I’ve tried a number of different approaches to tapering for a big event. Take days off completely. Lower the volume but keep some intensity. Don’t do anything different at all.
What I really like to do is to throw a race in between some easy days. Just enough to keep race-sharp, but not so hard that the legs feel destroyed. That can be difficult to do, because once in the race you often can’t help yourself from racing full-throttle.
I think I found the perfect way:
Decide to do 48 mile road race that is 2.5 hrs away
Get up at 5am (good practice for early race start)
Wait for teammate who is late because his coffee pot overflowed on the kitchen floor
Drive 76mph for 2 hrs
Ride quietly in the field for first 10 miles, dodging potholes
Follow attacks on 2nd climb; attack over the top (race effort #1)
Flat on the downhill after hitting rock:
– feel lucky for not crashing
– feel lucky for having decided not to bring good tubulars
– feel lucky for having stuck a tube, levers, & “pump” (quotes necessary) in pocket
Fix flat, ride to parking lot to use a real pump
See Masters field go by
Make threshold+ effort to close 30 second gap and catch on (race effort #2)
Chat with Masters while riding up first climb
After first climb, “motorpace” (more necessary quotes) dropped rider back to field (race effort #3)
On final climb, follow attacks of lead group (race effort #4)
After descent, alert lead riders that marshal has left corner and they are about to get hit by oncoming cars (adrenaline spike #1)
Sort-of sprint at the end, behind the lead masters (race effort #5)
Drive back home at a reasonable speed
Think, hmm, legs are a little tired but not destroyed. Mission accomplished.
But did it really require an 11 hour trip?