Archive for June, 2015

After CyclingDad’s recent ‘Call for Contributions’, a regular reader pointed out that one of the major changes to the Cycling Australia Junior Cycling Policy – released last month – is the change to race distances.  CyclingDad, like this reader, thinks there’s a bit of good to the changes, but equally some questionable decision making.

It is quite a substantial document, with a lot of governance, duty of care and motherhood statements – many of them necessary for the sport to meet the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Junior Sports Guidelines.  One major change is the cancellation of prize money for junior racing.  It doesn’t even give promoters the option of keeping it!  It simply advocates: no prize money.  Is this a good thing?  Most parents I speak to don’t think so, and even race promoters think it’s far easier to put $20 into an envelop than to have to organise trophies, ribbons or medals.

The biggest changes through are the changes to the distances the varying age-groups are allowed to race.  Some positive changes here with the girls now able to race the same distance as the boys across all age-categories – this means some big increases for the under-17 girls who are now able to race 70km races (and 50km in stage races).

If only the road lead to good decisions...

If only all roads led to good decisions…

The policy itself seems a little contradictory: for e.g. in under-15’s ‘Competitive Stream’, CA recommends training sessions can be up-to two-hours (with up to six sessions and 175km per week) while at the same time reducing the maximum distance back to just 20kms for a stage race!  It’ll take the under-15 boy’s less than 40-minutes to race 20kms in a mass start stage race, yet CA is advocating that they can train up to two-hours in a session, six times a week?!  Complete contradiction plus in no way reflective of the fitness and capabilities this level of recommended training will give these riders; nor is it preparing them for the jump up to the under-17s where they can race more than twice as far (and on a significantly bigger gear!).

CA is even likely to contravene it’s own policy at the junior road nationals in Shepparton later this year where the road race for the under-15 boy’s will exceed 30km – likely to be 39.6km!  At the recent Shepparton JT we saw 20 of the 21 riders contest the finish in A-grade as the course simply wasn’t selective – largely due to it being just 23.5km (exceeding CA’s 20km limit!).  I for one as a parent would like a more selective race for no other reason as to reducing the likelihood of a crash in a big bunch sprint finish!

Before these changes under-15 boy’s were racing stages up to 50km long, and managing quite well with them.  As stated, I think the equalisation of the distance girls and boys of the same age can ride is a good move, but to so reduce the distance under-15’s can ride is simply a terrible, ill-informed decision.  It’s worth pointing out that this change won’t impact the children of either the reader who sent this in or CyclingDad as our kids have already moved through the under-15 category.

Thankfully the changes don’t seem to have filtered through to the ‘real world’ with both this weekend’s Wagga Wagga JT and next month’s Eildon JT offering stages well over the 20km limit for the under-15 boys… although the under-17 girls are only being offered the same distance as the under-15 boys, rather than the same courses being offered to the under-17 boys.  Both tours are also offering stages exceeding the CA policy for the under-17 boys.

Confused?  I know I am.  I understand CA needed to update its junior policy (mainly to keep the ASC happy, who, after all is its major funder), but to so drastically change race distances is, in my opinion – and the opinion of many in the junior cycling community – a decision that needs to be reviewed… and quickly!  Perhaps, in the real world, it won’t have a significant impact and junior tour organisers will continue to offer stages exceeding policy limits.

I don’t like taking pot-shots at CA, especially in its current state… it is an easy target!  And there is a lot that’s good about the policy – not so much changes, rather documenting things so they’re all in one place.  I would have liked to see the policy perhaps go further with regard to junior tours, mandating minimum safety standards and traffic management based on speed limits the courses are held on.

Any how, keen to get your thoughts on these changes – especially those in or coming into the under-15 category.  For those who haven’t read the new policy it’s here.

Safe riding everyone.

Call for Contributors

Posted: June 24, 2015 in Tips & Hints

This blog started as a bit of guide to parents of junior cyclists… to try and share with them what I went through and learnt (often the hard way) so they didn’t have to make the same mistakes.  I’ve been a bit hit and miss in my updates depending on how busy my real job is.

Regular readers have probably worked out I’m Victorian-based; but I’m keen to expand the blog to cover other states and for it to feature other opinions and ideas.  I’d love if some of you other cycling parents might submit a piece or two now and again.  I’m happy to edit it and will post it.  The blog doesn’t feature advertising so it’s produced purely for the love of it… what I’m saying is there’s no fee for contributing.

Ideally there’d be a parent from each state contributing one blog per month (or really when they’ve got something to say and the time to say it).  I’d love it if we also got contributions from other countries, sharing their stories and thoughts on junior racing.  I’d love it if a junior coach wanted to regularly contribute with tips and hints for young athletes; perhaps available to answer questions?

You don’t need to be a great writer and posts don’t need to be that long: you just need to have something you want to share in and around junior cycling.

stock-footage-father-helping-child-learn-to-ride-a-bike

I don’t want rants or negative stories complaining about why this or that isn’t right or doesn’t work.  If you feel strongly about something needing to change, put a positive spin on it and suggest some constructive ways to make it better.

Send your contributions to cyclingdad101@gmail.com.  Hopefully as a cycling community we can all make the way a little easier for those just getting into this great sport.

Thanks

CyclingDad

Three Aussie juniors are heading off to Belgium for three-weeks early next month.  They are following a well worn path trod by cyclists past and present; famous and not; but all lovers of the sport.

Belgium is cycling’s Mecca… especially the Flanders region.  The boys will be staying in Oudenaarde in the Flemish Ardennes, just 6km from the famed Koppenberg (and nearby to the Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs) and home to the Tour of Flanders museum.  It’s also the turn around point for the ‘canal ride’ or Scheldepeloton – leaving Ghent at 9am each morning (pros hours!) this 50km return ride varies from recovery to all out race depending on the day and pros are often spotted at the front of the bunch.

To say this will be an amazing experience for the boys is probably an understatement… between breathing in all the culture, the boys will also be racing the local kermesses.  There are two under-17, or Nieuwelingen riders heading over and one under-19, or Junior rider.  They are:

Maccie Carter (VIC) – bottom-age under-19. Quality time trial list and strong climber.  Won at Modella on the weekend so looks to be taking some form over. Finished top-10 at the Mersey Valley Junior Tour against the cream of Aussie under-19 talent. Member of the Hawthorn Cycling Club and coached by Kelly Coaching.  Goal: “My expectations are for racing to be much harder, the bunches to be bigger, the cobbles to be really tough and for it to be warmer 🙂  I am also really looking forward to living at Chainstay with the different nationalities and being immersed in the Belgium cycling culture for three weeks.  I know it is going to be really tough racing so I have put a lot of work in over winter and I hope to be able to finish all the races.”

Maccie Carter on his way to victory at Modella last weekend.

Maccie Carter on his way to victory at Modella last weekend.

Riley Hart (VIC) – top-age under-17.  Won three national titles on the track earlier this year and backed it up with another national title in the CA Mountain Climb Championships time trial.  Mixing track and road at the moment but was second overall at the recent Shepparton Junior Tour so building form.  From the Brunswick Cycling Club and now racing on a VIS scholarship.  Coached by Rebecca DiCello.  Goal: “Hoping to find my feet early and then maybe a podium once I get the hang of the style of racing.  Just looking forward to living and breathing cycling for three-weeks – plus the tour is on while we’re there and I’m in the right time zone… although my Flemish isn’t dat goed!”

Hart - centre in VIS colours and black and red helmet - contesting the sprint finish in the road race at the recent Shepparton JT.

Hart – centre in VIS colours and black and red helmet – contesting the sprint finish in the road race at the recent Shepparton JT.

Mitchell Wright (NSW) – While a bottom-age under-17, is more than competitive as recent results demonstrate (including 2nd in GC at the National Mountain Climb Champs).  As a top-age under-15 rider, won Champion-of-Champions at the track nationals and also all three titles at the national road champs.  Racing for the Illawarra Academy of Sport and Illawarra Cycling Club and coached by Ben Kersten.  Goal: “Looking forward to stepping up to this level of racing and seeing where I’m at.  I’d like to show off Australian racing and hope maybe a podium is a possibility.  I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from the big fields, technical and fast kermesses that will hold me in good stead in the future.”

Mitch Wright in NSW colours  on his way to victory in the under-15 national road championships last year in Toowoomba.

Mitch Wright in NSW colours on his way to victory in the under-15 national road championships last year in Toowoomba.

I’ve asked the boys to write regular updates for this blog as well as send through photos and even race footage (they’ll be running GoPros on their bikes during races when they can).  They’re a part of a three-week camp organised by US cycling stalwart, Tim Redus.  Redus has run these camps for the past few years but has been in-and-around the sport for close to four decades.  His business, Vertex Cycling, will run two junior camps this year utilising the facilities at The Chainstay in Oudenaarde.  The camp the boy’s will attend starts on the 7th July and runs through to the 27th and will see them living and racing with ten other kids (making 13 in total – 5 nieuwelingen and 8 juniors).  There are still some spots left in the second camp which runs from July 28th to 17th August if you’re interested!!

The nieuwelingers can only race two races per week, while the juniors can race three times.  Their race programs look something like this:

For Juniors 15-16 (Nieuwelingen):
7th Arrival
12th Race – Herzele 61.6 km
13th Race – Parike 62 km
16th Race – Opwilk 48 km
20th Race- Zottegem ?? km
22nd Race – Wortegem 60.75 km
23rd Race – Opwijk 55.2 km (option)
26th Race – Borchtlombeek 61 km
27th Departure
For Juniors 17-18:
7th Arrival
8th RaceBrakel (OO) 90 km
11th RaceHerzele (OO) 92.4 km
12th RaceGavere (OO)  85 km
15th RaceOpwijk ( OO)  72 km
16th RaceMechelen (OO) 90 km
19th RaceHET NIEUWSBLAD (IC – Nat114 km
21st RaceHOOGLEDE ( IC- Nat ) 111 km
22nd Race –  Opwijk (OO) 96.6 km (option)
25th RaceBorchtlombeek (OO) 80 km
26th RaceTielt (OO) 84 km
27th Departure

Redus has warned the boys that the racing is FAST, with average speeds of between 45 and 50kmph!  Many include cobbled sections, lots of road furniture and big fields on narrow roads.  Redus is being helped out by a number of coaches and elite racers who will keep an eye on the boys and accompany them on many training rides throughout the region.  They’ll also be expected to pull their weight when it comes to cooking, cleaning and general house duties.

In terms of equipment: for the under-17’s it’s pretty similar although they use a slightly smaller gear (they need to run a 52T chainring with a 16T cassette).  Their wheels also need to have minimum of 16-spokes and can’t be any deeper than 30mm. They can run tubulars or tubeless though, which is good for racing on the cobbles.  The under-19’s have pretty much the same gear as Australia (52×14) with no wheel restrictions.

Some good reading about Oudenaarde and Belgium cycling culture can be found via these links:

http://cyclingtips.com.au/2012/04/ghent-cycling-culture/

http://inrng.com/2014/01/schelde-river-path-fietspad/

http://www.ridemedia.com.au/ride-features/riding-in-flanders/

So stay tuned for the first submission from the boys.  Feel free to ask them questions using the comments section below and I’ll pass them on… and if you’re thinking of going to the second camp… get on it, as places sell out almost as fast as the racing!

One of the discussion points from the ‘pits’ at the Shepparton Junior Tour was about CA’s new junior policy of no prize money.  There was a mixed reaction, especially as entry fees for many junior tours have increased, along with all the associated costs of getting there, accommodation, etc.

Prize money has been at the heart of this sport since way back when.  That’s why it was very much a blue-collar sport with riders able to earn more winning bike races than working an unskilled job.  My niece, a high level swimmer, was always blown away with the money my kids used to win in cycling, when all she got was medals and ribbons!

No prize money at Wagga JT but there'll be great racing, medals and big smiles guaranteed.

No prize money at Wagga JT but there’ll be great racing, medals and big smiles guaranteed.

So is the move to no prize money for junior racing a good thing?

I think it is. This weekend’s Wagga Junior Tour will spend circa $5000 on traffic management and another $1000 on electronic timing.  While it won’t award prize money the podium finishes will walk away with medals and the winners will take home jerseys.  All of this on revenue of $40 average per rider for 130 riders.  They need sponsorship just to break even!

I won’t be at Wagga this year, but it is one of my favourite junior tours.  Four quality stages (even if the crit around the go-kart track is technical and involves right hand turns, which riders seem to struggle with!) and terrific organisation.  The two road stages offer opportunities for all sorts of riders and I love that it finishes with a time trial, meaning riders who aren’t strong TT’ers need to gain time in the early stages, which in turn leads to aggressive racing.

On Wagga: they’re still chasing volunteers for lead/follow cars, so if you’re going and can help them out, please contact president@waggacyclingclub.com.  Being in a lead or follow car gives you a whole different perspective of the race and an amazing warm and fuzzy feeling for volunteering.

The Shepparton Junior Tour has been run and won for 2015.  While not without its hiccups, the various issues didn’t seem to interfere with the racing and most people seemed pleased with the tour.  Even the Mt Major Hill Climb went off without too many issues (save for one J11 girl who crashed on the way back down).

But what does the tour tell us in terms of The Junior Nationals due to be held there from 11-13 September 2015?

The Road Race

Hard to be Nostradamus, and especially after my previous post analysing the 2011 finishes, but I think because we’ve arguably got a bigger group of stronger riders, the junior nationals road race will end in a bunch gallop in most age categories.  Just looking at the A-grade groups from the weekend, some 30 (out of 37 starters) JM17A’s contested the finish.  In the JM15A’s 19 of the 21 contested the finish (and it would have been 20/21 with one top rider having a mechanical).  The girls categories probably don’t have quite the evenness or depth at the moment, however in the JW17’s half the field finished within 48-seconds of the winning group of two riders.

Will wind, an extra lap and State ‘team’s racing’ effect the outcome?  Ask locals and its windy in that part of the world 360 out of 365 days a year!  Yes, wind will make it harder and yes an additional lap will shell some additional riders, but again, looking at the boy’s fields, we have incredible depth in these categories at the moment.  And if last year’s nationals was anything to go by, the riders don’t seem to have really grasped the idea of ‘team’s racing’.

I don’t mind the idea of mixing up junior nationals courses; presenting a sprinters course one year and a more selective course the next.  I can tell you that the proposed 2016 Bendigo course doesn’t look super selective (but it is definitely harder than Shepp) while the 2017 course in Tassie will suit the rouleurs.  After all, the climbers have Buffalo don’t they?

The bunch kick in the JM17A road race - some 30 riders contested the finish after some 53kms.  Photo credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

The bunch kick in the JM17A road race – some 30 riders contested the finish after some 53kms. Photo credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

A report from some athletes who took part in the 2011 JM17 road race on the same course suggested it wasn’t at all selective (nor was it windy), apparently it was a series of crashes on the last lap that played the biggest part in the spread out finish.  Let’s not hope for a repeat of that.

The Time Trial

While difficult to compare apples with oranges, looking at the results from the 2011 Junior Nats (held on the same course but 2kms longer for all divisions except JW15s), we have a crack year of athletes.  Already in June our JM17 tour winner, SA’s Liam Nolan, had the same average speed as the 2011 National Champion – a slick 42.4kmph!  Allowing for the usual improvement from June to September and the winner better be aiming for a high-43km average speed!

JM17A ITT winner SA's Liam Nolan averaged over 42kmph on the rolling out-and-back course. Photo Credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

JM17A ITT winner SA’s Liam Nolan averaged over 42kmph on the rolling out-and-back course. Photo Credit: Junior SA Cycling Pics

The JM15A winner, Graeme Frislie, was also close to 2011 champion Cameron’s Scott’s average speed (38.70 vs 39.03) – and he wasn’t even riding his own bike due to a mechanical after the finish of the road stage.  I would say that Cam and Graeme are similar sorts of riders – neither are really TT specialists, they’re just super strong riders… and that’s what this course suits.

The Crit

The locals want the crit held around ‘The Lake Course’.  Long at ~2.2km, but flat and picturesque, the course is well suited to breakaway action, but if kept together sets up well for a sprint finish.  Not super technical – there is one ‘S-bend’ entering the actual lake road, but other than that, the corners are pretty manageable.  The road, in places, is pretty dead and there is likely to be wind, so it could well be a race of attrition where positioning is very important.

There are some videos of the course on the Shepparton Cycling Club site and hopefully SCC will run a test crit in the lead up to the event.

Keen to hear others thoughts as to what we might expect come September in Shepparton…

 

This weekend’s Shepparton Junior Tour is set to be a showdown of heavy hitters across the under-15 and under-17 categories.  Big numbers have entered across all categories with the course set to host the Junior Road Nationals later this year.

11 under-11’s will pin on numbers along with 18 under-13 boys and 10 under-13 girls.  In the under-15 boys category riders from Queensland, NSW, SA and the ACT join the locals in the field of 45 riders.  Missing is Canberra Tour winner Luke Ensor (NSW) along with runner-up James Moriarty (QLD) but a strong local contingent headed by a trio of Brunswick Cycling Club members in Graeme Frislie, Leon Pudebat and Andrew Rigoni.  Throw in Carnegie’s Josh Heather, Blackburn’s Harry Morgan and Bendigo’s Sam Buckell along with SA’s Lewis Walker and it’ll make for strong aggressive racing.

While there is only 16 starters in the under-15 women, its a star studded field with the likes of Amelia Miles (ACT), Olivia Wheeler (SA), Katrina Chung-Orr (NSW), Kate Vickers (NSW) and Ashlee Jones (NSW).  Include local hopes the Bradbury sisters and with the predominantly flat road course, it’s sure to be a hard tour.

The heavy hitters have come out to play in the under-17 men’s category with a whopping 72 entries – and looking through the list there are probably 50 who will want to race in A-grade (a headache for the handicapper I’m sure!).  Local boys Slattery, Hart and Buckell will have their work cut out keeping a quintet of SASI boys quiet.  The SASI boys are well coached by Brett Aitkin and Jason Niblett and ride as a ‘team’, so expect multiple attacks until one gets away.  O’Shea, who won Ararat JT will fancy his chances in the RR and the Crit, while TT specialist Liam Nolan will start a warm favourite in that event. Drizners, Sayers and the two swift finishers in Barr and Brister complete the invasion from the West.

Braden O'Shea at the recent Ararat JT will be hard to beat at Shepparton (photo credit SA Junior Cycling Pics)

Braden O’Shea (SASI) at the head of the peloton at the recent Ararat JT will be hard to beat this weekend at Shepparton    (photo credit Facebook – Junior SA Cycling Pics)

The Vics and SA’s won’t have it all their own way however with strong first-year rider Mitch Wright (NSW) heading south off a commanding win in the recent Goulburn JT along with Tom Lynch and Matthew Rice to name just a couple more.  Notable absentees include: Seb Berwick (QLD), Craig Wiggins (WA), Zack Gilmore (TAS) and Kai Champman (NSW).

The flattish parcours, big fields and likely strong winds will ensure some cracking racing over the 53km with the non-sprinters using what hills there are to make it hard.  Decided on points rather than time, the tour will advantage the all rounder; someone with a fast finish for the RR and Crit, a power climb and the ability to still finish top-5 in the ITT.

The under-17 girls field is equally impressive, with the likes of NSW trio Chloe Heffernan, Natasha Mullany and Jess Saunders.  Morgan Gillon is making the trip over from Tassie and joins a local field including strong first-year rider Sarah Gigante and Georgia O’Rourke.

Start lists should be out today.  There are still some volunteers needed for lead, spares and follow cars – especially in the younger categories (lead and follow only).  Leave a message below and I’ll pass on your details to the organisers.

Under two-weeks to the Shepp Junior Tour.  This year, Shepparton, or more accurately Dookie, plays host to the CA Junior Road Championships in September.  The organisers of the Shepp Junior Tour have done a great job to give competitors a taste of the Nationals on the first day of the tour.

Both the time trial and road race courses will basically be the Nationals courses.  So if you’re thinking of racing Nationals – or hoping to do well there – best get on down/across/up to race Shepp.  There are already good numbers and entries close this weekend.  There’s a big SA contingent coming across as well as riders from NSW, ACT and Tassie already registered.  This will be the strongest JT of the year!

A little bit about the course.  A few years back an inspired Shepparton council sealed a section of road to make a terrific 15km loop just out of Dookie township.  It’s since been used for an Oceanias, a past Junior Nationals (2011), as well as being home to the Australian Schools Cycling Cup for a few editions.

It’s not a particularly hilly course but has historically made for good racing.  The TT course is slightly up hill on the way out and slightly down coming home.  The prevailing winter wind is from the south making it a cross wind there and back.  From past results, it’s a strong mans course – not necessarily suited to the pure time trialist.  Cameron Scott won the JM15 ITT in 2011 with Sam Welsford and Jack Edwards 2nd and 3rd in the JM17 ITT (Luke Williams won).  Similar style riders were successful in the female ITT.

In the road races, while sprinters did win in the two female categories (Courtney Field in the JW15 and Macey Stewart in the JW17) out of reasonable sized bunches; in the boys events the result suggests it was a smash-fest with the winner either solo or coming from a very small group.  Having said that, there were some 35 riders within 30-seconds of the winner in the JM17s and ten riders within 40-seconds in the JM15s RR.

Not sure what this tells us, but after last year’s JT stage three road race around the same course – albeit using Dookie College as the start/finish, not the township (as will be the case at Nationals), less than half the JM17 field made the split that the wind caused just 7kms into the stage and it was reported by many riders as one of the hardest stages they’ve ever ridden!

Back to this year’s Shepp JT: another terrific initiative of the organisers is that they’ve reinstated four stages!  Yes, a Victorian junior tour with four stages!!!  I didn’t think I’d see that again.  And wait for it… the third stage is a criterium around the Dookie college grounds – a fast and safe circuit – and the fourth stage is a hill climb up Mt Major – a 2.8km climb @ around 5.5%.  Looks like this is going to be held as a mass start event and the road isn’t that wide so will be interesting to see how it goes.  It’ll be an all out eight-to-13-minute effort depending on the grade.

Just cresting the major climb up Mt Major before the quick run home to the finish.

Just cresting the major climb up Mt Major before the quick run home to the finish.

I hear they’re also looking to organise a dinner on the Saturday night – following in the footsteps of what the Centrals Junior Tour has done for the past couple of years – so keep your eyes out for that too.

Entries via the CV event page

2011 Results here