OK, so, not bragging (much), but I did my targeted sub 3 in the 2020 Cape town cycle race (2:57:12)
I am writing this to encourage people who have the ambition to go sub 3 but are not sure if its doable. I am 46 and not particularly athletic. I did my first Argus two years ago after pottering around on a mountain bike for a few years. So I dont exactly want to say that if I can do it anyone can... but I am certainly not a "naturally talented" cyclist.
My tips would be:
Order a perfect day, like 2018 or 2020 - if its like 2019 the tips below will NOT hack it in getting a sub 3.
Get a good seeding ... this year 79% of 1A got sub 3, 59% of 1C, 25% for 1E, 18% for 1H, 10% for 1J, 4% for 2A... So your odds of getting a sub 3 goes down as the capabilities of your fellow riders get lower - I was in group 1G (was 2H last year) so in the "tough but doable" zone
You do NOT have to be at 4W/Kg to do sub 3...I am 84 kg, FTP before race of 270*, so 3.2 Watt/kg - For me, without my indoor trainer (Wahoo Kickr) and a structured training program (I use Trainerroad) there is no way I would have been able to put in the time (6-7 hrs a week for the last year) to get fit enough - it also helps with motivation somehow. To improve road skills I did a few Cycle Lab (Fourways, B1,2 groups) and ICG morning rides plus I did the 94.7 which perhaps also helped with seeding (who knows?).
You need to be fit enough to do ~4W/kg (or perhaps a bit less) in the 4 decisive climbs. But luckily they are not that long, and any good structured program will take care of that with some hill climbs or VO2 max sessions. See below my splits for key climbs...
Gradient Time Distance Speed Power Power/kg Cadence HR Average 0% 2:57:12 108.9 36.9 184 2.2 95 167 - Edinburgh drive (steepest part) 7% 0:02:38 0.75 17.1 300 3.6 98 185 - Smitswinkel 5% 0:03:41 1.25 20.4 309 3.7 102 179 - Chapmans peak (excl little Chappies) 6% 0:04:59 1.49 17.9 278 3.3 104 184 - Suikerbossie 6% 0:06:47 1.84 16.3 266 3.2 99 185 Net power 2.27 IF 0.84
Become a wheel sucker - this made a HUGE difference on the day. Except for the 4 climbs, and a few turns at the front, the rest wasn't that painful, tucked in 30 cm behind the biggest oke I could find. Finding a good (i.e big) guy or tandem to draft behind is especially important after the big climbs and worth expending the energy on. A shoutout to "Dennis" from 1H, you rock...
Train your cadence - spinning faster will leave you with fresh(ish) legs for the last two climbs and help you catch passing wheels
Get nutrition right - everyone is different, but I had 2 bottles of cadence carbo fuel, 2 bananas and 2 hydro gels with caffeine (used before the last 2 climbs)- I also had an extra bottle of carbo fuel that I drank while waiting to start and I ate normally the day before... no carbo loading
Have a good bike - I have a 2015 Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Corima 30mm profile rims - not the newest, but light and has good handling
Thanks again to Verandapanda, tyboy0406, Long Wheel Base, Skubarra, Milky4130, Jewbacca for the tips they had in my previous post, it was very useful
* Tested on my Wahoo Kickr using Trainerroad ramp test, confirmed by my power meter. Test was done in Jo-burg, where I live, so given 1700m altitude my effective FTP may be a bit more at the coast
Addendum- managed to download the power file to xls and create a chart - surprising how much time is spent in "recovery" (green) being pulled along at 40km/hr - presumably by Pure Savage
Addendum 2 - Figured out how to convert average power to normalized power -normalized power estimates the effective "steady" power of a segment i.e. if your power was 100% steady for a segment then Average power=Normalized power, but if there was lots of acceleration changes/sprints then Normalized power >> Average Power, reflecting that would require a higher effective power/fitness
This changes 2 things from the non-normalized graph, 1) "easy" segments are slightly less easy due to acceleration changes 2) The first 25 minutes are now all hard - acceleration changes means even the flat bit between Hospital Hill and the bottom of Edinburgh drive is hard. Climbs did not change as its power on climbs are steady so no difference between Normalized and Average power.