Okay. I’ve done a lot of race preparation since my last update on my training. A shitload in fact.
But my last post, on my affinity for charity events and the wonderful people I’ve met through them – available HERE– was long. I tried to keep it short – promise, but seem to have had a lot on my mind.
So I am going to try and curb my verbose tendencies and chant my brevity mantra while getting this down.
So my training has been intense. Hours and hours and bloomin’ hours of it.
It ramped up considerably in December,where Jaco Ferreira my trainer took advantage (as he promised he would) of the ‘holiday hours’ at my disposal to ensure I put in a lot of work.
So what did I do on holiday:
- I notched up my first 20-hour training week
- I got to know the roads around the GrootBrak, Mossel Bay, George area intimately
- I praised the good Lord many times over for my brilliant JBLClip 2 for providing me with tunes to quell my boredom on my daily solo 3-4 hour rides
- I also thanked him for my Garmin Varia radar, a brilliant little device you attach to the back of your seat post that warns you when cars are approaching from behind
- I observed, quite randomly (thru that clever Varia device), that most cars travel in optimal herds of 2-3 – so don’t make a move after 1 has passed. Wait for the herd.
- In boredom, I learnt to speak cow and moo’d at them whenever I cycled past – another boredom control method
The JBL Clip 2 The Garmin Varia Radar
I then got back to Joburg, chuffed I’d completed that bigger workload, and somewhat fearful as to where I was going next.
It started out fairly slowly, and then entered a tough week of a few hard days of interval training, culminating in an FTP test, the best method of assessing a cyclists state of fitness and race readiness.
I really do hate them and looked forward toit with dread the whole week, while self-schadenfreudenly (think I’ve just made something up there) curious as to how hard I could push myself.
The result of that 8-minute and 20-minute all out pain and suffering session. My FTP had moved from 243 watts to 279, with my absolute power to weight ratio (for all the interested cycling nerds out there), increasing from 8.9 w/kg which is rated as ‘average’, to 11.6 w/kg which is the upper end of ‘good’ and fractionally off ‘ideal’.
SO – means the training has worked. THANK YOU Jaco.
That week of testing soon morphed the following week into a fairly consistent schedule of tough mid-week interval sessions, a long 5+ hour on Saturday and a slightly less long 4+ hours on Sunday.
I am already looking forward to weekend sleep-ins post-Epic and Friday and Saturday nights devoid of my now all too familiar cycling readiness ritual.
The training and testing are naught without the odd competitive race to assess how you fare in a race setting and to get used to what can happen to your body and your bike, under race conditions.
For example – on the uBhejaneX in December, I learnt 2 valuable lessons.
1.Obviously try and get sleep,but don’t fret if you only manage to get 3 hours of sleep. You can still successfully spend 17 hours in the saddle.
That learning was great for the psyche. If I have a bad night’s sleep at Epic, I should be fine.
2.Make sure your bike is functioning properly.
Assembling my bike hurriedly in a dimly lit garage, I attached my back derailleur (a crucial part of the bike responsible for changing gears) incorrectly, so spent the first 4 hours of the day battling a bit.
Thankfully my bike will travel to Epic assembled and we have a mechanic tending to it every night BUT at least now I have a better idea of how the derailleur works.
Both very good and important learning’s that will only serve me well in future events.
The BarbertonXCM MTB Challenge I took part in the weekend before last really was a big test. The Ultra is a very taxing 110km race with about 2,500m of climbing. For non-cyclists out there, that’s a significantly higher than average amount. And the race comes with a serious reputation to boot.
How was it? Tough. Check out the little Youtube clip I put together HERE and my sincerest apologies for the use of an expletive at the end to explain the level of toughness, but I was pretty tired. It took me 6hr 55, which I (and coach Jaco) was very happy with, and after about 3 minutes after the end of that Youtube clip I felt pretty good. My brother Rob, whose done two ABSA Cape Epic’s commented that he thought that was about as tough as the big Queen stage should be, so I was delighted I could take it AND trot out a 4.5hr ride in the Cradle back in Joburg the next day.
What valuable lessons did I learn that day?
1.Book accommodation as soonas you sign up for a race
Do NOT wait and do NOT rely on a confirmation from Bookings.com. We were packed into our lodge and out having dinner when our host called us to tell us the ‘true’ beneficiaries of her hospitality (who unlike us, had paid) had just arrived and we were to vacate asap. Thankfully we had mates who had mates and we managed to bosh something together.
2.Draw up a pre-race checklist
For goodness sake – do it already. I’ve been meaning to do it for each discipline since doing Iron Man 3 years back, but have never managed. The result. Continually leaving on a cycle missing some important item. I always run through it in my head, but clearly my head isn’t enough. This time, I forgot my water bottles in the fridge at the lodge. Bottles that contained my race nutrition for 8 hours. Argggghhh. Almost a disaster but managed to fix that a few minutes before the race.
3.I can climb.
Jeepers there was a lot of climbing in that race. After a rather casual first 5km’s, I think we climbed for the next 45. And despite the odd huff and very transient anxiety at the start of another big climb, I handled them without ever feeling close to broken. Good sign.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
A 3-day race just down the road in the Magaliesberg,which should provide some pretty good cycling that, will test us further. I say us, because my Cape Epic partner Sibusiso arrives on Thursday and will spend the weekend with me and the 3 days on the trails.
And that will be our last event before the big one. So min dae. I’m just trying to keep myself healthy and happy. I’ve been fairly relaxed this time around about getting sick, but as always (or isit maybe because you become more attuned to it closer to the event), three people who I work fairly closely with have all come down with bad colds over the last week. They all seem to be on the mend, so imagine my horror on arriving home to 2 gorgeous but very snotty-nosed little girls who needed extra attention while their Mum is out of town. Part of me was wanting to slip on a Hazmat suit (see image) and put the little blighters straight to bed.
The next 4 weeks – yip that’s all it is –are going to be anxious times involving a serious amount of hand washing.
Oh well. One must live in the moment and that moment right now involves 3 rest days in succession. Hip hip hooray.