So my 2015 ABSA Cape Epic training started with a rest week. I had every intention of getting back on a bike after three weeks of no training (I don’t count teaching skills clinics as training), but life had other ideas and I ended up having a four-week break.
When you run two small, growing businesses and have a family, and a whole lot of things don’t go smoothly all at the same time, well that’s what we in the trade call a forced rest week…
Anyway, with 13 weeks to go to until what is widely considered the most prestigious mountain bike stage race in the world (in my mind, I just see eight days of flippen hard riding), I kicked off my training with a bang – a 103km pedal in an area I’ve never ridden before.
I joined adventurer and former Freedom Challenge winner, Alex Harris and a few of his mates for a loop that started and finished in Roodepoort, just west of Johannesburg and which looped south west around Soweto to Westonaria, then back to Roodepoort via Randfontein and Krugersdorp.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s because many of the country’s biggest gold mines are in that area. There wasn’t much climbing on the route, but man it was interesting. Alex used to be sponsored by Harmony Gold and he rides this route regularly and he did a great job in pointing out all sorts of interesting things, which made for a truly fascinating experience. It wasn’t a hard ride, but it was a 100 kays/5h30m in the bank on Day 1 of my Cape Epic preparation.
I managed to fit in four rides in total this first week, with the other three mostly on the Braamfontein Spruit, the little gem of a trail that I can reach within a few minutes of pedalling from my home. I tell you, no matter how often I ride it; I don’t get tired of it…
I rode a Momsen VIPA this first week. We’ve tested one already, but now that I’m training for the ABSA Cape Epic, I can’t really afford to be between test bikes, so Victor Momsen let one stay over for a while to ensure I always have a decent bike to train or race on (I don’t actually own a bike). You can read up on our TREAD here: Momsen VIPA test .
I’ve been putting even more saddle time into the Assos T.Equipe bib short, which is third from the top in their six-model range and the Assos Neo Pro bib short, which Assos calls its entry-level model. To be honest, I’ve actually not ridden any of my other bib shorts in a while as these two are incredibly comfortable and generally there’s always one clean and on the top of the pile when I’m getting dressed to ride. I’ve put about 2400 kilometres on these two bib shorts combined and they’re still in damn fine nick. Fortunately I’ve not had any serious crashes wearing them and they still look almost new.
Being summer, it’s hot and pretty humid in Johannesburg with a fair amount of rain. Keeping
the sweat out of my eyes is a Halo headband, which really works exceptionally well. I’ve also been using sunblock from a South African brand called Stuf. I have a tube and a few sachets of the SPF 40, which are very similar in construction to my favourite carb gels, the 32GI gel sachets. You snap it in half to break the seal. The cool thing about the Stuf sunblock sachets is they reseal so you can use a small blob when needed and reapply while out on the trail without lugging anything cumbersome along. It’s non-greasy and non-smelly too…
I’ve been eating my usual low-carb, high-fat diet, which works really well for me, with a glass of red wine every night with dinner.
On the bike, I’ve been able to do all my rides with just water. I find I only need added carbs when I’m riding hard and all my rides have been steady/easy so far. But because I’m sweating a lot, I’ve been adding USN’s electrolyte replacement, Hydrator to my bottle to replenish phosphates lost through sweat. It’s got zero sugar and zero carbs, and is unflavoured (they also have a lightly flavoured option) which suits me perfectly. I’ve been drinking a recovery shake after the longer rides, swapping between USN’s Recover and 32GI’s Recover chocolate flavour only for me!
Next time, I’ll be discussing my great Cape Epic dilemma…
Follow me on Instagram (@mr_tread) for more visual bite-sized chunks of my 2015 ABSA Cape Epic preparation.