Friday, 29 June 2007

Something for Coach

courtesy of

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Drapac Porsche’s European UCI debut

Cyclingnews reports that today Drapac Porsche will race their first UCI sanctioned race, Halle Ingooigem Belgium. It’s not their first European race, but the first time racing as a UCI accredited team. What struck me most was the comment at the end of the Cyclingnews report, that the team's racing has been limited over the last few weeks, due to end of semester exams. Whilst “cute” it also shows that D-P are serious about providing an environment that supports their athletes as people, not just racing cyclists.

CSV Women’s Forum

Last night was the inaugural (well that latest iteration of a) forum on Women’s racing, hosted and chaired by CSV. There was an excellent turn out, not just of women with a vested interest in racing, but coaches, parents, administrators and officials. Thanks to CSv for hosting the meeting, and to everyone for attending and for making some valuable contributions to the discussion. Highlights for me were:

  1. Women’s racing (let alone women’s cycling) is diverse: novices, semi or non-competitive, self-challenging, juniors, elites, masters, opens, clubs, opportunities to race in appropriately graded events, types of racing, venues, events, skill level, confidence (tied in with skill level and experience
  2. Women do want to race, but not necessarily against others. Women do want to race but want to feel comfortable about the process of racing ie entering, registering, rules, codes of conduct, equipment, knowledge of courses and venues, having a sense of belonging not just to a cycling a group but to a grade or an event.
  3. Officials, administrators, organisers assume women are more confident than they actually are, not just in terms of fronting to race, but in terms of articulating their needs, their concerns about racing and their experiences of racing.
  4. Opportunities to race against other women, at the appropriate level, for “senior” junior women (u/19, u/17) are as important for those women as for older women. Currently the u/17s race against their male age counterparts.
  5. Women need to feel confident and experienced in regard to their skill levels and competencies, not just in terms of bike handling skills but also in regard to racing skills and tactics.
  6. Mentoring (one on one, one to small groups) that is ongoing, consistent and relevant is vital. Pink Inc has proved this; my own experiences running SkillSessions for women bears this out, the comments last night verify my thoughts on this one. Some women will survive thrown into the deep end with minimal support and information, many may survive but do not return, others sink, some drown.
  7. Accessing information that is up to date, relevant and accurate is vital. That information needs to be readily accessible via the web and via Club contact people who are GOOD in that role ie are contactable!!! And have excellent people skills ie enjoy talking about their club, their sport, racing etc. Membership officers, PR/publicity officers are the KEY people in clubs as they are the face of the club, and first impressions are determining for people wanting to join a group/club.
  8. Access to clubs if crucial. See point 7.

Hopefully a way forward from last night will be quickly mapped out and actioned. I am hoping to be a part of that way forward, as women’s cycling is a pet interest area of mine and one that has stalled within my own club, despite attempts to get things happening. So if I can’t get through the fence via the gate, I’ll help build a style and get over.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

More on kierin racing

The more I read about Japanese keirin racing, the more I am fascinated by it. Ben Kersten's update on his adventures as a track racing apprentice samurai describe how racing tactics are nominated by riders the day before, and published in the newspapers' form guides for the betting public. I am still getting my head around that one. Imagine telling your opponents the day before that you are teaming up with two other riders and around the 800m mark you are going to attack. And on the day, you are riding against two other "teams" that are trying to do the same thing as your team, whilst blocking your team from making it to the front.

Puts quite a different slant on kierin racing as we know it, with six up fighting it out individually to get over the line first.

Killer Kierin Kostume: Photo by Ben Kersten from

Monday, 25 June 2007

Sure beats lawn bowls

Velodrome in Antwerp, with bmx track in the middle. A bit different to the blue carpet of indoor bowls at DISC.

A bit of filing and some grease packing

This weekend was involved some bike maintenance. The rear dropouts on the Teschner are supertight and make wheel removal a bit of a drama (picture one small woman holding the frame and one tall woman on the back wheel, with the pair of us playing tug of war to get the darn wheel out, for a simple gear change). So Mr Legs got out his trusty file and filed, and filed, and filed. Removed the replaceable dropout, clamped it in a vice and filed some more. Put the steel inserts back in, screwed them in place, test the axle clearance, remove dropout covers and file some more. Repeat. After 20-30 minutes of this, Mr Legs finally got enough clearance in the dropout so that I can do a wheel change without needing an entourage of musclemen (thinking about this, it could have it’s advantages…) to remove the wheel.

I know a few other Teschner riders have had issues with the dropout width, and it’s one aspect of the bike I am not totally happy with – not just the clearance but the engineering of the rear dropouts themselves. They are part of the frame mould, and therefore carbon, with a steel sleeve screwed over the top. This means if you break one, in a crash for example, your bike is going to bike heaven. At least with the BTs the dropouts are heavy steelplate screwed onto the frame, rather than being integral to the frame. Principa track bikes use the same engineering ie totally replaceable dropouts.

We then serviced the dura ace bottom bracket. It’s only 2 years old, with regular, once a week use over the last 12 months, but it was running gritty and rough. The original grease had dried out, so Mr Legs gave it a good scrub and clean, then repacked it with wheel bearing grease (high temperature grease, to cope with my megaspinning legs ;-P). The cranks roll over butter smooth now.

I also, finally, put the longer chain on, so that I can use a 50 tooth chain ring (or larger) without having to swap chains over. I am keen to try a half link chain as well. I’ve heard they are a supersmooth ride and wear better (although chain wear isn’t as problematic on a fixie ridden primarily indoors, as on a roadie). But, let’s face it, it’s really for the bling factor!

Friday, 22 June 2007

A revoluton for track racing in Melbourne

At last the new promoters (after a tendering process undertaken a few months ago) of next season’s track series has been announced by CycleSportVictoria.

I sincerely hope it all goes well – it promises to be very exciting, and with switched on business brains like Clint McDonnell, and experienced riders like Dave McKenzie on board driving the program, plus the networking and connections already made with the Revolution Series in the UK, it should well meet expectations.

I can’t wait for some fantastic track racing this summer. Hopefully the women will be looked after, and with the upcoming Women’s Racing Forum next week, here is an excellent opportunity for race promoters, organising bodies, officials, coaches and riders to get things happening for women's racing.

One excited trackgirl. :-D

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

I am an athlete

Today I read a précis of an article on identity acknowledgement, specifically identifying oneself as an athlete. It rang some large Quasimodo bells for me. It has taken a long time for me to call myself an athlete (only in the last few months really) and similarly to call myself a coach, rather than someone who rides and races and helps others do the same.

I am not really sure how the change came about. I suspect it has something to do with the company I have been recently keeping (other female athletes, rather than men who see women riding bikes as just that, even when they race against those women who just ride bikes, and are beaten by them), and also with an attitude change helped along by a coach who believes in what I want to achieve, a supportive (but often patiently frustrated!!) partner, wise friends and verification that I am doing the “right thing” via race performances - the races that count that is! I am sure it’s also linked up with self-worth, self esteem and self belief: strong and important values but often fragile, and too easily dented.

The précis got me to thinking about the language and imagery I have used in the past to represent myself on the bike – “it’s just something I do”, “I ride just a bit”, “I do it just for fun”. These are true, but don’t tell the whole story, and work to deny a lot of that whole story ie the hours, money, physical and mental energy spent actually doing, or thinking about my sport, let alone the compromises made in my daily life regarding domestic work, relationships, other interests etc. By diminishing what I do, and how much of my life it takes up, it’s much easier to avoid questioning by those who “don’t get it” ie “why do you spend all of Saturday and Sunday morning riding your bike when you could be doing something else? Aren’t you too old to be doing that? You should have done that when you were younger. Why are you wasting your money if you’re not going to win an Olympic medal? What’s the point of it all? How come you train so much but don’t win?” You know the ones – the dog kickers, nay sayers and narrow minded social conformists. Unfortunately they may be our family, our workmates, our friends, our bosses, our partners. Hopefully not! For me, I recently concluded I do what I do, and I work at doing it as best I can. I won’t be justifying it to people who don’t accept that.

So when you get up at dawn o’clock to do that training ride/weights session before work, slurp down your protein shake as you walk out the door to the office with your specially prepared and nutritionally evaluated food pack in hand, your Skins on underneath your work suit, thinking about what time you can leave work to do the next workout, or what equipment arrangements will improve your mental and physical performance, then also remember you are an athlete. This simple acknowledgement, if you truly believe it, will change the way you look at yourself, perhaps how others perceive you, and may even result in performance benefits that have otherwise eluded you. It’s not a magic panacea, but a powerful home truth.

Monday, 18 June 2007

This is how it goes

This is how it goes: training well, feeling strong, looking forward to the next workout, showing improvement each weekend on the long rides out with the guys, then wham!!!! You’re hit by the proverbial truck/train/large brick wall and what was fantastic, turns to utterly devastatingly crap. An easy (what was once) 50km ride becomes an illustration of athlete in hell. Each crank turn is an essay in pain and persistence, each rise in the road a grammar on pitbull determination. The little red caboose had nothing on me yesterday, doing the Warby Rail Trail, watching Mr Legs sail off into the distance.

It started last week, even having a day off work to sleep and get over whatever it was that was making me stumble through my training last week (and of course, it happens when I hit a culminating week, with big kms, which would have seen my confidence and fitness levels hit a new high, but rather, the opposite happens and I feel feeble and pathetic, convinced I will be stuck in D/C grade forever and not cracked up for this silly thing called bike racing). I put it down to Week 3 Blues, when that old friend, heavy fatigue often comes a-calling, staying like a relative whom you like to see for afternoon tea (bring your own cake) but don’t want them to stay longer than dinner. By the weekend I realise this alterego wasn’t shifting butt, and maybe wasn’t just regular garden variety training load stress.

So, over the weekend, I went through that do-I-don’t-I thing, deciding whether or not to train (modified) to see “how bad” this crazy little thing called fatigue actually was. The athlete in me said “Do it! Do it! Unless the curse of lost training forever damns you to almost ran”. The coach in me said “Rest and recover, unless the curse of overtraining damns you to could have been”. The athlete won, but the coach was right. Fortunately this week is a Recovery week TM, and hopefully my little fatigue-inducing visitor will decide that this homestay visit is overrated and takes its little bags elsewhere. Such is the life of an endurance athlete.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Bioaccelerated Legs - The Edge

Lately, after the usual weekend long ride, my legs have remained agitated and fizzy from the ride, and refuse to go to sleep when I do. So yesterday after the Sunday 110km ride, I decided to get myself a pair of those bioacceleration compression leggings. You know the ones – they don’t pay fancypants athletes to advertise their products, but instead pay megabucks for massive air time so you get to see the ad a billion times an hour, mostly during the Tour de France. After parting with a good part of my bank account (to cover the TV advertising account), I put them on as soon as I got home, and spent the rest of the day and night bioactivating myself.

Not long after putting them on, I did felt less heavy, and more comfort, in the legs, evidently due to the unique muscle wrapping of the smart technology lycra. Or it could have been a psychological justification for the price of them. I wore them until about 1 am, when I was woken by the stitching digging into my legs, at which point I took them off. The stitching, although flatlock, did irritate me a bit during the time I wore the leggings, but perhaps it’s because the leggings were new out of the box, and may soften with washings. So be warned – they can bite when new.

Today, well, I can’t really say that my legs are any fresher than they would have been, but my legs certainly settled faster at bed time than they usually do. This meant a better night’s sleep! Mostly.... pity about the snoring from the other side of the bed…. Further testing will be required, particularly after some heavy training and track racing, and with added noise control.

Great Dividing Trail Ride – Dry Diggings

Mr Legs organised a ride on the mtn bikes with some old friends, the Gadgetbike family, on Saturday. Mr and Mrs GadgetBike are rare, salt of the earth people, and I enjoy their company immensely, so the opportunity for a Gadgetbike ride is always welcomed . Mr Gadgetbike always has excellent routes mapped out, so you know you’re in for a quality ride, and a heap of laughs.

Four of us (including Mr Gadgetbike Jnr) set off for Castlemaine mid Saturday morning. I’ve not been to Castlemaine, and could have spent the day exploring the town. It’s a very eerie mix of very old (mid 19th century) and contemporary architecture, and has that spooky resonance that old mining towns often do. The planned ride was part of the Dry Diggings route, Castlemaine to Vaughan. It is a section of the Great Dividing Trail, basically a walking track that is often used by mtbers. Apparently there are talks between the mtbers, the walkers and the Parks Victoria people to negotiate more sustainable multi use tracks, working towards preserving the more sensitive areas on the trails, particularly around the ruins.

Shortly into the ride, the trail snakes along a water race, with the track about a metre wide, narrowing down to half this in sections, with drop offs either side, into the viaduct or steeply downhill to the left. The track is encroached by trees and strewn with rock. I was going ok until the wheels slipped out underneath me on a very narrow section of trail, nearly losing myself and the bike into the aquaduct. After this I lost all nerve (ie freaked out) until the track widened out again. I am not good with heights at the best of times, and with an almost non-existent margin for error on the rocky track, I was very relieved when the track widened out again into flatter single track and fire trail. Give me a steep velodrome bank with no brakes anyday.

We rode through some beautiful bush and farmland, stopping to check out mining ruins on the way. Looking at how people worked and lived in such remote areas 140 plus years ago is always humbling, and it’s quite incredible to think of the conditions people endured for that illusive glint of shiny yellow streaking through the quartz. The track is littered with shale and quartz, making the going very sketchy in places, particularly in the hilly sections. There are also some excellent flowing sections, with the Trail having a bit of everything, including a couple of creek crossings, but kept our socks dry thanks to the drought.

We stopped at Vaughan Mineral Springs Reserve, a park along the Loddon River. The Reserve has a couple of springs, so I had my first taste of authentic spring water. The spring we sampled produced a fairly aerated/spritzy water, tainted with a sweet metallic, iron flavour. Frankly, it was plain weird, but not unpleasant. Mr Gadgetbike had run out of water so refilled his camelback from this soda spring, before the return trip. The Park Ranger warned him.. I swear his backpack became threateningly bloated on the trip back home, shaken not stirred.

Totals for the day: ride time 3.5 hrs, aprox 40km round trip, single track, fire trail, some road, hilly.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Thursday night track racing

I finally made it to the JoeDrome for Northcote’s regular Thursday night track racing. Hurrah!!!! It was my first track race since Nationals, and my first race ever on the Teschner. Such a nice bike to ride – direct, responsive, psychic.

Raced D Grade, with sore, heavy legs from some solid training in the days prior. First race was a 15 lap scratch race, with about 20 or so of us in the field. It was surgey, with speed picking up pretty quickly from about 5 laps in. I kept up with the field, hanging on and watching proceedings from the back, getting a feel for the others in the bunch, and how the race was panning out. At least a third of the field was shelled by the final laps, and coming into the home bend with a lap to go, I lost touch with the bunch, thanks to some missing (and hopefully found soon) endurance.

The second race up was the pointscore, with the field split into 2 groups. Most of the women were in with the juniors, who are sly, crafty, sneaky speedsters buzzing around like mosquitoes. Never trust a mosquito of a kid in lycra – they will whoop your butt at the slightest opportunity, even sneaking past on the duck board before the race proper. Kids are evil.. be warned! By the second sprint, there were a swarm of little buzzsters leading the field, and me bridging the gap to them. As soon as I got on, of course the sprint was on and the “old” lady got shelled.

Third race was a motorpace, with the whole grade back in as one. I managed a select position about a third of the way up the pack off the derny, behind a decent windbreak. However, the effort of keeping the gap sheltered for the kid (yeah, there they are again) to come through when my turn came to leave the derny taxed my legs, with the kid taking too long to come through. I should have left the little mozzie out to dry, with a “too bad he wasn’t on my wheel”. I lost too much momentum rolling back down the line, and my plan to slot back in halfway down was thwarted by devious men closing gaps on me. I have to learn to be more stealthy and assertive.

2/3rds of the way through the race and my game was over; I pulled out and finished my race rolling around on the tarmac. This turned out to be fortuitous, as a couple of laps out from the end, just as the derny was about to pull off, a couple of guys collected each other between corners 1 & 2. Lots of horrible noise, bikes and bodies flung down the track and some how John Lewis, a bit further along, was brought down, doing some nasty damage to himself (suspected broken collarbone?). This is bad bad news for John, just 4 months out from Worlds. The look on his face said it all (and it wasn’t just the pain of the fall). I hope it’s not too fatal, and heals cleanly and quickly for him.

Wrap up for me: my strength is returning, but need to work on speed endurance (story of my life). Looking forward to another crack next week…

Benny Turning Japanese

Ben Kersten is in Japan training in the ancient art of keirin. He is currently attending the International Keirin School, learning the way of the keirin samurai. Many have gone before him: Ryan Bailey, Laurent Gane, Theo Boss, Rene Wolff, Jose Antonio Escuredo, Josiah Ng. Looking forward to King Bennie the Keirin Conquerer graduating from Keirin School and kicking some more butt. Also want to see pics of his steel Look keirin bike...

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

AWD Australian Team announced

WOOHOO! Cycling buddy and former track training partner Mike Eaddy has been successful in his campaign to make the national team heading off to the UCI Para-Cycling World Championships in Bourdeaux, France in August.

Go Mike!

Other locals on the team are speed demon MartinVcelka and superrocket Michael Gallagher.

(photo stolen from Carnegie Caulfield CC website , taken by Mal Sawford.)

Monday, 4 June 2007


This weekend, Mr Legs, the 2 stinky pooches (yes, they really do smell – they need to a trip to the poochy parlour in Whitehorse Road – aka Dog Depot – take your resident canine there!) and myself took ourselves off to my little house nestled in the foothills of the Strezlecki ranges. We try to visit every few weeks, to mow lawns, pull weeds, tidy up/maintenance and, of course, ride the quiet rolling country roads and veg out away from the noise and crowds of the (suburban) city.

It’s been a few weeks (umm.. Easter???) since we were last there, and I was expecting pasture in the back yard, and tree limbs every where in the winds that ripped through Melbourne last week. Well, the grass had barely grown, now that the cold weather has set in, and the winds that blew us away in Melbourne didn’t arrive in Boolarra. This meant that time on jobs around the place was minimised, and rest and riding maximised; potentially anyway, apart from the rain on Saturday.

Saturday was the usual rush around to fit everything in, so Sunday was the day to take it easy. The best thing about being in Boolarra, is that you don’t have to get up at dawn o’clock to beat the traffic and de-brained drivers for a stress-free, weekend ride. You can roll out the door anytime on the weekend, and most roads are quiet and safe ie this means: SLEEP IN! With the forecast rain staying away until mid afternoon, and a late rise, we hit the road about 10.30, heading north for the hills straight up (well, to be honest, there is only one way out of town – up!). There is a fantastic loop straight out my drive, that leads you up to the Grand Ridge Road, the views from which are spectacular, on a clear day anyway. We had a clear day on Sunday – it was truly picture postcard, and reminded me of why I have spent so long living in that area. Rolling, dumpling shaped hills, striped with Cyprus tree breaks and fences, dotted with potato farms and herds of dairy and beef cattle, and green, shades of green everywhere. You can just see a tiny slice of ocean (Inverloch way) if you squint hard enough. The loop heads back down the Boolarra-Foster Road hill, for a long descent back into town (spin those legs!).

After doing that loop, we headed up the main road towards Churchill, doing a loop of the Hazelwood Pondage. The water in the pondage, which is used to cool the turbines at the power station, is down with the drought. It really made me wonder about the brain space behind the Vic Govt’s idea of syphoning this water (which also breeds wonderful blue-green algae in summer) to Melbourne for domestic use. We then headed away from Churchill, riding back to Boolarra and the Grand Ridge loop again, sometimes (but not often enough) in reverse, taking in Boolarra Foster Road as a climb.

No stats for this ride, apart from taking 4 hrs for 100km, keeping the cadence around 95, 85-90 on the uphills, powering up some notable climbs that I use as benchmarks, and passing the test. Great for allaying paranoia about lost fitness. Mr Legs only rides weekends now, and these days I am the one waiting for him, rather than me ripping my legs off trying to keep up or catch him (although he is still an earthbound rocket on the downhills). Now, if only someone will give me a job that pays the same as my city job, so I can move back home and have a fantastic training venue at my front door.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Tory at the World Cup

Tory Thomas races her first World Cup. This woman is awesome. Over the last few years, I have enjoyed following Tory’s exploits and many successes, having first really noticed her when I did Mont 24 hr in 2004. Tory won the solo category that year, and took out the inaugural national title in doing so, winning a ticket to World Champs the following year. Apparently, she hadn’t been racing mtb xc *that* long at that stage, and it appeared to be the start of the start for her.

(Tory at World Cup #3. Photo by Rob Jones c/

Then, as most people would know, some 6 months later, Tory was hit by a car only a short distance from her destination of her workplace. It looked bad. It WAS bad, and most of us thought that it would be the end of a blossoming career. But it turns out Tory is even tougher than originally thought, and she has returned with a vengeance, having several national titles under belt, from xc to marathon. That’s a bit like a 500m TT on the track also winning a pointscore or long scratch race, or a crit rider also being a successful road racer. She has proved her versatility and stamped her authority on the domestic women’s mtb xc scene.

So for me, it’s incredibly exciting to read that Tory has hit the international scene, and started her World Cup campaign this year. She is one gutsy, determined woman, and I wish her every success.