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Cycling: Taper before the GranFondo Whistler and go the 122-km distance

With only four days before the event, no amount of extra training will help and it may in fact do more harm than good. Your most important goal is to rest in moderation.

The countdown is on for the 5,000 cyclists riding in the fourth annual RBC GranFondo Whistler on Sept. 7.

Maybe this is your first time riding the Fondo or maybe it is your 20th time riding to Whistler, but for everyone this is the time to taper. Tapering is the last phase in your training program where you allow your body to heal and recover. It is after this period that your body should be at its strongest and fittest, peaking for your main event.

For the last three to five months, you have been riding in the rain and occasional thunder, climbing Cypress under the hot sun, and training your way into a cyclist’s physique. At this point, you are more than capable of going the 122-kilometre distance but what you do in this last week will make all the difference.

With only four days before the event, no amount of extra training will help and it may in fact do more harm than good. The sole purpose of training is to break the body down. So it isn’t through the training alone that we get faster or stronger. It is also in the rest and recovery from this damage that you achieve new speed and strength.

So what can you do to guarantee that your legs will be ready to ride this Saturday? Your most important goal is to rest in moderation.

When I tell someone to rest, their first thought is that they need to sleep all day, watch TV or be a slug on the couch. If you are over-stressed, over-trained or working your way across British Columbia completing every gran fondo you can find, yes this is probably the best thing for you to do. But for everyone else who has been training and recovering throughout the season, you won’t need a full week of total downtime and it may actually make you feel more sluggish as you put on weight with the lack of activity. So for the majority of the people, I suggest moderate rest. 

This means that you can still do your regular routine, but take it back a notch. Take out the intensity portion of your workouts and eliminate any sports or activities that you aren’t able to recover from within 24 hours. Add in a few extra hours of sleep each night so you are well rested and watch your diet.

With the decreased volume of activity, your body will probably still crave the same number of calories even though you aren’t expending them. Throughout the season, you may have noticed that your healthy habits have slipped a bit, which is normal when you are burning 3,000 to 4,000 calories on a long ride. But now that you are getting close to the end of the season, you will want to lower your calories and limit your indulgences. 

But don’t get me wrong; the season doesn’t end with GranFondo Whistler. Without even looking at the many fondos in the U.S., such as Mt. Hood, which is one of my favorites, or Levi’s, which I have yet to ride, you still have the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria to look forward to. This ride sits in perfectly with a training program, giving you enough time to recover from Whistler and make it a perfect lead up to a grand finale ride of 100 km or 140 km.

Once you have finished your riding season, please don’t hang up your bike for the season! In Vancouver some of the best riding weather comes in the fall, and once the rain gets too cold, you can always find a bike shop or spin studio with a class that will keep you motivated and in shape throughout the winter.

Kristina Bangma is a coach, personal trainer and writer with a love of riding and racing. Email questions to