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Epic 2018: ‘Holiday’ riding

Oscar Foulkes December 30, 2017 Cape Epic No comments
On Christmas Eve, I casually mentioned to Andrea how tired my body was feeling, and that I just didn’t know how I could drag myself through a four-hour ride on Christmas Day. As far as my Epic lark is concerned, there is no more supportive spouse. In fact, if there were a parallel competition for long-suffering spouses, Andrea would certainly be on the podium.

“Are you joking?” was her response, while looking at me in a way that warned of the imminent launching of daggers. Of course, I was only joking, although my original plan had been to get into cycling kit immediately after opening Christmas presents. The fact that I’m here to share the week’s training report with you is certainly a product of that bit of sensible discretion.

I was supposed to do 100km on the mountain bike, mostly on the road, on the 26th (Tuesday), but the drive to Plettenberg Bay got in the way.

Wednesday’s ride was supposed to be 90km on the road, but I was so excited to be on holiday that I headed off on my mountain bike instead. The excitement also translated into me riding at higher intensity than Erica intended for base ride, and I also did a lot more climbing, partly thanks to riding all the way to the Diepwalle forest station (I needed to be sure of getting to 90km).

The highlight of the ride was bombing down the Petrus-se-Brand singletrack on the Tallboy, especially the steeper sections with roots and little drops. What a great piece of machinery! A close second in the highlights stakes was a toasted cheese sandwich at the Diepwalle tearoom, paired with extra large Coke.

Piet had also done a bit much for his Wednesday ride, so I suggested an easy road ride for Thursday (even though my programme had it as a rest day). I met him in Knysna for a 94km spin to Wilderness. The plan was to stop for coffee before turning for home. When we got into Wilderness I was following him on the assumption that he had a preferred spot, perhaps even an artisan French baker with the best croissants on the Garden Route. We rode past some likely prospects, until rounding a traffic circle about a kilometre later.

“I wanted to get to 50km”, he said while giggling sheepishly. Seeing as he’d ridden a few kilometres extra to meet me, reaching a round 100km by the time he got home didn’t apply to me. Epic partnerships have to endure much more than a small FFS moment in Wilderness.

We stopped for toasted cheese & tomato and cappuccinos (with double shot, please), and then headed back to Knysna.

Friday was going to be a rest day for me, until I saw the Rush Sports posts on social media about a relaxed ride in Harkerville with Greg Minnaar as guest of honour. It was more informal than relaxed, with some youngsters and racing snakes setting a cracking pace from the start. Greg couldn’t have been more chilled if he tried, but the young guns were showing some serious skills as they went racing through the forest. It was fun riding behind these guys, although the ride back to Plett on the N2, solo into a headwind, was less so.

Missing Tuesday’s ride had messed up my programme somewhat, so the 120km base ride on the road that was intended for Friday got moved to Saturday. Piet and I rode from Plett to Storms River and back, clocking a healthy 128km. At the halfway turn we again stopped for toasted cheese & tomato – if anyone from Woolies is reading, could we please have these at our Epic feeding points in 2018? I’m quite happy to have them cold, by the way.

Sunday is programmed as a rest day, so I could theoretically do Saturday’s 80km MTB ride, which would bring me up to speed with the week’s programme. However, I have to fly back to Cape Town to be present at the New Year’s Eve party our restaurant is hosting for Pearl Valley residents and hotel guests, so Sunday will remain a rest day.

Next week has four big rides. Starting it fresh will be a good thing.

The positive of doing these big distances on the road is that there’s less effort involved than doing it off-road. Plus the work gets done in a shorter time. The downside is that my road bike is fucking uncomfortable (apologies, the F-word is appropriate in this context). While I’m totally in love with the Tallboy, I’m headed for divorce with the road bike unless there’s a set-up issue that Spook can sort out.

The programme for Monday and Tuesday has gaps for a bit of playtime on the Tallboy. I can’t wait!

The obligatory pre-ride group shot (without me, because I was late). Pic: Warren Fleming, courtesy of Rush Sports.

The obligatory pre-ride group shot (without me, because I was late). Pic: Warren Fleming, courtesy of Rush Sports.

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