I would normally do intervals on the Wattbike, because there’s no guessing the power level at which one is pedalling. However, the only way my Tuesday was going to work out was if I did this session in the morning, which meant that it was going to have to be close to home. The first issue I encountered was that it started raining 10 minutes into the ride. Then, believe it or not, I ran out of mountain, in that the first climb I chose wasn’t quite long enough for the intervals.
Erica’s Epic Intervals left me with jelly legs, but I can see them working very well (more on that in a bit).
Wednesday morning kicked off with an hour-and-a-quarter root canal session, for which I prepared by getting myself into a state of ‘Epic mind’. It turned out to be not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Perhaps the Stoics were onto something.
After this, my week got insane, with multiple competing demands for my time, fires that needed to be put out, and generally high levels of stress. In short, everything that gets in the way of having the time and energy to do high intensity training sessions. Thursday ended with a score of Life 1, Super Intervals 0.
I was involved in a horse auction on Friday night, which saw me getting to sleep well after midnight. I was awake at 4.30, my mind abuzz with the events of the week. I had to rise at 5.30 anyway, so I eventually got up and caught up on two days of emails before heading to the Absa Pride training camp at Boschendal.
Saturday’s ride was 70km, with about 1600m of climbing. We rode up and over Helshoogte, then to the very top of Jonkershoek. We bombed down various trails, then around to the Paradyskloof trails and the G Spot, before returning to Boschendal. Riders were grouped roughly according to ability/strength, and led by a marshal. I ended up in the intermediate group more by coincidence than design, but it was the right place for me to be.
Sunday’s ride was a big loop around the Franschhoek dam, where the terrain is very different to Jonkershoek, prompting me to say to fellow riders that nothing says “Welcome to the Western Cape” quite like our loose, rocky mountainsides. In places, they are almost like rocky sandpits on an incline, and these are why one needs Erica’s Epic Intervals.
By contrast, the loose stuff requires a prolonged transfer of power with even pedal strokes to avoid the back wheel spinning and losing traction. Actually, spinning out can happen even with perfect technique, but the bottom line is that riding climbs like this saps energy.
I’d never ridden the trails around the dam, which have plenty of loose climbs, and some fairly technical singletrack. I was riding up one of the steeper of the loose climbs when I heard complimentary remarks about my technique from the rider behind me, who turned out to be James Reid. There’s nothing like praise from a former SA Cross-Country Champion and Olympian to put a spring in your step (if such a term can be applied to cycling). I may as well have had an simultaneous infusion of EPO, HGH and methamphetamine.
Erica has a footer on her emails: “Don’t join an easy crowd. You won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high.” With this thought in my mind, and James’ praise still ringing in my ears, I latched onto the fast group after the next water stop. I discovered later that some of the riders in this group had aspirations for a podium finish in the Grand Masters category. If I’d known this I’d have stuck with the intermediate group I’d ridden with the day before. Sometimes, as I’ve said before in relation to this stuff, it’s better not to know.
On the off-road climbs I was admittedly only just hanging onto the back end. We regrouped when we got back onto the tar for the spin back to Boschendal, which is when they really turned up the pace. For about 9km I managed to hold onto the wheel of the rider ahead of me, my heart rate well above 160 and eventually maxing at 175, as James set a pace of at least 40km/h. There was no letting up on the inclines. With a couple of kilometres to go, my impaired breathing could no longer cope with my heart rate, so I had to tap off, but it felt good to have tagged along with the ‘non-easy crowd’ for a bit.
A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined where my body is now. Similarly, in the midst of the week’s multiple crises, it would have been easy to get sucked into imagining impending disaster on a scale from which there is no recovery.
I wrote last week about ‘monkey mind’. I far prefer ‘Epic mind’ … keep the pedals turning!