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Race Report

Read our day to day account of our ride in the Cape Epic 2006 race report 
Also checkout True Confessions of a Cape Epic Junkie, the story from our Subaru support crew.

Training & preparation

We will be running two Polar heart rate based training programs. The first a 12 hour 12 week program from October to end December and then a 15 hour 16 week program from Jan 2006 up to the EPIC.... read more...

Bikes & Equipment

This year we will both be on the same make of bike. After Albert's success with his RDS 9.0 last year we are both riding a Raleigh RDS 9.0 in 2006.... read more...

Video and photos

Click here for video downloads of our training races and other pics.

Cape Epic Pages

Check out links to our other Cape Epic pages for 2006 and 2007.

Training Programs

For our training we are using a heart rate based program supplied by Polar ( These programs allow you to design and measure your training based on heart rate intensity and time spent in these intensities. Distance becomes less important when using a program like this as the main objective is to achieve the time targets at the specific heart rate intensities. An advantage of partnering with each other is that our heart rate profiles and abilities are similar. We completed the Cape Epic 2005 using these programs and were very happy with the results of our training

Our HR profiles are as follows: 

  Age Resting HR 50- 70% range 70-80% range 80-90% range HR Max
Alan 36 36 112-141 142-157 157-171 186
Albert  34 36 100-139 140-159 160-179 200

After the Cape Epic 2005 in April we took a couple of weeks off and then focused on some of the one day races around the country. In October 2005 we have started our build up to the 2006 event. We plan to do a 12 week heart rate bases training program with a 12 hour week training peak. This will take us to December, and in January 2006 we will start a 16 week program with a 15 hour training week peak leading up to April 2006.

Specific training:
Training for an ultra endurance event requires virtually no stamina or lactate training, with all the training time being spent in aerobic endurance (50-70% of max HR). This is basically base training which consists of long rides at low intensity to build up endurance to cope with 8 days of riding in a row. Our training rides are 2-3hrs rides during the week and then 4-5 hour rides on the weekends, with the occasional really long ride of around 7 hours. In The Cape Epic the goal will be to keep heart rates below 70% of maximum so that fatigue is minimised and the production of lactic acid is avoided.

The first training program was a 12 hour per week Polar heart rate program which ran over 12 weeks. For the results and training diary from this program click here.. 

The second training program was a 15 hour per week heart rate based program which ran over 16 weeks. For the results and diary of this program click here...

The following table summarises our total 28 week, 6 month, training preparation for Cape Epic 2006

  Total in zone training time % time 50-70% of max HR Avg HR Speed Avg Total 
Total Ascent
Alan 279 h 93 119 22.2 km/h 6863 68 735 m
Albert  287 h 87 123 22.1 km/h 6564  72 625m

Training Q&A

Albert and I have been using these Polar programs for almost 3 years now, and it has taken our cycling performance to a new level. All of our friends, initially skeptical have converted one by one after they saw our improvements and then experienced their own after getting on one of these programs.

- Duration: The most NB factor in number of hours is what can your body handle and what can you realistically achieve based on your own circumstances. Being average guys with day jobs and families, 15h of training a week is not easy to maintain, but is doable. Last year going from 10h to 15h was a bit of a shock to our systems, but we managed without major injury. This year we have been doing 8-10h riding through the year, so decided to do the first program at 12h, to make the jump to 15h more manageable. Unless you have been doing this amount of training for a year or two, trying to do anymore will be risking injury. We were more than happy with this amount of training last year.

- Hill training: We did not do hill training as such, but what we did do was back to back riding days of 100km plus with as much climbing as we could possibly fit in. The important thing was to condition your riding style and body to be able to climb without going above 80% into LT. The first two days of CE2005 had 3000m of climbing each day, if you end up spending all this time in LT then you are really going to struggle by day 4. We did no specific training above 80% of max HR. In the 6 month period leading up to CE2005 both of us spent less than 5% of our training time in the LT zone. Training in LT zone gives you speed and strength not endurance, and endurance is what is needed to finish the Cape Epic, so we concentrated all our training below 70%.

- Disruptions: Disruptions are a fact of life unfortunately. Try not to miss big weeks if possible, because they are important not only for total hours but also for time in the saddle. Organising some long training rides can help to boost hours lost in other weeks. If you miss chunks of hours then sometimes you just have to leave it and not catch up. Only catch up if you can do so comfortably without affecting the flow of the program too much. Remember that you only get stronger when you rest, so sacrificing rest for training is not a good idea.

Why so little high intensity training?
This question is asked by just about everyone. We don't claim to be and aren't training gurus at all! The training regime that we are following worked for us last year and that is the main reason that we are following it again. We had an unbelievably easy and successful race considering we had never done a multi day event before. 

The low threshold riding originally comes from the guys at Polar. The general thinking seems to be that the biggest challenge in doing the Epic is finishing the race i.e. having enough energy to get to the end. It is a war of attrition, rather than a power struggle. This is true for the majority of the field I would say. However if you are up front and in contention for positions then it may be a little bit different, but not a hell of a lot different. We were a bit skeptical first time round, but the proof was in the pudding. The low intensity training allowed us to increase our average speed while decreasing our average heart rate, and effectively raising our lactic thresholds. To survive the Epic you have to manage your heart rate, so the faster that you can go without elevating your heart rate the better off you will be. Also you have to be able to climb for several Kms at a reasonable speed without getting above you lactic threshold. Sprinting and bursts of speed are secondary to sustained effort and a good average speed.

High intensity training builds strength and makes you faster and stronger over shorter distances. But low intensity gives you endurance and staying power. Compare for example a sprinter vs a marathon runner. You can imagine that their training is very different. The sprinter will have short high intensity sessions essentially, whereas the marathon runner will be doing time and distance at lower intensities. The only need we could see for speed would be to bridge bunches or to stick with the surge of a bunch on the faster days, but this can be dangerous because you end up going faster than you can manage and will pay for it later. If you are a pro on the other hand you have to worry about a sprint finish, break a ways etc, so some speed work and power is required.


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