I have just returned from an amazing riding trip and adventure to New Zealand & Western Australia for the last 6 weeks, and am struggling to come to terms with the cold winter weather back in Bend, OR this crisp January morning. It is not even as cold as it usually gets out here in the Central Oregon Mountains, but I have become a cold weather weenie over the last few weeks of summer riding.

My training for this upcoming Cape Epic race has been quite a bit different than in the past when I was on the trainer for hours on end and getting all the road miles and gym hours logged in. It started off with a 6 week intensive Yoga teachers training course that I attended to become a qualified teacher. It was intense, and all my usual gym work was replaced with the yoga studio using my own body weight. It made me strong and has given me a good base to start training from.

Then it was off to New Zealand where I only had my beloved 6” Santa Cruz Nomad trail bike & I was just out riding my bike wherever and whenever I could. If I had a heart rate monitor, it would have been beeping constantly, as there were no gradual climbs or rides in the entire country. Put it this way, I could potentially take the win for the hike a bike sections – if there was such an award at the Epic. I had a blast though. We lived in a van, rode pretty much every day, dealt with crazy rain and floods, ticked off as many different trails in our riding NZ guide book, pushed hard to try to keep up with all the locals who always show you their hardest and best ride, rode some pretty scary, very technical, actually completely insane trails – if you can call them trails. I felt like a true adventurer out in the jungle, clambering over gigantic fallen trees from all the rain and windstorms and riding & hiking through the most beautiful pristine indigenous forests. We got heli dropped at the top of mountains only to reach our van hours later after riding rocky, scree clad mountain faces, sliding down slippery roots and wading gushing rivers. Not once did I think of my mileage, or my time in the saddle or my training, I was just out on my bike, riding hard and loving every single minute of it, having an epic bike adventure and passing out of exhaustion at the end of every day. 100% Pure NZ indeed.

Australia was a different story. I was still on my New Zealand riding high, and went straight to the Boranup forest to go on a cross country bush ride in the Karri forests, only to see 4 of the biggest, most dangerous, venomous snakes in Australia in a matter of only one hour. One of them – a Tiger snake, even had the cheek to slither right under my bottom bracket. I was pretty freaked out to say the least, and not willing to start loosing limbs for the sake of the Cape Epic, so I resorted to the road to keep riding. I wanted nothing more to do with the Australian forests. Riding the road with no shoulder on a Nomad when it was 36 degrees Celsius  (96F) was not too much fun, but I kept riding, thinking of Tracy having to do the same in equally tough but opposite freezing temperatures.  Sven was my back up, motivator and support vehicle. He would drive ahead and have cold water and ice towels ready to cool me down. What a treat. Almost as good as a Cape Epic water stop! It was a little glimpse into what the temperatures could reach during the Cape Epic, and it was a good reality check that this event was no joke. You have to be prepared on every level and so I kept pedaling hoping that when I got back on my little Santa Cruz Carbon Blur XC, it would feel like a breeze and the pedaling would be effortless.

Now that we are in mid January, I can’t help but think of the Epic and wonder if all the trail riding and yoga has been enough to see me through the grueling stages of the Cape Epic. There is still some time though.

Between intervals on the snow shoes and some cold riding I’m busy packing for another pre-Epic trip. Tracy and I are both getting ready for the Urge Cabo Verde enduro downhill event that takes place from the 7th to the 14th of February on the Cape Verde Islands off  of the West coast of Africa. We were both invited to participate along with 13 other athletes to this amazing humanitarian event where we will be doing 4 downhill races on 4 different islands to raise money and bring awareness to the country. www.urgecaboverde.com

This will be a great time for Tracy and I to catch up, have some fun and to get some riding done together even though its downhill riding we will be hiking up volcanoes and mountains each day! Our team training is a bit different to the rest of the Epic field I’m sure. Sure it’s not the ideal training program for an XC Stage race like the Epic, but we will be strong. After all, its about having fun, riding bikes with a good friend for a great cause, and passing tons of guys on the downhills J

More NZ pics to be posted soon.

Peace out.

Anka

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