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Last weekend, the beautiful town of Dwellingup played host to some of W.A’s brightest junior cycling talent for WestCycle’s Nationals Development Camp. A group of 11 juniors, which consisted of a mix of U15 & U17 athletes with an eye on the upcoming Junior National Road Championships, were led by WestCycle’s Talent Development Coordinator Jethro Nagle. Jethro was supported by 5 parent volunteers who were instrumental in ensuring a successful weekend for all. Here is Jethro’s report.

Day one:

Saturday began on a nostalgic note, whereupon collecting the keys for the accommodation, I realised I had attended the very same place for my year 7 primary school camp not so long ago, time flies!. The group arrived around 10:30 am and got to work unpacking bikes and equipment from the cars. The plan was to have a light lunch before heading out on the road for 1 pm for the first training session of the weekend. After exploring the camp facilities and lighting all three wood fires (which remained lit for the entire trip – Thank you parent volunteers), the team tucked into a quality morning tea and then lunch, before gearing up for the road.

Head Camp Coach Matthew Storer arrived on his trusty motorbike to lead the group into the days training ride, which consisted of some challenging hill repeats on various climbs. The group rolled out easy to the base of the climbs, often lined out behind the draft of the motorbike, before racing each other full gas up the climbs to meet for a re-group at the summit. The racing on the descent was even more fierce, Zara Williamson showed her liking for speed on the downhills revving up her junior gears to some serious rpm’s! Following the tough first half of hill repeats, the final part of the session involved group sprints on a tricky narrow road before returning back to camp to fight for the 2 showers and get stuck into dinner.

Dinner was ready and waiting by our amazing parent chaperones Lorraine Williamson & Angie McRobbie. They put on a clinic in the kitchen cooking up massive amounts of pasta bolognese (meat & veg options) & toasted garlic bread. The food was devoured (no surprises) in the comfort of the cosy dining area which was operating at a pleasant 28 degrees thanks to a roaring wood-fire. If the kids thought they were finished eating, Angie then brought out her bread and butter pudding for dessert – quality.

Day one was wrapped up with the entire camp group sitting together around the toasty bonfire outside. We talked nutrition, rest days, aerodynamics, time trialling, warm-ups and I am sure Matt Storer touched on a little quantum physics at one point. We also followed the classic campfire tradition of roasting marshmallows. U17 WA State Road Champion Josh Commons likes his marshmallows cooked to a crisp (almost to a fine charcoal powder).

Day two: 

The days training was scheduled for an 8:30 am departure. That meant breakfast was on from 7:00-8:00 am. Again, Angie & Lorraine had the full continental package on show. Cereals, yogurts, crumpets, fruit toast, muesli, porridge, eggs complemented by a variety of fresh fruit and juices meant everyone was catered for and fully fuelled for the days efforts to come.

It was slightly cooler in the morning as you can imagine in Dwellingup. This meant the group had the winter kit out in full force, except for Nick Bolt, who forgot his gloves – classic. Today’s training session was focused on time trialling so, with all the crew either on their TT rigs or with their clip-on TT bars attached, we set off behind the motorbike to the start of the TT route.

The group were sent off in 45-second intervals to attack a 12.94 km rolling TT course along Del Park Road before turning left on Adelaide Road. After the TT efforts, Coach Matt Storer thought an extra climbing effort would be a nice idea, and a serious climbing effort it was. North Spur & Adelaide Rd 6.41km @ 4% with 2.63km of that @7%, into a block headwind, on TT setups. The group’s determination to beat the climb was fantastic, Zara and Isabella Commons started towards the back and showed some real determination to get over the climb. Once we caught our breath, we grouped into one U17 & one U15 group to perform a TTT on the reverse TT course back to the camp. Each group focused on communicating effectively with each other on the paceline speed and effort and working together as a unit.

Upon returning to camp the juniors were again met with a full lunch spread prepared by Lorraine and Angie. Fresh sandwiches, wraps, rolls, leftover pasta, bacon, eggs, what a spread. This marked the end of the camp. Everyone packed up and loaded the cars for the return leg home. A few of the group stayed back to participate in some Damper and Billy Tea making at the local Forest Discovery Center. It was a great activity, who knew cooking bread on a stick on a campfire could be so much fun, and absolutely delicious as well!.

A big thank you to Camp Coach Matt Storer and parent volunteers Angie McRobbie, Lorraine Williamson, Ian Protheroe, Alistair Milne, Richard McGillivray & Chris Allen for all your help on the weekend. The camp’s success was entirely due to all of your fantastic input and help.

I personally, had a brilliant weekend at the camp. I have spent many hours either racing against or training with this talented group of W.A juniors in the last 18 months and I am enjoying watching them progress physically and as young adults. I hope to organise more training and development camps in the coming years for our W.A junior cyclists and continue to drive junior development in W.A cycling.