I'm training for the Cape Epic 2023 - here's how it's going so far

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The view from one of Cape Town’s iconic climbs, the mast at Contermanskloof, an ideal Cape Epic training ride. (Photo: Ride24)
The view from one of Cape Town’s iconic climbs, the mast at Contermanskloof, an ideal Cape Epic training ride. (Photo: Ride24)
  • Shorter days and wet conditions can trim the training commitment in winter. But you need to get those base miles in zone 2 for your Epic training.
  • Still lagging in fitness after two months of illness-influenced training, I decided to take it easy.
  • One of the benefits of recovering from illness in your training regime is an openness to trying new routes. And I found a great zone 2 training ride on the northern outskirts of Cape Town.

My July Cape Epic training was somewhat of a return to normal after Covid-induced health issues in May and June. A significant reset was required to recover some fitness and recoup the gains made during the year's first half.

Despite having a fancy new power meter from Power2Max I have tried not to look too deeply at the numbers produced as it makes for disappointing reading. 

A note on the change to a chainring-style power meter: It takes a lot of the nervousness out of riding trails aggressively, confidently and having fun on your favourite descents. 

I've used pedal-, hub- and crank power meters. All are susceptible to impact, but I don't have the same anxiety when using the chainring power meter. 

Cape Epic
Beyond providing excellent data accuracy, to ensure on-trend training, a chainring power meter, is less exposed to trail damage, when mountain biking. (Photo: Ride24)

Riding consistently – and stopping less

The goal for July was to try and get as many training hours as possible without the risk of overtraining after an illness. Too much, too soon, would only have exacerbated the fatigue.

A solid 45 hours of training in July was my second-best month in terms of duration this year. But with winter's short, rainy days, I'm proud of getting a decent haul under my belt during July. Inclement winter weather aside, I rolled 1178km and climbed 9583m. 

My coach has disciplined the issue of route choice for optimal training. Your base rides (also known as zone 2) build efficiency and endurance. Finding the correct route is key to completing these sessions effectively. Apparently, this is done by spending the maximum time on pedals possible and shifting the coffee stop until the very end of the ride.

Cape Epic
Some of the core numbers, from July. (Photo: Ride24)

Heading out into the Swartland

My new zone 2 route of choice rolls from the Durbanville hills towards Malmsbury. It covers gentle gradients, where the descents are gradual enough to stay on pedals - this base training ride rounds to a four-hour outing. I rode 113km, with 03:44.00 of that on the pedals (93% of the ride). 

If I compare this Durbanville-Malmesbury loop to my usual four-hour ride along the scenic route over Chapman's peak and back, there's a notable difference in pedalling proportionality.

The Durbanville-Malmesbury loop has me on the pedal 8% more of the time, which is ideal for stimulating all the endurance physiology you need at the Cape Epic. And that 8% more time 'on-the-pedals', mostly downhill, will compound in value, building towards my Cape Epic 2023 efforts.

No question that Chappies has the better view. But Cape Epic training isn’t always about choosing the prettiest – or easiest – option. 

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