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Epic 2018: Riding in a Daisy chain

Oscar Foulkes October 8, 2017 Cape Epic No comments
“Recovery week” is a great phrase to see on a training programme; much like reaching an oasis in the desert, cresting a big climb, or even a 25-24 loss to the All Blacks after a bad season. It means that Tuesday and Thursday’s rides are each in the vicinity of 90 minutes of non-intense spinning. The body gets the opportunity of shaking off aches and general fatigue.

To be honest, I don’t feel apprehensive about ‘big’ mid-week sessions. Having a stoic’s ambivalence to the work that needs to be done, I suppose, goes with the territory of taking part in endurance sport. So, I have a similar attitude to recovery rides as more intense sessions, but I do enjoy the rest.

On Saturday morning I joined the Daisyway team on the Helderberg MTB trails (read more about Erica and Spook here).

Joining us on the ride was another of their clients, as well as their 13-year-old son, Tim, a hugely talented downhill rider in his own right.

As we got into the single track, Erica told me to follow Tim. She could have added: “if you can keep up”. Over the course of the next couple of hours I was learning by watching how Tim handled the trails, with Erica calling instructions to me from behind: “drop your heels”, or “elbows”, or “point your knee more”.

I was in the middle of a Daisy chain, doing my best to keep up with a fearless youngster, aided by small adjustments to technique that were being pointed out to me from behind. The changes weren’t much more than an inch here and there, but they make a big difference to how the bike handles the trails.

Erica’s programme had me down for a 100km road ride today. With Piet away, I was scrambling for cycling buddies. A few weeks ago I rode 113km as ‘Norman Nomates’; not only was it boring, but riding on the road without a peloton is a lot more work. I’m stoic enough to do it, but if there’s an opportunity of riding with a gang, I’ll choose it.

The big decision comes when the other guys decide to turn early. Today this meant that I under-delivered on the 100km required. In fairness, I went at the climbs quite hard, which eases some guilt.

It’s not just the cycling that’s better when you’re in a group; the coffee stop is also a whole lot more interesting. A few weeks ago I was introduced to the concept of intermittent fasting. This morning we had a discussion about Colin’s vegan month (while Rob, at the end of the table, ate his way through five poached eggs).

These posts are aimed at recording what’s involved in getting to – and through – Cape Epic. However, I’d ride my bike anyway (not quite as much, though) for general fitness and wellbeing. Similarly, brushing up on skills and riding technique with the Daisyway team would be a good idea for recreational mountain biking, even if there aren’t races planned. Apart from increasing your enjoyment on the trails, improved skills also reduce the risk of injury.

Mountain biking is poaching market share from golf, a sport that few would approach without some technical guidance. On the other hand, relatively few mountain bikers will get skills training before bombing down a mountain at 40 or 50 km/h.

The Helderberg MTB trails are fantastic (and jumps are optional).

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