Archive for the ‘Track’ Category

After my call for contributions a month or so back I had a cycling parent send me a blog post about Junior Worlds – more from the perspective of those kids that don’t go and what the options are for them.  Some interesting thoughts, feel free to add yours in comments section.

Before I post it though, CyclingDad wishes all the kids competing in the Junior Track Worlds which start overnight (Aussie time) in Kazakstan.  Australia has a long tradition of exceeding a these championships and the team we sent will no doubt do our country and themselves proud.  It is a big commitment to go, both financially and from a schooling/time management point-of-view… wishing them good health and good legs for the days ahead.

It must feel pretty special to pull on the green and gold skinsuit… good luck to the team representing Australia over in Astana, Kazakstan at the Junior World Track Championships.

It must feel pretty special to pull on the green and gold skinsuit… good luck to the team representing Australia over in Astana, Kazakstan at the Junior World Track Championships.  Thanks to CA for the image.

If you’re interested in following our junior team here’s a link to the results.

Thanks to the cycling parent who sent this quite topical blog piece in:

On the eve of the Junior World Track Championships kicking off in Kazakhstan, it seems like a good time to look at the event and what it does or doesn’t mean to our young riders.

This is only my opinion but I believe one that is shared by many, and an issue that could be playing a factor in the future of track cycling in Australia. We need to find a way to keep our young riders in the sport of track cycling and not make them feel that it is the end of the road if they are not selected for Junior Worlds.

I am going to use the British junior team as an example here as this is the only country of which I have knowledge on how their system works. And before I start, yes I am aware that population and our location plays a key factor, however there is room for improvement.

From the moment my teenager started racing at the age of 14, we have been surrounded by ambitious riders desperate to make selection for Junior Worlds when they reach U19. This is a major focus event, but for many it is not an option for varying reasons; whether it be ability or in fact even a financial issue. For those that want to go, and get selected, then it is fantastic but for those that don’t go there are often reasons why not, and its not necessarily their ability or lack thereof. Some riders have different goals which include longer-term goals rather than short-term results. I applaud these riders that are mature enough to look at the bigger picture and plan for a lengthy future on the bike.

For these riders, there are other pathways. For the females in particular I urge you to read a recent article by Chloe Hosking on her own particular pathway (road) which was very much an alternative one, she is one very determined and inspirational female rider.

In recent years we have seen much success by our young Australian riders at Junior Worlds but we have also seen the negative fallout in riders giving up the sport upon their return or soon after (CD: I did a story on this a year or so ago which received some outstanding comments and is worth a read) . At the same time we see riders that didn’t get selected also give up as they see no pathway ahead due to their non-selection. Wrong… there is always a pathway, you just have to find it.  Road or track, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Here’s an interesting fact, the British have not sent a team to Junior Track Worlds for the last two years. Why? You may ask, not because of lack of funds and certainly not due to lack of talent. The simple answer is (and I have this from a British team member) the emphasis of the British is on developing Britain’s young riders for future long-term success.  In other words they do not place as much emphasis on Junior Worlds as we do here in Australia.  I am guessing that that here it is in part due to the structure of funding (maybe this needs to be reviewed).  My teenage rider is fortunate enough to have dual citizenship so gets the opportunity to ride at the British Nationals on both the road and track and has already done so in 2013.

I also think that parents can play a role in the future of their teenager’s cycling ambitions, let them find their own pathways without pressure, but be there to support them when and if they need it.

In summary, if you, the rider, has the drive and ambition but don’t get the opportunities via the more popular and obvious avenues available on the track and the road, find your own pathway!  There’s one out there for each and everyone of you, you just have to find it.  And when you find that pathway, enjoy the journey.

Happy Riding!!

Thanks again cycling parent, you make some good points.  At the end of the day there only 15 riders chosen to represent their country at Junior World’s each year… that leaves a lot that aren’t selected.  Take a look at the current list of Australian pros riding at the pinnacle of the sport at the moment (Pro-Conti, World Tour and Women’s Tour) and less than a fifth represented Australia at Junior Track Worlds… they seem to have found a suitable alternate pathway to the top.

Take a look too at the seven under-23 riders riding for Australia’s Jayco AIS Academy at the moment and only two of the seven raced Junior Track Worlds… so five of those riders also seem to have found a way to keep their dream well and truly alive.  The same can be said for the women’s High5 Development Team with only two of the nine riders having competed at Junior Track Worlds.

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!):

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!