Tips for surviving the NJTS…

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Tips & Hints, Track
Tags: , ,

Count the sleeps, the first round of the NJTS is only days away.  This will be CyclingDad’s fourth series, so I’ve compiled a bit of a cheat sheet for those new to the whole experience.  Much of this comes from a cranky old Victorian cycling coach who gave his OK to share it with you… Onya Cam!

Be warned, if you’re making finals, this is the most racing you’ll ever do anywhere, anytime.  Looking at the program for day one, if you make every final you’ll have seven (U15) or eight (U17) races in a four-to-five-hour period.  And they’re not exactly easy races – they’re against the best riders in the country!

So that’s an average of a race-every-half-hour or so… if only it worked like that!  It doesn’t and, for example, if you’re a JM17 rider, on day one you could very easily go from racing the points race final straight into the sprint final with only one other three-lap sprint final in-between.  So you’ll come from the track, straight onto the fence waiting for the next race – no cool down or anything!

The organisers run an elimination as the final event on the second day – the elimination is event most likely to cause crashes and to run it as the last event on the last day when riders are at their most fatigued is challenging to say the least – but they do it on purpose, to deliberately put the athletes under duress to see how they cope.

The fourth edition of the National Junior Track Series starts this weekend.  Are you ready for it?

The fourth edition of the National Junior Track Series starts this weekend. Are you ready for it?

So what are some tricks and tips to getting through a round of the NJTS:

  • Remember to pack everything – make a list and cross it off – license, skin suit (spare kit in case of crash), shoes, helmet, undershirts, gloves, sox, chamois cream (you’ll need it)
  • Check the weather and pack accordingly – arm and leg warmers and a long sleeve jersey if forecast is for cool conditions, maybe an ice vest if it’s hot.
  • Remember essential spares – although the host state is usually pretty generous if you do end up needing something.
  • Check your equipment and make sure everything is adjusted correctly – Have you grown?  Do you need a bike fit?  Is your saddle loose?  Fix it this week, not the morning before you travel.
  • Plan your week – maximise rest, try to avoid late nights and eat smart.
  • Wear comfortable clothes to travel in – tracksuits are popular – and plan your meals around your travel – don’t rely on airport food!
  • Don’t pack your multitool, allen keys, etc in your carry on luggage – they will be confiscated!  Tape them to the inside if your bike box.
  • Bring plenty to eat and drink – snacks won’t cut it for a 4-hour+ program, you’ll need some solids to help settle your stomach with all the fluids you’ll be taking in.
  • Check the program as soon as it comes out… know what heats you’re in, what number position you’ve drawn in the keirin… hopefully your Team Manager is all over this, but it’s also up to you to know what’s going on.  Especially if you qualify for finals or consolation races like the Robin and Cyclone Sprints.
  • Have your gearing set and checked – especially if you’ve just gone up an age-group – and be aware if you are going to change gears between events just how much time you have.  If you’ve moved from 15’s to 17’s ask yourself honestly if you can push the new gear in a race like the elimination or points race.  If you can’t, ride a gear you know you can push and still be there at the end.
  • Remember there’s no such thing as a stupid question for a junior at an event like this – so ask your Team Manager or your Coach if you’re unsure about anything.
  • Between events make an attempt to watch other races as well.  Try and learn from the better riders.  Pay attention to their tactics.  You are amongst Australia’s best junior athletes so there’s a good chance you’re learn something.
Here's a good table of food and water ready for the long day NJTS ahead.

Here’s a good table of food and water ready for the long day NJTS ahead.

I’m sure there’s other advice other parents and athletes can offer in the comments section below.

Good luck, have fun and remember – you don’t really want to be going great now… you want to going great at the end of February next year!

  1. Andrew Gannon says:

    Another great post cyclingdad, I think you have covered most of prep. One more idea is to be realistic with your goal setting. Create a goal that is achievable but still pushes you. It could be top 10 in elimination or top 4 in sprint derby or just to make a final. A lot of the racing is in your head and you can be down on your immediate results or you can look forward to your next opportunity and make the best of it. Make sure you support the others in your team and maybe even other teams and riders occasionally 🙂

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