it saves us for high cadence high power work, where we rarely get to train without the aid of a motorcycle (or, on the road, down hills). Last night our main drill was a 500m windout with the motorbike pulling off at 100m to go, the rider then has to try and accelerate (or, at least hold speed) for the last 100 meters.
That's what it looks like from the back of the motorbike ...
Here's my power meter data for one of my efforts from this session (I did 4 of them, all on 90"). As you can see, I am not very fast or powerful (and am even worse than I was last summer, but I have some mittigating circumstances! Injury has taken quite a toll this year so far, but I am on the mend!). Compare this to the week before, where we just did windouts without the motorbike pulling off at 100 to go (ie: chasing all the way in the draft). The power at the last 10 seconds is the interesting part. Here's the charts :
|500m windout with rider unassisted for the last 100m|
|500m windout with draft to finish|
And here's the last month or so's overall power figures (it's a funny slice of a graph!)
It's a long way down from my best (~1550 watts peak), but it is going up, and that's encouraging. This is all post my back injury that dropped my peak power down to the sort of numbers an enduro would sneer at! (800 watts! You must be joking!) ... As long as it keeps going up, as are my lifts in the gym, slowly but consistantly, I'm happy. I have abot 5 months to get some speed before the next Summer Sprint Series. Keep on trucking.
Not quite what I had in mind, but they are sprints ...
aboc, ie: me, is sponsoring this; Blackburn's running five sprint nights at DISC over "winter". The rough program is this :
Flying 200 for grading.
1.5 lap dashes (4 riders at a time I think)
Team sprints (graded by your f200, not able to nominate your own team - this is still being 'discussed', I am not happy about not being able to nominate my own team or starting order). These at least will be no longer than 3 laps (they originally wanted 4 laps, huh? What 'team sprint' has 4 laps? And then expects the poor bugger that rode 4th to race again in 15 minutes?!)
1k handicap, held start, no push (The kilo is dead, no-one trains for it anymore ... why is this in the program? To embarras sprinters?)
Scratch races for the leftovers
If there's enough time, keirins to finish.
I will only be racing the F200, team sprint (assuming an acceptable team and I'm lead rider) and the keirin, assuming the program doesn't have to be cut short because there's too much going on. The other stuff is just silly and I'm not doing it.
Those of you who were at the last round of the SSS will know that the above is not what I planned, but since I'm not running this, it is what it is and it's better than a night of scratch, points, h'cap and/or motorpaces. It's a start. If it's a bit successful, we can lobby to make it different for later rounds or next year etc.
So that's tonight's festivities at DISC.
I've been pretty busy with the NTID squad and helping Hilton for the last few weeks, as well as coaching in the 'Haus a lot, running Spin, Sunday DISC sessions, and that's my excuse for not writing much here in May. I have loads ot writing to do for The Book too ... lots of gaps to fill!
Why everyone defaults to enduro
How do most people get started in a sport? Usually it's at school, or you get invited by a few friends to join a team etc. Most of the 'sharp' sports (Olympic or other elite level, football, criocket etc) get their talent young, at schools or by blind luck and co-incidence. Then there's everyone else who maybe missed that boat.
Why did you start riding your bike? Most of the people I speak to (and after almost a decade of coaching, that's quite a large sample) started out wanting to get fit. They're mostly older (not juniors, most of my coaching clients have been masters age or mid 20's starters), mostly got a bike, went off and rode Beach Road, did maybe a few things like the Bay in a Day or the Alpine Classic (or wanted to but didn't think they could). They saw Glenvale, got interested and had a go (it's easy to start with crits). Kids do it a bit differently, maybe it's a school around the bay program, or they pick it up from their parents, who maybe raced or are racing.
What do they do? Endurance racing. It's all endurance. Crits, 90% of track racing (certainly Blackburn's track program is endurance based, I expect most other clubs do the same or similar), road racing ... everyone's doing endurance.
The same thing with running, there may be a few sprint races at schools and a couple of the fast kids go off and get popped into little aths or similar if they're lucky enough to have a PE teacher who notices and is well enough connected to get them started, but everyone does the cross-country run, adults train for half marathons or triathalons. Who trains for sprints? Who even thinks they could? Very few people, in my experience.
I want to change this. I want sprint to be big. I want YOU to have a go, and if you've got kids, to have your kids exposed to sprint. It's the pointy end of the sport and it is not inaccessable. We're making more sprint races, we run a sprint series, we want YOU to have a go.
My races on Sunday ....
I had a pretty good weekend!
Summer Sprint Series round 5. Beautiful day, near perfect weather. PB's in flying 200's for almost everyone (including me, which was a big surprize, 13.212s) and my first ever podium at the SSS in 4 years of trying. I also rode my fastest ever last 200 metres, 13.049s, during a heat racing with Aaron Christiansen. I think I'm capable of getting into the 12's if everything goes right.
We had a decent turnout of riders, especially considering that three regulars were out, Dino with a busted collarbone, Ian McGinley with a matching busted collarbone and Emily at Vic team training. 17 riders took the track in the end and we had Jamie Stockland from Canada, who gave Chris Ray a real run for his money and Alissa Maglaty from San Fran. I'm not yet sure how they heard about our racing but we were thrilled to have them with us. The organising team was, as always, brilliant and everything went smoothly. Chris Ray was very close to breaking the magic 12 second barrier with his 12.068s flying 200, which is a record for the SSS, but not quite for Blackburn. Neil beat his target time and whooped it up to his and everyone else's delight.
A top day's racing!
Or, some days you're the hammer, other days, the nail.
Saturday, Blackburn club championships sprint day. It's blowing a healthy nor-westerly (fast if you know how to use it). 500m ITT first, I use 90". Held starts (we HAVE GATES FFS! USE THE DAMN THINGS!). I ride a 40.03 (hand timed) which I think is a PB. It's fast enough to win MMAS3 and would have gotten me a bronze in JM17(!). Good-o, one in the bag, big fish in a little pond, the other guys I'm racing against are enduros. The Wizard rides 38.something to win MMAS2. Dino wins the 750 at DISC at the Vic Masters on the same day (clashes with BBN's club champs). This will be the last bit of really good news for Dino, who is clearly the fastest MMAS4 in the state of Victoria (big fish, big pond). Emily has no competition, not a single JW17 has shown up to race with her. She rides a pretty good 500 in the circumstances. I'm pleased both for her (win, you can only beat the people that show up to race) and also proud of her. I believe strongly that elite riders should make the effort to race club races when possible, especially things like club championships. It shows the younger kids where they can go and they're part of something and it keeps the elites grounded. Likewise I'm proud of Emerson Harwood (NTID) who also raced.
Next up, flying 200's. It's still blowing a gale, I keep the 90" on. I ride a 13.20, another PB (by 0.1s). That'll do, I'm 0.4s faster than the second qualifier, Richard Stringer, in MMAS3. Emerson breaks Andrew Steel's long-standing track record, with no aero fruit. He rides 11.8 seconds. At Blackburn, that's very fast. Emily rides a much better time than she rode last week at round 4 of the SSS. James Dann rides another PB and qualifies third in JM17.
Race time, I get to watch as Alan Dorin and Ben Schofiled fight it out for the chance to race me (4v5). Alan wins that, has a rest and then I race him. I've raced Alan many times over the years, almost always in endurance races and he has almost always been able to beat me. Not today. Sprint is my game and he goes later than I expected him to, gets a small gap which I use as a lay off and I zip past him to take an easy win. Easier than I thought it would be, the standard mode of attack is for these guys to go early and keep jumping (how to beat a sprinter in one easy lesson). Maybe he wasn't 100% fit? I don't know. I'm though to the final. Richard Stringer races Rob Monteath for the other chance to race for first, Richard wins it. So I'm up against Richard in a best of three for the gold.
The first one, I have the lead (I think!), Richard takes it at a jump, gets a small gap but I catch and pass him. One down, that wasn't too bad. He can accelerate and handle the bike well, but doesn't have the top speed to pass me. Good to know ...
Round two and he's got the lead, and jams me right up hard into the fence at 2.5 to go. Jammed so hard I had to grab the fence to avoid falling over! As I grab the rail he jumps and is gone. I chase (it's now a 700m ITT!), wind him back a little, while watching him swerving around a few times (huh?! he's 40m in front and almost in the grass?!) but the gap is just too big and I can't reel him in, I concede and it's 1:1. I'm not pleased about it, but this is club racing and I don't think he meant to jam me so hard into the railing. I'm not going to protest, I do mention it to Doug but he didn't see it, no-one did, it was at the far end of the track and obscured by how we were positioned. I don't think even Richard realised what he'd done.
Round three, this time I resolve to take this one from the front. I have speed on Richard, I don't think he'd be able to pass me at full gas. I have the lead, every time he moves I ramp it up a little, pulling him down off the bank and keeping him under control. No low speed, sudden jumps this time and no way I'm letting him in front to push me around this time. With a bit over a lap to go I accelerate, not 100%, but around 80% or so, not looking back any more, but I will kick up the back straight and again around the final bend, that's the plan anyway. I know he's hard on my wheel but I'll break his timing by changing pace. Up the final straight and I kick again with 40m to go and just wobble a fraction out of the sprinters lane for a brief moment, it's entirely accidental, I think (I didn't see it) it made Richard move off his passing line, I cross first and record a win. There's some discussion about it, I did leave the lane, if the judges think it affected the results I will not be upset and I tell Richard if he wants to protest I will not be upset with him about it (I didn't see if it made any difference but I did do it). He decides not to protest and the result stands.
Ok, club champion for MMAS3 in the TT and the sprint. My first ever. I am pleased!
Sunday, different story. Vic Masters. I'm now the little fish. Here be real sprinters. One guy in our division is a masters world champion and has come down from Sydney to teach us all a lesson. In my opinion, DFL trumps DNS every day. I'm going to put that to the test. My flying 200 is a PB again on 96", at DISC, I ride 12.8something. Beats my previous best by a whole 0.1s! Heh! Anyway, I'm pleased with that, but Gavin (the guy from NSW) rides 11.1 Uhuh .. and He's qualified 1st, I've qualified last (8th) - 1v8. Good-o. This will be ... entertaining ... I have the lead, tactically I do it all as well as could be expected, I keep watching him the whole time, using the bank and speed changes to control position, do the hook-and-drop at turn three with one to go, but Gavin just hits the accelerator and goes whoosh past me. He did everything right, was patient. I'm out 'til the keirin in the afternoon. Still, one better than last year when I didn't get a ride except for the flying 200.
Dino's on fire, he's qualifed fastest and is up against a bloke who's flying 200 suggested his experience at this track was marginal. Dino's lined him up to pass on the finishing straight when he (the guy Dino's racing, loses control and turns right, straight up into Dino with 40m to go. WTF?! Dino comes down hard and breaks his collarbone. I'd like to remind everyone reading of a rule, an important rule. These things happen but that should not have. Dino's put his heart and soul into training for this event and this was just horribly cruel. He gets bundled off in an ambulance with lots of strong drugs.
Chris Ray wins his sprints and wins Gold. Dino gets a silver by virtue of a disqualification. Not what he wanted and it's awful. Emily collects his medal for him later.
Keirins, I've drawn number 1, I get the motorbike. I'm on 96". Safely on the bike, I lead it out, with one to go the boys behind me kick and I don't have the legs to go with it, first three (of the four in our heat) go through to the final, and they all cruise over the line. Outgunned? uhuh ... anyway, DFL trumps DNS.
Mick Thomas wins the MMAS4 (or 5? Mick?) scratch race AND the keirin!
After some running around with Emily (Dino's not driving anywhere today!) and a solid state team training session in the evening it's time to go home. Phew. A big big weekend ...
A couple of solid days training
This weekend is the Blackburn club championships on Saturday (sprint and 500m time trial) and on Sunday it's the sprint and keirin Vic Masters championships. A busy couple of days. I'm MMAS3 this year (40-44) which is new for me. The standard is pretty high at the Vic masters, there's a few riders there who are orders of magnitude faster than I am. So beit. I'll do my best. in the lead up, I've had a good fortnight's training. As mentioned earlier I'm back in the gym able to squat and getting some good quality track sessions done both at Blackburn with Dino, Pat and Nic, and at DISC. Hilton did a set of four MACCs for me yesterday before the mani training session. I found a new top speed on my track bike. 66.1km/h. We have kids that go that fast, but still, for me, that's moving.
So the last couple of days, trained on Saturday, raced SSS round 4 on Sunday, lifted in the gym on Monday, MACC's and rider pass efforts on Tuesday at Blackburn, MACC's at DISC on Wednesday, today (evening) we're in the gym again and Friday will be a rest day. Then the fun begins. Good-o.
Not displeased with how I went at SSS r4
It could have been better, I might have been able to train consistantly, but that's life and we all have reasons/excuses for why we perform how we do on race day. I'm lighter (~100kg vs 113kg) than I was at this time last year which has helped my jump. My jump still sucks, but it sucks less than it used to. Now I'm only having to bridge up 10m, not 40m and that's a significant improvement. I'm back in the gym as of last week doing consistent lifting after a layoff of some 10 months so I'll get strong again. The week in the pressure-cooker at Dunc Grey didn't help my preparation, excuse, excuse, excuse ... !
ENOUGH! Get on with the damn racing!
I warmed up on 50x17, light easy gear. Did a couple of revouts, one chasing Neil, just to get things moving. On Saturday I'd done some short efforts at Daryl Perkins' session at DISC just before our NTID session and I felt ok. Hitting around 1400 watts peak doing jumps. Ok, that's not too bad for an old guy who's missed a lot of ENOUGH WITH THE EXCUSES! .. it was a good session yesterday!
Flying 200 time. I rode a 13.5, not that far off my PB (around 0.2 I think, slower than it) - I didn't use the disk wheel, I kept the powertap wheel on all day, so here's the evidence for the flying 200. Conditions weren't ideal, a southerly and pretty cold. I'm pleased with that time. I still want to get down into the 12's but I think that will have to wait 'til next season.
Draw done, and I'm to race James Dann, Ian McGinley and Aaron Christiansen in the rounds. I was the fastest qualifier in B grade (again!). 6 of us in the grade. Being fastest qualifier helps later, as you shall see ...
James is a junior invitational rider, I coach him and he's got a kick. But, he's restricted to 82 gear inches. I'm on 90". How do you take the jump out of the picture? Keep the speed up and burn him off. That's the theory, at least. I lead out, jumped coming out of turn 4 (should have gone at the entry to turn 3 ...) just before the bell, James kicks and is in front of me. Right ... chase chase chase, on the wheel, coming past but left it too late. James bags his coach. I'll fix him later! Our last 200 was done in 13.4 seconds and he was in the front all the time, James was really moving. Watch for him next summer.
Second race and I'm up against Ian. He's mainly an enduro but can sprint a bit. A decent all-rounder. He jumps me, I chase, I go to pass on the back straight but he uses a second kick and stays clear. Doh! Ian's a good racer and his flying 200 doesn't reflect his ability.
Third heat and I'm racing Aaron. Aaron's done very few match sprints but he's a very fit rider and has ridden faster flying 200's than I have at DISC. I can't take him for granted, that's for sure. Again I get gapped at the jump but this time I find a bit more speed and manage to catch Aaron just in time to bag a win. That hurt. Lots. I'll pay for it if I make the finals.
At the end of the rounds there's a few of us tied on 9 points. As the fastest qualifier I get the forth spot, racing against Nicholas Cockerell (another newbie). Three laps. I'll have the lead thanks, and I hold him tight up against the fence for a lap and a half, I don't want a long race, but I need the speed high to reduce the impact of his jump. He gets around me, I get up to his wheel but not enough and he wins, I get 4th overall (again!). Interesting fact, I've never been on the podium at an SSS round. As the guy who runs it I think that's probably appropriate, but I'll get on the damn thing one day and shake my own hand!
Video to come ...
Thankyou to :
Lucie Akers (photography)
Jodie Dundas (videography)
Krissy Dundas (general help)
Anne Apolito (race entry and results)
John 'Star Trek' Lewis for race timing
Sue Dundas (commissaire)
Chris Dann (commentary)
Alex Vaughan (sausages!)
Yesterday was the women's team sprint, today it's everything!
I'm up in Sydney at the Dunc Grey velodrome as part of the Victorian state team, a pretty minor part, as best I can tell I'm looking after the physical stuff for the guys we've been coaching for the last year. It's a bit muddy, but I'm dogsbody for Hilts and the guys (this is not a bad thing!). It's a great opportunity to see how it all works and gain a lot of very valuable experience. In particular I'm learning (or trying to!) how to fit in and get things done in this team environment without stepping on too many toes. I have much to learn and a few personalities that I need to understand better to get along with smoothly.
But we're here to race, and our athletes are the reason we're here. So on with the real story :
Yesterday we had Adele and Caitlin racing the team sprint. There was five teams in total and our girls had, on the other side of the track, Anna. Welcome to the big time. Adele is no stranger to the big stage but Caitlin was pretty new to this level of competition. For those of you that remember these two girls starting at Blackburn all those years ago, what a journey they've had so far. They're solid friends and they look after eachother. They rode well, not perfectly, but they gave their all and finished fourth, improving their time in the final they made it into by a fraction of a second. Given that they were the only all J19 team I think that's pretty good. I know personally that I'm happy when a rider commits and does their very best. Both girls did that and I'm proud of them.
Along the way yesterday, Jack Bobridge broke the unbreakable world record. Chris Boardman set the pursuit record way back in 1994 I think, with superman position on a space-age bike. Jack beat that record on a BT you can buy yourself using normal aerobars. Wow.... Shane Perkins also rode a blistering 10.05s flying 200.
Today we up the ante, the J19 men do the kilo. The girls do their flying 200 and the 500m time trial. It's going to be intense. Bring it on.