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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 09-19-07, 02:30 PM   #1
zpl
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Clyde tips for completing first century?

So this Saturday is it...my first attempt at a century ride. It will be an organized ride.

Just wondering if fellow clydes/athenas have any tips for surviving that first century? Things to bring, mental tricks, what mistakes I could learn from. Feel free to post them here.

Thanks,

Scott
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Old 09-19-07, 02:51 PM   #2
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I can tell you what NOT to do.

On my metric century a couple weeks ago, I decided to see how I'd fare on just Clif Bars and Powerbar Gel. While it's a good power combo, I was thankful for the well maintained toilet facilities at the 40 mile rest stop.
Pace yourself, keep well hydrated, and stay well fed. Those are the best things to remember. Since it's a club ride, find people doing your pace and get chatting with them. The miles will peel away if you're talking instead of eyeballing your odometer every 30 seconds.
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Old 09-19-07, 05:31 PM   #3
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One of the "tricks" that I read for doing your first century was:

Ride the first half of the ride as if you were as tired as during the second half of your ride.

ie, as CliftonGK1 put it, Pace yourself!

It's not a race (although there will most likely be quite a few people trying to hammer all the way). You have all day to do it (until the coordinators close the course). Take your time, plan on the hills/headwinds being there, and don't burn yourself out. Enjoy the scenery, relax into your riding rhythm, and things will be fine.

I'm doing my first century since I got back on the bike this year at the end of October, I can't wait. It can be a great experience.

Sean
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Old 09-19-07, 06:07 PM   #4
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good luck
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Old 09-19-07, 06:38 PM   #5
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Ride slow...sorry I got nothing. Best of luck.
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Old 09-19-07, 11:35 PM   #6
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The best advice I have for riding a century is to do the following:

1. Start early.
2. Go your own pace. Don't try and match someone else's speed.
3. Stay hydrated. Bring two or three water bottles if possible.
4. Enjoy every rest stop.

Works for me!
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Old 09-19-07, 11:53 PM   #7
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Since it's a club ride, find people doing your pace and get chatting with them. The miles will peel away if you're talking instead of eyeballing your odometer every 30 seconds.
This is doubly good advice. If you're talking, you're not overexerting yourself.

I went out hard on my last century and suffered the last 20 miles for it. A few weeks later I did a slightly shorter ride with twice the climbing at my pace and finished strong.

If you pace well and just want to leave everything on the course, hammer in the last 15 miles. The andrenaline will carry you to the end if you get tired, and it is kind of fun

Suck wheels like no one's business. When it's your turn to push into the wind, take short pulls. Most people make the mistake of taking long pulls. No need to stay in the wind for more than 30 sec to 1 min if you're in a paceline.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:41 AM   #8
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From advice supported by past experience, get off the bike once every hour or two and walk for just a few minutes. Also, I recently began to ride with a heart rate monitor. It has surprised me by indicating sometimes I am going harder than I think. Slowing a bit and keeping my heart rate at around 70 - 75 percent of maximum has meant that I can ride longer with less fatigue. If you find yourself battling a headwind or hills, a heart rate monitor takes your mind off of your progress and helps you focus on keeping your "engine" from overreving. Anything you can do to keep yourself from wearing down psychologically helps a lot. And, look up once in a while to enjoy the scenery.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:48 AM   #9
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The problem with a first century is just knowing you can do it... after the first the rest are easy.

If you have been doing any training you know what you can do. I ride harder when feeling good and on flats and I take it easy climbing or when I start to feel fatiqued. Pacing yourself is hard especially in the excitement of the ride.

Stop at every rest stop and fuel. Know what works for your body. I usually grab an orange slice, some pretezels, maybe a fig bar or peanut butter and bread. Not too much, just alittle to keep you going but not too much to upset your stomach. And key to rest stops - don't lollygag. Get in get out. Don't allow your legs to cool down or every 20 miles you will be trying to warm up again and again. And watch the lunch stop. I sometimes (I am a clyde afterall) eat too much especially if food is good. Don't. Make a light sandwich, have some fruit, a cookie and then go. Give yourself no more than 20 minutes for lunch (10 is better)

You will probably have no problems to mile 70 or 80; after that it may be a struggle. Just stop for 2 minutes here and there if you have too especially if your feet, neck, hands are hurting (my feet usually start to hurt). Quick stops don't hurt time in fact, they may help. Just ride the last 20 miles comfortably and if feeling good, start to push.

And most importantly make this your first century fun! Meet as many people as possible. Say hello to anyone you ride with. They enjoy the company as well. Take pictures if you can. And use the excuse to take pictures if you are tired.

Good luck, enjoy have fun. I know you can do it!
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Old 09-20-07, 07:49 AM   #10
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Pace yourself! Don't try to hang on to a faster group. I did that on my last century for about 5 miles and almost got shelled at mile marker 70. The rest stop at around 72 saved me from completely abandoning the event.

Your mind probably will tell you to quit, walk or just stop biking. If that happens, slow down to a pace where you can recover from... ride like this for a while, eat some energy food and drink a good chunk of water. If your stomach is ready to hurl out all its contents, get off the bike, sit down for a few minutes and just rest. Drink enough and eat just a little during that time. The rest will help to settle your stomach down.

Your legs will feel fine all the time, but your mind and stomach could become a huge showstopper.
Hopefully you won't have to encounter those feelings.

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Old 09-20-07, 11:18 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the very good advice, it's greatly appreciated.

Clifton, can you give me suggestions on what to eat during the ride other than powerbars and gels? I was expecting them to be my main source of food on the ride. Powebars, Cliff Blocks, gels, bananas, along with some HEED. I'm not planning to stop and do a full lunch, but keep dumping around 250 calories into myself every hour.

Scott
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Old 09-20-07, 12:08 PM   #12
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Don't forget some chips or some other salty food. You need to replace the salt you will be loosing through sweating.
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Old 09-20-07, 12:10 PM   #13
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spl - is this not an organized century? If so, rely on the food that is provided. It is far better to eat real carbs such as fruit and peanut butter and bread than power bars. And eat lunch - real food. Just do it. Save your Gels until the last 20 miles or when you start getting fatigued. Then i would say gel every 20 - 30 minutes or so to keep your energy going.

I have just found that my body responds better to real food and not "manufactured" especially on long ride and after 4 - 5 hours in the saddle. Not certain your speed or fitness level but most people do a first century in 8 - 10 hours. Do you really want to eat power bars for 10 hours??? Also don't weigh yourself down with too much stuff. One reason to do an organized ride is so you can travel light.
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Old 09-20-07, 12:22 PM   #14
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I have done 15 this year and while not an expert by ANY means this is what I have learned....

Don't change crap on your bike right before....tires....tubes....nutrition...don't change anything...

I always fair better if I have some solid food about 1/2 way into the ride.....a Peanut butter sandwich.....anything that is solid..

Get ready for mile 85 to 100...there is most always a wall there that you will need to pass....just be ready for it...

When your done congrads....rinse and repete..

Enjoy!!!
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Old 09-20-07, 12:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by zpl View Post
Thanks for all the very good advice, it's greatly appreciated.

Clifton, can you give me suggestions on what to eat during the ride other than powerbars and gels? I was expecting them to be my main source of food on the ride. Powebars, Cliff Blocks, gels, bananas, along with some HEED. I'm not planning to stop and do a full lunch, but keep dumping around 250 calories into myself every hour.

Scott
If Clifbars and gels works for you, then stick with it. It was a trial thing for me, and I found out that the combo of sugars and grains is a gastrointestinal nightmare for me. My body's more acclimated to regular food, so I usually have bananas, fig bars, a Clif bar and a gel or two, and I'll bring things like homemade whole wheat zucchini/carrot bread, and peanut butter.
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Old 09-20-07, 01:10 PM   #16
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My advice would be :
1. Drink PLENTY before you start! Water and Accelerade are my favorites...
2. Don't start off balls of fire.....pace yourself!
3. Divide the ride up into 4 25 mile segments...
4. Find a group of riders that are riding at a comfortable speed for you and
stay with them....you'll learn(hopefully) good group dynamics and save energy.
5. Don't be long at the rest stops! 5 minutes is plenty...you'll get stiff otherwise.
6. If you feel up to it...put the hammer down the last few miles, really push it!

Just my 2 cents worth...but it serves me well!
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Old 09-20-07, 01:27 PM   #17
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spl - is this not an organized century? If so, rely on the food that is provided. It is far better to eat real carbs such as fruit and peanut butter and bread than power bars. And eat lunch - real food. Just do it. Save your Gels until the last 20 miles or when you start getting fatigued. Then i would say gel every 20 - 30 minutes or so to keep your energy going.

I have just found that my body responds better to real food and not "manufactured" especially on long ride and after 4 - 5 hours in the saddle. Not certain your speed or fitness level but most people do a first century in 8 - 10 hours. Do you really want to eat power bars for 10 hours??? Also don't weigh yourself down with too much stuff. One reason to do an organized ride is so you can travel light.
Yup. And, not only the food that is provided, but any convenience stores along the way. Eat some chips in the second half for the salt. Go at a touring pace - nice and easy. Stop to take some pics, but don't stop for long or you'll stiffen up.
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Old 09-20-07, 04:04 PM   #18
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I discovered at the Hotter 'n Hell a couple weeks ago that at mile 98 a couple beers and a Bratwurst are rocket fuel. I coasted the last three miles!
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Old 09-20-07, 04:16 PM   #19
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That would have just about put me down for the day - ugh - Sausage on a ride!

I have done some pretty interesting centuries all with their special little food items - everything from pickles to popsicles (popsicles good, pickles bad). My favorite century is the Wildflower out of Creston,CA. The entire area gets together to make the food and at the sag stops you get homemade date nut breads, fresh organic fruits and veggies, great cookies etc. Lunch is topped off with the most beautiful strawberries ever and then the after ride meal is BBQ chicken and ice tea. Yum! I look forward to the food on all these rides, even the pretzels, crackers, bananas, oranges and some rides cantalope, fig bars, cookies, PBJs etc. Hey I am doing a century; I can eat what I want! I can't imagine just eating power bars and gels...
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Old 09-20-07, 04:16 PM   #20
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What's helped for me on my first:

1) Take in at least 1000-1500 calories before putting your foot on the bike. For me it's a burger and fries with maybe one more sandwich. Then stick to your 250 calories per hour, give or take. Lots of protein and a good amount of fat (it'll take longer to digest and give you something to work off of).

2) Drink before you're thirsty, eat before you're hungry. Tip over the point on either one and you'll feel it hard. At least a bottle or two per hour of liquids.

3) I need solid food somewhere in the middle also. A slice or two of pizza, a good deli sandwich, whatever. Something that will take awhile to digest with some fat and protein but not feel like you have a brick rolling from side to side.

4) This isn't the time to diet. Eat what your system is comfortable with. If your 'normal' diet is unhealthy stick to that. If it's more healthy than stick to that. But if you go and try to work off of gels when you eat solid foods normally you're going to be unhappy.

5) Bring powdered gatorade/accelorade/whatever with you. If you haven't tried a type it's not the time to try something new. In a pinch a fountain lemonade from a deli/supermarket/pizza place/burger joint works well.

6) Salt = anticramp. Throw some in your water, eat salty foods, etc...

7) Slow and steady. You're going to be amped to get out there and attack. Stay between 12-14 mph (or whatever is a really nice easy pace without breathing hard), keep your heart rate low. By the time you hit 50 miles you'll still feel great and now can start pushing when you need to. After I finished my first century I had a frisbee I was all ready to throw around with people, no one else was willing though

8) What can break probably will. Bring enough tools that you can fix anything that's not catastrophic (chain tool, multitool, two extra tubes, patch kits with extra glue in case one is dried up (and with a few large patches just in case), some antiseptic (hand sanitizer works in a pinch), a few rags, paper towels/toilet paper, antacid (if you start riding too hard after eating you'll pay $100 for some of these ), spoke wrench, pump, adaptors, duct-tape). It's extra weight but you'll be glad you have it.

9) Camera - remember it's fun so go out and have some!
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Old 09-20-07, 04:20 PM   #21
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My first century attempt, I had to abandon after 82 miles due to cramps (which started around mile 50). The key for me is to pre-hydrate. I found that if I drink several liters of smartwater the day before and the morning of, I'm good to go. I should be peeing often, and clear, before the ride.

My second attempt was last month, and I finished 102 miles without cramping or issues of any kind. Definitely keep the stops short, and try to eat some real food here and there, especially during the lunch stop.

Good luck!

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Old 09-20-07, 06:01 PM   #22
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1. Ride with a friend or two, and for crying out loud, stay together.
2. Eat smart, but light. No way can I do high protein or high fat on a big ride. A PBJ for breakfast with a big glass of milk and a banana, then more bananas, cookies, maybe a half a deli wrap, a boiled potato or something like at lunch is about right for this boy.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you do not have to urinate relatively frequently, you are not driinking enough.
4. Stop and refill at the rest stops, but keep breaks short.
5. The only reason to bring tools is to fix something that breaks. How often do you have to fix your bike anyway? Think of this as four medium rides in a day. Stuff to fix a flat is all I think you need.
6. I'm arthritic and taking Ibuprofen before a big ride helps. On a century, taking some in the middle helps too.
7. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to ride fast - stay well within your comfort zone.
8. Do not try anything new or improved, stick with what you have already been doing.
9. Do be sure to have decent tires, true wheels, and your bike well adjusted.
10. Gels are good to have for later in the ride when you feel like you are running out of gas, they are a huge boost.
11. Start early! Have fun and just keep pedaling.
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Old 09-20-07, 06:58 PM   #23
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My tips:
1. Start early.
2. Start real early.
3. Start before the sun comes up.
I not joking I have rode on many group rides and I always do much better with a very early start. Us "full figured" riders have more trouble keeping cool then the skinny people. It's cooler in the morning, and usually there is less wind. My stratigy is by way ahead of everyone, this lets me keep my own pace and chew up a large portion of the ride on my own, then when I'm tired and bored the other faster riders tend to catch up, and I have someone to ride with.
Good luck.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:01 PM   #24
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And most importantly - enjoy the ride!
I had my first century last week and did all the things other people recommended in this thread: early start, proper hydration, short stops etc.. I was in a good shape , good mood and just started smiling around mile 90 when it become clear I am good enough to finish 106 mile ride.
And one more thing - save your favorite sport gel ( or bar) until 5 miles before finish.
good luck!
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Old 09-20-07, 08:50 PM   #25
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It may sound silly but eat mostly carbs all day Friday. You will store them up and it will help on Saturday. Drink a lot. Even if you do not feel like you need to. That was the biggest mistake I made. I lost 7 lbs in 9 hrs. I gained 4 lbs back over night and was hating life for a little while. I made the mistake of riding by myself over lots of hills in a remote location. I ran out of fluids to drink at about mile 60 and finally found some at mile 85. I almost stopped there. The place also had cherry pie, a big slice of it and I made the 110 miles without a call. So drink more than you think you should and eat all you want. It is amazing how many calories you actually burn on that long of a ride.Have fun.
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