When a little over 14 weeks ago I did a race down at Jacks Ridge I had this little itch inside to have a go at the Cycle Epic. My biggest struggle in the last couple of years has been the motivation to get out and do some miles to make sure I got the smiles. The pattern went like this. Say I am doing a race, put all the good intentions in the world forward about how I can train and how good it will be to get fit and then watch it all fall apart around me because I let everything else that is not riding my bike get in the way. There is no structure or tangible goal to meet on a daily basis. I kept looking at my performances over the last couple of years and it is always the same.
Anyway it was time to sort out the entry to the Epic. My good mates at Epic Event Management helped me out and I was entered. There was an interesting email that followed a couple of days later offering a training plan through Today's Plan. The pricing was fantastic and it looked quite good value. I have wanted to try a plan for years now but it hasn't fit in financially and if I had to pull out for work reasons of just because I was too slack it was a huge outlay. I finally decided that it was a small investment to make even if it didn't work out. I was in full stealth mode though. I didn't tell anyone. So on the 21st June I did a threshold test.
Fast forward to today. I am into the taper week before the Epic and I feel pretty bloody smug. I have completed almost all of the sessions apart from a couple of anomalies due to illness and life pressures and I can feel the benefits from consistent, focused training. It isn't anything like having rockets strapped to my calves but I get out for a 3 hour ride and feel strong and energised. I have looked after myself with recovery times and eaten better food. All in all I can honestly say this is the best I have prepared for an event since 2010 and I am excited to get on the course and see how I go.
I have kept my goals modest. The last time I raced the Epic I manged to finish in shade under 6 hours. It was a tough slog for me and I have to say I didn't really enjoy most of the day. I placed 51st in my category and was not really happy with my performance. I have never done the Epic with any real preparation much less a proper program and taper so it is really untested ground for me. I have looked over the times from the last couple of years and I have set my top end goal as top 20 in my age group. That would mean I need to drop over 30 minutes from my last time. Of course this is all speculative as I get further into the field and more fast guys make it up into the 40+ category but you have to have a goal. Why not push it a bit?
My race plan is straight forward too. I know the course really well and the first 50km has some serious climbs but some faster fire road and tarmac sections. I smashed myself hard in the tarmac last time I raced and really blew up bad so that lesson is learnt. I am going to use the road to eat and drink and hopefully get in bunch to get some respite. I am happy to do a turn but last time a couple of wheel suckers latched on and wouldn't come around. If I can just get a good rhythm on the climbs I'll be stoked. While the last 37km is the most fun, I also think it is the hardest. There are a lot of singletrack sections that offer no rest and I always find it hard to get a groove for the Dandy's and Yowie sections. Couple that with Grinder and it can be a very tough day at the office. I am trading my usual singletrack brutality for a more composed and hopefully energy efficient approach. We'll see if that works!
The bike is only as good as the rider they say. Well, my Anthem Team is way ahead of me in terms of capabilities but it is certainly a great comfort to have it to race on. It is dialed. It got a little love over the last couple of days to make sure everything is tip top. Some new brake pads tonight and a final clean after Saturdays pre race warm up and it will be ready to rock. I can't speak highly enough of the Anthem platform.
No good deed goes unpunished and my mates at Cyc'd for Bikes, QBC and Giant know that for sure. Brent, Darcy and Jarron look after me way too well for an old wannabe. Huge props for that!
Finally, and my weakest area in a sea of weak areas, is what I will fuel myself with. I have had a nightmarish time with race foods of the pre-prepared and packaged type. I have consciously used only a small amount of electrolyte drink and otherwise whole foods during the 12 week training. They are by no means as convenient as gels and liquid food but I am yet to have any stomach issues from this course of action. If it works out though it picks up 10 minutes of the 30 minutes I have aimed for by simply not having to rush off into the bush with stomach cramps! Besides that an almond butter and cranberry tortilla is damn tasty!
Right, so I am off now. Two more rides before the race on Sunday and I am pumped. Stay tuned for the post race report which will either be Sunday night because I am bursting to tell the world how well I went, or sometime in 2016 when I get over the disappointment.......... :)