Archive for November, 2013

I was driving home from a track event last weekend when I got a text from a fellow cycling parent asking if I’d heard anything about a boy from interstate who’d had a nasty accident.  Without knowing any real details he was suggesting we perhaps collect some money to donate to help the family out and he was the first to put his hand in his pocket.

I didn’t speak to this fellow cycling parent… I didn’t need to.  Whenever you hear about, or indeed see a junior in a crash, it really brings home the danger in this sport and the profound effect it could have on you and yours.

The boy in question is Sebastian Berwick – a first-year under-17 (who as a top-year 15 rider had some terrific results at nationals) – its still not known exactly what happened but he ended up in ICU needing five blood transfusions.  He suffered two punctured lungs; badly bruised kidneys and liver; he sustained six broken ribs; seven transverse processors off his spine (but thank God no spinal nerve damage or neurological damage); he has a broken collar bone and a broken scapular and possibly some nerve damage to his left arm. 

Sebastian powers to second place in Wagga at the JM15 National Criterium Championships in September.

Sebastian powers to second place in Wagga at the 2013 JM15 National Criterium Championships in September.

I’ve been in touch with Seb’s club and have offered, at the request of a number of kids down here in Victoria, to organise to raise some money for him and his family.  It seems the boys thoughts and desire to help is shared by the greater cycling community and Seb and his parents, Kevin and Leonie, have been inundated with offers to help.

Members of Seb’s local club (Balmoral) have organised a food roster; they’ve organised a local business close to the hospital (The Coffee Club) to donate food and coffee for the family while Seb is convalescing; one family has given Seb an iPad; while others have offered to ferry Seb’s sister, Laura (also a junior cyclist) to and from cycle training…

Seb’s dad, Kevin, said in an email: “The biggest thing the cycling community has done for us is to just be there for us. We have received Facebook messages, texts, phone calls, cards etc from all over Australia expressing their sympathy and wishing Seb a speedy recovery.  It has been so unexpected and so generous and I think it has really lifted Seb’s spirit, as well as our own, to hear everyone’s kind words, it’s extremely humbling to say the least.”

It struck me that here were some boys, and their families, from Victoria, who had rubbed shoulders with Seb, who is from Queensland, only a few times: at Nationals, some Junior Tours and the NJTS, and yet they felt compelled to help however they could.  While it speaks volumes for the kids driving this and for Seb’s character to have so easily made friends from around the country; I think it is also in recognition that this could have happened to any of us.  The kids think, it could have so easily been me; the parents, it could have been their son or daughter.

We count our blessings that it wasn’t, but its also easy to put ourselves in the Berwick’s shoes and this creates a strong and sincere desire to help how we can.

The Victorian boys will be doing a collection at the NJTS in Melbourne this weekend so if you see them and feel compelled, please donate something to help the Seb and Berwick’s in his recovery.  The boys are hoping the money can be used to repair or replace his bike and look forward to again rubbing shoulders with him in races in the near future.

Wishing you a speedy recovery Seb.

In just a couple of weeks we see the start of track teams racing around the country with the Victorian Junior Club Teams Championships.  In days gone by this was one of the BIG events on the cycling calendar.  Team representation was hard fought and worn like a badge of honour.  Winning clubs would proudly display their pennants in their clubrooms and have bragging rights for the next 12-months.

Cycling is broadly seen as an individual sport.  Indeed ‘team tactics’ are frowned upon in all but the biggest of races and not allowed at all on the track (where its called collusion and is met with disqualification).  That’s not to say it doesn’t happen; with ‘teams’ representing their state, their bike shop, sponsor or coaching group all ‘riding for each other’ at various races around the place.  But at the Club Teams, riders need to ride as a team.  They train as a team.  They all wear their club kit (no shop kits allowed) and share their club pride.

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The winners of the 2012 JW17 Team Pursuit – Brunswick with Carnegie Teams claiming second and third!

Unfortunately there are very few opportunities for juniors to ride events like Team Sprints and Team Pursuits.  It’s not till they reach under-17 level and only then its the top three or four riders in the state who get to race it at the Nationals, so this is a terrific opportunity for kids to have a crack at these Olympic events.

The Team Sprint is also a hard fought event with often only 100ths of a second separating the winners.

The Team Sprint is also a hard fought event with often only 100ths of a second separating the winners.

Teams are only as strong as their weakest rider, so tactics are a big part of it – especially in the Team Pursuit, where a majority of riders must finish (2 out of 3 for the younger age categories and 3 out of 4 for the under-15s and 17s).  It means stronger riders taking longer turns but also keeping the pace steady enough not to blow up the weaker riders – it really is the epitome of a team event!

As junior ranks continue to grow the competition will be fierce, especially in the older age categories with the blue ribband event arguably the under-17 Team Pursuits.  Competition will be tough between the bigger inner-city clubs of Brunswick, Carnegie and Blackburn while a number of the bigger country clubs also sure to field competitive teams.

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Arguably the blue ribband event of the event is the JM17 Team Pursuit.

A positive change this year is that smaller clubs can form composite teams from riders within their combine.  While they can’t win medals, they can compete and experience this style of team racing.  Combine areas are:

Gippsland: Warragul, Latrobe, Wellington, Leongatha, Bairnsdale
Goldfields: Ballarat, Ararat, Horsham, Stawell-Great Western
Central: Bendigo, Castlemaine, Macedon Ranges, Seymour Broadford
Barwon: Geelong, Colac
South West: Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool, Camperdown

North East: Shepparton, Alpine, Albury Woodonga, Lavington, Mansfield, Wangaratta
Metro East: Blackburn, Carnegie, Hawthorn, Casey Cardinia, Chelsea, Mornington, Southern Masters
Metro West: Footscray, Italo-Australia, Melton, Northcote, Preston, Whittlesea, Sunbury
Metro Central: Brunswick, St Kilda, Hawthorn, Maccabi, Melbourne Adventure, Melbourne University, Veneto

Here’s hoping that a lot of the regional clubs take advantage of this change and field some composite teams.

Good luck to all racing the event – it would be great to see some strong club support with banners and barracking from the stands.  Lets try and restore the stature of the Club Teams as a major event on the Summer Calendar.