Health issues aside, by 2016 it wasn’t hugely intimidating for me to take on a three-day stage race (like Wines2Whales). However, as I pointed out to friends, every day of Cape Epic is roughly 50% more, in both distance and metres climbed. Or, to put it the other way, Wines2Whales is two-thirds of an average Epic day. The difference is that Wines2Whales is finished after three days, and on Epic they may sneak in a day that’s double the climbing and distance.
So, I needed to reach the point where a 90km ride held the same value as 60km used to. Hence the ‘new normal’.
I’ve discovered a few other ‘new normals’ along the way, starting with people riding bikes that cost the same as small cars (and on tyres that certainly exceed the cost of car tyres). It’s normal to do two 60 to 90 minute training rides during the week, followed by another three to four hours on both Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday, I had glimpses of something else I hope is a new normal, in that I rode a fairly big climb at the same speed as my PR on that segment, except that my heart rate was nine beats per minute slower this time around.
If you’ve been reading these updates from the beginning of my training process, you’ll know how significant this factor is to me (read more about my impaired breathing capacity here).
The second factor is Erica Green’s training programme, which is very specific in terms of the power levels required for the high intensity sessions (i.e. intervals, hills, and super intervals). I’ve been doing them on a Wattbike, because of the very precise measurement of power output on every part of the pedal rotation, for each leg.
The other difference in Erica’s programme is that I’ve been doing a lot more on the road. Two weekends ago I did over 200km on two rides, and last Saturday I knocked out another 100km. Mountain biking is more demanding of the entire body than road riding, and often requires bursts of power. Road riding, on the other hand, is more about long stretches of consistent pedalling, without the micro breaks one gets while mountain biking.
The first four stages of Cape Epic 2018 are long – a total of 455km on potentially loose terrain, which increases the difficulty factor. That’s a kind of new normal that requires a lot of training!