I’ve never been a fan of tapering before a big ride. I get the idea, I’m just not a fan and as a general rule, I will not comply. A couple of months ago, in the midst of a thousand-mile month, I did hit a spell where I needed a couple of days off so I took them. As far as an actual taper goes though, I’ve said for quite a while now, I’ll taper when I’m dead.
Monday, after an impromptu 86 miles on Sunday, I went on a hill climbing tour with my wife. There wasn’t much flat, we were either going up or down and I worked a lot harder than I should have.
Last night, for the club ride, I was supremely thankful that we’d started the B Group because I knew my legs were smoked. It was exceptionally windy too. Phill and I were the only two to show up for the warm-up so it was mercifully slow – I was spinning easy the whole time. 7-1/4 miles, 28 easy minutes, give or take.
We lined up for the main event and I was sitting on my top tube when the A’s started to pull out. Then Matt motioned for everyone to go with the A’s… and most started to go, so I went with. I’d been wondering how I’d do with the big dogs anyway.
Long story short, I crushed it. I pulled through and stayed in the rotation (though my turns were reasonably short, a minute or two max), hit the hills hard, matched a couple of attacks and even bridged two big gaps left by guys who were struggling to keep the raucous pace.
I was the last B guy to drop (on purpose, to regroup at the 2o mile mark with the other B’s). To say I was stoked would be an understatement.
The B guys came up the hill, one by one, and we quickly regrouped and were off again. At the 2o mile mark we were at 21.9 mph for an average. We took a minute to get back up to speed but once we got there, it was @$$holes and elbows all the way in. Not only did we hold that 21.9 average, we raised it two tenths to 22.1. We finished the 29 and change miles in 1:18:18. Our fastest ever as the B group by more than a minute.
Go figure… I worked hard on Friday and Saturday. Then again on Sunday. I worked too hard on hill repeats on Monday, then did my share to help our B guys put in our fastest Tuesday night average ever and I was strong straight through the finish line.
Now, I won’t go so far as to say anyone should do things my way, or suggest the conventional wisdom is wrong. I’m simply saying I’m more resilient that I thought I could be considering what conventional wisdom allows. With one exception: Conventional wisdom says my hard days aren’t hard enough and my easy days aren’t easy enough.
With the notion that my hard days aren’t hard enough before tapering, everything makes sense. Those four hard days in a row weren’t quite as hard as I thought they were, even though they were a long way from easy.
The takeaway is twofold. First, I’m stronger than I often think I am. Second, there’s a fair amount of room for improvement.
Both are very good things.