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  1. #1
    Senior Member ahultin's Avatar
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    Unsuccesful Century Attempt Lessons learned, ride report, questions

    This Saturday was meant to be my first century but unfortunately did not happen. I had signed up for the tour day Perris, a part of the cities centennial celebration, at the coaxing of some co-workers who knew this as something I wanted to do. I had trained for this since late July progressively increasing my mileage to a peak last weekend of 79 miles. All of my training had been based on the advertised elevation profile of the ride, 100 miles, 3 #5 rated climbs and 2400 ft. of elevation change, no more than 4% grade. First lesson learned: Pay attention when they say route subject to change. I had gone into the ride slightly nervous but confident I could pace myself and be fine. I consciously raised potassium intake over the previous week since I had cramping at about 68 miles on the pre-century ride, went to bed early the night before etc., etc. I made it through the first 60 miles to the lunch stop (54 official miles, lesson two learned: mile markers on the route slip can be wrong, this caused a 6 mile “detour” to get back to the ride) without issue, feeling all right and making decent time. I was a getting a bit concerned however as I was just starting to realize just how much the route was changed from the advertised route. The route slip showed “prepare to climb” at two spots, 29.87 miles and 56.41 miles and at this point of the ride I had climbed no less than 4 challenging hills some of which I now know exceed 10% grade, lesson three learned: I need more climbing practice on steeper grades. I left lunch still determined to finish. I noticed I was starting to get some chafing so before leaving I went to the restroom wiped up, dried up and re-lubed “the equipment” with the small container of udder butter I had packed . Official mile 56.41, my 62+ brought the beginning of the end. I started up the next “marked” climb. This was longer and steeper than I was used to. I was passed by a few riders on the way up but still made it to the top to be rewarded by a fast descent, I though the pain was over until I turned the next corner. The climbs did not stop coming and just got worse. I had to stop multiple times on each which was frustrating to say the least. Lesson four learned: the 11-28 rear cassette is nice but on real hills I need a compact. At mile 63+ (my 69+) I was beat, I was cramping, it was F****** hot and I had to walk the hill. Lesson 5 learned walking on asphalt in spd-sl cleats will quickly destroy them. I made it to the next rest stop (one not listed on the route slip) and learned I was the last one to make the stop. My legs where burning and no one was sure what the remainder of the route had in store. Jeepseahawk, whom I had met at the beginning of the ride and had caught up with me in these suffer fest hills, had a Garmin 500 which reported the climb thus far at over 3300ft, I had not trained over 2400 so it made sense that I was dying. At that point I was looking up what looked like at least another ½ mile of climb and with great distress made the choice not to continue. My speedo reported a hair over 70 miles, Mapmyride running on my droid reported 75.48, and the route slip reported somewhere around 64. I took what felt like the longest car ride in my life back to the start. I was genuinely depressed by the failure as I felt I had let down everyone who was cheering me on. I have been fortunate in life in that most everything I attempt I am successful at so this while not a new feeling, was a rare feeling. Many people knew of my plans and where waiting (and some calling) for a report of success. Every time the phone rang I sunk deeper and ignored them. Lesson six learned: keep personal challenges close to chest (however see lesson seven) My hour long drive home was hard. I pretty much broke down talking with my wife, no fun. I was focusing on the failure. I posted the results on my facebook page hoping the calls would stop. I had no desire to look at the bike again let alone touch it or ride it so it stayed on the rack when I got home. Fast forward to Sunday morning. I woke up and at my wife’s prodding checked my facebook. Friends and family had all commented on my “success”. WHAT?!?!? It took a while to sink in but once it did lesson seven revealed itself: I am my own worst critic. Sometimes we need friends and family for accountability, but sometimes we need them to point out what we cant see. I reflected back and realized: I had ridden a bicycle over 70 miles and climbed over 3300ft of hills, something most people I know would never even attempt.
    I got out of bed and presented my 14 and 11 yr old children with the opportunity to “help me jump back on the horse” .We racked up the kids bikes and went down to our local river trail. We stopped for lunch at rubios about 14 miles in. Sitting there one of the other patron’s stated dialog regarding the ride. He asked how far we had ridden and had far we had left to which my daughter responded we had ridden 13-14 miles and had about 11 to go but that I had ridden over 70 miles the day before. They were amazed and asked me about it to which I responded that I had attempted 100 but only made the 70. They gave me once of those looks and sarcastically said “oh only 70” Lesson eight learned: add strangers to lesson seven.
    The kids paced me out a great 25 mile recover ride and I felt good afterwards.
    I am looking for my next century attempt and given that I live in southern California which is anything but flat, I am adding more hills to my training rides. With that I have a few questions:

    Can anyone suggest a good second first century attempt?

    Would money be better spent on a compact crank to ease the hills or a garmin edge 500 with hrm to better monitor the difference between perceived “max zone” vs actual plus better route info?

    I am still getting chafing on these longer rides(both rides this happened on where around 70+ miles and both were after I had a pro bike fit) I tried udder butter on Saturdays attempt but it did not seem to help. I am using L2P bibs . Suggestions? ( side note, I noticed that my l2p bibs which are a hair over three months old and worn 3-4 times per week are starting to wear through at the point of the worst chafing, don’t know if this illustrates anything)

    If you read down this far thank you and hopefully lesson seven and eight will help spark something in someone else.

  2. #2
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Get the compact, it makes a big difference. HRMs are useful for serious training, but frankly you know perfectly well whether you can get to the top of a hill without having to be told what your heart rate is.

    Climb more. In fact, climb much more. The advertised 2400 ft of climbing in 100 miles would be an unusually flat century, in my experience, especially if you describe the area as " anything but flat".

    Work on your cruising speed by doing some rides of 90 minutes to two hours at tempo - more or less the highest intensity you can maintain for the whole ride. Simply being on the bike for hours at a time contributes to fatigue and chafing, and if you were the last rider to reach the checkpoint, that may be a factor.

    How comfortable are you with your saddle? If you're confident that is OK and positioned correctly, then when you replace your bibs try a different brand or model. Personal preferences vary widely on this, but in my experience you get what you pay for and Assos bibs, which cost a small fortune, are superb.

    Don't be too hard on yourself. And don't get too obsessed with distance, one hundred is only a number.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  3. #3
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    Kudos for the attempt but so many times have I seen riders have information defeat them.. People stare at the altitude, speed and HR like it is holy scripture coming down from the mountaintop.. Get all that data out of your field of vision. You have a garmin, so change the screen to speed and distance only,have your secondary screen with all your other info and do not look at it.

    I would have friends with garmin or HR's on there bars in a paceline where if there heartrate hit over 170 would all of sudden get dropped.. You ask what happened to them and they would say I was at my Max HR couldn't hang.. I tell them put the HR in there jersey pocket and try the same ride and amazingly enough it would record there max HR at 10-15 beats above what they perceived as there max and they hung in the whole ride..

    Information is great but many times we use that info to sabotage us during rides.. agreed with poster above 3000 ft of climbing in 100 miles is very flat, I remember there being on 2 or 3 steeper climbs, most everything else is slight to moderate grades..
    Last edited by socalrider; 10-03-11 at 03:18 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member iforgotmename's Avatar
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    What they said^^^^ I like bodyglide for combating chafing. http://www.bodyglide.com/

  5. #5
    Neil_B
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    I don't think it was unsuccessful at all. You learned what to do next time.

    And you pushed yourself to your limit. You know how many people spend their lives never once having done that?

  6. #6
    Senior Member ahultin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by socalrider View Post
    Get all that data out of your field of vision. You have a garmin, so change the screen to speed and distance only,have your secondary screen with all your other info and do not look at it.
    Information is great but many times we use that info to sabotage us during rides.. agreed with poster above 3000 ft of climbing in 100 miles is very flat, I remember there being on 2 or 3 steeper climbs, most everything else is slight to moderate grades..
    I do not currently have the Garmin. Right now I use a cheap performance VDO gauge with speed and cadence up at any given time.
    This is a link to the advertised ride which I drove most of prior to committing and signing up. http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/30149866
    This is a link to another forum members garmin data on the actual ride. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/118450547
    yes, 2400 ft is very flat which was why I chose this as my first. I am sure for many the difference may seem minor but trucking my 300+pound self up and extra 1200 ft of elevation was a killer.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ahultin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Work on your cruising speed by doing some rides of 90 minutes to two hours at tempo - more or less the highest intensity you can maintain for the whole ride. Simply being on the bike for hours at a time contributes to fatigue and chafing, and if you were the last rider to reach the checkpoint, that may be a factor.

    How comfortable are you with your saddle? If you're confident that is OK and positioned correctly, then when you replace your bibs try a different brand or model. Personal preferences vary widely on this, but in my experience you get what you pay for and Assos bibs, which cost a small fortune, are superb.

    Don't be too hard on yourself. And don't get too obsessed with distance, one hundred is only a number.
    my weekly rides are all in the 1 to 2 hour range and alternating days of flats at speed on our river trail with climbs in my local neighborhood. I will be focusing on more of the hill repeat type activities.

    I was doing fairly well (for me) with time and speed averaging 13.51mph until the hills in the second half presented themselves my goal was to complete at better than 10mph and had made it a point to other than on descents maintain no faster than 15mph to conserve energy. I am definitely over being hard and looking at the accomplishments of the day

  8. #8
    Senior Member ahultin's Avatar
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    As for the saddle, I am not quite sure. I have had the bike since 2009 and average about 75mi per week which is generally 3x15 and 1x30+ or 4x20-25. I have not had the chafing until the 70 plus mile rides which also happen to have come after having a fit. In the fit the seat was lowered, leveled at the sit bone area which pushed the nose up about 2degrees and moved forward. Pedal extenders where added(20mm) and the stem was shortened so I am in a slightly more upright position than I previously was. This moved weight off of my hands but I am guessing this weight is now on the saddle potentially making it the week link. I have a call into the fitter.

  9. #9
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Hey ahultin, at 300+ I applaud you for committing to and training for a century, and making it through 70mi of extra hills. I'm certain (and I hope you are too), that if you had been able to ride the century you had trained for, rather than a century that got swapped on you at the last minute, you would have made the whole distance.

    I see you are in Bonsall; I live in San Carlos, so you are pretty far away, but I have some (skinny) friends who are preparing for a century ride to benefit MS. I think it's fairly flat as it just goes up the coastline; hilliness is limited if you can never get too far above sea level.

    Anyways, at least one of my friends trains on "The Great Western Loop". That beast of a ride is too hilly for me, but if you're looking for big hills to train on, there's one idea for you (although that's pretty far from bonsall, I bet you can find as many hills as you like closer to home)

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    I know I'm in the minority here, but honestly, 3000+ feet of climbing deserves a Bravo. I have yet to do anything of the sort on a single ride. I'm maxed out at 1860 feet on a 70 miler, and that exhausted me. By the time I hit 70 miles, I was toast.

    I did my first century last month, and that had 1440 feet, and it wasn't especially challenging, it was simply mind over matter. I don't really take part in organized rides so I plan everything out myself using mapmyride and ridewithgps. Perhaps you can plan something out on your own and avoid some excessive climbing?

    Anyway, to quote Neil...

    Bravo!

  11. #11
    [IMG]http://i4.photobucke jeepseahawk's Avatar
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    Ahultin, you did not fail whatsoever, you are definately a better rider than me. You were just not ready for that last hill, it was a shocker to me as well because I am not a climber and chose this course for the same reason you did, 2200 elevation gain. I think you paced yourself for the original course because you were at least 30 minutes ahead of me. My weight is 225, that should tell you something. I'm on a compact, if you had one I guarantee that you would have dusted me by at least an hour.
    You didn't finish this one but the next one is yours easily. You will be surprised on how much easier the hills will be next time out.

  12. #12
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    I know I'm in the minority here, but honestly, 3000+ feet of climbing deserves a Bravo. I have yet to do anything of the sort on a single ride. I'm maxed out at 1860 feet on a 70 miler, and that exhausted me. By the time I hit 70 miles, I was toast.

    I did my first century last month, and that had 1440 feet, and it wasn't especially challenging, it was simply mind over matter.
    This is a pretty helpful post, I think, because it illustrates the importance of knowing what to expect and assessing one's own capabilities.

    Congrats on your first century. You'll be aware that to ascend only 1440 feet in 100 miles makes the ride virtually pan-flat, and that is an important message for others preparing for long rides.

    A 100 mile route through even moderately rolling countryside is likely to involve more than 3000 feet climbing. Anything with serious climbs is likely to be over 5000 feet and 8000 - 10000 feet isn't uncommon. These figures may seem outlandish to flatlanders, but they serve to emphasise how crucial it is to know what one is getting into. Heavier riders who are used to maintaining good speeds on the level are sometimes astonished to discover how hard it is to deal with serious hills, and often given a false impression by those who plan these routes. "Undulating" in the vocabulary of a good climber tends to mean "decidedly lumpy". "Some decent climbs" will invariably mean "severely testing". Be warned.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    You'll be aware that to ascend only 1440 feet in 100 miles makes the ride virtually pan-flat, and that is an important message for others preparing for long rides.
    Indeed. For my first century, I intentionally chose a route that hit every single bike path in the county. So it was roughly 50 miles of bike paths and 50 miles of roads. Since my goal was simply the distance, minimizing the climbing in order to meet that goal seemed prudent. The 70 miler I did 2 weekends later actually felt far more difficult to me as it included a category 5 climb as well as a significant (to me!) amount of other climbing as well.

    I figured once I have the distance and time down, I can work on slowly increasing the climbing.

  14. #14
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Perhaps you can plan something out on your own and avoid some excessive climbing?...
    Why would anyone do that if he/she ever plans to do better?

    He should incorporate more climbing with his distance so that he does well on any century without fear.

    70 is a bravo for a first attempt. But if you climb as part of your regular routine, being surprised by 4000 ft won't be a second thought even if you were planning on 2000 feet.
    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 10-03-11 at 01:50 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member 1855Cru's Avatar
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    First of all congratulations! 70 miles is quite an achievement. A century ride is on my list of goals to accomplish this year but I haven't done one yet. So Bravo!

    There's some good info in this thread.

    Compact crank: Assuming you have a standard double, I would definitely get a compact, especially if you live in a hilly area, your knees will appreciate it Also, though you have an 11-28T on the back, you might consider a cassette with a 32 or 34 cog. Gears are there to make the engine (you) run more efficiently, don't be afraid to change gearing to suit conditions, even the pros do that.

    Do try not to fixate on numbers, rather find a comfortable cadence and concentrate on making a smooth (efficient) pedal stroke.

    You are right hill repeats will help improve your climbing, but remember the adage climbing never gets easier, you just go up faster

    On organized rides see if you can get in with a group of riders that run at a similar pace to yours. Being able to draft (whilst always taking your turn to pull) will save you a lot of energy, 30% or so.

    Chafing: Could be lots of reasons, but if you just changed your saddle position and then attempted a long ride like this, that may be the culprit.

    Now get to work planning your next century, you'll know what to expect
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  16. #16
    attacking the streets!
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    Quote Originally Posted by socalrider View Post
    Kudos for the attempt but so many times have I seen riders have information defeat them.. People stare at the altitude, speed and HR like it is holy scripture coming down from the mountaintop.. Get all that data out of your field of vision. You have a garmin, so change the screen to speed and distance only,have your secondary screen with all your other info and do not look at it.

    I would have friends with garmin or HR's on there bars in a paceline where if there heartrate hit over 170 would all of sudden get dropped.. You ask what happened to them and they would say I was at my Max HR couldn't hang.. I tell them put the HR in there jersey pocket and try the same ride and amazingly enough it would record there max HR at 10-15 beats above what they perceived as there max and they hung in the whole ride..

    Information is great but many times we use that info to sabotage us during rides.. agreed with poster above 3000 ft of climbing in 100 miles is very flat, I remember there being on 2 or 3 steeper climbs, most everything else is slight to moderate grades..
    i agree, people shouldn't get hung up on stats. 70+ miles with some good climbs thrown in is no laughing matter, but at that point it's time to turn the screen off, drop to granny gears if need be and push through.

  17. #17
    attacking the streets!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Why would anyone do that if he/she ever plans to do better?

    He should incorporate more climbing with his distance so that he does well on any century without fear.

    70 is a bravo for a first attempt. But if you climb as part of your regular routine, being surprised by 4000 ft won't be a second thought even if you were planning on 2000 feet.
    +1. the only way to get better at something is to do more of it.

  18. #18
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    I am learning to suspect mapmyride's climb data.

    I did a 25 mile ride tonight around the house. Google My Tracks recorded right at 1,800ft of climb and MapMyRide recorded 600ft of climb.

    I purposely reversed this route so that my toughest climb would be at the start of the route so I could enjoy the scenery.

    Thanks for sharing your experience because share in the same goal of completing a century. Your 70 miles is an inspiration and motivation for me to continue to train.
    RUSA #8269

  19. #19
    Senior Member McCallum's Avatar
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    looking at the two elevation charts; I must ask did you all ride the same route mapmyride had? I think not or Mapmyride needs better info!!!!

    Looking at jeepseahawks GPS YOU DID GOOD! Keep up the training and you will make the 100 next time!!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Why would anyone do that if he/she ever plans to do better?

    He should incorporate more climbing with his distance so that he does well on any century without fear.

    70 is a bravo for a first attempt. But if you climb as part of your regular routine, being surprised by 4000 ft won't be a second thought even if you were planning on 2000 feet.
    If he's not capable of doing it now, what's the harm in doing a flatter century to boost morale until he's capable of climbing that much? This approach works great for me. Not everyone is a super climber... especially on this forum.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaHaMac View Post
    I am learning to suspect mapmyride's climb data.

    I did a 25 mile ride tonight around the house. Google My Tracks recorded right at 1,800ft of climb and MapMyRide recorded 600ft of climb.

    I purposely reversed this route so that my toughest climb would be at the start of the route so I could enjoy the scenery.

    Thanks for sharing your experience because share in the same goal of completing a century. Your 70 miles is an inspiration and motivation for me to continue to train.
    I've learned that I need to approximately double every figure MMR gives in terms of climb. It's usually much more accurate that way.

  22. #22
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    If he's not capable of doing it now, what's the harm in doing a flatter century to boost morale until he's capable of climbing that much? This approach works great for me. Not everyone is a super climber... especially on this forum.
    First off, no it did not work for you as you continue to plan your centuries with little climbing as possible. You get better by working on your weakness, not your strengths. Plus the message here is that you don't "climb that much" until you aim toward "climbing that much". At the rate you are going, you will be doing 4000 feet centuries in 4 years. If the OP trains with hills, He'll be doing these average centuries in 6 months.

    Second off, quit fooling yourself, this is not a century for a super climber. It is an average century (as mentioned by a few others in the thread). The OP failed due to the climbing not the distance. If he trains on the climbs, the final 30 will come easily while making the middle of the ride climbs much easier than his first attempt. If you had enough experience on rides, you'd see that the riders that make these average rides look average, are riders that do some hill work. When you see riders fail on these average rides, it's because they continue to hide from the hills.


    Third off, you do not know what amazing gains a rider makes as far as strength and fitness while climbing because you don't climb. If I had listened to every rider that had your attitude toward climbing when I failed at my first climb, I'd still be at home planning centuries around my living room. It's a choice, you do what you need to do to complete the ride or you lie to yourself in an attempt to justify your lack of ability. Believe me, it doesn't take a super climber to complete an average 3000-4000 ft century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    I've learned that I need to approximately double every figure MMR gives in terms of climb. It's usually much more accurate that way.
    God I hope not. Me and a few friends are taking a trip to the Skyline Parkway in VA and MMR says day one is 33 miles with 3600 ft of climbing, day two is 22 miles with 2300 ft of climbing. If those numbers are that far off it's gonna be alot harder weekend than I originally thought.

  24. #24
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paisan View Post
    God I hope not. Me and a few friends are taking a trip to the Skyline Parkway in VA and MMR says day one is 33 miles with 3600 ft of climbing, day two is 22 miles with 2300 ft of climbing. If those numbers are that far off it's gonna be alot harder weekend than I originally thought.
    No it's not! Our usual climb GMR is 2200 feet in 8 miles. 2250 by those that use Garmins riding along side of me. Could be why some are failing on rides with any kind of elevation gain. Maybe they think they are training on 2000 feet when it's actually only 1000.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    No it's not! Our usual climb GMR is 2200 feet in 8 miles. 2250 by those that use Garmins riding along side of me. Could be why some are failing on rides with any kind of elevation gain. Maybe they think they are training on 2000 feet when it's actually only 1000.
    This is where I start to make excuses about being a flatlander right?
    LOL

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