Tips For Surviving Your First Century
With longer daylight hours, warmer weather and a renewed enthusiasm for riding, we're all feeling excited about pending summer events. Now is the time to capitalize on that momentum and all the hard work you put in during the Winter and Spring, logging hours and doing intervals on the trainer. That structured time on the trainer has given you a solid foundation upon which we can now build. So now you can start adding some longer rides and some event specific training to make sure you’re well prepared for your summer goal events.
One event that is challenging, yet achievable for many people, is a Century. This is a 100-mile event that is typically supported by a local cycling club or organization and often a fund-raiser for the club or a local charity. Typically there are supported rest stops roughly every 25 miles, so you’ll have access to food, water and restrooms along the way. With proper preparation and guidance, these are attainable rides for most cyclists.
Eating and Drinking
Start with a good breakfast, one that you have used during your training and then continue to fuel and hydrate throughout the day. You want to make sure you don’t let yourself get behind on either hydration or nutrition. A good rule of thumb is one bottle per hour and 35-65 grams of Carbohydrate per hour. As a reference, an energy gel and a medium size banana both contain roughly 25 grams of Carbohydrate.
Riding 100 miles by yourself can be lonely and it will also be slower than riding with others. Drafting can save you up to 40 % in energy expenditures over riding out in the wind. The group can also help you with pacing so you can stay on your time/speed schedule. So with the group, you’ll be riding faster, saving energy and the company/conversation can help pass the time and you can learn from the experienced riders in the group.
As the event approaches, you need to make sure you’ve done your homework. First, you need to be physically ready, confident that you can handle the demands of the event. Second, you need to know the details of the route (particularly the climbs), so you know when those critical sections are approaching and you’re not surprised by length or steepness of the grades. Finally, make sure your bike tuned up and you’re carrying what you need to take care of your bike along the route. You should be able to take care of basic repairs like punctures or a broken chain.
Don’t focus on the fact you’re about to ride 100 miles, it can get overwhelming. Break the ride into 25-mile segments and tackle these quarters one at a time. This gives you smaller goals and a sense of accomplishment along the way as you met these milestones. Approaching it this way can also help you keep track of the critical sections of the event, specifically when the climbs are located along the route.