How Not to Taper

08.10.2005 | 12:07 am

Endurance athletes do something called "tapering" before a big race / event. The idea is to decrease your activity for a week or so before the ride, so you’ll be fresh and rarin’ to go.
There’s a proper way to taper, and I’m horrified with myself to announce that I don’t know what it is. I blame my trainer for never properly explaining it to me. It’s almost as if he’s never done more to learn about tapering than scan a couple of magazine articles. Moron.
Still, though, I have slacked off on the riding, starting last Friday, and it seems to have had some effect: this morning as I was riding to work I felt really good — much stronger than usual. Climbs were easier, I was faster on the flats without really trying. Never one to waste an opportunity, I shifted up a couple gears and started seeing exactly what I had in me.
It turns out I had a whole bunch in me. I rode the flats at 25-27 mph — I usually go around 22-24. I looked at the trees and grass to see if I had a tailwind, but no: it was me.
Then I came to the climb that parallels Highway 520. It’s about a mile long and can be pretty steep in some parts. It starts right after a street crossing, where you have to wait for a light. By the time the light turned, there were four other cyclists gathered with me.
So I decided to show them who’s boss.
I gapped the first couple before we even got across the street. The third dropped off without a fight during the first steep pitch, but the last guy stuck with me. The race was on!
In the first part of the climb, the pitch goes from moderately steep to very steep. It doesn’t last long, but most people downshift for it anyway. Today, though, I listened for his shift as we reached the steep part, then I upshifted two gears, stood up, and attacked off the front.
I gapped him by 20 feet almost instantly.
"This is a good time for me to see whether I’m still any good at riding just below the red zone," I thought, and kept exactly the amount of pressure on myself I could sustain without blowing up. Before long, my nameless archrival was vanquished.
I was the victor. I was the hero.
Also, I’m a complete idiot. The whole point of the taper is to get me rested. And since it was working, I decided to do a personal time trial and VO2-max hill interval.
But this brings up a question: am I the only one who consistently fails to rest on rest day rides? I mean, when you’re just tooling along and some guy passes you at a speed you know you can counter, are you really able to just let him go?
I’m telling you, it’s a lot harder to rein yourself in than to go all out.
Today’s weight: 164.8
Bonus Delicious Cookie Alert: An important part of tapering is to eat more, right? This isn’t the week for me to lose weight. And that’s why Keebler Fudge Shop: White Fudge Stripes Cookies-and-Creme cookies were an important part of my diet yesterday. I mean, these things give White-Fudge-Covered Oreos a run for their money, and that’s saying something. I mean, it says something besides that I know way too much about really-bad-for-you cookies.
I bet my weight goes up to 280 pounds by tomorrow.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 08.10.2005 | 12:43 am

    Sounds like you harvested some valuable King of the Mountain points today. P.S. You probably didn’t hear your rivals shift because those stealthy Landriders’ auto-shift derailleurs are notoriously quiet. (

  2. Comment by Unknown | 08.10.2005 | 2:17 am

    And what’s all this talk of tapering and shaving? It’s a freaking moutain bike race, not a swimming meet! Eat some raw meat, drink some cactus water, get a few tatoos, and kick some ass!!!!!All kidding aside, I sincerely wish you a great ride this weekend. I got a feeling it could be your most rewarding finish, ever. Anyone who’s exposed himself (figuratively and literally) to the degree that you have via this blog is one tough customer. Thanks, and good luck. John

  3. Comment by kris | 08.10.2005 | 3:47 pm

    I do the same thing on rest days. My theory is that having limited time to train (young children), I can’t waste time poking around the countryside. As misguided as that is, it got me back to Leadville in under 12 hours last year, so I did it again.Good luck on Saturday. I hope to run into you and say hello sometime over the weekend. I’ll just look for the guy standing around flexing his quads. Have a safe trip.

  4. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 08.10.2005 | 3:58 pm

    good luck at the race, kj! it’ll be fun to meet you in person there.jb, thanks for the wishes. next year, you’re doing it to. because i say so.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 08.10.2005 | 4:43 pm

    You’re cool. I wish I were you, as usual.Seems like only thirty years ago you were tooling around the Chicos on a banana seat with a Slush Puppy from the Loaf ‘n Jug. Look at you now. Not much difference except quads and spandex (which didn’t exist yet) and crazy trees and plants all over the place.I could go on and on, Eldy. Good luck.

  6. Comment by Paul | 08.11.2005 | 2:09 am

    Well, I have the same personal trainer as you do, and although he stinks as a trainer, he does know all the requisite cliches by heart. One of his favorites is "It’s easy to ride hard, but hard to ride easy".(That’s about the extent of his knowledge on tapering)

  7. Comment by CEY | 03.31.2006 | 5:54 am

    It always started out as the rest day ride but ended up otherwise for me.  So to rest, I don’t ride


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