Better to ride hard or easy on race weeks?

I’ve been told by many close friends that it’s better to ride harder on race weeks rather than ride easy? Would like some insight from others!

Harder than what and for how long? What priority level is the race? What type of race? What kind of tapering works best for you?

Like sprint intervals and threshold, keeping on normal training pace (around 10 hours). These races are the most serious races I have as of right now. These races are typical xc 5 mile laps.

Over the years I have found I feel flat after a recovery week. I have found this is also true for taper weeks before my A race. My work around is to take a recovery week the week before the event, get back on the gas a bit during race week.

Everyone is different. I know some that prefer a full day off the day before the event. Some like a light workout. It really is personal preference and likely mostly psychological. Well unless you over-do it (which I have seen more often than not).


I always trained largely the same but decreased volume of intervals (less reps or sets), slightly shorter endurance rides and usually had an ‘opener’ day before the race day where I would ride race pace for a few short intervals. For example for CX, ride 3-4 reps of 1.5min at 100-105% ftp in a 1 hour otherwise easy spin. Something like that.

If the race was to be used as training, keep everything the same and have the race replace the weekend long-ride/workout

If it’s an A or B race you want some intensity, but a fair bit less volume. If it’s a C race then I’d stick to my normal plan.

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Everyone responds differently to tapers coming into an event. Honestly, it is a bit of trial-and-error to see what works for you.

The general consensus however (and as noted by others) is to reduce volume and keep some intensity in the week leading up to a race. But it will also depend on the type of race you are doing, as well.


The approach to training during race week can vary depending on individual preferences and goals. Some athletes prefer to ride harder to maintain intensity and keep their legs sharp, while others prefer to ride easy to allow for more recovery and ensure they are fresh for the race. It’s up to how long it takes for your recovery for peak performance when deciding.

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As other athletes here said, it definitely varies from person to person!

It also depends on the priority of your race(s). If it’s your A event for the year, I’d recommend tapering down your volume while maintaining intensity.

If it’s a B event (important, but not the most important), I’d advise decreasing volume a bit in the days leading into the race. The rest of your training week would still look pretty normal.

If it’s a C event (like a training race that recurs weekly), then I wouldn’t change much in the plan other than replacing one of your hard, structured sessions for that week with the race so you don’t end up with too much intensity for a given week.

This TR Blog post on tapering might be helpful if you’re looking to learn more:

In any case, you should experiment to find what works best for you. Some riders race best after some easy spinning, others like to keep the intensity up or they feel flat. There’s no right or wrong way to approach race week, it ultimately boils down to personal preference.

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