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Epic Training: Week 14

Oscar Foulkes December 12, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
Formal training took a breather this week, with Lezandré calling it a rest week, before the next big push leading up to Attakwas (I typed the first part of the sentence, and then realised that I’m absolutely the wrong person to be using the word “breather” for taking it easy).

Monday’s gym session was basically just active recovery after the excesses of Origin of Trails, with deadlifts forming the core of Wednesday’s session.

On Thursday evening, I took an easy pedal across to Signal Hill to check out Pat’s Track, which I entered at the kramat. I didn’t explore all of it, but it certainly gives an option for shortish rides. There are rocky sections that are bit of a tester going either up or down, so this trail requires a degree of technical skill.

I met up with some other riders for the opening of Tokai, at 7.00 on Saturday morning, where a festive atmosphere prevailed. Everyone in the group I met was on Cannondale (they are connected with the distributor), which made me think of the expression “bringing a knife to a gun fight”. If you’ll allow me some licence, this was a case of bringing a Yeti to a Cannon(dale) fight.

The first section of the up route has become a much steeper climb. It all feels a bit bare without the pine trees, but there is a veritable maize field of black wattle and eucalyptus doing its best to make up for their loss. While a lot of work has been done on the singletrack sections, with berms on many corners, most of the usual trails felt quite familiar. Much fun was had.

In the spirit of a week of exploration, what remained was the newly legal Newlands-Kirstenbosch-Cecilia stretch. There’s a comprehensive report on Bikehub (click here for it), which leaves me free to add some comment/opinion. As far as trail sharing is concerned, the hot spots are the entry/exit points in Newlands and Cecilia. On the Newlands end, going up isn’t an issue, because it’s a fairly steep climb in parts. However, this can create a problem if riders don’t exercise restraint going down. The Cecilia end is less steep, with pretty good visibility, and plenty of space for everyone. The bit in the middle is so high up that the number of walkers is limited.

In my opinion, this ride from Newlands to Cecilia is one of the top ten things to do in Cape Town. It is nothing short of magnificent.

Worryingly, there is a Strava segment for this ride, which is at odds with the concept of trail sharing. We all climb at different speeds, but I have to wonder if the leaders’ pace is not too speedy to leave time for a cheery greeting as walkers are passed.

While on housekeeping-related issues, riding these trails requires a level three activity permit from Table Mountain National Park, which costs just R500 for an entire year. Much of the money goes to their trail budget. Table Mountain Bikers (led by Rob Vogel) have done a huge amount of work in getting these additional trails opened. Support the cause by joining (here).

I need to develop a better understanding of the physiology of breathing and heart rate, particularly with respect to how it affects my ability to get through a day of Epic. I don’t have anything in the way of baseline information, because I didn’t measure heart rate during exercise until April this year, after the damage had already been done to my vocal chords. I’m in uncharted territory, so this will very much be a process of discovery.

The first 14 weeks of training (if I exclude the initial period that got me to Imana) have had a feeling of there being plenty of time left. We are now three months away from Epic, and it’s suddenly all feeling very close. There will be many hours of riding while we’re on holiday, which will be followed ten days later by Attakwas. February will whizz by, with a two-day race and a three-day race, and before I know it, I’ll be pushing off the start line on the biggest physical challenge of my life.

The Cecilia trail (pic: Bikehub)

The Cecilia trail (pic: Bikehub)

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