Gym is a private session involving exercises that improve mobility in my hips, as well as a variety of leg-related exercises, such as lunges, squats and dead lifts. Upper body, in the form of push ups (with rotation) and rows, also gets attention. There are two other mountain bikers (both with Epic experience) who train at the same time, so the sessions can involve plenty of banter, which helps to keep the training programme a relatively fun space.
The second week’s midweek sessions were not overly taxing, and the weekend’s two three-hour rides were straightforward. I rode the second one with Piet, which gave us an opportunity to touch base on various Epic-related matters.
Discussion turned to my average speeds on training rides, as recorded on Strava (remember, “if it’s not on Strava, it never happened”). Until Piet brought it up on Sunday, I hadn’t given much thought about that important, single number. My attention has mainly been focused on following Lezandré’s programme. The point of training, of course, is to be able to ride at a faster average speed. On Epic, anything below 15km/h just doesn’t leave enough time for recovery. Ideally, one would ride faster than that; the more time spent chilling after a day’s riding, the better.
I’m currently riding about 30% faster than three months ago, but even at this level, I’m 20% below where I was a year ago. It’s a stark reminder of the side effects of radiotherapy.
I don’t know anything about the generally toxic effects of radiotherapy, but the physical ones are easy to list. I’ve picked up most of the weight lost (mainly as a result of pain-induced change to diet). My throat remains inflamed, which restricts my intake of air as my heart rate goes up.
On a recent ride, a speck of something went the wrong way, which caused me to cough at an inopportune moment, propelling a piece of droëwors into my respiratory tract. I could vaguely feel its presence, which is where is stayed until I blew my nose in the shower.
My cousin suggested coconut oil as nutrition while riding. It may tick a number of boxes, with ease of swallowing clearly being an important consideration. In an emergency I could also use it as chain lube, which may explain why I have no interest in even trying it. There’s just too much fear factor involved.
On the other hand, I’ll shortly be addressing my fear factor relating to the speed at which I descend. I’m not the slowest, but certain technical downhills sometimes get me off my bike (occasionally involuntarily). The attraction of getting this right is that it will make me faster, without me having to expend any additional effort.
Fortunately, I have just the person to help me with that (expect a call, Daniel Dobinson). Piet and I will be the ones on bicycles, but without our respective support teams, Cape Epic would be a lot harder, not to mention slower.