Sunday, 3 April 2016

Club races

I'm not entirely sure where to begin. There hasn't been a huge amount happening since the last round of the Sprint Series as that saw the end of my race season, save for a couple of club races. I suppose I'll talk about them.


Throughout this track season there has been a new series implemented into my club calendar. I'm not sure if I have spoken about it before (mostly because I am too lazy to go back and check), but it is the John Nicholson Keirin Series, named after Blackburn Cycling Club's previous club president. He was a very successful sprint cyclist during the 60s and 70s, and holds a spot in the Sports Australia Hall of Fame. The Keirin Series ran over a number of weeks throughout the 2015/2016 track season. I managed to attend all but the first round. I also managed to win every race, however due to missing the first round, that was not enough to secure the overall lead. I came second over all. It was a fun event to turn up to, I got to support my club and race in some events that I don't normally (such as the scratch race and handicap during the support races). It was also good to go and see some of the junior riders. A number of them seem to look up to me as a role model which is very humbling and an added motivator for me to continue with my riding.

Since the Sprint Series I have had a 3 week break in which I didn't do a whole lot. Mostly enjoyed free time to the extent that I was bored out if my mind.

I've started back up at uni, around the same time I did with cycling again. So going from doing not very much to being very busy all at the same time was a little bit of a shock to the system. Although I seem to have gotten the hang of it now.

The plan for the mean time is to ride at ITS (link to last year's event) which is being held in Melbourne this year. It is an international event that will hopefully get a few names down to come and race. I am hoping to use it to get some more experience racing against some tough competition, maybe learn a few things about how people ride and look at the racing from another tactical stand point. Being able to race someone who is much faster than me will allow me to try out some new moves and focus on using different methods that I wouldn't normally use to see if it is affective against a faster opponent. Hopefully I can also pull out a PB in the flying 200. My aim this year is to hit mid 10s, so 10.5 would be fantastic. Although, the goal is more targeted at states in December when the weather is warmer.

Recently I have started with a new gym program to differently supplement my riding. There is much more of an initial focus on volume and gradually increasing the intensity and change of focus as we near the beginning of the race season to better suit where I am at in the season. We are going to be looking at more of a focus later on in the season of more Olympic style lifts, which I am quite excited for. I am keen to see how Olympic lifting can affect my power on the bike, as well as what I am capable of lifting in terms of the Snatch and Clean & Jerk.

Back to the boards.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Shenanigans

These last few weeks have been pretty eventful. Lots of racing has been run and it's been a satisfying end to a hard season. The 26th of January saw the Australia Day Madison at Blackburn Cycling Club. I'm not one to race the Madison, which I don't think is hard to believe considering my background in sprint cycling. However I did race the support races, or at least most of them. It was a fairly challenging day, as I am not used to riding endurance events. There were a number of events including scratch races, handicaps, eliminations, keirins and an "Australian Crawl". The Crawl, also know as "The World's Longest Lap" is an event that has only recently taken off. It is more of a spectator event rather than a championship event. The premise is that the riders must not pass the start/finish line before the whistle is blown. The timing is dependant on a commisaire's decision, up to 5 minutes was the ruling given on the day. You can imagine that track standing is involved and the ability to accelerate quickly is also taken into account. I lined up and expecting to do quite well considering my experience with track standing and gate starts, although the mindset made me somewhat cocky. Unfortunately over-confidence meant that I over-thought the event too much, came too close to the start/finish line too early, and managed to fall off during an attempt at over-correction. Fortunately the only thing that was hurt was my ego.

The rest of the day went reasonably well. I managed to come second in the scratch race, pipped on the line. I've had a tendency to sit on the front trying to control the race far too much as of late. It works in keirins and match sprints over less than 3 laps, but not so much when you have a lot of pressure coming, in longer events. The handicap was interesting. I was off scratch, which is unusual for me. I didn't win, and it hurt like hell. That's all there is to it. The keirins were a nice change. An event I was more familiar with, and one that I knew how to race back to front if I wanted to. I managed to win the event off the front with a late kick. Classic textbook ride. The keirins were part of an on-going series at my club with an overall aggregate prize. I missed the first round, but I am hoping that I will be able to bring back the lead over the next few rounds.

Australia Day Carnival
The following Saturday, some 4 days later, I was at Blackburn again, racing more handicaps, scratch races and keirins. This day was much more successful in which I won all of my events. I was off scratch again in the handicap as well. I think the handicapper is trying to get me back for something, although I'm not sure what at the moment. More points towards the overall keirin aggregate.

Yesterday, the 7th of February, saw the final round of the Blackburn Aboc Summer Sprint Series for the 2015/2016 track season. It was a pretty good final round. A number of my old training partners turned up to watch. A current training partner, who has been training almost solely in the gym since State's, decided he would give the round a crack. The qualifying times for A grade went from 12.7 down to 11.9. There were 5 riders. 12.7, a rider who was only new to track sprinting (although not track in general). 12.6 was done by an under 17 rider whose development has been outstanding over the last few years, and whose first experience with sprinting was as the series a few years ago. In the more pointy end of A grade a fellow squad mate pulled out a 12.1. The second fastest was ridden by my fellow Castelli-clad companion with an 11.930, and finally myself with and 11.911.

Castelli-clad Companion

I did not end up racing against the second 11.9 qualifier until the finals. It was a very quick race. My opponent began the race in the lead. It's important to note at this point, that he has started out of the gate for me in the past, which implies that he is a very explosive rider. Having him in front of me with one lap to go is not a good plan if I want to win. However, coming out of turn 2 with 2 laps to go, I coaxed him into moving up the track, just enough so that I could dive down into the lane underneath him. This allowed me to take the front of the bike race and control it. I was able to guard the sprinters lane effectively and increase the pace when necessary to avoid having a move made against me. It wasn't until halfway down the back straight that I finally put full gas into my sprint, where I managed to hit 64km/h. If that doesn't sound fast, that's because it's at the Blackburn velodrome, where it is very difficult to go much faster. I managed to hold off on the front and take the daily win. This win meant that I also won the overall aggregate of the series. The prizes were: my name put onto the Trevor Watson Trophy, my own smaller equivalent trophy, and a number of custom made Gr8 Designs track chainrings. They are a really cool black with yellow stickers to match my BT.

Gr8 Designs Chain Rings
Final Round A Grade Podium
I was, and still am, very happy to have been able to take out the win. It means a lot to me as this series has helped me develop as a rider over a number of years and is a testament to all of the time, hard work, and support that my coach Carl Brewer at Track Torque, my friends and my family have given to me, for which I am very grateful.

At the end of the day, I even managed to snag a.. well, snag off the BBQ. Can't ask for more any more than that!
Shenanigans

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Impromptu training camp.

Over Christmas I had a few days off, which I felt I deserved after a long training period. Although I might not have if I was going to nationals. Unfortunately I did not make the team, which was not entirely unexpected. With that said, the decision was only recently made that individual entrants would not be accepted to race at nationals (as they have for the last couple of years). I can't help but think it was a silly decision on the part of the officials, and the timing of it was also poor. With less than two months before the event that I had been training for all year, I had hoped that they would at least wait until the following season to implement the new ruling. Politics. Fortunately, though, this did not mean the end of my race season, just the end of the major events for me. 3 days ago I raced at the Summer Sprint Series at the Blackburn Velodrome, but I'll get on to that in a minute.

Bike storage in the ghetto gym.
Over New Year's I was up in Bairnsdale having an impromptu training camp with a few of my training partners. While we were up there, we were staying up at one of the boys' houses, of whom I have a lot of respect for after the drive up. The drive up to Bairnsdale is roughly 3 and a half hours long and he was making the trip, there and back, every Sunday for a while leading up to competition. Whilst up there, we went on road rides (where I did some sprint efforts) and some of the guys did some very intense gym sessions in a very small area of the garage. The camaraderie, let alone the testosterone, during these training sessions was awesome. I'm sure the neighbours, despite them living a fair way down the road, were probably sick of all the cheering and encouragement by the end of the few days. 

Bairnsdale is quite a beautiful place. On one of our rides we went to a lookout and the view was brilliant. For New Year's Eve we went into Paynesville. The family we were staying with own a boat and we were lucky enough to be able to sit on the boat, some 50 metres from where the fireworks were being shot off in the bay. I have to say that the experience overall in the Bairnsdale area, with my best friends and training partners, was fantastic. 
The view on our bike ride.
Fireworks on NYE

Now onto the Sprint Series. Last Sunday saw the 4th, and penultimate, round of the Summer Sprint Series for the 2015/2016 track season. For this round there were only 4 people in A grade, but that's not to say that the competition wasn't tough. This round saw a number of people from interstate. Two people from QLD and two from NSW. I decided to pull out my Victorian skin suit and put an even bigger target on my back, just for the occasion. During this round we even saw the women's track record broken by less than a tenth of a second with a 12.8s F200. The qualifying times for A grade saw the fastest do a 12.0 from NSW, followed by a 12.1 who was a local, then myself with a 12.3 and lastly another 12.3 from one of the Queenslanders. I wasn't particularly happy with my qualifying time, it was a fair bit slower than in the previous round. After seeing the times, I knew that I had my work cut out for me, it was going to be down to some tactical racing.

The first round for myself was against one of my training partners who had qualified 2 tenths quicker than me. Despite this, I had the front and managed to control the race to my advantage and won. The second round ended up going a similar way against the Queensland rider. In the third round I was racing the NSW rider, who qualified fastest with a 12.0. This was a very challenging ride. He was both faster than me and had a good tactical ability. I started the race as the following rider, and knew that I needed to take the lead as soon as possible in order to control the race. The main reason for this was that he had a similar riding style to myself. A powerful kick. This meant that chances were, the person on the front doing a late kick would win. I took the front, however I moved up the track a little too far near the front straight with one lap to go and NSW snuck underneath me. At this point I knew that I desperately needed to make a move. I took height in turn 1/2 and hammered it down the straight in an attempt to get past. For those who don't know, passing around turn 3 and 4 at the BBN track is very rarely successful. However I somehow did the impossible. I stayed on his hip enough as we were coming around the bend to get the run off the bank towards the finish line and managed to win that round. At this stage I was undefeated for the day. All that was left was the 1 vs 2 final for me. This also meant that I was racing NSW again going into it. The final started the same way, I was the following rider. I told myself that I couldn't risk having to make the pass again like in the previous round. I took the lead from underneath the rider, although he shut the door very hard and I held my nerve as I took the position in front. The pace picked up almost immediately as NSW wanted to stop me from having the lead. I matched his pace and he was caught on the hip. This forced him to make a move, of which I countered entering turn 1/2 as he moved up the track. I watched and waited until the last second to make my finishing move down the back straight. I had the pressure on through turn 3/4 and managed to hold off the NSW rider and take the A grade win for the day. Interestingly enough, despite my qualifying time of 12.3 seconds, my final 200, for which I was leading the whole time in the last race, ended up being 11.9 seconds. I can't remember the exact numbers, but I am pretty sure it was marginally faster than my qualifying in the previous round when I also did 11.9. I think there's something in there about motivation and me riding faster when I've got a carrot to chase. Somehow I need to learn to channel that fire when I'm in training and when qualifying for events. 

A grade heat 1
At this point I am currently leading the overall aggregate for the Sprint Series. I am hoping that I can maintain my lead at the end of the last round in February. I'm looking forward to the next round, hopefully I can manage a F200 that I am happy with. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Three years in the making.

The last few weeks have been pretty successful for me. I have had the Vic GP (which I talked about in the previous post), a couple of Sprint Series rounds (open to novice riders as well for those interested!), and as of today I raced at the Victorian State titles.

The last two rounds of the ABOC Sprint Series, held at Blackburn, have been really exciting to race. There has been some solid competition and some very tactical races. In the first of the two rounds since I last spoke, I rode a 12.4s flying 200, which isn't fantastic considering some times I have done in the past. However, it is a fairly consistent time, my times hadn't varied a lot in the last year or so. That time qualified me in 3rd place, behind a 12.1 and a 12.0. Despite this, I knew that I had to give it my all if I wanted to win. It came down a lot to tactical ability and I was able to make my way to the 1st vs 2nd final and win. I've had a tendency, lately, to race a lot better than I qualify. My tactical ability, as well as my overall effort to push myself seems to be amplified when I am put in a situation racing another rider. I can often win races against people who qualify faster than me, however, when I am racing against the clock, something seems to be a little off. It's an issue I need to work on in order to ride faster timed events.

In the most recent round of the ABOC Sprint Series I managed to show some improvements to my F200 time. Whilst it was not my fastest time at the Blackburn velodrome, it was a milestone I hadn't seen in a long time, and that was breaking the 12 second barrier, with an 11.9 second flying 200. I was pretty happy with that time considering I hadn't come close since early 2014. This round saw me take out the overall win again, putting me as the current overall leader in the aggregate points. I hope to be able to maintain my lead for the remaining two rounds, but I don't think it's going to be easy. There's plenty of competition.

Today, the 12th of December 2015, was the Victorian State Championships. It was a very eventful day, full of interesting twists and turns, but one that was ultimately very successful. The racing commenced at 9:00am, although they were pursuits, something I don't race. I started my warm up at around 9:30. My warmup is a series of hops, skips and jumps in order to activate the muscles with minimal fatigue (as compared to spending time on the rollers or riding laps around the track), which we have dubbed Prancercise.  This is then followed by a couple of activations on the track. It's a pretty simple warm up, but it's proven effective. The first event I had was at a little after 10am. It was a standing lap. When the gate let me go, I managed to pull my foot and I had to reset, which put me off a little bit. However I still pulled out a time of 19.1s when I attempted it again. There were no medals presented for it and I hadn't really prepared for it. I had decided to do it only a few days before the event. I wasn't particularly happy with that time, but it wasn't the event I was there to race.

After that I spent a couple of hours preparing for the sprints. I sat for a little bit before spending a couple of minutes on the rollers and doing a power jump in preparation. Prior to the qualifying I felt relatively calm. I wasn't nervous. It turns out today as well that all of the stars aligned. For those of you who have read previous posts of mine, you would know that for the last 3 or so years, I have had a time goal to reach during qualifying for match sprints. And that has been to break the 11 second barrier over 200 metres (10.999 or faster). It has been a point of contention of mine for a very long time, and today I managed to finally achieve what I have been working towards for far too long. I qualified with a time of 10.985. I crossed the line and looked up. I couldn't help but let out a little fist pump and a smile as I rolled around the top of the track. I raced a total of 5 more races that day. One elimination round and 2 best of 3 rounds. After winning the elimination round I was put up against the top seed rider who had ridden a 10.5s f200. The first race was fairly close, I rode it tactically well and he only managed to pass me on the line. The second race was a bit more interesting. In the last 3/4s or so of the last lap my rear wheel exploded.
I can't say that I am entirely sure how it happened. I was in the middle of the bend at the time and managed to ride it on the rim to the end of the back straight before I fell off on the grey concrete at the bottom of the track. Fortunately I'd slowed down significantly by then and only ended up with a small hole in my skin suit. It could have been a bit worse. There were a few chunks taken out of my frame where the rim hit. I'm optimistic that the damage is not significant enough to make the bike un-rideable. Fingers crossed. 

The commissaires decided to give the race to my opponent, which put me into the 3rd vs 4th final. Despite the little stack I got back up and, after borrowing someone else's wheel, raced another two rounds in which I won back to back sprints. I claimed my bronze medal after a hard, but very rewarding day of racing.  I must say as well that the day was rewarding from more than the point of view of my success. I saw one of my training partners ride successfully in the women's events claiming second in the sprint, and I also so another of my close friends and training partners break the 11 second barrier straight after myself. Watching the hard work pay off for them is certainly very inspiring as well. My coach also deserves a mention for being supportive of me for a long time where I have struggled to work towards achieving this big milestone of mine.
Back to training tomorrow. 

Monday, 9 November 2015

It's the journey that counts.

I realise that it's been quite a long time since I've submitted a post. I'm pretty bad at committing to scheduled blog posts I've come to realise. At this point it's been around 2 years since my previous post. My dream of becoming a world class athlete is still in progress, which is good. It means that, even if it's not very often, I'll still write blog posts on the subject.

Apparently my last blog post was on the 7th March 2013, only a few days before my 17th birthday. A lot has happened in my life since then. I've had relationships come and go, I've finished year 12 and my VCE and I'm about to finish my first year of uni where i'm studying an arts degree. French is one of my subjects, I'm quite keen on the language and I want to be able to speak it one day. I've been considering, and it's mostly just thoughts at this point, spending some time in France as part of a semester abroad. I think it would be pretty cool to get some real exposure to the language. It would also be really cool to race in France as the current world record holder in the F200 and the Kilo is a Frenchman named Fran├žois Pervis. The French seem to have a system worked out that is showing results, and it would be awesome to get an opportunity to race there. That's all something to think about for the future though.

In terms of my cycling career, it's been a long road so far. My flying 200 times seem to be staying the same. It's a hell of a plateau, I can tell you that much. But I still enjoy going to training and racing. I've made a number of friends in the last year or so. I left the VSG and have been training with my old coach. The culture in the squad is great and I think I've made some life long friendships as a result. I've seen power improvements, strength improvements and improvements in just about all my aspects of training in terms of raw numbers, and ergos are just as painful as ever. I have increased my strength in the gym a fair bit too. I hit some pretty serious squat PBs this season. I can thank the SMOLOV squat program. I put on 15kgs to my 1rm in 6 weeks. It was pretty brutal. If you want a gym program that will test you both mentally and physically, I would highly recommend it. When I tell people I loved it, they think I'm crazy. Go check it out. The interesting thing, despite overall improvements is that I seem to struggle to break this f200 barrier. It suggests to me that it's a mental thing that needs to be sorted out.

Ergos are just as painful as ever
I would be leaving out some pretty big plot lines if I didn't mention some of the achievements that I have made, however. Probably the one closest to the previous post (chronologically speaking) would be winning a bronze at states in the sprint in December of 2013. The next, and probably my biggest and most proud achievement to date, would be during nationals of 2014 (almost two months after the bronze at states). My gold medal in the team sprint that made me an Australian champion. The excitement that I felt when I won would probably be comparable to a young kid waking up on Christmas morning about to open his presents for the first time. I was ecstatic to say the least. I even managed to get on national TV during on of the keirins, so that was really cool.

National TV ain't bad!
I think the team sprint was a big motivator for a while afterwards. At a club level, I managed to set the track record at my club's velodrome (Blackburn Cycling Club). I pulled out an 11.5s F200, which, for those of you who know the BBN track, is lightning fast. It was electronically timed, so its hard to argue. I don't know what happened that day, but I had some serious form. As a general rule, the BBN track is anywhere between 0.7 and 1 second slower than that of DISC (the indoor wooden track). If you do some quick maths, that puts me at 10.8 or quicker at an indoor track, yet somehow I'm still yet to see a sub 11 time with my name on it on the scoreboard. I'm as stumped as you.

Earlier this year in January at the 2015 national titles I didn't manage to place (Senior riders are fast!), but I did compete in the team sprint again with a couple of really good mates (and training partners). It was a really enjoyable experience and, once again, helped motivate me to continue training.
Team Sprint ready
The most recent event that I participated in was yesterday at the 2015 Victorian GP. I qualified with an 11.1, not super happy, but from there all you can do is focus on the racing. So that's what I did. I managed to claw my way to a third place win after some pretty tactical and tough racing. I was pretty happy with the racing and how I went. I scored a cool picture of myself on the rollers, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

In conclusion, it's been a pretty interesting few years. A lot has happened, both good and bad. But in my experience, it's not all about winning and losing. It's the journey along the way that counts.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Just a short post.

Now that holidays have started, training has changed slightly. Instead of 2 track session and 2 gym sessions a week, I have been doing 3 track sessions and 1 gym session. Next monday we have testing with power jumps to see where we are at. Hoping for some good watt numbers!

Flights have been booked and accommodation paid for. We set off for Adelaide in a few weeks, at the end of June. I am very much looking forward to going and seeing where I am at in comparison to my competition. I would also like to see how fast I can qualify in the Flying 200, considering I haven't done a flying 200 for a long time. I would like to go under 11 seconds, in other words, 10.999 or faster. 

That's all for now, just a short post so that you don't think I have abandoned you all again. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

I'm back baby!

It has been yet another long break between posts, I know, I'm pretty bad at consistency on the matter of blogging, but another post is finally here!

Training is now back in full swing after my accident and other events which hindered my progress. We started with a big strength block in attempts to build foundations to push big gears on the bike. It took me around a month and half to get back up to 2x bodyweight for squats, mind you I had dropped around 1-2 kilos in body weight during my build up. Once that milestone was hit, it was decided to try and maintain that weight with the squats and then start to focus more on power related exercises, such as Power Cleans and Clean and Jerks. From a Power Clean perspective, I have set myself the goal of completing a 100kg lift, It's not too far away at the moment, but that's not to say it's going to be easy going from here. I'm still keeping up with Dead Lifts, and still have the same old problem of starting to lose back extension when it gets heavy. It's still annoying. Press/Bench press has been backed off to once a week (alternating) and I'm doing Chin-ups every session. Yesterday, being Thursday the 21st June, I started to incorporate Front-Squats into my program. This means that Thursday's consist of 6 exercises and Monday's consist of 5.

During this strength fase, we started to focus on our diet's as to watch what we're eating. That was partially the reason, I believe, as to why my body weight is slightly lower than it has been in the past. It's nothing too special but essentially what has been changed is that, sugar and other simple carbohydrate has been cut back and other vegetables have been used to replace them, allowing for a more vitamin rich diet.

On to track news, the Dolan is now up and running, I am definitely enjoying it. Last Wednesday, 19th June, I switched out my 3T Scatto bars with some BT sprint bars. The BT bars have a further reach of about 2-2.5cm. I might have to replace the head stem to a slightly smaller one, as the increased reach might be a bit too much, but we're still looking into it. Last Saturday, 16th June, was my first racing since my stack at the Oceania's. They were keirins. It's safe to say I was perhaps a little hesitant as that was the last racing I had done. However, I did not let this get the better of me and I went into it and tried to play fairly aggressively so as to heighten my confidence. The racing turned out alright. I ended up coming 3rd in the A grade final, in a fairly exciting race.

What's next? I'm going to continue to give it my all in my training sessions and racing events, hopefully achieve goals and break some PBs.