Training following an eight-day stage race like Absa Cape Epic is very VERY difficult.
Initially you find yourself highly motivated, thinking you are bullet proof, stronger, faster, invincible and you enter random events trying desperately to get back to the void that is a mountain bike stage racing. However, when race day rolls around and you find yourself standing on the start line wondering why the hell you are there. You know you are not race worthy, you are tired and your race brain is disengaged. The day is a debacle and despite desperate attempts to conjure up some semblance of your usual competitive nature, you creep. My experience is that your race will end badly, often involving tears!
This is a lesson I have learned over the last four years: it takes several weeks to recover from an event like ACE and recovery has her own schedule, plus there is a well-documented phenomenon called post stage race depression.
So you finish eight days of amazing racing on a massive endorphin high just to be snapped back to reality by the harsh combination of work and home (aka. THE REAL WORLD).
Time to face facts:
- It will be 12 months before you can escape reality and just ride! (That is the reason we do these crazy events isn’t it, to escape reality? Live eight days in a parallel universe with like-minded individuals and nothing else matters but the trails you are about to race and the food you can consume at lib)
- It will be 12 months before you can save enough money and annual leave to be allowed to ride for eight days without a care in the world
So somewhat reconciled you try and train but your regular training routes just don’t compare to what you have just experienced. Your body screams every time you try and push up hill and your brain is somewhere else completely. Everyone tells you how much stronger you will be after ACE but when does that actually happen? When does the hurt stop and training become enjoyable again?
Thanks to my coach Nikoli I have had a very active three-week recovery period, honestly if it were up to me my bikes would be covered with dust and cobwebs. So now is the time to start looking forward to the next mountain bike adventure, time to start training for Rapid Ascent’s ICME (Alice Springs May 14-18th).