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Epic Training: Week Six

Oscar Foulkes October 17, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
I reached Friday of week six feeling fantastic.

After warm-up, the guts of Tuesday’s ride was 30 minutes in zone three, not that I bothered too much with staying under the zone four threshold (turns out that unbroken 30-minute climbs aren’t easy to find, even in the City Bowl). Wednesday’s gym session involved deadlifts with 10kg more than the week before, and Thursday’s ride included three six-minute climbs, also in zone three. Once again, I found that I regularly strayed into zone four, but recovery was quick.

So far, so good. On Saturday, I rode for three hours, almost entirely under the stipulated zone four threshold. The morning’s entertainment was provided by testing a top-spec Cannondale Scalpel. It was quick on the descents, and climbed well enough. If I wasn’t riding Epic, it would be a great bike for a variety of situations.

But, this race covers nearly 700km, with 15400m of climbing. As much as I like the Scalpel, I don’t think it’s my Epic bike. Thus far, the Santa Cruz Tallboy sets the standard, but I still need to test the Yeti. In the course of setting this up, I spoke to Dave George on the phone. It transpired that they didn’t have any demo bikes available, which meant that I’d need to borrow a bike from a mutual contact. During the conversation, at the start of which Dave had written down my name and phone number, he offered to change the saddle on the loan bike, saying, “You wouldn’t want to ride with a male saddle.” Clearly, my name isn’t sufficiently masculine to off-set perceptions created by my high-pitched voice!

At this point, ‘life’ intervened. I spent all of Saturday at a horse auction, leaving at 11.40pm to fetch my daughter at Pearl Valley (now also part of Val de Vie, and where we are responsible for all F&B in the clubhouse). I finally got to bed at 2.00am, only to spontaneously wake up at 6.30am. A little later, with just four-and-a-half hours’ sleep, I headed out on a three-hour ride, which turned into nearly four hours. There will be Epic stages that could take almost as many hours as I slept the night before, so this was preparation of sorts.

While on the subject of sleeping, Piet is emphatic that we need a motorhome. I agree, it’s more comfortable, and having our own space would also aid in the recovery process when the day’s riding has been completed. I spent almost a week researching options, and by the time I got back to the preferred supplier, they were sold out of four-berth vehicles. Luckily, we’ve ended up with a free upgrade to a six-berth, which gives both of us spacious ‘quarters’.

There’s just one problem: Cape Epic had already allocated all the available spaces for motorhomes by the time I received my official entry. It’s hard not to resort to “it’s not fair!”

The motorhome plan also involves us having our own mechanic, as well a soigneur, which mimics a professional set-up. That being the case, I’d have to get around to making a decision about shaving my legs. How could I possibly live in the motorhome village while sporting hairy legs?

That will have to be a decision for another day. We may end up in tents after all.

At Saturday night’s auction we sold a horse in which I had a share. Those proceeds have been earmarked for my Epic bike. Along the way, 500kg of supremely athletic flesh and blood would have been traded for 12kg of state-of-the-art carbon, rubber and bits of metal, to be ridden by the most average of mountain bikers. It’s an interesting exchange.

This week’s priority is to secure a spot for the motorhome, or I’ll be searching for a new partner (one who likes sleeping in tents).

The domestic arrangements at Cape Epic. The setting is all very scenic, but much more comfortable in the motorhomes than tents.

The domestic arrangements at Cape Epic. The setting is all very scenic, but much more comfortable in the motorhomes than tents.

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