Items filtered by date: November 2012
Thursday, 15 November 2012 00:00

India Boot Camp - part three

The 'I did this, then I did that' part is contained in part one and part two but I wanted to finish on a few thoughts from my time away. 10 hours squashed in a window seat courtesy of British Airways does offer plenty of time for reflection, beyond my discovering that 'American Pie: the Reunion' is not terrible as far as the fourth title in a series goes and that 'Ted' would be unwatchable were it not for the addition of Mila Kunis.

My own coaching

How_bigThe nature of much of the coaching work I do means that I rarely get a chance to take charge of a large group, instead working one to one or in small groups. This is probably not an accident, suiting my personality much better than trying to be autocratic and take control of a large group or athletes pulling in different directions! One of the biggest learning opportunities for me during my time away was watching the command Sri had when managing such a large group. Quite simply Sri is a force of nature when it comes to the cycling community! When speaking, his message was loud, clear and simple to understand. When giving instructions he left no room for error or 'interpretation'. Thinking back to the coach education I've undertaken, it was the most stark example of the difference between an authorative or dictatorial coaching style (Sri) and a more democratic or facilitative style (me). I'm not planning on wholesale changes to my approach but it certainly left me with an appreciation of the difference between the two and a desire to think more carefully about what approach to take in different circumstances.

Riding Safety

Chaotic Indian roads should be more dangerous than they are according to the pervading logic of British road engineering and education. The UK drive for segregated cycle paths and more legislation and punishment for breaking 'the rules' goes against some of what I thought worked in India.

  • Awareness - because of the chaos, there's no chance for anyone on the roads to not pay attention. You learn to expect the unexpected and prepare for that accordingly. Speeds are generally slower anywhere there's a junction or traffic joining and no assumptions that the other traffic are going to do as you'd guess.
  • Tolerance - Motor cycles, Holy men, animals, rickshaws, cyclists, cars, lorrys and all manner of other traffic share the roads with no animosity from one group towards another. Cars give way to cyclists and equally as cyclists we had to give way to cars (and the odd snake or dog). Food for thought...

Indian Cycling

Suresh_and_IWatch this space! When I first made contact with Sri, I had zero knowledge of the cycling scene in India and quite frankly at that time there wasn't much of one! The growth is quite impressive even in the time I've been watching and as India develops as an economic power I can only see this accelerating. Two clear signs of growth, Suresh Kumar owner of started the Tamil Nadu Cycling Club 2 years ago and they now boast 1500 members. As previously mentioned, the scale in India needs adjusting somewhat but that's impressive by any standard. Additionally, the first India professional team, Specialised Kynkyny was registered with the UCI in April and are forcing up the standards at the top end of the sport. On the boot camp we were joined by a very talented lad called Sreedhar who kicked all our backsides every day and would have no trouble holding his own as 1st or 2nd cat roadman in the UK. And he's only 18 and improving rapidly!

Well that's about as deep as my reflection goes these days so I'll end by sending a big thank you to Sri for inviting me out for the camp, to Adhi and the Kranksters for being such good hosts in Coimbatore and to all those I met during the trip who made it such a memorable week.

Roll on next year Cool

Published in Blog
Monday, 12 November 2012 00:00

India Boot Camp - part two

Last time I described my first few days in India with the initial shock of arriving and my first two days of bike fits, Q&As and generally settling in. The main purpose of my visit was in support of the 'Boot camp' and so it is with great fondness that I look back on the three days of suffering, learning, scenery, suffering, alleged downhill rides that seemed to involve a lot of climbing, and mosquitoes.

043Each day of the camp had a focus on one particular aspect of road cycling performance. The idea was to include some theory, have a chance to put this into practise on the day's ride, and then finish with some more general presentations on training theory, recovery, nutrition etc. Day one saw a focus on time trialling, an early start saw just a little time for some pointers on TT pacing and technique before rolling out for a ~50km spin to the TT course. All went wrong from the get go and choosing to follow a support car rather than the bunch saw me heading in the opposite direction to everyone else. A quick u-turn and then 3 miles of motor pacing at 40mph through very busy Coimbatore traffic and I decided the safe option was to jump in the car and get a lift back to the group. Quite the baptism of fire! Anyhow, up to and including the TT was fairly sedate but Coach Srinath's request to push it on the way back saw plenty of suffering as the crosswinds blew up and the temperature started to rise. Here is my ride file from Day One.

019Day two was based around the climb up to Ooty, with the 28km section to Kotagiri making for a formidable timed section. 28km at an average gradient of 6% would provide a stern test for any cyclist but with most of the camp having < 2 years riding experience (some only having road bikes for ~ 2 months) there was always going to be massive time gaps. I set about a steady effort up the climb, knowing full well that with the fatigue from day one biting at my legs, and the ever increasing altitude would give me plenty of chance for some hard work at the top. A few well-timed stops for photo opportunities helped ease the suffering but sure enough my 39 x 25 was only turning at 50rpm for the majority of the second half of the climb and I was mighty relieved to see the car waiting at the top. A spot of lunch ensued before another hour or so of climbing to take us on to Ooty and our accomodation for the night. Day two garmin file.

023At this point it's perhaps time to draw attention to Sri's unique motivational tactics in fostering a little team rivalry between those cyclists from the Tamil Nadu region and those from Karnataka. Rather than reward the victors with a jersey as is customary in the cycling world, the decision was instead taken to award skirts to the losing team each day. After the flatlanders from Chennai handed out a beating to the Karnataka team on the first day's time trial, the lack of experience in the climbs was ruthlessly exposed on the road to Kotagiri and fortunes were reversed. I'm sure the guys won't thank me for sharing the photo :-)

Day 3 involved a descent back down to sea level where a small road race was planned as a chance to put into practise some of the techniques and tactics that we had discussed the previous evening. First the descent: after sooooo much climbing the day before, we were assured that it was all downhill from there. I can tell you, 1800m of climbing in 80km does not qualify as downhill in my eyes! 034The kilometre effort with pitches over 15% was the final sting in the tale before we rejoined the road we had climbed on day two and a genuine downhill to the course for our race. All moaning aside, the mist of the previous day had cleared and a beautiful crisp morning revealed the incredible beauty of the scenery we had been riding through. My iPhone pics really don't do it justice but I can honestly say it was the most stunning terrain I've ridden through anywhere in the World. Day 3 Garmin file. The planned course for the race was unsuitable due to heavy Sunday traffic so the (easy) decision was taken to rest tired legs and retire for a beer and a camp wrap up. With the Tamil Nadu cyclists victorious in the TT and the Karnataka boys winning the climb, an honourable draw was declared and the Cauvery Waters shared.

I've included a few pictures here but there are more over on the PBscience facebook page if you fancy a look. There were a number of considerably more talented photographers than me on the trip so I'll update this as I find more good ones! In the mean time, expect part 3 in the next few days on my final few days in India.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 08 November 2012 00:00

India Boot Camp - part one

Having just returned from one of the most exciting weeks of my life I think it makes sense to jot down a blog post on what I've been up to... First a little background. The journey towards my trip to India started in late 2010 when Sri contacted PBscience to enquire about some coaching. Eager to help and also very intrigued as to the cycling scene in such a far off place, our relationship developed over the last few years into more of a sounding board for his own coaching work as much as his own racing. The story of this transition is also interesting but not for this blog post! The aim for my visit was to offer my expertise in all areas of their training and racing but the tag line for the camp "Cycling Boot Camp - are you tough enough?!" showed that there was also some serious cycling to be done! Bookending the 3 day camp was a few days to meet some of the other local cycling community so an action packed week was in store... in time honoured fashion I shall start from the beginning.

thane_cyclone_tn_chennaiStepping off the plane at Chennai International Airport I was greeted by apocalyptic weather conditions and admittedly a pang of doubt that I was in way over my head! Tropical Cyclone Nilam was passing just off the coast and hammering Chennai with monsoon rains, heavy winds and all the destruction that comes with it. Perfect cycling weather. Camp was still a few days away (and 300 miles away in Coimbatore) so with a deep breath I headed out to find my driver and a lift back to Sri's place.

Day one was a chance to meet some of the MadRascals cycling team (Sri's own team in Chennai, formerly known as Madras - see what they've done there!). A few check's on riders bikefit, a chance to meet some of the guys I'd be riding with all week, a spot of dinner and then off to bed ahead of a long day to follow.

Tamil_Nadu_coachesDay two saw a morning flight on to Coimbatore, ahead of a meeting with the Tamil Nadu state cycling coaches and a ride and Q&A with the local Coimbatore cyclists. The Tamil Nadu juniors fared rather badly in the recent state championships and so the question was what needed changing to move towards their goal of a rider on the podium within the next 3 years. Working through a translator (thanks Adhi!), I learned a little about the training they're already doing and offered a few suggestions on what to change to make that next leap forward. I guess time will tell if my help was of use but the riders were already working hard so by just training a little smarter hopefully the necessary improvement will come.

Next up was a few more quick bikefits (a theme that continued all week) before my first ride in India. My roadie was still in transit from Chennai so I was fixed up with a MTB and set off for an hour with around 20 of the local cycling community. Towards the end of the ride, a journalist and photographer from the local paper joined us and then stayed for the subsequent Q&A. You can read all about it here in 'The Hindu'. Incidentally, the paper is just a *small* one with a daily readership of 140,000 - I really had to adjust my scale for this trip!

With the first day proper under my belt I was settled and ready for day one of the camp proper. This is getting a little long so I'll write that up separately in the next few days. Check back soon!


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