Mental – Songs in my Head

As a result of having entered the 2016 Absa Cape Epic I am forced to spend numerous hours on my KTM mountain bike and as I mostly ride alone one has plenty of hours for your mind to go to wonderful and weird places. Don’t worry, I think I am still sane and of the right state of mind.

Taking on an endurance event does take a lot of mental aptitude from the discipline in the months of training to the determination to finish during the event. Thus focus is required with clear set goals or you could just numb everything out in your head through songs in your head – there you go, one song already that is on the head playlist: Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd –“I have become, comfortably numb…”

Great day out in Bonteheuwel with the JAG Foundations JAGRiders programme as we got to experience their self-built Cross Country Track

Great day out in Bonteheuwel with the JAG Foundations JAGRiders programme as we got to experience their self-built Cross Country Track

During the months of training one follows a rigid training program (The Practice), and if you are like me you want to follow that to the T (possibly to the frustration of coach Alasdair J ) to make sure everything is done as it should be. Having set goals really helps to stay focus and working towards your end goal. Back to all the time spent training – one will experience variable weather conditions (Especially in Cape Town) from gale force winds, to extreme heat to rain and even cold with some stunning days in between.  Now when I first got onto a mountain bike I made it quite clear to all that I am a Fair Weather Cyclist and will not go cycling in even a mildly strong breeze.  Things have changed since those days in 2011 as the philosophy now is (especially when training for an event such as the Absa Cape Epic) that you can’t control the weather at the race, go out and do what you need to do, you will reap the benefits should you experience similar circumstances in your endurance race. You can’t choose the weather at the Cape Epic, you have to ride each day and thus this mind set saw me train through 3 weeks of a howling gale force South Easter, not only cycling in the morning but going for a short run in the afternoon, it saw me got soaking wet doing hill repeats up Constantia Neck, it saw me sweat out litres of sweat when riding in 40+ degree Celsius heat and I am still here able to blog about it. This brings me to another song in my head: No Pain No Gain by Scorpions.

Fighting off "racing snake' instincts Willie du Plooy rode the Meerendal Ultra Marathon with me. Thanks Willie (Pictured here we are at Witsand on ride the week prior)

Fighting off “racing snake’ instincts Willie du Plooy rode the Meerendal Ultra Marathon with me. Thanks Willie (Pictured here we are at Witsand on ride the week prior)

I recently did the Ashburton Ultra-Marathon at Meerendal Wine Estate (I won’t say too much about this event as I don’t want to bitch and moan to much here and rather remain positive) where my substitute Cape Epic rider for the day, Willie du Plooy, fought off his Racing Snake instincts to ride with me as we took on the 101km challenge. We didn’t quite make the cut off at the 65km mark with an insane average speed required of close to 15km/h (Too fast for this F(Ph)at Boy). That did not stop us as we decided in no uncertain terms after some rude and explicit language (Directed at no one but venting our disappointment) to continue our ride on our own as the coach had 100km on the schedule and that is what we will do. Kudos Willie for continuing with me on the extended ride in the heat and wind, hopefully this pain will be our gain when we in the next race situation.

 

With only about 6 weeks left before the start of myself and Thinus’ epic adventure the time is now to keep focus and not let up on the discipline in the training regime. I would be lying if I say that I’m not slightly nervous. I’ve managed to get my weight down from 118kg at the end of October to 108kg currently and hopefully I can shed a few more kilograms in the next month to be as light as possible at the starting line. The pressure is there to not disappoint your friend who has been training for months and has the Absa Cape Epic as a bucket list event to finish, to not disappoint yourself and everyone that has vested in you and your journey to finish. There you go again – Queen: Under Pressure…

No matter the weather, I can't be a Fair Weather Cyclist anymore and has to go ride

No matter the weather, I can’t be a Fair Weather Cyclist anymore and has to go ride

 

For some reason I always seem to have the song: The Downeaster Alexa by Billy Joel in my  head…”But there ain’t no island left for islanders like me…Yea yea yea oh”

And this is to keep my Absa Cape Epic partner Thinus Crafford motivated for the last stretch: Bryan Adams: We’re Gonna Win (meaning finish)

 

Mental toughness is…

…when you, your body, the competition, nature, or the environment has the best of you so that you’re physically tapped out and need to figure out how to pull something out of yourself… not in a robotic way—in a way that’s mentally aware and engaged. It’s not just the ability to keep moving but to keep doing it in a way that’s engaged and competitive in the environment you’re in, whether that’s competing against the clock or other human beings. It’s easy when you feel good physically. It’s when that physicality leaves you.

Playing photographic director and getting my friend Rob in a unique and uncomfortable position on the Blockhouse cannon. He might hate me for posting this :)

Playing photographic director and getting my friend Rob in a unique and uncomfortable position on the Blockhouse cannon. He might hate me for posting this 🙂 Happy birthday for the upcoming weekend Mr. K

Here are some interesting reads on the mental aspect of endurance events and training for it:

You all probably know that we will be riding with Mitas tyres in the Absa Cape Epic – herewith some more info:

Mitas Silant Salesman Jan16_Page_1

Mitas Silant Salesman Jan16_Page_2

Life happens…

Dear Diary it has been 4 weeks since any physical activity in the form of exercise that includes cycling and or cardio in the gym and I can only blame life. Having packed my bag for gym the previous night I tossed and turned this morning, I’m lying, I only turned and the decision was made that I did not feel like going to gym this morning – and yes my clothes are fitting a lot tighter than before. I will have to investigate the washing powder I am using as surely it has nothing to do with living the dream from entertaining clients at the Absa Cape Epic, flying to Taiwan for the Taipei Bike Show and or being sick with flu for the last week and a bit. Nothing I tell you.  Before I continue I would like to apologise to the readers I might have on this blog, as per the exercise I have been neglecting the writing as I need to find that inspiration again for both instances.

 

Riding with the JAGFoundation and the Ride4Change campaign with Stefan Sahm and Timo Cooper

Riding with the JAGFoundation – JAGRiders programme in Bonteheuwel – and the Ride4Change campaign with Stefan Sahm and Timo Cooper

Spending the day at Absa Cape Epic registration representing Mitas. Pictured here with David & Johan Labuschagne, Janka Stevkova, Pavel Nosek (Mitas Czech Republic), Yolande de Villiers and myself. Janka and Yolande from SasolRacing went on to finish 3rd in the Absa Cape Epic

Spending the day at Absa Cape Epic registration representing Mitas. Pictured here with David & Johan Labuschagne, Janka Stevkova, Pavel Nosek (Mitas Czech Republic), Yolande de Villiers and myself. Janka and Yolande from SasolRacing went on to finish 3rd in the Absa Cape Epic

Anyway no excuse as around the corner is the 4th annual Arabella Challenge followed by the Houwhoek Tour a week later, so needless to say gravity and fitness might play a factor as to how I perform at these events. These events are a must on my calendar and I won’t miss it for the world, so join us if you can. With winter encroaching us slowly here in Cape Town riding in the early mornings are becoming more and more challenging due to the cold and especially the darkness which plays a major factor in safety on the bike obviously. So finding that inspiration and digging deep to go out there has been a real challenge, I do blame the flu I picked up coming back from Taiwan though. No I did not wear the ‘mask’ as you commonly see out there. I did try the beer and some of the local cuisine. No factor in shrinking clothes. (Now if only I didn’t donate all my ‘bigger’ clothes after the 2014 Absa Cape Epic weight loss saga. Fortunately Lycra stretches)

 

The sights and sounds of Taipei at night

The sights and sounds of Taipei at night

Spending some time at the Taipei Bike Show meeting up with KTM HQ Austria and KTM Asia

Spending some time at the Taipei Bike Show meeting up with KTM HQ Austria and KTM Asia

To some up my life the last four weeks: Last bike ride 12 March with the JAG Foundation and Ride4Change, and then the Absa Cape Epic activation and sponsor hosting of Pavel from Mitas until the 16th at the event that did involve some cold beers and eating out. Fly out to Taiwan for the Taipei Bike Show on the 17th and return on the 22nd, and of course eating out and having a cold beer or wine with the KTM guys and traveling colleague. After nearly 24hours traveling time; land on the 22nd at 16:00 and be at the Absa Cape Epic after party at 16:30 till late followed by wrap up day with Mitas and the family to ensure everyone is on their planes. Tuesday 24th break down KTM Bicyle display at The Westin Cape Town, Wednesday and Thursday catch up with some old friends, which meant Tequila was involved and still fighting off jet lag. Friday and the flu hits to have me man down the whole weekend and week to follow and withdraw from the crazy idea that was running the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon and then finally get back on the bike Easter Friday with Eulogy van Dyk from the Ride2Nowhere (Event not to miss as well), still flu-ish and then mechanical after 7km which meant organising another bike for the Saturday ride, with the 22km ride ending in the wind and rain encouraging the flu to stay longer. Easter Sunday potjiekos with mates and Monday lunch at The Toad in the Village and here we are…life just flew by in a few weeks.

 

Local cuisine at KTM dinner, can't quite remember what this was

Local cuisine at KTM dinner, can’t quite remember what this was

Also local cuisine as it was bought in Taipei. Has nothing to do with my experience currently of a heavier gravitational pull from Mother Earth

Also local cuisine as it was bought in Taipei. Has nothing to do with my experience currently of a heavier gravitational pull from Mother Earth

I think all of us have different challenges in life for different reasons and that does play a factor in ones state of mind and behaviour. The only thing we know is that life goes on and it does not wait for you and you need to go out there and make things happen to what you desire and belief that you want out of life, i.e. a washing powder that does not shrink your clothes.

Now that is enough preaching from me as I have some big decisions to make and the first being will I go to gym after work. The bag is packed so I might as well go see if I can still survive the super circuit and then go charge those cycling lights.

 

Hopefully I will be back on track and be able to give some feedback on the next challenge and life adventure and Chantel Rall I’m still not totally convinced Iron Man is for me…#Swimming

 

View from the top of the Taipei Garden hotel

View from the top of the Taipei Garden hotel

As South Africans do we found a pub, even if it was English it was the closest to home and even had Super Rugby on the TV, and of course cold beer

As South Africans do we found a pub, even if it was English it was the closest to home and even had Super Rugby on the TV, and of course cold beer

 

 

 

Taipei1

The MRT is a bit busy on a Saturday in Taipei and maybe I should have worn the mask to fight off the impeding flu

The MRT is a bit busy on a Saturday in Taipei and maybe I should have worn the mask to fight off the impeding flu

A bit more of Taipei City, also known as a enormous flea market

A bit more of Taipei City, also known as a enormous flea market

Recovering at Stage 9 of the Absa Cape Epic, the after party. Best way to combat jet lag i thought.

Recovering at Stage 9 of the Absa Cape Epic, the after party. Best way to combat jet lag i thought.

Taipei10

Unfortunately Marius Hurter was nowhere in sight when I had to break down the KTM display at The Westin Cape Town

Unfortunately Marius Hurter was nowhere in sight when I had to break down the KTM display at The Westin Cape Town

Crawling out of the shadows

So with the 2014 Absa Cape Epic successfully completed I now suddenly find myself lost at sea looking for motivation to keep on going. I have managed to get back on the bike again this week but with winter approaching and lack of light in the mornings I had to do short and quick rides after work. Not ideal to dodge peak hour traffic on tar when you want to get to the mountains. Anyway, I think I’m still recovering as most of the body and mind feel rested although the legs still feel a bit tame. The biggest challenge has been to adapt to be riding without a plan, no set activities and goals for each day, so that next major challenge is still out there looming.

What mud and what granny gear - One there was and one not

What mud and what granny gear – One there was and one not

Another thing I have to get used to again, is getting back a social life as I don’t need to be up at – like freaking early – to go ride and be late for work, so I don’t fall asleep before 9pm anymore. I can now at least keep my eyes open a little bit longer and can go out and have a light beer if I feel like it. It’s a whole new mind set after months and months of dedicated training. Don’t get me wrong, the whole Absa Cape Epic experience was amazing and the buzz of the event made it go by way too fast.

Training for the whole event was a life changing phase for me as I lost, the now infamous 30 odd kilograms, in preparation (Thanks Dan Nicholl for telling the whole world I was fat!) and is now faced with another life changing challenge – what next?

On stage interview with Dan Nicholl on JAG Foundation

On stage interview with Dan Nicholl on JAG Foundation

Find the helmet

Find the helmet

Ironman SA or 70.3 like my friend Chantel Rall (Well done on an awesome achievement Chantel! #Inspirational!), uhm can I swim with floating arm bands and can someone teach me how to run again (I think I did that last in the previous millennium). So maybe a no, or maybe Enduroman which is off road triathlon, but I still would have to learn to swim and run. Maybe I should give Xterra Grabouw a try as individual participant – dammit -which means I still have to learn to swim and run…

Back to crawling out of the shadows and into a social life again, it’s tough if you have been out of circulation to get back into the mix of attending events and socialising, but I am positive this is a barrier I will easily overcome – Life changing again.

It has been a great journey this far for me and to have been able to ride for the JAG Foundation at the Absa Cape Epic was a great privilege as they through Values, Goals and Dreams, offer Children in disadvantaged communities an alternative life path, imparted through the catalyst of Sport & Play – a powerful life changing combination.

Again thanks to Michael Meyer and his team from Stillwater Sports and Entertainment that nudged me onto this journey and the support they have given me since then. To the whole team a big thank you and see you at the next event. It has been a privilege to be involved with your organisation as I made a lot of great friends through this.

To Kevin Vermaak and his team (who incidentally was the only spectators with the Stillwater crew waiting for me to finish the infamous 2011 Wines2Whales in a record long time) for putting together an amazing world class event in the Absa Cape Epic (I bet Kevin never thought he would see me ride the Absa Cape Epic then)

To Greg James for agreeing to ride the Absa Cape Epic with me and to Greg and the JAG Foundation for giving me to opportunity to ride for JAG, it has been an amazing journey and keep up the good work in the communities. And obviously to KTM Bike Industries for my amazing bike that gave me no issues during the event and to Rubena tyres that kept its grip during all conditions and me not having one puncture.

2014 Absa Cape Epic finish at Lourensford Wine Estate with riding partner Greg James. Thanks for the guidance through the race Greg

2014 Absa Cape Epic finish at Lourensford Wine Estate with riding partner Greg James. Thanks for the guidance through the race Greg

To all my friends for the support and understanding, I missed you, or is that the ribs and beer at The Toad  I’m not going to name everyone now – you know who you are.

To coach Swen Lauer, thanks for getting me into shape to finish the Absa Cape Epic. You are a legend and it has been epic. Now to keep going…
26-27 April – Arabella Challenge
3-4 May – Houw Hoek Tour
12-14 September – Ride2Nowhere (Woohoo!)
27 -28 September – Grace2Grace
14-16 October – Berg & Bush Great Trek
7 – 9 November – FNB Wines2Whales (HOPEFULLY – hint – hint – wink)

Till I found what I’m looking for – Not So Phat Boy out and onto the social scene!

PS: Mike Finch – what’s the bidding at now for my glasses?

Transformation from barely cycling at all, to deciding to ride the Absa Cape Epic end of 2012 after conquering the FNB Wines2Whales Adventure

Transformation from barely cycling at all, to deciding to ride the Absa Cape Epic end of 2012 after conquering the FNB Wines2Whales Adventure

Whoomp (t)here it is …

The 2014 Absa Cape Epic has arrived!

So after hours and months of riding my bike it all comes down to this. Can I put it together for 8 days? Never in my training did I ride for 8 days in a row

– madness.

But having said that, I would be lying if I said

Thanks to Rehidrat Sport my rehydration at the Absa Cape Epic will be sorted

Thanks to Rehidrat Sport my rehydration at the Absa Cape Epic will be sorted

I am not nervous. It’s been a tough week at work with too many things having to happen in this last build-up

to the prologue. Leave me alone people!

How does one pack for 8 days of bike riding, will I have enough legs, will the bum last and will I finally get full night sleep – please!

I find it difficult to write this post as the mind is constantly focussing on Sunday and back at my home packing my bags to make sure I have everything I need. This might be a tedious process as one does not want to be found wanting and looking for stuff you should have packed. There

is quite a list.

It’s been a fantastic journey so far and to have lost 30kg’s in the process has been phenomenal and life changing (I might lose a few more in the next week or so). I found shirts in my cupboard that I bought like 10 years ago that then just fitted and I was confident I will fit into them one day, well now they are nearly too big for me. I am wearing this shirt at the Absa Cape Epic – just because I can!

I’m not going into the whole “thank you to all” thing at the moment as there is still the like 718km to ride and 14850 meters to climb (you all know getting my small petite and lite body uphill is what I live for – not!) successfully before I can do that. So many people supported me on this journey and read my rambling nonsense words on Facebook and later this blog (Thanks Chantel).

So coach Swen here’s to the guidance and training to hopefully have a problem free and successful Absa Cape Ep

This week has been early mornings and finding my way in the dark. Beware - it's chilly out there early morning

This week has been early mornings and finding my way in the dark. Beware – it’s chilly out there early morning

ic and to everyone else, close friends and everyone else, the support is appreciated.

Look out for number 137-2 and my partner Greg James with 137-1. You can follow us with live tracking http://www.cape-epic.com/riders/registered-riders/whats-new/live-rider-tracking

Remember that I am riding for the JAG Foundation to create awareness and raise funds for our JAG Bullyproof campaign http://jagfoundation.org.za/?page_id=669 (Bullyproof day will be on 26 July 2014)

At the prologue on Sunday we are off second at 06:45:25”, nice and early. I’ll try to stay in touch and give some feedback on a daily basis for those that would like to hear about my suffering and pain each day.

Cheers! (I wonder how many peddle strokes I will have over the next week)

PS: This is the first time I will be riding in an event with my brother-in-law, Johan Labuschagne – so beware Johan and David Labuschagne, the race is on!

Supporting JAG Bullyproof campaign. Bullyproof day will be 25 July 2014 - get your schools involved

Supporting JAG Bullyproof campaign.
Bullyproof day will be 25 July 2014 – get your schools involved