We tend to ask ourselves, "Am I prepared?" For some reason, the vast majority will answer "Not yet."
We forget that this is not a test we can cram for. Most of us are aware of how tapering works, and most of us will taper properly. Yet - perhaps from panic - so many of us attempt to shed a few pounds before The Big Day, whether from our bodies or from our bicycles. But...
It's too late to lose weight. Don't even try. Any attempt to lose body weight in the last days leading up to these events will only have adverse effects. Kelli covered nutrition on Sunday, and it's important to read it thoroughly. Remember: all this week, maintain the body's expectations regarding eating and drinking habits.
It's like trying to save weight by not carrying water bottles. You can probably make it pretty far into the ride before needing to drink. But then you'll have to stop to drink at a rest stop... or several... and any time gains you may have made by shaving weight on the hills will be long gone.
But it's also a bad idea to try to lose weight off of your bike by using new or untested equipment. The new stuff may fail, but even if it doesn't, it can serious effect your handling and/or comfort throughout the day causing added fatigue and stress.
- do NOT drastically change your regular eating habits by changing what/when you eat
- do NOT lower your caloric intake; biggest reward = bonking. If cutting out something, be sure that there's a replacement of the same/similar caloric value; for example, no alcohol this week? - drink Gatorade instead. Maintain the body's expectations.
- carb-loading the night before the event with giant helpings of pasta, does NOT generally work. As a social event, getting to meet other riders, the traditional Pasta Dinner or pre-ride gathering is a good thing. As a preparation for the ride, it's most often unhelpful or even harmful.
An effective carbohydrate loading phase takes 3-4 days, so relying on one large bowl of pasta the night before is not going to cut it. The fact that you are tapering your training before the race automatically contributes to loading, assuming you keep eating your usual intake of carbohydrates. ... Many athletes opt for a low-fibre diet on the final day of loading, which can help prevent abdominal gas and bloating in the race. Stick with white bread/rice/pasta, and avoid eating large quantities of beans and pulses (unless you know you get on well with them), and go easy on the vegetables and salads.
- do NOT try over-haul your bike this week; tearing it all down and rebuilding it often backfires. Yes, it is very important that you do an all points inspection, cleaning thoroughly, lubing, and making sure all the bolts are tightened adequately, etc. But a rebuild is risky and can lead to equipment failures.
- do NOT try out new, untested equipment (or foods on event day). Now is not the time to put on new wheels, chains, cables, or even bartape. Half-way up the climb is not the time to try out some new, exotic gels. Stick to what you have and what you can stomach. (I can't tell you how many years I've seen dozens of flats in the first 2-3 miles due to participants mistakenly riding new tubes/tires in an attempt to avoid such mishaps.)
- do NOT drastically change your riding habits. Tapering is good. Big changes take time for the body to adapt. Be smart about how much, how little, or how intensely you ride.
- rest more; take a little extra time each day to relax - body and mind
- plan ahead; packing your bags early and slowly using a check list
- eat your usual breakfast the Day Of