Team Park Bikes - 67th/700 in the World's Biggest MTB Race
Park Bikes ambassadors Alex Wong and James McDulling just rode the biggest mountain bike race in the world - the Cape Epic. They finished the race strong, climbing up the classification every day from the start. We thought Alex could give us a summary of how he and James prepared for the Epic with limited time.
Any endurance athlete will tell you entering a huge event like the Epic, or a marathon, long road race, tour or Ironman is the most stressful part of the process as the required training looms.
James and I tried to get as much riding volume in 6 months out from the event. This was mainly on our road bikes. We did long hilly rides on the weekend mainly at a steady pace in big gears, then rode to and from work every day in between.
3-4 months out, we switched more to the MTBs and rode them nearly everywhere. We had a 100-140km fire trail loop in the Blue Mountains (Glenbrook, Woodford, Wentworth Falls, and return) that we used as a benchmark for form. We timed ourselves on the loop and the individual climbs, and went for improvement all the time. We both got new Trek Top Fuel 9.8 Carbon mountain bikes and set them up to the exact dimensions of our existing alloy bikes so our bike-fits would not be affected.
Close to the race, we upped the intensity, and backed off the volume. We still rode the MTBs everywhere (including Olympic Park Group 1 Tuesdays!) and we also did some local races, and threshold efforts on the trainer.
In the last 10 days, we honed our skills on the single track. We ordered spare tyres, tubes, chains, brake pads etc. We also went to Park Bikes one Thursday night and went through all the different mechanical mishaps that could happen like punctures, broken chains, broken derailleurs. We did tubeless puncture repairs over and over again in their workshop against the stopwatch until we were sub - 2 mins to do it!
All this time we experimented with nutrition, and when we finally found what works, we stuck to it, and took the same products to Cape Town (Sponser nut bars, Sponser and Endura gels, Sponser Activators (caffeine) for the last hour, and some Cliff Blocks to break up the tastes a bit).
Richard and Nash from Park Bikes coaching kept an eye on our TSS (Training Stress Scores) via TrainingPeaks to make sure we were doing enough, but not over cooking it while juggling work and family at the same time.
I'd like to thank our families for the incredible support, Richard Sansom for coming over as our manager, Chris and Nash from Park Bikes for the help, and Italiatech, Sponser, and Ventou for the sponsorship.
When the scars heal, maybe we'll sign up again. 2018 will be too soon though..