Whittlesea Cycling Club!
They're very new, check them out :
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
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.
We might have a slot on Friday evenings at DISC to train
Blackburn has a Friday slot at DISC that was used for a mixture of training and some random-ish racing, but it's lying fallow at the moment for reasons not 100% clear.
So ... I have asked the committee if they'd like us (aboc) to help/assist/share the time to try to make it viable for both BBN and us to use that time, it'd be 7-10pm on Fridays for nominally "winter". More news as it comes to hand. This would be as well as, not instead of, the Sunday evening sessions and would be a mix of sprint and enduro training like we do on Sundays.
I had a Wednesday off ... so we went to the AGM
No fights, which was good!
Anyway .. Brian Harwood fed me a Dorothy Dixer, to which I replied, or at least the gist of my reply was :
"If a kid wants to specialise, or anyone, for that matter, let them. Sprint, hills, TTs, whatever - let them make their own choices and try to provide pathways to support those choices."
Not everyone agrees, that's fine. This is a big world and it would be very boring if we all agreed. BUT we have to disagree without being disagreeable.
I'd like to thank, in particular, Rob Montheath who stepped into the club secretary role and did it for four years at Blackburn. It's a monster job and Rob did it very well, thank you Rob.
Sprint pathways, communication ...
Not many of you will have heard of "Junior Worlds Syndrome", it's not in wikipedia that I know of, but it's a big deal for coaches and program directors who work with junior track sprinters.
What is it?
Kids come back from junior worlds, and leave the sport or change tack and go race endurance.
It's quite common.
I had a chance to have a debrief with one of the kids who did this after a recent junior worlds, and three main things cropped up from this discussion.
I'm going to focus on one.
Sprint pathways aren't clear - Once a junior comes out of J19's they have to race Shane Perkins, Anna Meares etc. Daunting, and it takes a long time (3-5 years or more for most of them) to build up to that level. Professional road racers have a defacto grading system with lesser races and second division teams etc for riders to be part of, track sprint is Olympics/World Cup or nothing, or at least, that is how it's perceived.
Interestingly burnout was not mentioned
Bearing in mind that this is essentially a brief summary of one discussion (ie: I just listened and prompted a little) It does raise some interesting points for discussion.
What can we do as sprint coaches and program directors do to alter either the process, or the communication of the processes, to our riders such that we might increase the chances of keeping them in sprint programs?
We need to provide more sprint racing. This is fundamental. We need to get event directors to put in more (some! even just one!) sprint events into track carnivals. I rant about this a lot, we need my sprint series to grow, get some real sponsors, not just me and my wonderful band of volunteers, and be a viable pathway, perhaps integrated with the Sprint Academy.
We need sprint to be taken seriously and for track carnivals to reflect this. A few years ago the Revolution races had a really good mix of sprint and endurance racing, but it has fallen by the wayside despite it being a very entertaining format. Copying it or some parts of it will help. The J19's and early senior sprinters need more than just another wheelrace to aspire to as a stepping stone. Sending developing sprinters to Asian Cups and so on is of value and needs support from the state sports institutes.
We need the various event directors to understand that the modern sprinter is a specialist, they wouldn't put Usain Bolt into a 800m running race, why would you put a cycling sprinter into the equivalent except to embarras them?
We need the National Junior Track Series to allow sprint to feature more. I've spoken with the organisers and hopefully the next season will showcase more pure sprint events. We need clubs to "get" sprint as a seperate part of the sport and to be a bit passionate about it.
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!
Congrats to CCCC, who continue to lead
Those of you that haven't noticed, Carnegie-Caulfield have launched their new website (that's two re-launches that I can remember). It's a modern CMS (They're using Wordpress), not all that dis-similar to Plone - that some of you might remember me pitching to Blackburn 3 or 4 years ago now? Anyway ... Congrats to CCCC, and Adam King in particular. It looks good.
Side-note - if you get onto their site and have a look at Adam's avatar, it's a photo taken at a round of the SSS!
Monique is on the board
Last night, as well as our usual scheduled NTID/VIS training session at DISC, was also the CSV AGM. To cut a long story short, Monique Hanley had stood for election. Monas is Good People, she's Been There and Done That as a genuine elite level rider, she's fought some amazing, courageous and determined battles to get where she is, she's honest and passionate and she's got her feet well planted on the floor. She has a vision that I agree with with regards to growing teams riding as well. She's been elected to the board. Good stuff Monas!
I was wrong!
On Saturday night Blackburn ran a sprint program at DISC. I was pretty unhappy with this on two fronts, one, it clashed with the SSS round 1, but that wasn't really BBN's fault, and two, I thought the program was too much racing. I was quite outspoken about point 2.
It turns out I was wrong and the night was a big success. My apologies to Brian Harwood and his team for my skepticism. You were right and I was wrong.
Are not made to be broken
I take my responsibility as a coach pretty seriously. I believe that the example set by a coach and the culture that a squad adopts is pretty important. I haven't been coaching kids for long. For a long time I swore off coaching kids, this junior thing is pretty recent for me. So perhaps I'm off the track here, but I want to draw your attention, my reader, to the tech regs of racing in Australia. In particular, to this section :
3.6.01 Gearing - roll out distances
For all junior categories, male and female, the following maximum roll out
distances shall apply for:
Road Events Track Events
1. Junior U19 7.930 metres
2. Junior U17 6.5 metres Junior U17 6.5 metres
3. Junior U15 6.0 metres Junior U15 6.0 metres
4. Junior U13 5.5 metres Junior U13 5.5 metres
5. Junior U11 5.5 metres Junior U11 5.5 metres
3.6.02 If, for what ever reason, a junior rider has been granted approval to
compete in a higher age division event, the maximum roll out distance
applicable to the rider’s age division must be maintained (06/09/08)
The emphasis (bold face) of 3.6.02 is not mine, it's in the document.
What does this mean? It means, any junior MUST RIDE THEIR JUNIOR GEAR IN COMPETITION. No matter what the race is. If it's Glenvale, or Sandown, or the Saturday night spring sprinting at DISC tonight. We as coaches, and the race organisers, don't have a choice. The rule is clear. We can campaign to the rule makers to change it, but we can not encourage our riders to break it and if we see it being broken we have a duty to see that it's enforced.
The culture I'm concerned about is one of selectively breaking rules. If we, as coaches, commissaires and parents, say to the juniors in our care that it's ok to break some rules that we find inconvenient, then we set a pretty poor example and we foster a culture that encourages rule breaking. The junior riders I'm working with now are on the cusp of elite programs and will be exposed to doping and other rule breaking in the near future. If we want them to play fair and stay clean, we know what we have to do. We have to treat the rules with respect.
Who wants to help me paint lines at Blackburn on Friday morning?
- wouldn’t you? Course you would!”
Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:
“What do you call work?”
“Why, ain’t that work?”
Tom resumed his velodrome line painting, and answered carelessly:
“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know it suits Tom Sawyer.”
“Oh, come now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”
The brush continued to move.
“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. does a boy get a chance to paint lines on a concrete velodrome every day?”
That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth - stepped back to note the effect - added a touch here and there - criticized the effect again - Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:
“Say, Tom, let me paint a little.”
Tom Considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:“No-no-I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Nicko’s awful particular about this velodrome - right here on the street, you know - but if it was DISC, I wouldn’t mind, and he wouldn’t. Yes, he’s awful particular about this 'ol track is ; it’s got to be done very careful; I recon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”
“No-is that so? Oh, come now - lemme try. Only just a little - I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”
“Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Ol' Nicko - well, Studog wanted to do it, but he wouldn’t let him; Lucie wanted to do it, and he wouldn’t let Lucie. Now, don’t you see how I’ fixed? If you was to tackle this track and anything was to happen to it --”
“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say - I’ll give you the core of my apple.”
“Well, here - No, Ben, no you don’t. I’m afeared --”“I’ll give you all
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to paint lines. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy fisher for a kite in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to sing it with - and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling wealth. He had, besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jew’s-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spoon cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar-but no dog - the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated window-sash.
And after all that, the Blackburn Velodrome had new lines!
But seriously, I need two people to help me paint the track at Blackburn, it will take about two hours and it's easy work. I want to start around 7am and have it done by 9ish. The other possible time is early on Saturday morning. So, who's wantin to whitewash my Aunts fence now?
I won't be there
To any of you who've seen the Blackburn Saturday the 9th of Sept 'sprint night' (apologies for the PDF, not my fault ...) at DISC, and seen my name there as part of the team running it. I'm not. I won't be there, not in any capacity.
That's a serious game-lifting cycling club website. Wow.
Congrats to CCCC
I see on the Interpipes that Carnegie-Caulfield have cancelled the Modella road race today due to concerns about high winds. I commend them for this decision. Organisers have a duty of care. I wonder what conditions are like out at Eildon today for the Junior Tour? Weatherzone suggests 72km/h wind gusts. I hope we have the same level of commitment to rider safety that CCCC have shown.
And other stuff
Hilton Clarke had his knee replaced on Thursday last week, and while he's away I'm looking after his NTID and VIS sprint squads (and a couple of CCCC ringins), we had our first completely Hilton-Free-Day on Saturday afternoon. The session was all K1's which is basically a load of gate starts over short distances, the format being 3 sets of 3 reps of starts, each set has reps going up quarter, half and three quarter lap, and each set goes up a gear.
Generally they all did pretty well, I had to get a little bit cranky at the end, as the drill usually finishes with a small gear quarter lap effort, and some of the lads mucked about during it, it was pretty funny, but at the same time, they're there to train and I had to make sure they did their efforts properly. Guys, if any of you are reading this, you can horse around between efforts, but you do your efforts at 100%, or you're wasting your time and mine.
In other news, Nathan's taking a bigger role in the DISC sessions now, he's looking after the enduro stream including programming for them, and is also doing more of that at Spin. I'm happy that this is happening, Nathan's almost finished his level 1 and he's ready to take more responsibility for that side of things.
And we had a time trial on Sunday, run by Blackburn and with CSV looking after part of it. I was the announcer, but didn't have much of a job to do except call riders to the start, which was ok for the CSV Open, but the combine part was a mess, no-one's numbers matched what was on the starting list and the on-the-day entries didn't fit anywhere. We need to stop the on-the-day entries altogether for TT's.
I'm glad I wasn't riding the CSV Open part of it - not because I don't like TT's (which is true!) but because the CSV guys just packed up and left with no results. WTF?! The results are up now, which is good, but at the time they just left. Not good enough. I don't know if Blackburn ended up getting the results done and having a presentation for the combine event because I had to get going, but they're not currently on the Blackburn website. It's not good enough these days. It's embarrasing to be a part of when this happens, and more importantly, keeps happening over and over.
But .. We did run a good session at DISC on Sunday afternoon, Nathan had the enduros doing handicap starts and then some brutal efforts while the sprinters did powerjumps and then chased the motorbike around and around. We all left well fried. Today I was at Blackburn again coaching the DUCCs but only three showed up, so instead of doing blocking practice, we did flying 200s and match sprints. The guys enjoyed that and learned a bit so it wasn't a waste of their time.
I did get a small bit of time to speak with Mal Sawford (CCCC president) about some inter-club stuff and in particular volunteer management, but we didn't get a chance to reach any conclusion, he had to race! At least the ideas are on the table. I still think that the northern combine model is worth trialing. Here's more about how they do it. Mal is skeptical about its effectiveness in our combine because he is of the opinion that the NC races require a lot less manpower to run, but I think it's worth a try. I guess that's up to the race committee people to sort out, but there is goodwill between the clubs and that's the main thing.
Cyclesport Vic have a "club promoted event of the year" award and they're calling for nominations
I think the Summer Sprint Series is a pretty good thing, but then, I would, it's my baby and all parents are irrational and myopic.
Cycle Sport Victoria have an award for the club promoted event of the year. The forms and so on are here.
Should we nominate for it? Has anyone got the time to bash out two pages of guff about it?
We've got carpet!
Last Friday Rob Monteath, helped a little by Nicko and I as furniture removalists, got new carpet (at long last!) in the Blackburn clubrooms. This has been a longstanding thing that we've been (more stridently of late) agitating for at committee meetings since the old carpet was removed way back in October last year!
It's done now, and those of us that use the rooms owe Rob a big thankyou for making it happen.
This will make spin a lot quieter!
Also, we had a couple of people from the Whitehorse council come along and have a look at the state of the track. Nicko, Rob and I gave them a tour of the track and showed them the various faults that need fixing.
In the long term (next 3 or so years) we're hoping that we'll get a new track built. In the meantime there's no budget available for much maintenance work, so the club will have to pony up for any tactical repairs that need to be done. That's ok, as long as we know about it we can be prepared.
They even called it the same (acronym) name!
Check this out :
Yep, the folks up in Skiderknee copied our series, right down to the acronym. They called it the Sydney Sprint Series.
This is a Good Thing, but also a little disappointing in a way. It would be nice (polite etc) if Paul Craft had told us he was doing it. We have a long term plan for the series to integrate it into some sort of national series (similar/same rules etc at the various locations it can run at) and I think it would benefit all of us (sprinters, and wannabe sprinters) if we work together on this stuff.
Paul, I'm very easy to get in touch with ... Just in case you or any of your minions stumble onto this blog post. Let's work together with this and make it something bigger.