Preparing For Your First Century Ride

Spring is coming, the weather is getting warmer. The lure of long distance bike rides is growing. Clubs are scheduling long rides, both Century Rides ( 100-miles) and Metric Century (100-km ~63-miles). It’s time to get ready to ride and the right to say “I Rode 100 Miles in 1 day!” It will astound and amaze some of your co-workers and neighbors, your family probably already thinks you are a bit daft. You’ll confirm to others just what they’ve been thinking about you all along. I should know, my co-workers thought I was crazy – then I proved it.

About 20 years and a couple of bicycles passed after the “My First Long Bike Ride” before I attempted another long ride. The first was from Gettysburg, Pa to Columbia, Md, about 65 miles. The week after that ride I bought the book “Bicycling Fuel: Nutrition for Bicycle Riders” by Richard Rafoth. It’s a great little book, it appears that it is out of print but copies can be found on Amazon and elsewhere on the ‘net. It is a great read, and would have made my ride from Gettysburg to home a lit easier.

The most important lesson I learned from this book was that after about 2 to 2-1/2 hours of riding one ‘hits the wall’ or ‘bonks’. and that is too late to do much about it. Start eating as soon as you start riding, not much but a fairly constant source of nutrition. Eat a banana, apple, or good snack, every half hour or so. And drink plenty of water.

Once you have your nutrition settled, the next thing to do is to train for the long ride, and choose which one will be your first. Start by building your endurance, ride 2 or 3 times a week and make each ride a little longer than the previous. Don’t over-do it. Make some rides short, to make riding enjoyable. once you have worked up to about 25 miles, then try for a 35 or 40 mile ride. Once you get to that level, and still get a thrill out of riding, you’re ready to get serious about heading more towards your 100 mile goal. In training 65 to 75 will be close enough.

Since you will be training on a known route, probably around home, you will know how to get home – that’s a big plus. Before my first Century I road in a Metric Century – 100-km (63 miles) in an area I was not familiar with. Even though my cyclometer told me I had 5 miles to go I was tired and beginning to feel discouraged and lost. Subsequent years I recognized the roads and felt tired, but deep down I knew that the finish was close.

So my next tip: How to choose your first Century. Pick one that is close to home where you know the roads. It is never fun when you are tired to see a hill ahead. But knowing what is on the other side of that hill can turn discouragement into ‘just another hill’, probably with a nice long down-hill coast on the far side. I find that knowing what lies ahead can make a long ride manageable.

I find I can ride 60 – 65 miles from Columbia, Md. to Alexandria, Va. with no problem. Two things make this ride possible, and enjoyable. The first is that i know where fuel (food/drink) is. The second thing is that I know the roads and trails. I know what lies ahead even if it is an uphill.

  • I originally posted this on the Usenet Newsgroup rec.bicycle.rides sometime around
    1990.
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About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
This entry was posted in Bicycling, century ride, Outdoors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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