Training and Preparing for Cape Epic over winter months in Canada

Hi all,
I’m a long time Fast Talk listener and follower of the Polarized Training Model.

I’m looking for some Fast Talk community advice on training and preparing for Cape Epic in March 2024 while being in Canada in throes of winter in the Canadian Rockies. Our winter months are cold and snowy so the opportunities for long rides outdoors are extremely limited. Zwift will be an essential training tool, but I’m really not keen on riding 2+hrs on the indoor trainer. Nordic skiing, ski touring are certainly options. Fat biking can also be an option but realistically, it is too cold usually to ride more than 1.5 to 2hrs.

The two main concerns of mine are:

  1. Getting enough bike volume in to have enough specificity to tackle big stages and to be able to get a reasonable peak into to perform to our potential in the 40+ category. I do have a long history of training and MTB stage racing, so the technical riding aspect is not so much of a concern. We are able to arrive 6 days in advance of the race to get some time change adjustment and a bit of heat acclimation, but it won’t be an optimal amount of time to adapt.

  2. Heat acclimation. Our winters are long, cold and snowy, our temperatures range from-5 to -35 degrees Celsius so there will be a big temperature swing from Canada to South Africa.

Any recommendations on how to mesh outdoor winter sports activities with indoor training to maximize preparation for the Cape Epic? Will Zwifting without a cooling fan have the same sort of stimulus as riding in the heat?

Any other considerations that I should plan for/incorporate into my training and preparation?