Epic Advice

With the Absa Cape Epic just around the corner Dr Mike Posthumus has addressed some common questions to settle any nerves and help you ace the last two weeks of prep.

As the Cape Epic approaches, we thought it would be perfect timing to rather pick our coach, Dr Mike’s brain for advice for those of you who’ll be riding the Epic. Remember Mike is not only a coach, but has also got a very impressive track record at the Cape Epic himself.

FS: How is your preparation going and what are your goals for Epic 2016?

MP:  My preparation has been going very well thank you. I managed to get a few big weeks in during December while on leave and will be spending the last few weeks sharpening with some high intensity training sessions and races. My goals? I never like answering the question about goals because a good result at the Cape Epic has a very large “luck” component. If you manage to stay mechanical free throughout the race you are very lucky. You have to manage this risk to ensure that a mechanical does not rob you of hours when they occur. This could be catastrophic to your race. But at the end of the day, we (my partner Derrin Smith and myself) would like to improve on our 2015 result. In 2015 we managed to finish 28th, improving on that will certainly be a challenge, but we are prepared to give everything out there.

FS: Everyone always talks about pacing during the Cape Epic. What advice do you have for newbies and how they should tackle the race?

MP:  My standard response to any pacing question is normally to explain that the brain is an extremely good governor, which will automatically help you pace yourself by slowing you down when it thinks you are going too hard. However, we all know the Cape Epic can be a different animal and therefore I do tend to tell newbies to hold back during the first half of Day 1 and Day 2. During the second half of these two days, you will be riding as hard as you can and won’t need to hold back, it’s in the first half where you can do damage and burn too many matches while your adrenalin and excitement takes over. After Day 2 your body will be tired and this fatigue will naturally hold you back, therefore the need for additional pacing isn’t required for most athletes.

FS: How would you avoid mechanicals?

MP: The most common bike issues include punctures and chain issues. To avoid punctures, be conservative and go for heavier tyres. With few exceptions, the weight of the tyre is generally a good indicator of the type of protection they will provide. So when in doubt; go heavier. Also be conservative and run slightly harder tyre pressures to avoid pinch flatting and to expose less sidewall, thereby reducing the risk of cutting a sidewall on a rock. For the rest of your bike, including the chain, ensure that your bike is well maintained between stages. A very good and thorough mechanic has become essential to ensure that your bike is running 100%.

FS: How do you approach the last few weeks of training before the Epic?

MP: Exactly the opposite to what most would expect. As I approach the race, I actually decrease my volume (riding time), and increase the intensity. During the last four weeks I do high intensity training two to three times per week. These sessions range from four minute all out hill repeats to all out 30 second sprints.

FS: After analysing the course profile, do you have any other specific preparation advice?

MP: The 2016 Cape Epic will have more singletrack than any previous Epic. We are going to spend a lot of time on purpose built singletrack. The demands of racing on singletrack are vastly different to the demands of training on smooth tar or gravel roads. Therefore, ensure that you spend a lot of time training on the trails. A lot of guys make the mistake of only doing their interval training on tar roads on their road bikes. So where possible, get out to your nearest trail park and practice riding singletrack; both up and down!

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