Ah, the taper. Time to back away from the long efforts, rest the legs, eat good meals, and ready for the big day.
What’s a person to do with all this new-found spare time?
Ensure the bike is in good working order. Is anything showing wear and tear? Are any weird sounds coming from the direction of your bike? What do the tires look like? How does the saddle feel?
Figure it out. Tune the bike up. Do some parts searching on the internet just because. Somehow end up looking at running skorts and shoes.
Obsess about your training. Review your training log over and over. Ask it to tell you its secrets. If you are not maintaining a training log, try to recreate one from memory.
Compare your current training log to training logs of the past. See how they match up. If they don’t, what happened to make them different? Try to do all the math associated with this exercise without a calculator. It makes it more intense.
Make lists! You’ll need a list of what you’ll wear on the event. How many days is it? Three? Okay, that’s three separate lists. But wait, you need one more list for those items that you’ll have with you all three days, like shoes and rain gear.
What clothes will you want to wear all day and into the evening hours? Your tried and true pieces. But you just purchased new shorts and want to see how the chamois holds up on a long ride. Should you put these on your list? You know what to do.
Another group of lists should be made to cover food and nutrition. Yes, there will be stops for food along the way, but it’s always good to carry some essentials with you. What will they be? Go to the store and buy them. Don’t try anything new. Don’t do it!
Stock up on baggies. Randonneurs love baggies. Small baggies are useful for protecting cue sheets from rain. You can carry food in a quart-size baggie. Gallon baggies are perfect for parsing out each day’s clothing. It’s all baggies, all the time.
Bag some sleep. Knowing that the hours of shut-eye will be reduced during your event, focus on going to bed a little earlier.
When you get into bed, think about how over the next few days you will not be able to get this kind of sleep. No pressure! Can you practice sleep deprivation? I say no, but it’s thoughts like this that are keeping me awake at night.
Check the weather. Where does your event take place? Towns 1, 2, and 3? Perfect. Enter each of these towns into your favorite weather website every few hours. What does the forecast say now? How about now? And now?
Look at the event listserv or Facebook to see if anyone has said anything annoying or foreboding about the weather. Wonder why no one but you knows the rule about never talking about the weather.
Adjust your event clothing selection, as appropriate. Prepare for the worst. Buy more baggies.
Write blog posts about your taper. Instead of twiddling your thumbs wishing your were out riding, publish a blog post. After posting, edit it a few times and check regularly to see if anyone commented or liked what you wrote.
Make a music mix to inspire you. Every event needs a soundtrack. Who will write yours? As for me, I’m going through a retro phase so I choose this.
What’d I miss? Surely I missed something? Make me a list of what I missed!
1) eat all the cookies
2) charge them camera batteries
3) make, then eat more cookies
4) ponder: can sleep fit into a ziploc bag?
5) share some cookies with tandem co-rider.
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Ack, forgot the chargers! I have been working on eat all the chocolate. Also good to ponder the abstractions…
Check the ride routes each day, look at the ride profiles. Scan Strava to see if there are any KOM sections – sure sign of pain there. See if there are any technical sections with narrow, tight descents, or unmade road sections. Make sure the repair kit is fully stocked.
Forgot about the Strava and KOM stuff. !
Yes, the taper is a great time for brushing up on one’s math skills since the experts caution against riding much during this time. Not too much more than just a short ride around the block. Maybe just a quick jaunt to your favorite coffee/bike/whatever shop. With perhaps just one good hill on the way back to make sure the new chain (or bag or whatever) really does whatever it is supposed to do.
That’s when you get wrapped up in one of those curious rando math word problems. Because, when you stop an think about it, isn’t an enjoyable 25 mile ride at an unhurried pace actually equivalent to a ride around the block when compared to a 620-ish mile multi-day ride? Seriously, it’s less than 5% of the total and really won’t take all that long.
In fact, at an average 14.5 miles per hour a 25 mile ride should only take about 1 hour and 45 minutes….plus 15 minutes at the control – er, coffee shop – plus a few extra seconds for that 2 mile, 8% hill you just added to your cue sheet upon which you should be able to maintain at least 5 MPH less a few seconds for the 30 mph descent on the back side……
Ah, heck with math. Where’s my bike?
Right! So… did you do all this math in your head? Extra taper credit, if so.
Have you gotten to the point where you start fidgeting restlessly. Then you go into acute exercise withdrawl. And you start to lose you mind. AYYYYYY!!!!
Read blog posts about other tapering tandem teams to relieve concern about one’s own 100 mile MTB race on the MTB tandem in the Blue Ridge this weekend.
Hope you have a great time!
Ha ha, likewise! Are you doing SM100? All the best on your ride!
Yep, we’ve logged lots of training on the tandem at Stokesville, Sherando Lake, Douthat as well as closer to home. A shake out ride on a local trail we last rode six months ago showed how far we’ve come as a team. It is a blast!
Mmmm cookies. Berger Cookies are a must have and never disappoint.
5-7 oz flask is must have. Whisky /whiskey or spirit | wine of choice …. just saying and don’t judge : )
Way I see it can be used as a disinfectant and or fire starter aid or even for trade. Social ties and or evening settling in on a stormy night.
FWIW Berger Cookies and Red wine pair well or can be substitute with espresso coffee for those who don’t drink.
Your timing about the flask (and liquid therein) could not be better! Mark Bittman just wrote this piece in the NY Times today: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/opinion/mark-bittman-the-drinkers-manifesto.html
Regarding the Berger Cookies… I actually had to look them up and now… I really want some.
Great article MG thanks for sharing. Moderation is key as it is with everything. This Includes exercise as well and I’ve had more health issues with excessive exercise than the evening dram if scotch. Don’t get me started on fish ? Heh whole other topic : ) Anyway moving on to Berger cookies. If you have never had them should try them. They are soft shortbread cookie base with rich dark fudge on top. They are Baltimore based co. and can be purchased at most grocery stores, Highs, Royal Farms WaWa here in Maryland. Not sure about DC though? I carry them in a baggie as you stated and consume in small doses. Enjoy!
That’s my blog theme song!
Such a good bike blog theme song! I wonder if this blog needs a theme song… could I choose just one song? Hmmm.
Ha! TAPER MADNESS!!
It IS taper madness!
Just to give you a fix, here’s a comment.
Now go buy more baggies.
Or this: Go to store. Ride home. Open up baggies. Realize they are the wrong size. Return to store. Repeat.
Sounds like a good excuse to go riding!
A little keyed up with excessive energy, eh Mary? This post made me laugh.