July 19, 2016

Training and Racing Through Three Generations

Laurie Pearce, my grandfather, raced competitively on the road and track in the 1950s and 1960s. He first started riding in 1950 when he was 15, racing on the track weekly at Edwardstown Oval for a bit of fun. He soon started being coached by Chips Carpenter, who at the time was 87 years old and used to coach an Olympic runner. He told my grandfather’s parents that he wanted to coach him because he thought that he had potential as a cyclist.

Laurie spent a lot of time talking with his coach in the early days and Chips used to tell my grandfather about the runner he used to coach. He told Laurie that he needed to do a lot of training and exercises off the road if he wanted to be any good. Track cycling was huge in South Australia at the time bringing thousands to local races at night and so Chips wanted my grandfather to focus on the track. He sent Laurie a programme that incorporated a 1000 skips and a full-body weights program each day before breakfast. He would then ride to and from work on his fixed wheel bike. In addition he would do core exercises for an hour after dinner each night and powerwalk for about 6km a few times a week.

The coach adapted the coaching methods he used for training a Gold Medallist in the Olympic Games Marathon for my grandfather. This included motor pacing sessions around Edwardstown oval in the pre-season.  He also trained him at 4.30am in the morning on Anzac Highway on a 67 gear fixed wheel track bike. Every 3 weeks he went up 3inches, riding a 70 gear for 3 weeks and he kept going through 81, 84 until he was able to ride a 91 consistently. This occurred about 3 months out from the track season. At the beginning of the season he was flying on a gear of 91. In the late 1950’s he won every track title in SA at the age of 16, winning races including the half-mile open championship at Victor Harbour (on the trotting track), the 1000m Time Trial Championship, the 1 mile State Championship and the 10 mile Championship, all on a steel frame track bike. In the 1950’s he always won silver cake trays and at one point he remembers having about 14 cake trays in his room at home. One of the biggest trophies he won was at a race at the known as the Navy Cup which was about 3 foot tall.

 

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The coach adapted the coaching methods he used for training a Gold Medallist in the Olympic Games Marathon for my grandfather. This included motor pacing sessions around Edwardstown oval in the pre-season.  He also trained him at 4.30am in the morning on Anzac Highway on a 67 gear fixed wheel track bike. Every 3 weeks he went up 3inches, riding a 70 gear for 3 weeks and he kept going through 81, 84 until he was able to ride a 91 consistently. This occurred about 3 months out from the track season. At the beginning of the season he was flying on a gear of 91. In the late 1950’s he won every track title in SA at the age of 16, winning races including the half-mile open championship at Victor Harbour (on the trotting track), the 1000m Time Trial Championship, the 1 mile State Championship and the 10 mile Championship, all on a steel frame track bike. In the 1950’s he always won silver cake trays and at one point he remembers having about 14 cake trays in his room at home. One of the biggest trophies he won was at a race at the known as the Navy Cup which was about 3 foot tall.

Chips Carpenter coached Laurie for about 4 years. Lionel Knibbs (a professional) also took an interest in my grandfather and started to ride with him. He said he had a lot to learn and taught him how to handle his bike properly.  In 1956 he went on to be a reserve in the Australian track team at the Olympics in Melbourne.

 

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In the 1980s my uncle, Jason Pearce, raced competitively on the road and track. He started cycling in 1982 when he was 12 years old. His first coach was Bruce Quinn at the age of 15. He was then coached by Michael Turter when he was part of SASI as a junior. His training consisted of weights in the gym three or four times a week, specialised training 4 days a week (ergo sessions, hill work and speed work on the road as well as specific track work). On top of this he would complete 1200 flat km’s per week as a base. Jason would race up to 3 times a week  – at Hanson reserve on a Wednesday night, Edwardstown on a Saturday as well as crits.

He then made the Australian junior track team and trained under coach Charlie Walsh. The training was very similar to what it was like at SASI. My uncle’s biggest achievement on the bike was winning three gold medals as a junior at the 1988 Australian Track Nationals when he was 17 years old. During this event he also won the Australian Champion of Champions award. From this he then travelled to Europe, training in Italy and then on to Denmark to compete in the World titles, racing in the 100 lap endurance event. After winning his heat, he came 8th in the final.

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Now as I race as a junior, soon to become U/23, I can see there are a lot of similarities between training and racing from when my grandfather raced until now. The seriously competitive nature runs in the family and has been passed through the generations. It has been an honour to win some of the same races that my uncle and grandfather competed in and also won in my first years racing as an U/17 and now in U/19’s.

Science and technology have significantly changed training methods for the better, the obvious change I have seen between our three generations has been the analysing of training data and the way feedback is given. What does remains the same however is the reliance on mentors, coaches, volunteers and also the support of family and friends. Ultimately, the key to success of any athlete.

 

 

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