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Epic Training: Week 11

Oscar Foulkes November 21, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
The next race on my calendar is the two-day Origin of Trails, in the first weekend of December. Based purely on advertised distance, it’s a toned down version of the first two years, both of which I rode. Day One of the first year was a rather unpleasant surprise, in that they advertised 70km, but we ended up riding close to 80km, with more than 2000m of climbing, in nearly 40-degree heat. It was brutal, and I took extra pain because I had eased off the riding slightly after Wines2Whales.

Nothing like that this time around, because Origin of Trails is just a stepping stone to 2017’s challenges. In fact, week 11 upped the ante, even allowing for week 10 being about recovery.

The first ride of the week was six-minute climbs with low cadence in a big gear. Five of them. This may not seem like a lot, but those repeats start to bite after a while. Oh, and it was windy.

Deadlifts (with decent weight) were top billing for Wednesday’s gym session. One might think that these are working one’s quads, which they do up to a point, but if they’re done properly it’s the hamstrings that do the work.

The wind was pumping on Thursday. Theoretically, I could have joined the Table Mountain Bikers (TMB) night ride. Apart from the fact that I needed to do an easy spin for 90 minutes, I wanted to ride at 5.00pm, rather than 6.30pm. I headed in the direction of Signal Hill, where I managed to find a few relatively protected tracks. Meanwhile, banter was flying thick and fast on the TMB WhatsApp group, where convener Robert Vogel wasn’t finding many takers. Undaunted by the wind, he did a solo ride to the Blockhouse, where he posted a picture of the sunset, declaring the conditions “not too bad”. It wasn’t long before the banter was inviting him to post a group picture.

Part of the reason for heading to Signal Hill on Thursday was to find a trail for Saturday’s interval session. Anything between Oranjezicht and the Blockhouse is really unpleasant, because one is either riding uphill into gale force southeaster, or in danger of getting blown over by gusts from the side. There’s a jeep track running from the quarry adjacent to Tamboerskloof, all the way to Signal Hill road, which is much less windy. And, if one cuts out the very steep bits at the bottom, it’s a high intensity six-minute climb to the boom at the top.

Six of those, in zone four heart rate, off you go!

All of my previous pukka training sessions have been solo. It made a very pleasant change having Piet join me for the intervals.

I had to do three hours on Sunday, but forgot the high cadence part of the instructions and probably rode it harder than intended. I started in the wind, which moderated as I turned the corner into Newlands, and then dropped as I turned for home in the Constantia greenbelt. Without pushing for them, I notched a few new Strava PRs, which is always satisfying.

Based upon my current experience of riding 60 to 75km in a day, a cheery “onwards and upwards” is feeling like a realistic summation of where I am in my training. However, 80 to 100km is going to have to become the new normal, and I suspect that I may feel differently about where I am when that jump first gets made.

Some of the fun to be had in my ‘hood

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