I love this image. It describes perfectly my current cycling life: dynamic, to say the least. One day on a cloud, next falling asleep on the cloud, another day, in the middle of a storm, but always riding the wave of health, life and cycling.
Currently I am finding myself blog-genre challenged, and the fallout is nothing. I am not writing, have no groundswell of creativity bubbling up like flaked rice and quinoa porridge on the flame.
And it's all because of food. The vast array of Melbourne based foodie blogs (well, Melbourne is a foodie mecca, as well as a fashionista mecca, as well as a St Fixter mecca, cultchural mecca), Melbourne based bike blogs, Melbourne based food by bike on a bike for bikes by bikes blogs is, well vast and arraysome. And in my own small way, I am contributing to this mess, across two blogs (well three if you count the other one). Most common-sensedly persons do it in one blog. So I am torn. Torn like an artisanally hand torn rocket and spinach salad, artisanally drizzled in handspun bespoke olive oil and biogeothermal balsamic vinaigrette between Eat and Suck my Dragsters. I could combine them (Eat my Sucker Dragster) but my blogroll (wheat, dairy and fructose free of course) would be tiresomely long, sending one from an early breakfast to a late lunch in 4 St Ali machiattos. Maybe I could swap to wordpress (even the name is bespoke and artisanal) and have pages for my blog.
Let me think about it, and I'll get back to you. I'll have a long black while I decide thanks.
I am part of Team Management for Junior Track Nationals again next year, and planning is underway already. It's a big job organising the team, where we stay, how we get there, when we train, when we come together to develop a team out of a group of individuals.
Next year, we'll be at Dunc Grey in March, for a bit under a week. We fly home on a Sunday, and then on Wednesday of that week, I drive back to Sydney for Masters Track Nationals. So I am deciding: do I just stay up there? Do I take a bike when I fly up with the juniors and leave it there? How much leave should I take, considering I am saving my days for a possible trip to France later that year.
It's an interesting role, being a Team Coach for the Junior State Team. I am lucky in that I have no direct "professional" interest in any of the kids in that I don't coach any of them, so can be objective, and deal with each without that baggage. Lately there has been some (implied) commentary on other blogs about what we do, and don't do as Team Coaches. It's been interesting to read, and has given me a bit of a laugh in regards to other people's perception of what's involved.
By the time a junior makes the team, they have already trained, been coached etc and come up with the goods to make it on the team. Once or twice, as a State Selector, we have taken a punt on a junior who shows excellent potential, and included them on the team. Fortunately those punts have paid off, and those kids are still shining, even more strongly than when we initially laid our bets.
So, the team coach's role is not to "improve" fitness etc. By the time we get them, it's too late for that. Our role is to shape up a team: get a bunch of young personalities, with all their hopes, egos and fears, to work with each other, support each other,while remaining focused on their own role and job within that team, and for themselves. They also need to learn to work with the Team Management, which means developing mutual trust and respect. That takes time, real investment, care and consideration for, and from each member of the team.
The team coach looks after the needs of a bunch of kids away from home, in a high-stress, high-pressure environment (for them, as much as us). We make sure they are properly fed, watered, rested and kept safe, 24/7. Trackside, we make sure they have their equipment ready, are dressed properly, have their numbers on, know what time they have to be on the rollers, in the pre-race holding pen, in the gate. We make sure they are focused, try to keep them emotionally stable, physically relaxed and prepared, mentally prepared with race plans sorted, make them laugh and chill out as best they can under the circumstances. We don't interfere with their own coach's instructions, but support their normal race routines as much as possible.
It's a very different kind of coaching role, and is as much about mentoring. It's a role that needs a complete and total understanding of high-performance racing situations, and one that helps guide a youngster, to whom this may be all very new, or totally overwhelming, through the business of elite racing, to give their very best on the day. You gotta keep your cool, be level-headed, not take things personally, be incredibly organised and proactive without being distant, over the top in or in people's faces.You must know how each individual in the team operates and reacts under pressure, be fully aware of everything that is going on around you and them, from commissaire's requests, to the day's race schedule, to what wheels are being swapped off one bike onto which other bike directly after X's race (and the gear to be used), to keeping an eye on how much Y has had to drink, and how long they have or have not been warming up, to any interpersonal conflicts that may be brewing.
It's high stress, not just because of the time pressures of getting people ready to race by a specific time, but also because you are dealing with teenaged emotions and personalities, their parents, their private coaches.
That being said, we volunteer to do this job, because we enjoy it, and believe we have something to offer the team, and the kids involved. All on the current Junior Team Management have raced at an elite level, from national to world championships. We all know that feeling of deep paralysing anxiety, the nausea of expectation and associated fear. We get it, when you are sitting in the gate shitting yourself in those five final moments before the brake releases and you jump out to totally hammer yourself against the clock. We get it when your legs are literally shaking with nerves, your breathing is non-existent from adrenalin and panic, and your quads are like lead as you line up for the start of a scratch race, not knowing how its really going to pan out. We are the first ones to see the utter joy, or utter devastation, and the complete exhaustion, as we catch them when the kids roll off the track. We get it, because we have been there, and we know what it means and what it does to you. We are the final part of a journey these kids take, to race at nationals, and one piece of a greater project for these kids.
Wow, it’s been over two weeks since I last blogged. To be honest, I haven’t wanted to blog , because I haven’t had that much to say, and what I have to say, was better delivered via twitter or facebook.
I could have blerked on about how crap my training has been, because my body just won’t behave, or how frustrated I am with having to read food labels, research diets, keep an eye on what goes into my mouth and what comes out the other end, including performance on the bike. But I think that all gets a bit tedious and mundane, for me at least, if not for you.
One thing I do want to talk about though, is keeping a food diary as a way to measure how much carbohydrate and protein is actually going into your body. I have kept diaries before, to monitor this, and more recently, to monitor the kinds of food I actually do eat over a few weeks. After yet another crap training session on Saturday (ok, I had a bad week last week), where I could barely hang on to the warm up (somewhat humiliating) I realised that perhaps that niggling half-thought I’d been having about protein levels may have some truth to it.
So I drafted myself up a diary in excel, to count carbs, protein, calories etc, with a spreadsheet of foods I commonly eat, with those details noted against a measured amount of whatever food it is. Even after a couple of days of monitoring, I realise that I am way behind in total amounts of carb and protein I need to train well, recover well and do it again. So here is something I can control, being the control-freak that I am, and take back at least a part of my response to training; from you gotta be kidding me, to get out of my way, you’re blocking my view ahead.
There is no use trying, said Alice; one can't believe impossible things. I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.