Tapering before a MTB race

I have my B race on Saturday. 60 miles XC MTB race w/ 8000’ climbing. I’m very much a novice bike racer but I’ve been running/ racing endurance events for 20 years.

I’m doing the medium volume Build 1 right now. Honestly I’m feeling a bit tired today. The plan has about 4:00 or 4:30 hours of training T-F. Then race on Saturday. I’m tempted to skip they rides or cut them down by 1/2 to taper. It’s what I’d do for a marathon but I’m less sure about the bike. Thoughts?

Id aim for 1/2 volume and keep the intensity.


A rested racer is always faster.

It seems to me that B races replace a workout day in the plans. An A race is given a taper and recovery, and a C is simply added in.

Your body will be as adapted as it can get with one week to go, i.e. nothing you do will actually improve fitness, but doing too much can be hugely detrimental to your race output.

I’d give myself half duration workouts on the Tues and Wed, then rest up to race day, perhaps a small spin the day before to remind the legs how to work, but nothing strenuous. I don’t know the science behind Opener workouts, and not sure if this is for everyone. I’ve always found the very casual, no effort, short pre ride has worked more for me.

But these are things you learn and the reason for B races. Try something and see what works for you.

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Afaik they also add an opener the day before, which replaces a workout, if there is one.

The thinking is that as it’s a B race, you prioritise training over results, so it’s ok to be a bit tired. If you do a taper week beforehand, you lose training time.

However I would go with how you feel, and how important the event is to you. If you’d fancy a result, cut this week’s volume. If you want to see how you race on tired legs, don’t. As you’re new to bike racing, I’d prioritise the event - its about building experience, and racing when tired isn’t as much fun.

Also as it’s a XC race - you need a bit of explositivity, so you need rest beforehand. And 60 miles XC isn’t a short race at all - tiredness enhances the injury risk.

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Openers only pop up if you select “add openers” when you create your plan.

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That sounds like a big day in the saddle. If it was a 90min XCO B-race then I think most people would say follow the training plan and swap out the Saturday workout for the race. However, with your event I think it’s a more about being in a proper physical/mental state to complete your event without being in a deep hole.

I was in a similar situation last week and here’s what I did:

Tue: 3X 90sec race efforts (60s hard, 30s harder)
Wed. 90min endurance ride to test the equipment.
Thu: rest
Fri: 60min preride start/finish of the actual course
Sat: race 100km, 7,500’ climbing


It may “only” be a B race. but 100 kms (60 miles) XC will take you some 4-5 hours, consider the TSS that will give. Not “tapering” for this race will probably mean that week will pretty much destroy you and the consequent training week might be a pile up of “failed” workouts.

Take it easy to be as fresh as possible for the race. And maybe skip or adjust the next workout after it. Maybe even use the “TrainNow” feature, it will maybe suggest a recovery ride?


Lots of unknowns. Is this your first race of the season? Do you have many more races and when is your next race? It’s a “B” race, but do you care more about results and/or is this race part of a points series? How “B” is the “B” race or is it more like an “A-” race. This will determine if you train through it or do a mini taper.

You’re in Build, so you will likely already be fatigued and adding on a typical Build week before a 4-ish hour race will definitely be noticeable. I’m on High Volume plans and race Expert/Cat 1. 2 weeks ago I was in week 5 of Specialty and had a 50 mile MTB race (3:38 hours) followed by a XCO race this past weekend (2:34 hours). Going into the 50 miler I did the scheduled workout Tuesday but ensured Wednesdays z2 felt closer to recovery, which was -10%. Thursday’s workout (VO2 scheduled) was swapped out for a shorter SS workout instead. This was done both for a bit of a taper and also because I new I’d be hitting some intensity for the weekend race. Friday I started the opener workout Goddard -5 but it immediately felt like too much work so swapped it out for a 30 min recovery spin instead (Dans). I felt good going into and during the race and hit a bunch of all time power PRs. I like this type of mini taper for B races while also paying attention to both your physical and mental fatigue and adjusting accordingly.

Tried to do the same this past week for my XCO but I was definitely feeling the residual fatigue form the 50 mile race. The XCO race didn’t go as well. Add in heat and humidity without being acclimated made for a miserable day.

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Thanks all. I took it easy this week and I think it paid off. Race went well. I met all my goals of finishing, feeling good, after and not DFL.

My only problem was persistent low back pain. Pretty much the whole ride. It started mile 3 and was there till the finish. Slowed me down a lot since pushing it too hard exacerbated the issue.

Overall though great experience. On to Leadville.