It’s almost time for the Orange Challenge ride so now it’s time to move into your taper. The reason we taper is to ensure that we get the best lift in your fitness on the day of the event, this all comes down to timing. Get your taper wrong now and you’ll blow your 12 weeks of training. So, here are some key things to remember.

If you have been following our free training program, then you should have enough load in your training to ensure that you get a good lift in your fitness between now and the event as you go through your taper. This is a soft taper, and it’s this type of taper that I recommend. There are other ways to taper, like the hard taper. But the hard taper is much more difficult to get the timing right and needs much more attention and management to get right. There is also more chance of getting a hard taper wrong.

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The Taper

To do your taper correctly, you need to drop off your volume but keep and the intensity short and high. As you start to freshen up, you start feeling really good. It’s important not to go hard when this happens. If you do, then you’ll end up making yourself tired before you get to the event.

You want to come back from every ride feeling like you could have done more and at the end of this week, and the next feel like you haven’t done enough. As mentioned, it’s important to fight the urge to go out for the hard long rides during this phase because it’s in the recovery that your body adapts, and your fitness improves so give your body the chance for this to happen.

Tapering is an art. When I’m coaching my clients, I pay a lot of attention to their taper and monitor it very closely. There is not a set formula as it’s influenced by many factors that include their training load leading up to the event, the type of event, where their head is at and how they respond to tapering.

The key takeaways is that there is not a lot you can do with improving your fitness between now and the event so use this time to relax and let your body recover from the training to ensure that you are fresh for the event.

Final Lockdown

Now is the time to lock down the clothing, equipment, bike, wheels and tires that you’ll be using for the event. Consequentially, now is not the time to experiment with a new set of cycling shoes, saddle or purchase a brand new bike or wheels or change anything like your bike position. You have been training on the equipment you have, so it’s important to stick with it and keep it the same. The only thing I do recommend is that you get your bike serviced this week and ride it for several days prior to the event to ensure that it is 100% right.

As for clothing, you’ll want to ensure that you are prepared for the weather conditions of the day. Check the weather in the final days leading up to the event and select the clothing that you’ll be taking based on this. The weather could be doing anything on the day of the event, so what you’ll be wearing on a cold, wet day will be different to what you’ll be riding if it’s going to be very hot.

If the temperature is going to change during the day, then I prefer to dress in clothing that gives me more options. A short sleeve jersey, a wind vest, and arm and leg warmers means that I can adjust my clothing better than if I just rode with a long sleeve jacket.

A little bit of planning will make a big difference to the comfort of your ride.

Just as your equipment, bike, and clothing are in lockdown so should be your nutrition. In the lead up to the event, I have been stressing how important it is to get your nutritional plan right prior to the event. By now you should be comfortable with your selection of food, your hydration that you’ll be using on the day and know how to change it depending on how hot or cold it is on the day. Again, don’t be tempted to try something new with your food or hydration on the day. Take a little time to plan out what you’ll be eating when and where you’ll be filling up your water bottles. Ensure that you purchase the nutritional product you’ll need before the event and have them ready.

On this point, if you are traveling interstate now is the time to finalise your accommodation and transport arrangements. On the night before the event make sure that you have everything together packed and ready to go for the morning.

Rider Safety

The Orange Challenge has flat sections so it’s a good opportunity to ride in bunches and save some energy. If you are not comfortable riding in bunches then either stay well left or ride on the back of the bunches at a distance that you feel comfortable

Also, remember that you will be passed and pass riders and groups or riders all day so keep left at all times to help facilitate this, and pass on the right, not on the inside. If you do need to stop, please indicate, look back and move off the road when IT’S SAFE TO DO SO and make sure that you are well OFF THE ROAD when you are stopped.

Remember that the roads are not closed so will have local and tourist traffic on them. On the day, there will be a few frustrated motorists. Just because you are riding this mass event, please do not be arrogant and ride as if you OWN THE ROAD. Please be respectful and courteous to all road users on the day by conducting yourself in the appropriate way.

Please also remember that it’s your responsibility to dispose of your rubbish in an appropriate way. By doing so, it helps keep the environmental impact of these events to a minimum.

I hope that you have the best Orange Challenge ride.