Archive for the ‘Tips & Hints’ Category

It’s Junior Tour Season!

Posted: February 25, 2016 in Tips & Hints

It sure rolls around fast… one minute it’s track season and the next we’re moving onto the road.  Of course for those riders lucky enough to be representing their state at the National Junior Track Champs, they’re all still be going around in circles… but those who haven’t get to enjoy the wide open spaces of the roads.

One junior tour that I’ve written about a number of times before in this blog is the Central Districts Junior Tour.  To be held this year on April 23rd and 24th, the CDJT is one of my favourites.  They just do it well!  Four stages – tick.  Amazing courses – tick.  Great organisation – tick.  Good safety – tick.  There’s nothing not to like about this tour.  I would encourage as many interstate riders as possible to make the trip to SA for one of the highlights on the JT calendar… you won’t be disappointed!

album_photos_xlarge_60

The other cool about the CDJT is you get to wear cool helmet covers… ok, maybe they’re not that cool!

Shame about Ararat and Canberra clashing on May 7th and 8th.  My understanding is it isn’t anyones fault per se, but there definitely needs to be some flexibility and communication amongst host clubs and state federations.  I know the Cycling Victoria calendar was out last November, but equally the Canberra Junior has been on this weekend for the past two years… any how, I know which tour I’d be going to!

I heard a whisper that the Eidlon JT will run on the Friday and Saturday this year to allow host club Blackburn to run a senior event on the Sunday.  It’s school holidays in Victoria (not sure about the other states… it’s scheduled for 9th and 10th July).  This definitely won’t be a problem for the kids and I think parents will do what they need to to make sure they get to the pick of the Victorian JT’s.

As you may have noticed, CyclingDad has been quiet of late.  Partly due to no longer having a junior cyclists (it only seems like yesterday I was cheering for the under-11s!) and partly due to being very busy in my real job.

Again, I’d be happy to hear from anyone keen to take over this blog and keep it going with up to date and topical content.  Please email me at cyclingdad101 (at) gmail.com if you’re keen.

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

I attended the first round of the National Junior Track Series (NJTS) the other weekend and observed a doping control up-close when one of the riders from our team was selected for one of four random doping controls being undertaken at the event.  They were random in so far as the riders chosen won the previous four nominated races.  Neither the young athletes, nor their startled parents/representatives had experienced anything like this before.  Some of the athletes selected wore it as a ‘badge of honour’, others were nonplussed, while those having to travel back interstate perhaps found it somewhat inconvenient.  I thought I’d share the process so those who are selected in the future know what they’re in for…

No translation required...

No translation required…

There was some concern that 13-and-14 year-old riders are too young to be tested, but ASADA have confirmed there is no ‘age minimum’ – which makes sense when you think of the age some international level gymnasts and divers for example.  However, this sort of testing can only be done at a ‘national level event’, which the NJTS qualifies as.  The other reason its not done all that often at junior level is the cost – in the vicinity of $700 to $1000 per test (depending what they’re testing for).

Once an athlete is selected, they are notified and allocated with a stalker – sorry, a chaperone.  This ASADA chaperone, of the same sex, then can’t let the athlete out of their sight until they have delivered both a urine sample and blood sample.  It was quite funny watching the targeted athletes wandering around with their ‘shadow’ following close behind.  All the chaperones were terrific about their role and provided information and support for their athlete.

The difficulty with the urine sample is it needs to be of a certain quality, or strength, to be acceptable, and drinking lots of water actually dilutes the sample, so care needs to be taken when trying to bring on a wee!  In terms of how it is taken… the chaperone watches the athlete produce the sample.  The athlete must be naked from the top of their thighs to above their belly button.  I assume so they can’t have a hidden urine store and feed that into the sample jar?  As these were junior riders, an athletes representative (or ‘witness’) watches the chaperone, watching the athlete, give the sample.  The witness remains with the athlete through the whole process.

This part of it was all pretty easy really, with no issues with any of the four samples.  The process from here is a bit of messing around – ‘messing’ being the operative word.  The rider pees into a jar, then must transfer this urine into two sample tubes.  These tubes are self locking and the athlete actually picks a random pack from a selection; checks they are unopened/still sealed; and goes ahead with the transfer… some more successfully than others… but you know what they say, don’t cry over spilt urine!

The urine collection tubes. These come in a randomly chosen sealed box and, once the sample is in them, are self-locked and tamper-proof.

The urine collection tubes. These come in a randomly chosen sealed box and, once the sample is in them, are self-locked and tamper-proof.

At this point, the athlete must fill in quite a bit of paperwork including checking the numbers on the lockable tubes match and writing these numbers down onto their paperwork.  The paperwork asks if the athlete is on any medication or had any medicines, creams, potions, tablets or the like.  It’s pretty thorough and includes things like pain killers.

The challenge with the blood sample is that it can’t be taken until two-hours after the athlete’s last race… so they need to hang out and let their body recover enough for blood to be taken.  This is were there was some angst amongst a couple of the selected interstate athletes – or more so their team managers – as there were flights to catch and in one case it was going to be tight!

This is an important lesson for all riders/team managers – allow enough time when attending national level events for a potential doping control when booking your return travel.

So the blood tests again were pretty straight forward.  The ASADA representatives did the interstate riders first and a qualified nurse was on-hand to expertly take the blood.  A similar process of the blood going into self-sealing tubes and checking of labels is undertaken; some final paperwork filled in and signed; and then it was off the airport in plenty of time to make our flights.

Blood sample tubes in jars in bags… pretty secure I reckon!

Blood sample tubes in jars in bags… pretty secure I reckon!

The pack that eventually goes to the lab just has numbers on it – with no names.  And these numbers match up to the collected samples.  The athlete doesn’t let the sample out of their sight until it’s all finished and locked away in yet another sealable, tamper proof bag.

At the end of the day, the athlete needs to know their rights and in this case, they were encouraged to ask lots of questions and had the whole process explained to them in a step-by-step fashion.  The athlete also has the opportunity to add notes to the form if something has happened that you didn’t like or thought may have been out of order.

A step-by-step guide of the testing process can be found here.  ASADA has also recently produced some videos with athletes talking about their first tests (a couple of junior cyclists even make an appearance!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjL5x3mVeNA&list=UUnQEc4XjLb8eWxJ8kfURh-Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkLugC1B9tw&list=UUnQEc4XjLb8eWxJ8kfURh-Q

It definitely was a fairly detailed process but I thought it was handled sympathetically by all involved.

Personally I still have some reservations about the whole Strict Liability policy and even the impost of the whole Whereabouts system, but I guess until there is a better way to ensure we are racing in a clean sport athletes will have to put up with these inconveniences as just part of what they do.

Another good resource, and something I know that any rider selected in a State Team in Victoria has to do (along with their parents), is this level 1 anti-doping test.  It’s a bit clumsy, but I understand that a new and improved version is set to be launched in December.

Round two of the NJTS is in Melbourne on the weekend of the 15th and 16th November.

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!

One of the things I most love about cycling is its seasonality.  Just when you’re starting to get bored with road, track comes along; then just as you couldn’t ride around in another circle, its road season again!

With this change in season comes renewed motivation… you’ve changed bikes and can’t wait get out there and put it to good use!  This, for me, is where potential problems arise.

Both track and road seasons are long seasons: road runs from when you finish track (this will vary depending if you ride Track Nationals) right up until around now (post-Road Nationals) – that’s some seven-months by my calculations.

Track now kicks off with the first round of the NJTS (early-October) and runs through to late-February or early-March – call it five-and-a-half-months.  But you don’t want to hit the first round of the NJTS without some track kilometres in your legs, so maybe add another month or so to this.

Any how, you get the picture… it’s very easy to jam 13 or 14-months of training into a year.. and that’s without taking a break!

Why is a break important?  In speaking to coaches it’s important to give young bodies a chance to be completely stress free; to recover, repair, grow and revitalise.  All coaches will tell you about the importance of rest – daily, weekly and, in this case, six-monthly.  A period of time where you don’t touch the bike or do any cross-training (unless its for fun!).

Sports physcs will concur and stress how important a mental break is for dedicated athletes – young or professional alike.

Take time to hang-up the bike and give your body a chance to fully recover from the rigours of full-time training.

Take time to hang-up the bike and give your body a chance to fully recover.

So, what’s the right length for a break?  Kind of depends.  If you’ve had a long season and powered right through, a minimum of two-weeks is thought about right.  If you’ve had a season interrupted with injury or illness then you probably need less time off the bike.  So there is no right answer, needless to say, you should be scratching the walls to get back on the bike when the rest is up!

When is the right time?  The most obvious time is between seasons, but I think we need to look at our broader timetable.  Is there a family holiday coming up?  Is there a school camp on the horizon?  Are you trying to manage two peaks in your season?  Choose a time that suits you and your goals (and your family) best.  If you have a coach, ask them to schedule it into your program.

I’m no coach, but having been involved in the sport now for some seven years, I’ve seen kids burnout from a lack of rest.  I’ve seen them hang up the bike for good and seen them go from on form to completely out of form almost overnight, and you can tell its because their body is crying out for a break.

Don’t take my word for it, look to the pros you aspire to be… they ensure they get a good break – often up to a month off the bike – every year.

“Bring on track” is the cry doing the rounds… but make sure you schedule in your break as well.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not going super well in October, its how you’re going in February that really counts!

Late last year a young Queensland rider had an accident on the way home from a club race.  As he was descending a hill he hit a pothole, tried to keep upright, and in so doing ended up ploughing into the back of a parked car.  A few inches either way and it could well have been a much worse outcome.

CyclingDad told the story at the time (with a blog called There but by the grace of God); written from the point-of-view of a cycling parent and that this sort of accident could happen to any of us.  It was the most viewed post in the short history of this blog with over 3000 views in two-days.

Others in the cycling community were equally touched by Seb’s predicament with a number of the Victorian riders in Seb’s age-group organising a collection at the Melbourne round of the NJTS.  This was supported by the NJTS organisers and everyone who attended was very generous.  The goal was to try and raise money towards a replacement bike for Seb as his got written off in the crash.

Seb being given the bucket of money raised for him at the NJTS.

Seb being given the bucket of money raised for him at the NJTS.

Well, the good news is Seb is back riding, and better than that, he’s back racing.  With the help of money raised (some $1200) and the support of a local bike shop he’s riding a nice new Giant and is even entered to race at the upcoming Australian Junior Mountain Climb Championships up Mt Buffalo.

CyclingDad asked Seb some questions and these are his answers:

How’s the recovery coming along?

I am recovering very well thank you, everything is very close to being healed, the only thing that hasn’t healed yet is the radial nerve in my left arm, so I’m wearing a splint but it’s getting better and I’m coping very well.

What can you remember from the accident?

I can remember everything up until 3 minutes before my accident, going over a small hill on my way home with dad, and then nothing until I woke up in hospital, after coming out of the coma. The pain wasn’t bad until they stopped giving me the very strong pain medication. The pain once I came home was very bad at times and I wasn’t able to do things like showering and dressing myself.  I needed a chair for the shower and needed a lot of help for a while; it was very frustrating after going from being so fit and healthy, to being so reliant on others and losing all of my fitness and lots of muscle, I looked very small and skinny, I lost just under 5kg in the 9 days I was in hospital.

What did you think about all the support you got from the cycling community?

It was really amazing the support I got from the cycling community. I didn’t think people from all around Australia would help out so much and send me so many nice messages, it was a big surprise to me.

What are your goals for this coming road season?

My goals for this road season would be to get a good result at the Canberra Junior Tour and Nationals; if I can get some good result at these competitions I would be very happy.

What have you learnt from this whole ordeal?

That when bad things happen, if you stay positive and work hard you can get better. I’ve also learnt there are many nice people out there who are very supportive and willing to help when you aren’t doing so well.

Can you take away anything from what you’ve been through and offer it as advice for other juniors?

Always stay alert when out riding and look out for potholes.  Stay positive when things aren’t going so well for you and be grateful for everything you have, there are many worse off than you.

If you happen to see Seb up at Buffalo, be sure to introduce yourself and ask him how he’s travelling.

Stay safe out there…

CyclingDad

 

Wow!  Some awesome results at the recent Junior Track Nationals.  Thanks heaps to Christian Beitzel for keeping all that weren’t in Sydney abreast of what was going on with his ‘as live’ GoogleDoc results (link below).  Seems strange that there are live results for all four rounds of the NJTS but not for what’s meant to be the pinnacle event on the junior track calendar?

JM17 Flying 200m Record Holder, Ryan Schilt, stalks his prey in an early round of the sprint.  Ryan went on to win Gold.

JM17 Flying 200m Record Holder, Ryan Schilt, stalks his prey in an early round of the sprint. Ryan went on to win Gold.

And mentioning results: no less than five records were broken and one set (from my count) with the Victorian JM17’s breaking two records (Team Pursuit & Team Sprint) and the JW17’s setting one (Team Pursuit – first year with four riders over 3000m), WA’s Tahlay Christie breaking Courtney Field’s Flying 200m record and Kerrie Meares 16-year-old 500m TT record.  Legend has it that Kerrie was sporting discs and full TT bike set-up when she set that record – not sure if this is true or not – but either way some amazing strength and speed shown by Tahlay (she also won Gold in the Keirin and, no disrespect to Mitch Wright at all, but how Tahlay wasn’t Champion-of-Champions is beyond me!?!?).   And all of the top four JM17’s broke the old 500m TT record with Cam Scott coming out on top and being the first under-17 rider to break the magic 33-second barrier (something Anna Meares has only recently been able to do with a 32.836WR in Mexico late last year!).

Part of the all conquering #TeamVic - the JW17 girls set a record for the new format TP (4-girls over 3000m).

Part of the all conquering #TeamVic – the JW17 girls set a record for the new format TP (4-girls over 3000m).

It seems like two-years on the bigger gear especially helped the sprinters and in the team events… but does anyone else think it odd that neither of the Individual Pursuit records have been broken since the change up?  Jackson Law’s record was threatened by Victoria’s James Tickner in qualifying, but he was unable to get any closer than 1.6-seconds to Law’s impressive 2:18.279.  In the JW17, no one was able to come within 5-seconds of Rachael Linke’s 1996 IP record of 2:29.570, again, this record could have been set pre-junior restrictions, not sure about this one?

IMO, stand-out riders across the age-categories were:

JW15

  • Apart from the usual suspects who showed themselves in the NJTS, in Georgia Cummings, Sarah Gigante and Alana Field, the revelations were Queensland sprinters Skye Robson (Gold in the Sprint, Silver in the TT) and Courtney Patterson (Bronze in the TT), along with teammate, Alexandria Martin-Wallace (Gold in the Scratch Race).  Also a great result for NT’s Eve Marker (Bronze in the Scratch Race), who left home to live with her aunty in Tassie to be near a velodrome in the lead-up to the championships.

JM15

  • There were no real surprises here as all medallists had all shown themselves throughout the NJTS: NSW’s Mitch Wright (4 Golds and a Bronze) and Zac Marshall (3 Medals), the ACT’s Matt Rice (Gold in the TT and fastest qualifier in the Sprint) and Tassie’s Ronin Munro (2 Silvers) where the stand-outs… with promising performances from Victorian duo Nathan Bof and Angus Collins to name just two emerging riders.

JW17

  • Some new names came to the fore in this category: Queensland’s Kristina Clonan, SA’s Kate Branson and Tasmania’s Morgan Gillon all walked away with medals and ensured pre-event favourite, Victoria’s Ruby Roseman-Gannon, had a real fight on her hands. Roseman-Gannon did manage Gold in the points race to go with her Gold in the TP and Bronze in the IP.  While I mentioned the incredible sprint performances of Tahlay Christie above, honourable mentions should go to Queensland’s Brook Tucker (3 Silvers) and Victoria’s Brit Jackson (2 Bronze) amongst the fast girls.

JM17

  • Cam Scott has been the stand-out rider of his year for the past four-years – and a worthy and humble champion he is.  It was good to see him challenged though, particularly by a well drilled Victorian outfit.  Ryan Schilt, Tom McFarlane and Conor Rowley met him head-on in the sprint events… he still managed to take home Gold in the TT, Points Race and Scratch Race, with Silver in the Sprint and Bronze in the Keirin.  Schilt was impressive, especially his ride to take Gold in the Sprint final and no one could believe Godfrey Slattery was bottom-age, but for me it was Tom McFarlane’s performances in winning Gold in the Keirin and Team Sprint, along with Bronze in the Sprint and 4th in the TT that amounted to the biggest step up.  And he comes from some pretty good stock with his dad, Dave, a past-National RR Champ!

A couple of other conclusions:

  • The Victorian team benefited from a specific training program that, for many of the riders, started back in October last year.  They were fit, ready and well drilled – especially in the team events.  Hilton Clarke Snr and Laurie Norris along with CV can take much of the credit for these results.
  • The new events – the keirin and the points race – were definite winners offering more riders more opportunities to race.  Plus from all reports they were terrific races with only a crash in the JM17 points race causing any lasting damage to athletes.
The keirin, an exhibition event last year, made its debut as a medal event at these Championships.

The keirin, an exhibition event last year, made its debut as a medal event at these Championships.

  • Queensland’s commitment to the NJTS paid big dividends with its strongest performance for a number of years.  CQ subsidise their riders to attend NJTS events.
  • It was NSW’s worst result in years – only saved by standout performances from Scott and Wright.  There was discontent amongst many parents that they just didn’t do enough team training in the lead-up.
  • It was probably WA’s worst result in some time too.  Maybe this was due to Victoria’s dominance or just the cyclical nature of the states share of talent?  Probably a bit of both.
  • A lot of coaches thought the program was tough on the athletes… but most of the riders found it a walk in the part compared to a round of the NJTS!

Keen to hear others thoughts on the event… what was good, what still needs work?

Keep spinning

CyclingDad

Chris Beitzel’s results can be found here (including splits for the timed events)

Thanks to Robin Dunk for the photos