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Century Time?

Old 06-29-20, 01:04 PM
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deacon mark
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Century Time?

So generally for normal folks a 5 hour century is considered an pretty good accomplishment regardless of age riding solo. It use to be a goal of mine and about 7-9 years ago I never did a 5 hour century but did some solo in 5:15. I do not stop clock. Back then I really think I could have came pretty close or done a solo 5 hour if I had really planned and rested. All of my centuries I have time have not really been planned too much like I was training for a race. I just picked a day and road hard as I could.

So fast forward now 8 years later and I am riding more than ever have about 200-300 miles a week, I am retired and basically I never do a century I just ride about 50 miles a ride. The reason is I can repeat it the next day and I don't worry about taking food or how much liquid to have. I one large bottle 27 oz gets me well even if hot.

Today I did 50 miles on a flat course basically good roads and no real wind factor. It was very warm and humid 74 degrees with high dew point but early am 5 am. I did 50 miles in 2:40 about 18.7 mph no rest no planning. I felt decent but certainly not powerful. I keep thinking how did I ever to the 5:15 it seems like I could not today get to that speed. If think if I rested and had food and proper nutrition for the ride maybe I could get close.

Bottom line is what do some of you about my age consider a fast century? I am going to be 59 in July and I am not at all complaining I actually think I did really decent for me but seems some old timers can drop 5 hour centuries pretty decently. Finally I have never tried one as a group as such but I believe if I had support it would be a whole different ballgame. What are the differences between solo century times and those with groups. Again I speaking to the 50 plus group here,
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Old 06-29-20, 02:02 PM
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Almost 69 - all my centuries are metric. 4+ hours @ 15mph including the stops is enough fun for 1 day.


Last edited by Wildwood; 06-29-20 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 06-29-20, 02:13 PM
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I can't recall doing a solo century. I like friends, food stops and a T-shirt and meal at the finish. I never had a goal but I seem to be stuck at about 15 mph, year after year. I'm 71 but I was just as slow when I was younger. I blame it on the hills....
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Old 06-29-20, 02:25 PM
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I've tried for the 5-hour century a few times, and always come up short-- I've done 5h16m twice. Open roads with traffic, intersections, etc. all make it really tough around here.

Closing the Rapha Festive in 2018, I let +20mph winds help push me from my house to the Pacific Ocean, covering 75 miles in 3 hours and 10 minutes-- solo. Could easily have made another 25 in the remaining hour and fifty, but simply had no desire to do so.

I too trend more toward the metric century, it's just a more manageable distance in terms of both time and effort. I have just 16 rides longer than 100 miles under my belt. But 100km? 158.
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Old 06-29-20, 02:25 PM
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I've done hundreds of centuries and I never got close to 5 hours total time, but I never tried to, either. I've also never done a "flat" century. The least altitude gain I can remember is about 4000 feet.
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Old 06-29-20, 04:56 PM
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27 oz of fluid for fifty miles. That must put a lot of stress on your heart as your plasma thickens up from loss of fluids.

Maybe not, but I've always felt that being stingy with hydration would affect how thick your blood plasma is.

But heck, if you can do a five hour 100 miles, then good for you. I couldn't do it solo, I'd be over six hours. Maybe with a decent group of seven or more that are used to each other and pulling turns.
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Old 06-29-20, 05:04 PM
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A friend is the strongest 50something guy I know in this area, routinely averages 20+ mph on his typical 20-40 mile rides on the same routes where I struggle to average 16 mph. On a good day I can hang with him for up to 10 miles. But I've never seen him hold a 20 mph average over a full century.

That might be because he adjusts his pace to suit the folks he rides with. He's much stronger than I am but when we've ridden together he doesn't keep pushing the pace and doesn't mind holding back.

But I'd still be surprised if he could hold a 20 mph average over a full century. I follow some local pros and strong amateurs and they usually average 18+ mph over 100+ mile rides.

Probably depends on the terrain and wind. We don't have any mountains, and few continuous 2% grades as long as a mile without flattening out. But there's a lot of wind and our roller coaster terrain has lots of double digit short steep climbettes. It's tough to gauge an effort for a long ride, especially when the temperature gets to 90F and higher.

Neck and shoulder spasms from injuries usually stop me around 50-75 miles. The few full centuries I've finished the past few years, my average has ranged from 12-15 mph. And that's moving time. I need lots of short breaks to stretch and massage those pesky neck muscles. I usually aim to finish within 12 hours, including rest breaks.
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Old 06-29-20, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
That might be because he adjusts his pace to suit the folks he rides with. He's much stronger than I am but when we've ridden together he doesn't keep pushing the pace and doesn't mind holding back..
Nice guy. I like guys (and women) like that.
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Old 06-30-20, 03:00 AM
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I did a 4:50 century on my Ti-Rush recumbent almost 20 years ago on a Las Vegas Valley Bicycle Club rally. But I was averaging nearly 220 miles per week then, as a 48-year old.

On a fully loaded small group tour from Kentucky up to Canada, we did 128-miles in around 5-hours, but that was with a screaming tailwind directly behind us.
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Old 06-30-20, 09:26 AM
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I'm currently at about 20mph average for 30 mile rides where I am really pushing it, and about 18mph for metric centuries. Those numbers are up a good bit from last year as I have upped my interval training. A couple days ago I did a 73 mile ride at 18mph. I do at least one solo century a year, and it would be cool to do it in 6 hours. No way in 5!
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Old 06-30-20, 09:45 AM
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Fastest century I ever did was 5 hours ride time. It wasn't flat, I wasn't over 50, and there was at least an hour of accumulated rest stop time.
My normal centuries are more like 6.5 hours total time and 4000 feet vertical is on the easy side.
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Old 06-30-20, 10:12 AM
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Haven't ridden any imperial centuries the past few years, but before that, (when in my early 60s), I rode several a year. All of them solo, a few as part of a charity ride, most self-supported. Riding solo, I'm satisfied if I average 15 mph. For a century, that would be a 6h40m ride. Add in stops and a lunch break, and it usually takes me around 8 hours to ride a full century. I can get in a metric century in around five hours. Any moderate amount of climbing will kill those times.

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Old 06-30-20, 04:39 PM
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I'm 66 now - first century was when I was 58. I've never come close to 20 mph - that's way out of my league. The fastest average speeds I've had (three different rides at approximately the same course - from central Massachusetts up to Brattleboro VT, across the CT River to NH and back down to the starting point) were 16.3, 16.4 and, last year, 15.6 mph. About 3,600 feet of climbing - rollers throughout but no big hills - about as flat a century as you can find in New England.
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Old 07-01-20, 10:26 AM
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I still enjoy riding 100 milers and have been doing one just about every weekend the last several months. Generally the 100 milers I’m doing around where I live have at least 4500’ of climbing. I’m 67 and my endurance is as good as ever. I used to average around 18 mph solo but since a hip replacement and getting older my average speed is around 16-17 mph. I’ve ridden a number of sub 5 hour 100 milers but all of those were in groups. Flatter centuries can make a huge difference in average speeds. We ridden 200 milers to the NC coast and averaged close to 20 mph with a group and flatter terrain.

One day on Tour de Wyoming several years ago we were on one road for the entire 60 miles and it was fairly flat. I decided I was going to ride the 60 miles in no longer than 3 hours and did it. It’s pretty tough because if your speed drops below 20 mph you have to ramp it up for a period of time Just to get the Overall average speed back up to 20 mph.

The fastest 100 miler I’ve done was in 4 hours 15 minutes. It was the first 100 miles of The Ride Across Indiana (RAIN) and I was in a fast group, good winds and flat terrain. I hung onto the front group where we averaged 27+ mph the first hour. I finished the one day 160 mile ride and averaged 21.7 mph for the day. Probably my best One day overall effort ever.

Depending on the size of the group, it’s not difficult to average more than 2 mph faster riding in a group versus solo.
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Old 07-01-20, 01:20 PM
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I rode a solo century at age 66 at 20.1 mph (elapsed time, not just riding time). I probably could have done that again the following year but knee issues nixed that as a trial. I hit age 71 this year and 18 mph would be a good result for a solo century for me now.

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Old 07-01-20, 02:38 PM
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At 64, I've done 3 centuries over the last couple of years. What I have learned is that it all depends. How basic is that? Vertical means a LOT.

My first century, 102 miles had 11,000 feet of climbing. Took me 9 hours. Pure sufferfest. The last 25 miles had almost 6k of climbing. Not a "fun" day.
No 2 was a flat century in Savannah. 102 miles and it took me 5:20. It had like 500 ft of "climbing". Going over the bay bridge was the highlight of the day.
No 3 was the Horrible Hundred in Florida. Again, same mileage with 4,500 ft of climbing. Yes, this is the very hilly part of Florida if you can believe it. That one took me 6:20. Very pitching climbs. Not long but I counted about 10 sections in double digits. Only ride I was ever in where people were actually layed out on the side of road dead to the wind. Obviously, they had not climbed very much.

So it all depends on the climbing. Doing any century in 5 hours is moving which means you are averaging 20mph plus. Not easy when you get over 50 by any stretch. Add in some climbing and for most people over 50, forget about 5 hours unless you are dead flat. If in a group, with some help, you might get there. Hills, no way IMO. Now, I am done with the big climbs. I'm ready for some flat stuff.

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Old 07-01-20, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jppe View Post
I still enjoy riding 100 milers and have been doing one just about every weekend the last several months. Generally the 100 milers Iím doing around where I live have at least 4500í of climbing. Iím 67 and my endurance is as good as ever. I used to average around 18 mph solo but since a hip replacement and getting older my average speed is around 16-17 mph. Iíve ridden a number of sub 5 hour 100 milers but all of those were in groups. Flatter centuries can make a huge difference in average speeds. We ridden 200 milers to the NC coast and averaged close to 20 mph with a group and flatter terrain.

One day on Tour de Wyoming several years ago we were on one road for the entire 60 miles and it was fairly flat. I decided I was going to ride the 60 miles in no longer than 3 hours and did it. Itís pretty tough because if your speed drops below 20 mph you have to ramp it up for a period of time Just to get the Overall average speed back up to 20 mph.

The fastest 100 miler Iíve done was in 4 hours 15 minutes. It was the first 100 miles of The Ride Across Indiana (RAIN) and I was in a fast group, good winds and flat terrain. I hung onto the front group where we averaged 27+ mph the first hour. I finished the one day 160 mile ride and averaged 21.7 mph for the day. Probably my best One day overall effort ever.

Depending on the size of the group, itís not difficult to average more than 2 mph faster riding in a group versus solo.
Wanders told me you were fast.
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Old 07-02-20, 06:48 AM
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Back in 2006 (age 55), I did a UMCA sanctioned 100 mile timed event. Final time was 5h10m for 102 miles. Being an event, that time was overall including all stops.

I stopped one time for water and lost 1m40s and one time to pee, 50s.
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Old 07-02-20, 10:14 AM
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Living in a metric country I don't particularly aim for an imperial century - but then I don't aim for any particular distance either. I do 8 - 10 metric centuries a month.

My two most recent century training rides were 139km (86mi) and 1100m (3608ft) climbing in 4h 28min and 31km/h (19.2mph) and 132km (82mi) and 1349m (4425ft) climbing in 4h 25min and 30km/h ave (18.6mph)

The longest so far this year solo was 144km (89mi) and 1503m (4931ft) climbing in 4h 49min and 29.8km/h ave. (18.5mph)

In terms of long days, well I did do a charity Pro-Am race in my 20's that covered 1000km in 4 days. Went through a mountainous region, fairly lumpy as I recall. No idea what the average speed was. I don't think I've done more than 100km off-road on my MTB in one ride either. Guess I need to get some long rides in!

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Old 07-02-20, 11:19 AM
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I was always a 16-17 mph rider on my uprights. It took me several years after getting my first recumbent before I finally broke the 2:30 mark for a 50-mile ride, and a few years more to break 5 hours for an imperial century. My best overall was a one-way gran fondo in which I did 107 miles in 4:30. My best one where the begin and end points were the same was 4:40 for 100 miles. I don't do as many centuries anymore, and when I do I tend to socialize at the stops; so I haven't done a century for time in about 5 years.
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Old 07-02-20, 11:27 AM
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I must be a lot slower than I thought! I've got 30 more years before I make a century.
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Old 07-02-20, 07:14 PM
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I think a 5 hour solo flat century is a very good accomplishment for a recreational cyclist. That's a lot of qualifiers though.
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Old 07-03-20, 12:57 AM
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Best solo century is 5:19:49 moving time (18.76 mph) and 5:31:37 elapsed time with 4.532 feet vertical. That might threaten the 5-hour mark on moving time (but probably a little short) if it was 100% flat (+/- 40 feet per mile supposedly slows it down by about 1 mph given statistically average gradients along the way). That route included three categorized climbs (but 2 were barely categorized and the hardest section was 7.1% for 0.61 miles - 5.2% for 1.39 miles on the same climb). I'd love to try something flat like the Seagull Century (with no bloody wind, of course, and hand-up water bottles) to see if I could squeak out a solo sub-5. But there would always be people to draft in that, so it would probably not be possible to truly do it solo. And totally flat means no coasting or varying the muscle recruitment, no stretching the quads, tougher to find an easy place to reach for a water bottle, etc. Well, whatever. I'm fairly satisfied with what I've done so far, so it is what it is. But a sub-5 solo hundred miler - even if it's flat - is very respectable for a recreational rider.

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Old 07-05-20, 05:54 PM
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I've never tried to push it when riding a Century. Even 40+ years ago, when I was averaging ~500mi/wk, I don't think I ever did 100 miles in less than five hours, even in a group. Six hours of saddle time was always my goal, so maybe 6-1/2 total counting water/snack stops (even back then I only carried one water bottle). My longest day of ~130 miles (solo riding) was done in a tad over eight hours including food stops.
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Old 07-07-20, 01:44 PM
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Living in the hills of the SF Bay Area, I don't think of rides so much by horizontal distance as by how much elevation gain they have. I don't think I've ever done a century with less than 5,000' of climbing and 8'000' is about average. Doing that kind of climbing in 5 hours plus riding 100 miles just ain't going to happen. It's difficult for me to imagine what it's like riding 100 miles over flat terrain.
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