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I have two months to prep for my first (Imperial) century ride, advice?

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I have two months to prep for my first (Imperial) century ride, advice?

Old 04-22-19, 01:32 AM
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elysse77
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I have two months to prep for my first (Imperial) century ride, advice?

Hello everyone

Like the title says, I'm plan on doing it on the solstice, seems fitting. So that gives me about two months. Currently I'm doing 15-20 mile rides with the occasional 30 thrown in. Usually by June and July I start to crank out 50s.

It's cold where I live, so from early October to late March there's snow or its below freezing, so I basically have to start over every year. This will be my sixth year cycling, and I've really stagnated. My longest ride ever was 52 miles. I know I can do a century ride given my familiarity with the sport and 2 months to prep.

I'm a 21 year old female about 5'3" and maybe 170 lbs yes I know I need to lose weight, I lose about 30-35 lbs every summer because I cycle so much. I definitely plan on losing weight to make the century easier.

So, experienced riders, give me your advice, what critical things should I be doing?

Edit: my average speed is 10 mph no matter how long or short my ride is.

Thank you!
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Old 04-22-19, 02:26 AM
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What kind of a bicycle are you riding?

The general rule about marathons is that if you can run a half marathon, then you can run a marathon. And, probably the same applies to cycling.

Are you doing an organized ride? Group ride? The organized rides will have a "Sag Wagon" in case something breaks. And, FOOD. And, riding companions as well as an event to keep you motivated.

Yes, you need to eat for riding long rides.

Post some photos to your Gallery/Album page.
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Old 04-22-19, 04:59 AM
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I normally wouldn't point out a low average speed, but 10 mph raises a couple of concerns for me. Besides questioning the appropriateness of the bike, it also makes me want to know what kind of terrain you're riding. Is if particularly hilly? Are the roads ok? I rode 33 solo centuries last year and 6 so far this year (similar biking season), and I can tell you that some centuries are a lot harder than others. So one thing I would suggest is to carefully pick your route, be sure you know whether the roads are good and the hills aren't too big.

if you're doing this solo, you can route and schedule as you like. Pick a long midsummer day so you have lots of daylight in case it takes longer than you think. Also, I often take breaks of an hour or more about halfway. I can eat substantial food during rides, so I often stop somewhere for lunch. Most people can't eat like that and ride, but even if you can't, I think the extended break makes it seem much less of an ordeal. We aren't racing her here, take the time to stop for something nice. Sightsee, feed ducks, whatever.

BTW, I do a lot of elliptical training during the winter months, and I find I don't lose any significant bicycling ability when I'm off. I actually appear to be a little faster this spring than I was last fall.
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Old 04-22-19, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by elysse77 View Post
It's cold where I live, so from early October to late March there's snow or its below freezing, so I basically have to start over every year.
For future reference...

Join the local gym.
Get a trainer for your bike so you can ride indoors.
Buy a fat bike so you can ride outdoors during the winter season.

With that said just keep cranking out as many miles as you can between now and then. You'll get there.
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Old 04-22-19, 05:59 AM
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Your goals aren't entirely unlike mine accomplished at the end of last summer.

Start working towards earlier starts, for the full ride starting before dawn would be good. Even if you can go more quickly, those early hours are still some of the best. But given I roll around 10 mph before allowing for breaks for me it was a necessity. Also find a light solution that works if you get on the road before dawn, and for after dark as well if you need to be riding on that end of the day instead or even as well.

Midsummer's midday sun will take a lot out of you. At 10 mph something like a DaBrim helmet shade can help a lot, also long sleeve jersey. You'll need suitable fluids, too - 10+ hours drinking only water and sweating out minerals will literally kill you. In the hottest part of the day I was adding both a nuun tablet and Gatorade powder. Know where you will get water. If you are unfortunate enough to have to buy water a gallon is typically cheaper than even a liter and a half, so if you can carry 2+ liters on the bike just get it and wash your face and wet your arms.

Know your route, while seeing something new is fun, having a sense of the ride in your head really helps - I had done mine plenty, the only "new" part was doing the furthest stretch in the return rather than outbound direction. Get at least a simple computer (mine broke as I set out on my century) or at least wear a watch. I try to avoid roads but have to admit that makes things harder - the 3 miles of my route that were on a wide highway shoulder flew by compared to the bumpier, less maintained rail trail portions. Frequent intersections are no fun, a few miles of nice route in between little one-stoplight villages would be perfect.

Support would be... amazing. Even if only someone to meet you with supplies and at the end. A ride returning to home would be best, if you have to do something like take a train back have dry warm clothes to change into as your body will shut down making air conditioning oppressive.

Wear actual cycle clothing. It handles sweat so much better. Long sleeves can be wet with extra water which is very cooling.

Find things you can eat. The peanut butter in my sandwiches was a mistake but the jelly and banana was not. There are all sorts of bike specific products but there are also everyday ones :-) Next time on a long training ride I'm going to try a microwave cup of soup at a gas station, and not just make that when I get home. For the real ride sugar is your friend - you are eating for ready energy, save eating healthy concerns and any thought of burning off reserves for moderate rides. And ideally try anything you are going to eat on earlier rides.

Going faster may be an option - I'll leave that to others. If you ride at your current pace, you are not so much in an athletic endeavor as an endurance one - moderately low power output for a long time. Things like chafing, uncomfortable positions, etc may get to you more than muscle fatigue, so look at gear improvements for those concerns not just for speed. If you are able to ride faster, you'll suffer those less long.

See if you can get back into the 50's soon, maybe you can manage 50 km (just over 31 miles) next weekend, something in the 40's if need be and then your first 50 miler of the season. After that the metric system gives you a nice goal in their century at 63 or so miles. I think last summer I did a 70 something, an 80 something, and in the end the century was not as much about any of the improvements I had hoped to make, as it was about just staying out there until it was done - I kept telling myself "I'm going to finish this so I don't have to come back out next weekend and re-do everything I've already done today"

Last edited by UniChris; 04-22-19 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 04-22-19, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post

BTW, I do a lot of elliptical training during the winter months, and I find I don't lose any significant bicycling ability when I'm off. I actually appear to be a little faster this spring than I was last fall.
Same here on the Elliptical, I do long steady state high HR sessions no pauses, no breaks, the opposite of interval training. I still ride outside in the winter but not as much. Oh well. getting off topic.

Yes.. like others said, ride more and ride longer, that is the only way. There is no food, diet, or short cut that can get all parts of your body accumulated to that task. It has to be seat time on the bike and figure out what works for you to keep it increasing. The limiting factor may not be the obvious prime movers of riding like your legs, it may be your feet, upper arms, neck, knees, back etc that are not used to it.

Last edited by u235; 04-22-19 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 04-22-19, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Your goals aren't entirely unlike mine accomplished at the end of last summer.

Start working towards earlier starts, for the full ride starting before dawn would be good. Given I roll around 10 mph before allowing for breaks for me it was a necessity. Also find a light solution that works if you get on the road before dawn, and for after dark as well if you need to be riding on that end of the day instead or even as well.
I'm not sure OP knows you did your century on a unicycle, and I'm guessing 10 mph would be a pretty good clip on one of those. 10 mph on a bike sounds to me like she is struggling with something as it's an unusually slow speed for a distance bike rider, even a beginner. Keep in mind also that at that distance, each 1 mph increase equals almost an hour less of riding time, so even a small increase in speed to 11 or 12 mph is going to make this quite a bit more tolerable.
I hope OP posts a few more specifics about what she is currently doing so we can see if there's some tweaks she could do to make this more achievable. She's off to a good start.
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Old 04-22-19, 09:46 AM
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If you can ride 30 miles, you can ride 100km. Between now and then, ride lots - build up to longer distances. Read about interval training and do a bit, which will help raise your avg speed. (10mph is so slow that it makes me wonder how you are measuring it -- total distance divided by total ride time, including rest stops, or an avg speed while moving?) Make sure your bike fits you properly and is in good shape.
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Old 04-22-19, 10:01 AM
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I completely agree that riding at 12 or 13 miles an hour would make a century more enjoyable.

And regardless of speed anything that causes discomfort or difficulty should be addressed.

If I differ in view, it's only in wanting to avoid any hint of implying that one must ride a certain speed to be eligible to contemplate a century. And if a person does go slower, for whatever uniquely personal reason, their experience may start to have some things in common with a long outdoor workday in the summer, or maybe a day out of a bike packing trip, as much as it would with a traditional road ride.

I too hope Elysse shares more details of any difficulties, discomforts or other challenges, so the community can help her make the ride as efficient and enjoyable as possible.

Last edited by UniChris; 04-22-19 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 04-22-19, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
I completely agree that riding at 12 or 13 miles an hour would make a century more enjoyable.

And regardless of speed anything that causes discomfort or difficulty should be addressed.

If I differ in view, it's only in wanting to avoid any hint of implying that one must ride a certain speed to be eligible to contemplate a century. And if a person does go slower, for whatever uniquely personal reason, their experience may start to have some things in common with a long outdoor workday in the summer, or maybe a day out of a bike packing trip, as much as it would with a traditional road ride.

I too hope Elysse shares more details of any difficulties, discomforts or other challenges, so the community can help her make the ride as efficient and enjoyable as possible.
I totally agree with that--I just suspect that 10 mph might signal a problem that could be solved. If she's comfortable at that speed, and doesn't mind 10 hours in the saddle, I hope she has a great time. I've now done centuries on 4 different kind of bikes so if she tells us a little bit about what she is riding, I may have a tip or two on how to make it just a tad bit more endurable.

I hope Elysse didn't take what I said as a criticism or discouragement. I did my first century on a big heavy comfort bike a couple years ago, and I averaged about 11 mph. I've gotten quite a bit faster since then, and I feel a lot better after I finish than I did then.
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Old 04-22-19, 01:00 PM
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I searched on 'training plan for century.' This was the first result (I haven't vetted it, but you get the idea): https://www.bicycling.com/training/a...ide-a-century/.

If your century is part of an organized ride, I think you'll have 12 hours to complete the 100 miles, so averaging 10 MPH will work. Still, you might do yourself a favor if you sped up.

Best of luck - I hope it's a sunny, warm but not hot, tail wind all the way....
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Old 04-22-19, 01:42 PM
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Friends to ride with can be a big help.
About 20 years ago I rode my one and only century. I never was a fast rider and I worked my way up to 50 mile rides. I met 2 riders on the organized ride that were in way over their heads like me. We had a good time riding together and really helped that final 25 miles. I usually ride solo but I think none of us 3 were willing to call it quits before 100 miles together.
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Old 04-23-19, 09:49 AM
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plan on starting the ride early
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Old 04-23-19, 01:28 PM
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I agree that 10 mph sounds like a problem. Most organized century rides have a cutoff, usually around 8 hours. They don't want to keep their support people out on the road for 10 hours, and that would be if you didn't stop at all.

It might be that the 10 mph number is because of riding in urban conditions, with stop signs and street lights. If that's what's happening, you need to do some rural rides to get a better idea of your true cruising speed over distance.
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Old 04-23-19, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by elysse77 View Post
Hello everyone


Like the title says, I'm plan on doing it on the solstice, seems fitting. So that gives me about two months. Currently I'm doing 15-20 mile rides with the occasional 30 thrown in. Usually by June and July I start to crank out 50s.


It's cold where I live, so from early October to late March there's snow or its below freezing, so I basically have to start over every year. This will be my sixth year cycling, and I've really stagnated. My longest ride ever was 52 miles. I know I can do a century ride given my familiarity with the sport and 2 months to prep.


I'm a 21 year old female about 5'3" and maybe 170 lbs yes I know I need to lose weight, I lose about 30-35 lbs every summer because I cycle so much. I definitely plan on losing weight to make the century easier.


So, experienced riders, give me your advice, what critical things should I be doing?


Edit: my average speed is 10 mph no matter how long or short my ride is.


Thank you!

Ride, ride, ride.


The centuries that I have done, all vary. Depending on the century as in how flat or how hilly is it, will dictate some of your training.


If it is hilly, over 6,000ft of climbing, then you will need to train on some hills as part of your prep rides. Flat, no worries.


My training goes something like this. Once I get to 35 then each week I bump it by 10 until I get to 75. I stop at 75 because if I can do 75, 25 more should not be a problem. You want to get to that 75 mile training ride 2 weeks before the actual ride. You will not gain any real fitness that last week before the ride and actually you should do some shorter rides that week just to keep the legs moving.


So, once you can do 35 without a problem, increase your mileage each week by 10. So, if you are doing a 35 on Sunday, shoot for 45 the following Sunday and so forth. If you can, ride at least 3 times during the week leading up to that bigger ride on Sunday or whenever. Those rides should be no less than 20-25. You really want to average 100 miles per week for 7 weeks or more. I like the 10 times the distance in prep miles. So, if it is a 100 mile ride, I need to train for 1000 miles. 65, then I need 650 under my belt. Of course this also depends on your age and general starting fitness. A 30 year old might not need as many training miles as say a 60 year old like myself but it is better to be over prepared than having not trained enough.


Secondly, learn to eat and drink. Now is the time to figure out what you are going to drink and what snacks you are going to eat on your ride between rest stops. Experiment NOW, not 1 week before the ride. Also, turning the pedals is just one part of it. Sitting in the saddle for 6 plus hours is another issue but your weekly long rides should help you figure out any pain you might have over the long haul.


If you put the time in, it will not be that bad. If you skimp on your training you will be sorry. There is no replacement for "time in the saddle."


john
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Old 04-23-19, 01:45 PM
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I was in to mountain bike racing and off-road endurance rides in my teens and 20's, but put that aside for a couple of decades. I now find myself in my 40's and close to 200 lbs, and I'm training for my first true Century this year as well. I have previously ridden 80+ miles on a mountain bike (which is more work than a road ride), but that was decades ago... And I was a younger, lighter, stronger version of myself. I didn't train at all for that effort, other than my normal riding activity a couple days a week!


If you look online, you will find many eight-week training programs for riding a Century. Most of them have a combination of two shorter rides during the work week, and a longer ride on the weekend that starts at 20-30 miles and ramps up to about 70-80 miles a week or two before the big ride. If you can go out and do 75 miles a week or so before your Century, you should be more than fine. But many people say the last 20 miles are the most difficult.


I will second the recommendation of doing a supported ride. At the very least, you will need a place to re-fill your water bottles. Most bikes can only accommodate two water bottles, and you may go through those in an hour if it's hot.


SAG support can also be nice. I was actually on the staff of a local Metric Century back in the 1990's and drove a "SAG Wagon", which was staffed with two bike shop mechanics (myself and a friend), and there were countless people needing help with flat tires or dropped chains. They can also summon medical help, if that is needed.

Last edited by HarborBandS; 04-23-19 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 04-23-19, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rutan74 View Post

Secondly, learn to eat and drink. Now is the time to figure out what you are going to drink and what snacks you are going to eat on your ride between rest stops. Experiment NOW, not 1 week before the ride.
This is important! I know someone who planned to use an energy drink for his first organized century. Event Day was a bad time to learn that the energy drink he chose gave him the runs.
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Old 04-23-19, 02:49 PM
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Ask @UniChris about the Twizzlers diet!
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Old 04-23-19, 02:55 PM
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For a week
Get your avg speed to 11+ for the first 10
mi of your ride. Then cruise home.
You can do that no prob
then 15 mi at 11+
Soon 11+ will be your avg for 20 mi.

Ride with computer displaying avg speed.

Couple 50+ mi ride 1-2
week before event
none 3 day before event.

remember:
100 mi is just 5
20 mi rides between SAGS
+
For me, Riding in a group is worth 1 more mph
of motivation

Good luck
Make it fun!!!
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Old 04-23-19, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by HarborBandS View Post
I will second the recommendation of doing a supported ride. At the very least, you will need a place to re-fill your water bottles. Most bikes can only accommodate two water bottles, and you may go through those in an hour if it's hot.
I spent literally an hour in total diverting from trail to central business districts to buy water at four times during the day.

Granted a bit of that was time out of the saddle and I also picked up a sandwich, and yes, the infamous bag of twizzlers.

Going in a complete different direction I corresponded with someone who rode a century as twenty laps of a five mile route through their neighborhood - monotony would be a killer, but with a cooler in the garage they carried only a tiny water bottle, no food, no gear, and bathroom break options were never in doubt. I preferred the change of scenery but it meant I carried a lot with me I wouldn't have needed.
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Old 04-23-19, 03:32 PM
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I did the Wolverine 200, the last year it was held. It consisted ot 5-mile laps. 40 of them to get to 200 miles. Yes, boring. I'd have lost count without my odometer.
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Old 04-23-19, 04:34 PM
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*And don't worry about no dang dern cut off time. Unless they own the roads your on just keep on chugging!
Geez people. She can do it!
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Old 04-23-19, 05:20 PM
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Here are my $.02..

First, 100 miles is certainly a worthy goal and one that once attained you will gain a sense of self-satisfaction and a healthy pride of confidence in reaching this achievement.

Second, this will be fun if you are prepared and in relative comfort. Sort out all possible issues like your saddle soreness, reach, maintenance, road vibration, shoes and hand numbness so that this does not derail your goal. I have completed eight self-supported centuries and as I sorted out these problems and increased my fitness, centuries became more enjoyable.

Third, spend time researching your proposed century route and decide if you will find the scenery captivating and that services are available. Having varied terrain, vistas, tree canopies, bodies of water, interesting historical areas all spice up the route. Check with your local cycling clubs for their tried and true century routes.

Fourth, plan a bailout option if things do not go as planned. There is no shame in cutting a ride short and live to fight another day if bad weather, illness or mechanical issues occur.
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Old 04-23-19, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by hillyman View Post
*And don't worry about no dang dern cut off time. Unless they own the roads your on just keep on chugging!
Geez people. She can do it!
True, the cutoff time is just a number; but so is the average speed. It's no fun grinding out the last 40 miles, all alone, and coming back to an empty parking lot, the support gazebo taken down, the sidewalks rolled up and put away, no water, no snacks, and hopefully your car isn't at the far end of the field cuz you're too exhausted to walk that far. But I suppose it depends on the goal; is the goal to have fun, or to have bragging rights that you survived the 'death march?'

Miles by themselves are only to toughen your sitz bones. Since Elysse77 is asking for advice, my advice is to work hard to get her speed up. Combine hard short rides during the week with longer easier rides on weekends. And by "short hard rides" I mean an hour or so and coming home so drained that you go to bed early. Getting stronger will make the miles easier.
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Old 04-23-19, 07:27 PM
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Fastfingaz
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I don't see where the OP has come back to clarify weather it's an organized ride with all the goodies or she is planning and riding alone I think that makes a world of a difference in offering advice and pointers,,,,,,
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