Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Sabie Pre Ride Experience

Pre Ride Experience

The Sabie Pre-Ride Training

So the training is going great but we are showing signs of boredom with our training, I’m getting anxious about the fact I have never done a multi-stage event - I’m handling 80km, but for two days I’m not sure. My partner keeps saying I’m doing great and not to worry.
My partner had suggested taking part in the pre ride.We would have the opportunity to do three days back to back and see where we were at with our training, although it would have been almost too late for any changes knowing we only had two months remaining until race week. I was nervous but thought it was a great idea. My partner was a great source of encouragement as my background was from doing more technical mountain biking over shorter distances like the 7stanes trails in Scotland.The 7 Stanes usually are around 20-30km in length. I was given the low down on all that was needed to prepare or where to find out about preparing for multi day events. My Partner was experienced, having done road and mtb multi day events like the ABSA Cape Epic.
We arrive in Sabie at a camp site called Merry Pebbles for the pre ride the heart and founding area for South Africa mountain biking. The restaurant’s foyer is plastered with mountain biking history from years past.
We got going on day 1, the event organisers had us ride the new routes, this was a chance for the organisers to see what people thought, and ride it for themselves from start to finish with some other riders. There were Rescue 4x4s as back up vehicles and refreshment stations.
My partner had always told me about some legend accents of the Cape Epic lasting for km’s after I would complain during training on the small hills around Pretoria. Well my turn had come to have some of my own” Legen Dairy”, hope you are not lactose intolerant..., climbing uphill for the first 15km of a 80km route and the last part of the climb lasting 10km would get steeper and steeper burning more of your lungs and then burning more and more legs, making it awesome, a hard climb into the forested mountains of Sabie. This was going to be a hell of a day. Midday had us in the heat of the day and had us fighting off dehydration and heat stroke. Constantly trying to hydrate and eat at least every hour was a challenge especially when you are only thirsty and not hungry. If you do not eat and only drink you flush out all the electrolytes through sweating and your body cannot function properly. As you feel sick in the heat ,you are trying to get some food down to help keep up your body’s electrolytes.
Day 2 had us climbing some just as big hills and making us think back to our statement before arriving to “just chill and take it easy”, even if you do take things easy this was a hard training weekend. But after the weekend I was excited. It was my first 80km and a 79km ride back to back and I almost felt like I could ride another day and so I knew the training was working and I was capable of riding the “Sabie Experience”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Training for "The Sabie Experience"

2008 was an great year I was living in South Africa and my brother in-law convinced me to start riding in some mountain bike races, I am a mountain biker, I'm just not that into competitive riding.
We started training in April laying down a foundation for the season. I was riding and spinning 4 days a week. My favorite part of my training was my ride into school and home every Wednesday, the children would have a good laugh at me wearing my Lycra tights and headlamp, this seemed to make them think they had theBold upper hand for the rest of the day a reason to sniggle at me when they arrived for class. This did not bother me I had an agenda, I was training. Wednesday was my measuring stick to see if all the training was in vain.
At the start of the season my average speed was 17km/hour as an average but by the time December rolled in I was averaging 26km/ hour. I was stoked my brother in-law actually knew what he was talking about and I even started doing some of my own investigating into mtb training. The whole year was focused on December, a 4day multistage race "The Sabie Experience"
But first we had to put in time to prepare. Part of that training was entering some races. In South Africa there are lots of races happening all through the summer but we needed some races before the summer so we committed to race the Lion Man Series. Each Lion Man race was between 60 and 70km depending on the terrain. All three of the Lion Man series races took place in game reserves, and although we were heading into South Africa's winter the temperatures were never below 28deg.

Even with tubeless tyres the harsh bush veld landscape of "Bela Bela" managed to damage the tyres enough to make us stop an do some repairs by putting a tube into the tyre, and not long after I also had to stop and do some slow puncture repairs. But we did not have to worry the rest of the field was also contending with the harsh terrain. Soft sand, slow riders, heat, dehydration and lack of food intake all played a part of the challenge, and not to mention the 70km ride.
The Lion Man Series was an important part of our training just as we started getting fed up of just putting in the hours in the saddle we would know in the next few weeks was the next race.