FEATURE: The off-season with HepburnWed 25 Oct 2017
Former Australian time trial champion Michael Hepburn has enjoyed his sixth season with ORICA-SCOTT, this year focusing solely on the road after previous seasons combining both road and track commitments.
The sharpened focus has seen the two-time Olympic medallist putt in strong performances in his transition season, starting with a victory at the Michelton Bay Cycling classic, followed by a third place in the Tirreno-Adriatico individual time trial in March.
As a seasoned pro, balancing commitments and managing fatigue during lengthy seasons, the Queensland rider knows how important the off-season is in order to let the body recover both mentally and physically before the buildup for the following year.
“The off season or "offy" as we often refer to it is a time for us to switch off and let the body freshen up, physically and mentally,” Hepburn explained. “The season now runs from the start of January until mid-October and there isn't much time in there to catch your breath.”
“I usually take four or five weeks completely off the bike straight after each season. This is a great time to live more of a normal life and do some things you enjoy that you don't get the chance to do during the season.
“It might be a holiday, some beach time, running, hiking, honing your skills on the wall ball court or playing some good old backyard cricket.”
Not only do riders take the time to enjoy non-cycling activities but it is a period where you can refresh the mind and body from the intense elite lifestyle by being able to relax the training load and diet slightly.
“During the offy, it's ok to treat yourself a bit more on the food front,” the 25-year-old continued. “During the season we can't eat pizza or patatas bravas every day for obvious reasons and we try to follow a good nutritional plan. I find it great for the head in these weeks to be a bit more relaxed with your eating.”
With just one month out of twelve as a designated time to ‘be normal’, the preparation for the following year comes around quickly and is the perfect opportunity to look back on past performances in a relaxed way and think clearly about how to continue to strive for future progress.
“The off season is also a good chance to reflect on the season that's been and start making plans for the next one. Often we'll have a camp as a team to go through all this, looking at what went well and areas we need to improve,” said Hepburn.
“I normally start my pre-season training about two months before the first races in Australia in January. My training in this time depends on my goals and the team’s goals for the early season races but generally it's a lot of steady hours on the bike, building up a good foundation for the long season to come.”
After strong and consistent performances throughout the 2017, it is now almost time for Hepburn and the other ORICA-SCOTT riders to relax…just a little.
Photo courtesy of TDWsport