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Coming up to its 17th edition, the Absa Cape Epic is the pinnacle of mountain bike stage racing. It attracts the highest profile professional athletes and the most competitive of amateurs, who over eight days test their limits across the stunning Western Cape province of South Africa.
CyclingTips Founder Wade Wallace and ex-pro teammate Allan ‘Alby’ Iacuone fell short at the 2019 Cape Epic, but this year they’ll be having another crack. The pair are documenting their journey along the way. Please join them as their adventure continues in episode 3 of The Road to Cape Epic. You can find episode 1 here, and episode 2 here.
Words: Wade Wallace | Video: Phil Golston and Malcolm Bloedel
It’s exactly 45 days until the Cape Epic, and preparation is coming along well – no injuries, no setbacks. Psychologically, we’re in a good place too, with the new year giving Alby and I a chance to hit the reset button after the Pioneer disaster.
Alby and I rarely get a chance to physically train together all that often outside of racing. The closest we usually come is meeting up while on a Zwift session.
On this occasion, instead of being partners, we set a number of silly skills challenges which eventually led to something more useful and painful – a ramp test to determine how we’re tracking for this next block of training, which is our final build up before the Cape Epic.
Who will be the champ and who will be the chump? And who gets humiliated at the end? Watch the video above to find out.
As we get to the pointy end of our training, getting more specific to the demands of the event is key. That means almost exclusively riding the mountain bike (even if it is on the road), more intensity through racing, and a big five day training block three weeks before the Cape Epic in order to simulate the back to back demands with still enough time to recover. There’s a race here in Victoria called the Otway Odyssey (MTB and gravel, 100km each) on the weekend of Feb 22-23 which will be perfect to build out this period.
If you’re familiar with the concept of CTL (chronic training load – a weighted average of your last 42 days of training stress scores [TSS]) we’ll be aiming on getting to about 110-120 CTL leading into the Cape Epic, and a taper period of about 10 days that will bring our freshness up to about 25 TSB (training stress balance) we’ll be in good shape for the race.
You can read all about CTL, TSS, TSB here.
Monday – One hour recovery ride (commute to work).
Tuesday – Climbing threshold workout (3 x 15 minutes) with a 15-second burst of power at the beginning and end of each block of threshold.
Wednesday – Two hours endurance pace – easy spin at around 200 W either outdoors or 90 minutes on Zwift.
Thursday – Sweet spot training (SST): 4 x 15 minutes at 85% of threshold (5-7/10 in terms of overall effort). It’s a very similar training stress to a 3-4 hour steady group ride, but we complete it in less than half the time. This pace and intensity creates great adaptations — a rider can sustain a relatively long time at or around this intensity compared to riding at or very close to actual threshold, without creating as much fatigue as full threshold intensity.
Friday – One hour recovery ride (commute to work).
Saturday – Social bunch ride for two hours with moderate intensity, or Zwift session if kids have sport or it’s raining. My favourite is the McCarthy Special. I’ve still never finished one of these:
Sunday – 4-5 hours out on hilly terrain with 2,500 m of climbing. This will be done on a mountain bike, even if it’s ridden on the road.
As we get closer to Cape Epic, we’ll begin to increase the intensity, and align our efforts with what we’ll use while racing. We’re fortunate to be in our summer here in Australia, so getting in a few races to simulate that intensity will be good.
Our goal is not only to finish the Cape Epic this time, but to race competitively and finish top 10 in Masters. We know this is possible based on our placings last year, but as we experienced, just when things are looking good, disaster can strike at any moment.
Less than six weeks to go!