I was swimming in uncharted waters here. First, I don’t know my track history or even the current standings for that matter. I’m familiar with many of the big names but I’m quite ignorant of the discipline in general. As usual my ambition exceeds my ability but I never let that bother me.
On Friday evening I went over and said G’day to Matt Keenan who was commentating the event. Matt asked how everything was going and could probably sense I was a bit lost at my first gig like this. Matt asked who I’ve been chatting with. I told him “no one really”. Shane Sutton (Great Britain track coach, Aussie cycling legend and father of Chris Sutton) was sitting right next to us and Matt went right into interview mode. He introduced me to Shane and started asking him about what his tips were for cyclists starting out. I’m thinking to myself “Whoa, slow down Matt!“, feeling like a complete imbecile for barely knowing who Shane Sutton was. I didn’t want to sound like an ignoramus for throwing in a question like “so…do you like to ride?“.
It was a great thing Matt did for me. It made me realize how unprepared I was coming to this event and mingling with the best cyclists in the world. I was privileged enough to have been granted a media pass and I hadn’t even done my homework. I was taking happy snaps and chatting with my mates. I wasn’t talking with the coaches, mechanics and athletes like I should have been doing. Surrounding me was of a gold mine of TIPS and hundreds of years of combined knowledge.
If you’re wondering, Shane Sutton’s advice for new cyclists is learn to pedal. Yes, this sounds elementary but it’s true. This is why Australian cyclists have been so successful in the pro ranks. Nearly all of them had their start on the track and learned to spin at high cadences. Speed skills are the most basic element to having good technique which improves overall economy. Learn to pedal. Sounds simple enough but don’t underestimate how important it is. Remember who this advice is coming from.
After this awkward moment of realization of how unprepared I was I went home and did my Wikipedia research on the top athletes and coaches at the race. I wanted to know everything about their cycling careers. If I had the opportunity to talk to any of them I’d be able to formulate an informed question or two.
I went back to the Velodrome on Saturday night much better prepared. I’m glad I got a second chance. I knew who the main players were and had informal chats with many of them hopefully sounding half intelligent.
The highlight of the weekend was the dominating performance of the Australians in front of a hometown crowd. The Team Persuit squad (with an average age of only 19) smashed the Poms! Watch out London 2012.
Shane Perkins and Anna Meares stole the show on Saturday night. Perko put on a display of amazing tactics, power and skill in the final Sprint beating Kevin Sireau (Fra). If you saw the sprint match and have ever raced track before, you’ll appreciate how much talent it takes to find a gap and get through it in a split second like Perko did. Unbelievable!
Anna Meares electrified the crowd by winning three gold medals in a dominating fashion – Sprint, Keirin, and 500m TT. And don’t forget her Ricketts Point winning time of 52.6 seconds. I spoke to Anna about her Ricketts Point challenge and congratulated her (she must have found it strange how I wasn’t half as interested in the 3 gold medals she just won). When asked about how she did it and the conditions on the day she said, “it was a quick time up Rickets. I had a ripping tailwind, it was cold out, and I had a fast rolling start”. So there you have it folks. Rolling start and a tailwind. Still, that’s fast! It took Renshaw, the best lead-out man in the world, 2 attempts to narrowly beat Anna’s time. The closest I came was 55 sec.
I’m excited that Anna and Perko put on such a fantastic show for another reason. I have an upcoming competition that will be announced this week involving these two world class athletes. They couldn’t have timed their performances any better. Stay tuned for more details!
Here’s a gallery of the happy snaps I took over the weekend. Head over to FYXOMATOSIS if you want to see some real good photography.
For all you RSS and email subscribers you can see the gallery here if the one above doesn’t show.