The Cape Epic is one of the most extreme endurance events and some even referred to it as the "Tour de France of mountain biking". Riding almost 100km a day for eight straight days is no sprint, so here is how team Velosure, Luke Beuchat and Minter Barnard, is training for the upcoming Epic.
At first, you might think that a couple of long rides a week is all that is required, but you would be mistaken. The most recent research on sports psychology reveals that to improve times during an endurance event you need to include a healthy set of intense short workouts.
A long endurance workout would be a 4+ hour ride. By contrast, a short intense workout would be a ride for less than an hour where your heart rate is continually in the anaerobic zone (generally above 170 bpm). The theory behind this is that by training above your threshold you should be able to raise the heart rate zone at which you can race at for 3+ hours on end. This means a faster average time resulting in a faster overall time.
Luckily this theory works well when you have a family. Having kids and work commitments means you are always time poor!
Luke and Minter incorporate four to five short, intense sessions into their weekly training routine. They call these sessions “ECS” as they ride with their ECS Group. These training sessions will always incorporate 45 minutes of flat out riding at your limit. They like riding with a training group as it always adds a healthy dose of competitiveness which pushes them a bit harder.
The ECS sessions are usually a combination of the following:
- 5 x Taronga KOM Longs – this is the full Taronga hill from the Ferry Wharf to the Church.
- Full set of Mosman Hills from Parriwi Street to Coronation Street.
- 7 x Kevin Costner which runs along Wakehurst Parkway. It is slightly uphill and pure MTB Single Track.
- 2 x laps around the Manly Dam which is a pure VO2 Max test.
Riding mountain bikes over rough terrain and having to do big climbs places a lot of strain on your lower back. So having a strong core is vital, especially when tackling events like the Cape Epic. The dad duo have developed their own cardio and core sessions which they named ‘Vegter’ sessions. These sessions focus on overall body fitness and are by far the toughest session of the week. The Vegter sessions include multiple sets of up to 60 stairs across the Harbour, coupled with loads of pull-ups and push-ups added to each set and then repeating it all over again.
While training, it is important to simulate similar terrain and riding conditions. This means even if you are training on the road you should ride your MTB. The rationale for this is that your body acclimatises to the riding position and you get use to the additional “friction” associated with riding an MTB. A hardtail is a good compromise for training on the road for the Cape Epic. Of course when you head out onto the trails then nothing beats a dualie. Ignore what the purists say about hardtails. Today, dualies outperform hardtails in every category!
Although training is critically important, it is also important to realise that riding MTB is super fun. Hence the duo tries to incorporate some "Fangin’ Fridays" into their week which generally ends with a coffee and amazing almond croissants from Staples Bread and Necessities.