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Epic Training: Week Seven

Oscar Foulkes October 23, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
Off the bike, I had a great week, with the centrepiece being my 50th birthday on Wednesday. The likelihood is that I’ve passed the halfway mark, and yet I don’t feel that I’m facing a decline. Rather, I have a strong feeling of genesis. My ‘idea spring’ hasn’t stopped producing fresh concepts. And, after 50 years of life, I have a huge store of ‘history’ that can be repurposed in a productive way. A kind of upcycling or recycling, for want of a better expression.

Isn’t it interesting how the word that denotes the origin of mighty rivers (i.e. spring) should be same as the word for the season in which life is reborn? The energy implicit in spring (as in ‘jump’) and spring (coiled metal with elastic properties) is a beautiful part of the metaphor.

I didn’t feel a great amount of energy in my legs at the start of the week. In fact, the “easy 60 minute spin” on the programme for Tuesday was pretty much all I was capable of after the previous week’s riding. I was still behind the eight ball on Thursday, for the five one-minute build-ups I had to do (along with warm-up and cool-down). Monday and Tuesday’s conditioning sessions followed the usual pattern of deadlifts, lunges and squats, along with mobility exercises.

Nevertheless, I approached Saturday’s STBB 60km race around (and up) the Bottelary Hills feeling positive. I stoically pedalled my way through the rain, mentally banishing the cold, and then skidding through the resulting mud. I actually felt pretty strong in the last half, consoling myself with the thought that even if I was slower, at least my endurance had improved (or so I thought while I was riding).

I’m trying to compare 2016 performances with 2016 only, but taking 40 minutes longer on this year’s race (over almost exactly the same course) compared with 2015, was more than a little disheartening. The first half took 10 minutes (or 8%) longer, which suggests that the mud on the second half of the route must have contributed to the overall 40 minutes.

Nevertheless, there were a few Strava PRs on downhill sections before it all got too wet to go flying down the slopes.

I’d had five or six hours of interrupted sleep on Friday night, and the same on Thursday and Wednesday. I’m hoping that the disappointing result was the product of that fatigue, added to a body not yet fully recovered from the previous week’s training.

For someone who is just hoping to finish the Epic without too much pain, it shouldn’t matter how fast I’m riding prep races. However, with the amount of time that’s going into training, I’m looking for indications that the effort is paying off.

Shelley’s poem Ode to the West Wind, which has rebirth as its central theme, ends with the line: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” From this I take my cue. In the absence of positive reinforcement I’ll just keep following the process, and trusting that it’s going to deliver a good result!

Homemade birthday cards

Homemade birthday cards

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