On the other hand, what kind of coach would one want? Over the months, my training reports have been liberally sprinkled with references to Erica (Green), Spook (Groenewald) and Daisyway Coaching Systems, the brand that joins them and the rest of their team.
Given my horse racing background, a trainer is the person responsible for getting the athlete to peak fitness. A coach takes a more holistic view of performance, including technique, strategy, psychology and more. It would not be inaccurate to refer to Erica as my trainer, but that would be diminishing the amount of care and attention to detail that she puts into all aspects of her athletes’ performance.
She and Spook happen to have been on holiday in Keurbooms while I’ve been in Plett. At her instigation, we all rode in Harkerville together on Tuesday. There was plenty of fun to be had riding the singletrack sections, but she spent some time adjusting my pedalling technique when going up short inclines. I have this habit of surging, which wastes energy and is not ideal for multi-day marathon events.
I should mention that watching Erica on a bike is a treat, because her upper body hardly moves, and her legs seem to effortlessly rotate the cranks, regardless of the terrain. The gliding of a swan across a pond springs to mind, but one can easily map her cycling technique onto that of a dressage rider, which was her sport before cycling.
So, Tuesday was a relatively relaxed 29km with fun sections and some on-the-bike coaching.
Spook and Erica joined me for the first 30km of a 100km off-road ride on Wednesday. The stroke coaching continued, getting me to focus on the lateral pull-push at the top and bottom parts of the rotation. We stopped several times for Spook to make adjustments to seat height and saddle position. The objective was to get me into a comfortable position that would enable the most effective/efficient pedal stroke.
Friday was a rest day (thankfully), but Saturday and Sunday continued the base miles theme. On Saturday, I did a 116km spin to Storms River Village and back. It was definitely the most comfortable I’d been on the road bike, and I felt fresh afterwards.
I need to share a little about my riding partner’s training over the holiday period. Piet is competing in the Iron Man in East London at the end of January. While I’ve been doing high volume base training, he has been doing a high intensity final push. His Saturday consisted of 60km of cycling intervals, followed by a very tough 20km straight off the bike.
He was understandably not that gung-ho when we did our off-road 70km (was supposed to be 100km) on Sunday. Notwithstanding his residual fatigue, after a couple of hours of pedalling, he reverted to his usual machine mode. It took every scrap of adjusted stroke technique, and recently upgraded fitness, to stay on his back wheel up the final climb. This was all about watts.
When we crossed the bridge at the Belvedere turn-off for the final section to Knysna, I decided to keep the ‘short on kilometres, long on watts’ theme going, with a 15-minute push (into a headwind) that took me to the edges of my comfort zone.
Returning to the coach question, it’s game changing to be on the receiving end of the kind of attention that Erica and Spook put into riders and their bikes. It’s a boutique service with built-in limits for the number of clients, and I regard myself as being extremely fortunate to count myself as one of them.