When to stop long endurance training rides before a long event

My “A” event for the year is June 26th (Vermont Grand Fondo: 109 miles 10,500 feet of climbing estimated ride time of less than 7 hours). My training right now consists of 5 days riding/week (8-12 hours/ week) (1 VO2 Max session, 1 Threshold session, 1 3-6 hour ride, Zone 2 to fill in the remainder days/time). I am alternating my 1 long ride per week to include a 3 hour ride which includes about 5000 feet of climbing done largely below threshold or a relatively flat 3-6 hour Zone 2 ride (I am progressing to prepare and have done rides up to 4.5 hours thus far and plan to extend this to 6 hours over the next month or so). My question is how far out should my last LONG training ride effort be for a June 26th event? Right now my plan is to do a 6 hour training ride on June 6 and a 3-4 hour training ride w climbing on June 13th… After the 13th my plan is to have my longest training ride be about 2 hours as I kind of taper in to my event (maintaining intensity and reducing hours/ week). Does this sound reasonable to setup for this event? My assumption is after the 13th of June long training rides will only lead to fatigue I could carry into my event and not produce useful fitness gains that can be tapped into during my event.

Doesn’t answer your question directly, but how long have you noticed that it takes you to recover from your 3-6h rides at zone 2?

I’m doing a 100m in 13 days (RideLondon). Tomorrow I’ll do a hilly 90 miler (3400m climb) and from then on I’ll stick to 2-hour max rides outside and VO2 intervals getting shorter up to 2 days before the event.

The 100 is itself a sort of preparation for a 600 mile 3-day ride 10 days later so again probably just intervals and short rides in between.

This is far from scientific - just my best guess at what will work best.

Have you got any experience of tapering for something like this? Or even just of how you respond to a recovery week? I think it can be quite a personal thing.

Personally if I’m doing long rides every week, then doing a long ride at the shorter/easier end of what I’m used to is going to be something I can recover from very quickly. And if I cut training load too much too soon I get antsy - mood can suffer, sleep quality can suffer, etc. So I’d probably do that last long ride 1 week not 2 weeks out. I don’t run any more, but when doing marathons or Ironmans previously I needed a 2-3 week running taper because for me at least it takes that much longer for running fatigue to clear and get fresh legs.

100%…and it often takes some “hit or miss” experience to dial it in. Honestly, I am much better at mini-tapers than a full-on taper. I still haven’t quite fogured out one of those.

For me, I am better off training almost right up to the event…even doing my last long ride two weeks before my A event can leave me feeling a bit flat. This year for SBT GRVL, I am probably gonna plan on at least an 80 mile gravel ride the weekend before.

This was also true for me when I tapered for my triathlons…if I did a multi-week taper for my full IM’s, I never felt super-sharp on race day. Shorter tapers for 70.3’s had me on full boil it seemed.

Again, very individual.

Its individual, and depends on your fitness. This is what I did before my double century (579 TSS) five years ago and not something I would currently do:

Century about 3 weeks before the double, and another century 8 days before the double. Set some short power PRs that still hold today (3 days before the double, and 5 days after). Fitness was really high and dialed back then.

With more longer rides under my belt I could probably do it again, but right now I would do something different.

I seem to recover well from longer zone 2 rides say 24-48 hours… I have been doing shorter zone 2’s the days after a long ride (1.5-2 hours duration) or taking a rest day followed by an intensity day (VO2 or thresholds 48 hours AFTER my long ride) and this has been working well. My legs feel much better the day after a zone 2 ride than after an intensity day (threshold or above). Whenever in doubt after along ride I rest if my legs feel real heavy for a day.

regarding tapering for an event like this I have little to no experience. my experience with rest weeks is that leading up to them i feel like i need them, but coming out of them i usually don’t feel great… don’t know why, but stuff usually feels hard after a period of rest for me rather than my feeling strong/rested. interestingly after time off i tend (say a week for vacation with no riding) to feel much less fit than i would expect (i.e., i feel like i lose a lot of fitness rather than feeling refreshed and ready to hammer). Based on writing this out maybe i need to work harder a bit closer to my event?

JV of Education First WT team recommends: easing volume the 2nd to last week and then do a big long endurance ride 2 days before your ride, to deplete glycogen stores…for later replenishment and overcompensation of the body. I think there’s merit in this approach.

When I ran it was 4 weeks from my longest run to race day for a marathon - although that was a 23 miler and I still did 13-15 until 2 weeks out and then less than 10. That said running beats you up more than cycling so you don’t need to be that conservative…but you probably won’t get any fitter in the last month if you have been training hard. If you haven’t then a shorter taper would be ok…to quote an age old running saying - I haven’t done enough I’ll use the first half of the race to train for the second :laughing:

If recovery weeks make you feel bad and weeks off make you feel like you’re losing fitness then I’d definitely avoid a big 2 week taper. How do you feel in the middle of recovery weeks? How do you feel in the middle of a recovery week? If you’re feeling fresh after 3-5 days and then sluggish by the end of a full week then maybe a short taper is right for you.