They stop going faster, why?
Way back many months ago at (I think) one of the NTID conferences I've been lucky enough to go to, female sprinters were discussed. One very common thing is that many of the ones that do very well in JW15 and JW17 often simply never go significantly faster once they get to JW19.
Why is this?
I have one thought about this, bear with my hypothesis, this is gut feeling not science :
When they're riding JW15 and JW17 the game is all about leg speed because they're restricted to tiny gears. There's a certain amount of strength required (and you see this in the ones that do well out of the starting gate) but it's mainly a game of cadence. This favours the girls who don't necessarily have a lot of strength but can spin like the clappers.
This is pretty obvious; girls aren't boys. From a hormonal perspective, girls have roughly 10% of the testosterone that boys have. Testosterone is the main hormone that drives muscle growth (amongst other things). As such, it's really hard, without cheating, for girls to pack on significant amounts of muscle. They can certainly grow stronger and put on some muscle, but unless they resort to training with the aid of the needle, they never get big and thus, strong enough to push bigger gears at high cadences. The only female sprinters that ever looked like Sean Eadie were cheating (eg Tammy Thomas and Annalisa Cucinotta). Combine this with old-school training methods that has them out riding lots of road miles, which blunts any muscle growth stimulii that they may get from sprint training and you get a kid that can spin, but will really struggle to push bigger gears and thus, go any faster when they're old enough to be able to push bigger gears. We see this with some of the girls I work with, they're amazing as JW15's and JW17's but come JW19 the game changes, and it changes a lot. The stronger girls start to take over and the super-spinners become less dominant.
Why do boys do ok in spite of mixing in lots of road riding? They're awash with anabolic hormones in their late teens and for them it's not too late to undo the damage done to their fast twitch by endurance training. But for the girls, their opportunity, I think, comes a lot earlier and is lost if it's burnt up by too much endurance training.
So, if that's true, or at least on the right track, what do we do to get the girls strong without cheating?
The time when they're growing the most is early to mid puberty. This is when they have the most of the other growth hormone, HGH. This is when they need to be in the gym getting as seriously strong as you can possibly make them, and doing high power and high torque efforts on the bike and NOT DOING ANYTHING CATABOLIC. This means STAY AWAY FROM LONG ROAD RIDES!
Conventional wisdom says keep the kids out of the gym, I say nuts to that and I'm not alone. I'm in favour of getting, in particular, the girls, in the gym as early as possible to get strong so when they're old enough to push big gears, they're strong enough to do it. Keep them doing short, sharp efforts. Anna Meares started as a kid racing BMX. Short and sharp, high power, high cadences and high torque. Shanaze Reade and Willy Kanis are more elite track sprinters who started (and still do) race BMX. You can add the required endurance work later, and that's endurance for dealing with the needs of a track sprinter, which is not the same thing as the endurance needs of an enduro cyclist and should be trained differently. You may pay for this in the short term with them being a bit heavier as JW15's and JW17's because to put on muscle they need an anabolic diet (calorific surplus high in protein and low in the foods enduros live on, ie: simple carbs), but getting the girls strong AND able to push high cadences is, I think, the key to getting them fast in the long term.
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 ...
Asthmatics, no TUE needed for Ventolin, for hayfever sufferers, pseudoephedrine is back on the list
A new book in the aboc library
It was mum's birthday yesterday, and I usually get her a book, by convenience, the same book each year, she's a fan of James Halliday's wine review, which is an annual release. I'd get her something requiring a little more imagination, but this is what she wants .. According to the book they taste 5700-odd wines. Think about it ... that's 15.6 wines a day every day of the year. Even if Halliday farms out 50% of the tasting to an assistant that's still 8 wines a day every day - that's only tasting, not drinking, but it trips my skeptical senses as to the reliability of the process. We know that it's not done every day, he has to have days off, holidays etc .. how it's done and he keeps a clear head and palate?
But this is a cycling blog, not one for winers.
I took the Truck (Trek 7.2 FX) in to the local megaplex (Forrest Hill Chase) - something about these places leaves a distinctly unpleasant taste in my mouth - is it the listless, bored vandals skateboarding around the carpark looking for things to break, paint or steal or the slobs lazing away the day in the eatery stuffing their faces with festering junk food? Or just the general desperation of the people in the place trying forlornly to placate themselves by buying worthless junk and trinkets? Mallrats isn't a pinch on the reality of suburban shopping complexes. Mallrats is funny. Megaplexes are the pits. At least people addicted to the weekend credit card binge in at Bunnings are likely to be doing something constructive with the stuff they buy.
They do have a bookshop there, thus the journey - I found the book for mum, and had a quick glance at the sporting book section - under the usual bios of yesterday's local football stars there's a couple of cycling books - interestingly not just the usual Lance Armstrong bios, there's also Racing Tactics for Cyclists (if you don't have this, you should have it, it's the best book I've found on the subject of bike racing tactics), and Bad Blood. I already have RTfC, but Bad Blood is new. I'll have that!
On the way out and no-one had stolen the Truck! Quick .. ride home!
Gene doping is very real
In today's Age :
Reaping the benefits of exercise could be as simple as popping some pills, according to scientists who have found that drugs can turn mice into marathon runners - even without any training.
After four weeks and no training, the mice ran 44% longer than ordinary mice. "That's as much improvement as we get with regular exercise," said Dr Vihang Narkar (Vihang Narkar), lead author of the paper published in Cell.
But the researchers stress the results will bring no advantage to sports cheats, as blood and urine tests for the drugs have already been developed.
A great thing for the general public, but more evidence that gene doping is real and coming soon to a sport near you.
Footballers don't use EPO, apparently it's too dangerous to test for it?
In today's Age, Leigh Matthews states, when talking about EPO use in AFL football :
"Blood testing is invasive. It's very different. The one thing you know is there's no health risk in taking urine. Blood requires putting a needle in your vein and the AFL didn't like us doing that with the IV hydration. It's a health risk," he said.
Uhuh .... We'll just bury our heads in the sand, Leigh. Thankyou.