Final Preparations for the Big Ride

riding-with-the-orange-band.jpgBy Russell Stevenson

Obliteride is just over two weeks away! Hopefully you’re feeling good and are ready for a great experience. Here are some final tips to prepare you for the big ride.


Let’s Talk about Tapering
Tapering is controlled or “active” resting. A taper can be a few days or it can be a few weeks depending on the demands of the event. In this case let’s look at the latter. If your training consisted of two weeks back to back of sustained work followed by one easy week at half that same workload, that easy week is a short taper and nets you enough rest and recovery to go out for another short (a couple days) training block. If repeated, eventually, the peaks of those short workouts start to decline. When this decline begins you are no longer making much gain in fitness and you need a break. If planned properly, over a few months and after you have pushed yourself to that limit, you can achieve peak fitness with a taper.

Why Rest?
Over the course of training, there is residual strain on your entire system, one of the biggest being your cardiorespiratory system (heart, lungs, blood and blood vessels). Without getting too deep into this subject, I will say that you want your heart’s stroke volume (how much blood you can move every heartbeat) as high as it can be. You also want your blood’s hematocrit (number of red blood cells) to be as high as it can be. Your blood vessels should be fully oxygenated, and rest does that. Of course your muscle fibers need their time to heal and recover too, to rebuild stronger.

It’s best to taper off your hard training about two weeks before the big ride. In some longer events, such as an Ironman, athletes would take three full weeks to recover. A good taper is a mix of some days completely off, mild days on the bike mixed with some short hard efforts, and lots and lots of sleep and food. You need to rest your body and your mind.

You might want to take a look at my first article for a refresher on Power Training Levels before you read this final section.

A simple two-week taper looks like this:

1. Cut your volume in half. If you were riding 10 hours, cut it to five. In those five, do mostly Level 1/2 riding. Over seven days, take two days completely off, maybe more if you feel you need it.

2. Keep up on your homework! If you were doing some intensity before, do similar intensity during your taper but the same rule applies, do about half or less. I like to do two days (split up) of 3X2-4min short intervals at 85-95% of threshold just to keep the motor running. These are not very taxing and shouldn’t hurt you much. With the additional rest these should almost feel good!

3. Keep the cadence high! Maintain approximately 100-110 RPM all the time. This keeps the legs moving but doesn’t tax the muscles. Blood flows better and speeds recovery – AND – you are training your leg speed and efficiency.

4. Eat and sleep A LOT! This is pretty important for an event like Obliteride. A long haul of 50-100 (or more) miles requires a lot of energy and as much muscle glycogen as you can store. Eat lots … store more. There is of course a limit to what your body will hold but that’s a discussion for another time. Don’t be afraid to have a second helping or a dessert.

5. Hydrate! Dehydration is always occurring. Sitting, walking or riding will dictate the dehydration rate. Fluid replacement totals should approximate sweat and urine loss. In most cases this is about 2% of body weight. Simply put, drink about 7-10 oz every 20 minutes. When the exercise is more intense, be sure to include some carbs in your drink. Hydration is very important; make it a priority.

6. Open up! One last tip for a good taper is to “open up.” It’s a good idea to use the last few days of your taper to re-energize yourself. You need to rev up the engine so to speak, before you are ready to perform at your best. “Openers” can consist of a mix of short hard intervals on sprints. For a longer ride such as Obliteride’s 100, try doing 15 minutes at your Level 3 pace two days from the ride. The next day do 1X5 minutes at your Level 4. Again these should not be very taxing for you after the rest and will kick-start your system to perform. Usually the more intense the event the harder your openers should be. To the contrary, a longer event needs less intensity to prepare for.

I hope this all helps and you come to Obliteride fresh and read to enjoy yourself!

Good pedaling!

About Russell Stevenson

Russell Stevenson is a USAC Level 2 coach, NASM certified personal trainer and holds numerous bike fitting certifications. With several years of experience in road, cyclocross and mountain bike training and racing, Russell excels in outdoor workshops and skills clinics. Russell is the current Master’s National Champion and Master’s World Champion in Cyclocross (35+).

The legal stuff: The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 


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