Tag Archives: CCC Shuzenji

Camp and the rest of it all

Went into camp with a positive frame of mind, both physically and mentally. The bulk of the work has been done and what I needed more was familiarity, with all the elements of the track, equipment especially. I probably should have psyched myself a little better because by the third day in, I was beating myself up pretty badly for the lack lustre times. Somehow I’ve always managed to screw things up between the ears. Maybe I’m not as mentally tough as I think I am. Okay, obviously I’m not.
As our host starts to prepare itself for the Bangkok edition of the Track Asia Cup, I can’t help but sense that the feeling of elitism is very much still present. I miss having that team element. Hell the last time I ever felt like I was in one was back in 2010, 2011 with Mercs.
It was great to touch base with my mentor and to hear of some awesome news. Words of encouragement from people you trust goes a long way.

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Welcome 2015

I was meaning to do a round-up of 2014, including an excellent training stint with CCC Shuzenji. It has just been a whirlwind of events, on and off the bike.

The CCC Shuzenji training camp takes you back to the basics, and it’s something worth re-visiting every now and again. Form and posture, numerous efforts on small gears. Times aren’t so much of a concern, but with competitiveness and pressure to perform, riders always use times as a benchmark for either improvement or performance. This edition of the training camp housed a great bunch of up and coming junior riders with heaps of potential. So I’ll be looking out for their names in the near future. For me, it was more like a good solid 2 week training block, form check and to see where I am physically on the Wingate test at the keirin school.
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In the department of good news, after deciding to give the 2014 Asian Championships a miss, I’m up to compete at the 2015’s edition.
http://cycling.org.sg/selection-into-scf-national-training-squad-for-mtbroadtrack-and-acc-2015-track-and-road/
I’ve been making progress but at the same time putting a lot of pressure on myself to prove my worth. Well it’s kind of inevitable when you’re a noob, unless you have a coach/system/program (whatever you want to call it) looking out for you. So here I am, back in sunny Perth, to get them track legs ready. Thank you TCWA for the warm welcome back. A massive shout out to Rudy Project Singapore, for all the support and belief they have in me. BikeGearNow, Solitude of Strength, TRG, Restwise, Maxinutrition Asia, G8 Performance, MSTI, thank you for being part of this gruelling journey. Your support has helped keep me going.

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Moving forward

So it’s still not too late for a lowdown on my time in bkk. 2 weeks well spent with the people from CCC Shuzenji and a great training group. Because I knew how the camp would be run, I could get straight into the thick of things, not wasting any of the efforts. This time round, there were a few more peps who weren’t that fluent in English. So I did my part to translate the best I could.

This is my fourth time with CCC Shuzenji and I felt I got the most out of this one. I made very sure to apply everything I picked up from Carl and the aboc squad right from the get go: Getting into the right frame of mind, like I would in order to chase down the motorbike. With the ACC Track Asia Cup scheduled after the camp, it’s pretty much just over a week’s of proper training before they need to tone it down to taper for racing.

Even though my Track Asia Cup results aren’t exactly newsworthy, the improvements made were certainly encouraging. Having the coaches tell you that you’ve made significant progress and seeing your times drop by the second, is sign that I’m on the right track.

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Plugging away

The ongoing #AG2014 #Incheon2014 has seen some amazing performances from #OurTeamSG and the effectiveness of social media has helped fuel the athletes with local support, something which has been heavily critiqued for being grossly absent. My days of major games are behind me now but I’ve noticed some difference in the approach and attitude of local media.

These days there may seem to be a little too much ‘pat on the backs’. Credit definitely has to be given for effort, but where and how should we draw the line? Has effort properly been evaluated as a best-performance or does a half-arsed effort also deserve any commendation? To give an idea where this is coming from: I raced my first AG in rowling (which also happened to be my first major games), after 3 years in the sport, to the lack-of-delight of the rowling a-sociation. I finished 9th and of course that got me a C grade by the stalate times. At that point in time, did I think I deserve a C? No. Because I thought effort counted for something. I rowled 3 years out of the boathouse at Pandan, literally on my own. I looked for my own coaches who believed in me because no one in the rowling a-sociation ever did and couldn’t be bothered. Did anyone report that prior to me going down under to Mercs to train under Alastair, the previous head coach demanded he get a cut of the prize moolah if I brought home some bling? Did anyone report that I rocked up at the boat park to find out that a boat rental was not arranged for me? Maybe that’s also the athlete’s job. My bad for assuming administrators role is admin. And did anyone report that after hours of wait and eager anticipation I managed to pick up a left over scull which was too small? My bad for having long limbs. I suppose no one outside the circle knew because the 2 hr bus ride from the games village to the rowling site (that makes 4 hrs to and fro) was not worth our own media’s time for a lone competitor who is an outside chance for a medal.
From a high performance perspective, did I deserve a C? Yes. I didn’t come in top-6, which is what is required to qualify for the AG. I taught myself to harden up.

I raced at the SeaG the following year and bombed out in both my events. There was definitely no pat on the back for all the drama I went through: from a coach, who was hired 4 months before the games (I was already at Mercs), kicked out one of chaps in the doubles, threatened that he’ll pull me out of the single if I don’t fill in the double, insisted I cann my stint at Mercs early to train with him (which of course I said no) and he resigned even before I got back. Talk about short term planning. Did anyone report that, EVERYONE else in the team fell ill/sick, Which meant I was pulling a sick dog down the course, 1 hour before my singles finals. My bad for assuming that you get rewarded for being responsible for yourself, staying fighting fit, to give yourself the best possible chance of winning. The exact words from the grand master at rowling afterwards: “You lost, you’re not good enough. We won’t send you to 2012 London Qualifiers.” A slap on the wrist. A slap on the face, if I told you someone else was entered in that race I trained 4 years for.

So I never really got my share of ‘A’ for effort. But if you look back, our athletes were usually harshly judged based on performance. Now there is an effort to paint a fuller picture. It’s an encouraging step forward to building a sporting culture. Let’s hope it’s a genuine attempt to let the public be in the shoes of a professional athlete

At the end of the day, if you’re in it for high performance, my opinion is one of your goals has to be to reel in the bling. That’s just how it is. Maybe I’ve had too many bowls of nails of brekkie. But high performance is not what you go into if all you want is a feel-good rah rah.

So here I am in Bangkok, plugging away with the CCC Shuzenji coaches hoping I’ve made significant progress on my way back into the elite sports system, the hard way, because me and pats-on-back don’t seem to have much in common.

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Japan Track Cup rundown

I need to be more prompt in penning down these race experiences, even though its still rather fresh in my mind, like it was just last week. Those psych sessions with John from way back certainly did me some good.

International teams didn’t stay at Cytel. We were put up at a cottage-like hotel, Olive no Ki, 30 mins by bus away from the track. Better facilities and amenities, but I would have preferred convenience over comfort.  Of course, Cytel would be meant for local teams and technical officials.

There were reasonable expectations going in. In a country where the keirin is professionally raced, you can only expect a huge depth of really strong riders. I started out conservatively with regards to gearing. Bad decision. After the first lap, I knew I was in trouble as I was already running out of leg speed. So I kinda threw that one away. Shucks. Then I rode big but it was clear I still didn’t have enough horsepower to ride side-by-side with the big guns yet. Leading up to this, bulk of the work has been focused on strength gains. My 200m time was nothing to cheer about either. There is still quite a long way to go.

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Apart from that, it is the familiarity I have with my bike at high speeds. At 60km/h and above, the slightest twitch gets magnified. I followed for as long as I could, but it felt like I was fighting the bike as soon as everyone throttled. I kept losing momentum in my legs as I fought to stay in.

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The coaches at CCC Shuzenji could see improvement. The standard of the race was simply too high. In spite of that, I still took plenty of lessons back home. I’ve gained some first-hand knowledge on what is physically required to race at that level and that is something I can work on on the road. One thing’s for sure, motorpacing sessions are vital for me. So if anyone knows of anyone who does it, give me shout. I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks to Noda-san and CCC Shuzenji for the support. It definitely made a difference knowing that I was looked after. I envy teams that go to races with an army of support staff. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a race with even just a coach/manager. Big shout-out to MSTI for the entry and race kit, as well as the continuous and unwavering support of Maximuscle, Rudy Project, The Sufferfest, Compressport, G8 Performance and Solitude of Strength.

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Photos by MakotoAYANO

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4 weeks on

It’s been one heck of a roller coaster the past 4 weeks. I have had time to reflect on my time back at the CCC Shuzenji training camp but recently I find myself trying to keep my mind free of anything training related when I have any bit of downtime. Maybe it’s because there hasn’t been any exciting developments to talk about, just plenty of what-ifs.

I definitely kicked some goals at the end of my two weeks at Shuzenji. We were fortunate enough to be allowed by the JBCF to do a flying 200 and kilo time trial in an actual race setting. Having to go through the proper race proceedings was good practice for me. The result however left me quite deflated. I was all over the place in the kilo and couldn’t hold my line. My flying 200 was just as disappointing. I made used of that second week to nail those key aspects of my riding that really needed to be addressed: posture, leg speed, handling. I stuck at it, and my training times consistently went down as well. At the end of it, I definitely came out a better rider and I have the coaches at CCC Shuzenji to thank for that.

Coming back to Perth was a good test to see how far I have come. I started out at the Speed Dome, and the locals will be able to see if there is any improvement, or not. The first thing that hit me was that the pace has definitely stepped up a lot from the last time I was here. I had a quick catch up with Travis the first few nights at the track and he mentioned it as well. It took me about a week to find my race legs as well as get used to bunch riding on the track again, which meant I didn’t do too well in the Keirin at the State Championships. Disappointed yes, but I knew I had focus on the coming couple of weeks. I started the week really well, kicked plenty of goals at track sessions and was looking forward to the weekend to finish up state champs with something to cheer about. But my luck ran out and I had to wake up in the middle of a Thursday night scrambling for lacteol fort and panadol. Friday was a complete wipe off as I slept the entire day, waking up at 3 hour intervals just to eat and take meds. Fortunately, all was not lost. I still rode the sprint and the kilo. Though I was still a little woozy on Saturday.

I’ve got another week of track sessions and a Wattbike test with Andrew on Wednesday which I’m really looking forward to. Apologies for the lack of photos. When you travel to train and race solo, it’s not quite as convenient to go around snapping pictures with my phone. But I’ll try to get some cool visuals up.

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CCC Shuzenji mobile training camp + ACC Track Asia Cup

I was certainly looking forward to getting some quality time at the CCC training camp prior to testing my legs again at the Track Asia Cup. Couple of hours north of Bangkok is Suphanburi, where one of four velodromes in Thailand is. The hotel we stayed in, which would also be the official race hotel, is about a 10min bus ride. It’s a nice quiet town. Little distractions, only problem were the mozzies at night. There was no way of sitting still for more than a minute without one flying in your face or attempting to put a stinger in you.

There was a vast improvement from the first time the CCC Shuzenji coaches saw me. I’ve always preferred doing interval sets as compared to a 4hr ride. Now i can focus on a lot more things on the bike rather than just chasing the set and/or distance: posture, leg speed. Every effort was the opportunity to feel the different elements. The program was the same as in Shuzenji, so it was all about leg speed and chances to practice some all important standing starts.

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A CCC Shuzenji camp would be not complete without a roller session.

As the training camp came to a close, I started to shift towards thinking about how I wanted to race the Track Asia Cup. It was a large turnout. 10 countries.  Things had to be done differently from my previous race in order for results to change as well. I entered the sprint, kilo and keirin. The sprint was more for me to try my hand at the flying200 and track my progress. Unfortunately, both that and kilo didn’t turn out to be anything to celebrate about. To be honest, I really wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong, or what was I not doing. My last chance would be in the Keirin. It was only after my heat, when I was chatting with Bom that I understood what I needed to change. However the weather gods decided to show their presence and the last few events of the night were cancelled, which included the 7th-13th place final, so I didn’t have a chance to give it a good go. At least I took something back.

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Going old school in the kilo on the standard bars. Thanks Kee Meng again for the race wheels. Really appreciate it. I really need to have my own.

Photos courtesty of Thai Cycling Association.

I’m in the midst of sorting out my next (hopefully few) race (races). No point spending on race wheels if I don’t get a chance to use them. I did see a set of FFWDs on a fixed along east coast park bike path this arvo.

Laters

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