In this article, I talk about finishing off your peak and taper in the last few weeks of the lead-up to the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek. I also cover a few other important things to consider as well.

The Importance of Tapering

Now remember that building fitness is not like cramming for an exam. You need to build it over time. These weeks are critical to your success. It’s in these last weeks that many people make the mistake of training too much.

There is some fitness you can build in these last weeks, but it’s based on the volume and intensity of riding that you have been doing in your previous blocks of training.

If you think you can cram all your training for the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek into the last few weeks, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Maybe for some shorter events but this is the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek, and it’s an epic ride.

The Hard and Soft Taper

There are two ways to taper, The hard and the soft taper. A hard taper has you training hard up until very close to the event then we drop your training load very quickly. The soft taper starts dropping the training load earlier more gradually.

The hard taper is much harder to do and to get the timing right as it needs much more attention to managing the training load correctly.

There is also more chance of getting a hard taper wrong. For events like the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek, I prefer a soft taper. Our training program is designed to ensure that we prepare you for a soft taper.

How to Taper

You’ll notice that there are no longer rides during the weekends in our Peaks Challenge training program.

Three weeks to go is the last weekend that you can put in some longer rides before your taper.

During this time, we have our riders doing the following indoor training sessions to help build hill climbing speed:

How to Know If You Have Got Your Taper Right

If you have been following our training programs, then you should have enough load in your training to ensure that you get a great lift in your fitness between now and the event as you go through your taper.

To do your taper correctly, you need to drop off your volume but keep 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.

During your taper, you’ll want to come back from every ride feeling like you could have done more and at the end of those final 2 weeks you want to feel like you haven’t done enough. As mentioned, it’s important to fight the urge to go out for the long hard rides during this phase because it’s in the recovery that your body adapts, and your fitness improves, so give your body a chance for this to happen.

Tapering is an art. When I’m coaching my riders, 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 are 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 your training to ensure that you are fresh for the event.

Other Things to Consider During the Last Few Weeks of Training

Now is the time to lock down your clothing, equipment, bike, wheels and tyres that you’ll be using for the event. So this means that 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 and make sure that you allow yourself a few rides to check that it is 100% right.

As for clothing, you’ll want to ensure that you are prepared for the weather conditions of the day. The Peaks Challenge Falls Creek has been run in all sorts of weather. Check the weather in the final days leading up to the event and select the clothing that you’ll be taking based on this.

If the temperature is going to change during the day, then I prefer to dress in layers so I have more options. A short sleeve jersey, a wind vest, and arm and leg warmers mean 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.

Lock Down Your Nutrition

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 before 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 products you’ll need for the event and have them ready.

On this point, if you are travelling 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. I recommend that if you are flying on one of the smaller “link” planes that you allow yourself an extra day. These planes are smaller than the larger jets they can’t take as many bikes. If you are on a flight with a lot of other cyclists with bikes, then there is a chance that your bike might not get put on the plane if they run out of luggage capacity.

All the best with your training for the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek.