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Old 01-28-06, 01:40 AM   #1
Big Paulie
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Psychology Of Century Route

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Old 01-28-06, 03:57 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Big Paulie
So, if you've ridden one or more centuries in "one direction," what it easier/more fun?
Problem of one direction rides is the transport. Most of my long rides work on a circular route, but it is not out and back. Different route back to out, and does make for more interest. I do a century each year and I only live 6 miles from the finish. It is a gruelling ride and I have the car that transports the other riders aswell. Before the ride there is the packing of the car and and the spares, and the extra clothing and this takes time. Then there is the 3 hour trip to the ride. With a 6 am start this would mean a 2 am leave from home- then the 12 hour ride, and that makes for too long a day so we travell down the night before and stay with friends. 4 am start is better than getting up at 1 am and we do manage to get some sleep at my friends house.

As to it being more fun--you try sitting on a saddle for 12 hours-offroad. Fine for about 5- then the pain comes in. At 9 hours you are standing up to see if you are only sitting on the seat post as the pain is getting through to you, even though I have a suspension post. For some reason, by the end of this ride the pain will be gone. The euphoria of finishing the event, and the Numb nuts syndrome, and the pain that has set in from the other parts of the body, mean that Butt ache is the least of your worries. Till 2 days later, when you go out to stretch the legs to ease some of the stiffness.

I must admit that the thought of a 3 hour car ride home after this event would finally finish me so feel lucky that it is this way round. On top of that- I normally ride the bike home to save the packing up in the car, but this is done at a far more leisurely pace than the event.
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Old 01-28-06, 07:56 AM   #3
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I've done several in all categories so here are my recollections and observations:

My assumption is that these are "organized group rides with support" for what it's worth.

First, the wind can play a very important factor as to which you might favor on a particular day. In fact, for me it can trump just about all the other factors. If the wind is 10+, give me a point to point ride with the wind at my back any day!!

My first choice is to do the longer rides as "loops". You're on different roads, seeing different sites-many times not knowing where the heck you are......just blissfully moving along. Essentially you seem to cover a lot more territory. It's also harder to let yourself not do the whole ride!

Second choice is an out and back. The advantage (or disadvantage) is knowing what you will have facing you for the return trip. I did an out and back in Alabama last year that involved some decent hills. It was somewhat rewarding climbing those things knowing that the return trip would be fun. It was also interesting as you met all the people that out in front you and also those that were behind you. I also find these to be more helpful to do them as small point to point rides-trying to complete a section at time. The disadvantge (or advantage) to an out and back is that if for some reason you stop having fun before the turnaround point, you can shorten the ride. Sometimes that can be too tempting for a lot of us!!

A long point to point for me usually involves a ride with extraordinary support from volunteers and many times assistance with vehicles at intersections so that can help make it more enjoyable. However, the inconvenience and logistics of having to transport back to the start or wherever your vehicle is makes is a much longer day. There a much harder to "not finish" because you have to get to one end or the other just to get to transportation.

In thinking about it, if you are with a group of similarly skilled riders and getting help from each other along the way, all three can be a terrific ride -- I'd have a hard time arguing the merits of one over the other.
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Old 01-28-06, 08:02 AM   #4
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The only centuries I've done that didn't return to the start point were optional centuries on Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, an annual 7 day cross-state ride. The hard part there was the big decision at the point where the century route parted from the regular route. So you have ridden say 40 miles and can go straight and be in camp in 20 miles, or turn left and ride another 60 miles. Fun decision on a 95 degree June day in Georgia! I usually chose the century. Now they have the century ride on the day we stay 2 nights in one site, so the decision comes even earlier. You can ride 100 miles or a shorter route or stay in your tent.
There is one ride I do every year in March that had a nice 50 mile loop with an option to turn around and reverse the loop for a century ride. I never once did that 2nd loop. Any time I see my car after riding 50 miles, I'm done!
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Old 01-28-06, 11:28 AM   #5
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One other factor: I am assuming you're talking about organized century rides, not solo century rides. The solo is the most boring. Its a race against time and the longer you're out there, the more it plays on your body and mind. That, I think, is more important than the course.

If its a tough course and takes 12 hours, Holy Cow, 8.33 mph. Good luck. I wouldn't do it. I would train and spin like crazy to get it around 6 hours or pick another course of my liking. Do you recall Pam Reed the ultra marathon runner who ran in August thru Death Valley? Public Television did a piece on her. Get it if you can.

I think there are the "extreme athletes" like Bode Miller, a little crazy to do downhill that fast with reckless abandon. Mountain climbers who have to do Mt Everest have a similar mentality like Reed. Steve Prefontaine ran his way, mostly guts and rage. Street smart Roberto Duran was a head case in the ring. As a lightweight he would work himself up to a frenzy before he got in the ring. That's why when he got hit, he just smiled with that crazed look in his eyes.

For those over 50, I think most of us would agree that a ride over 2 hours would be considered a long ride. So a Century would take more than twice that time and thus the Pam Reed type attraction. I imagine Pam could ride centuries as if it were just another ride. But for most of us mortals, the challenge is formidable.
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Old 01-28-06, 02:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Paulie
Thanks for the input everyone...good stuff based on hard-earned experience.

Actually, I am talking about solo centuries. I ride 1-2 centuries a week, so long milage isn't a problem. I'm just curious about the mental effect of differing routes...out and back, multiple loops, and single direction.

One thing I have noticed, and several of you have pointed this out, is that if the opportunity to shut it down before 100 miles presents itself-- like when we pass by our home base mid-ride -- it's hard to keep going! That's the hardest part of multiple loop centuries. Also, one of my rides passes by a long line of campers on weekends, and the barbeques drive me nuts!

Obviously, a single direction solo century is hard, because...how do you get to the start point? I'm thinking about trying a 150 mile solo ride, where my wife takes me to the start point, and drives the same route (not at my riding speed, but with numerous "meet-up" points along the way.)

Oddly enough, I find long group rides to be more taxing, what with the conversation and concern for riding safety in close quarters. I like disappearing into my own thoughts for the 7-8 hours a century takes me...until I get a flat!
Solo rides can have two effects. First is that you do not push yourself, or as I find- I can go at my pace- not chase up the hills, not stop to let the group reform or stop at the top of the hills to catch my breath. This normally means that I go faster as an average, and that I can do more milage as I have not used energy in spurts. As to doing multiple loops- No incentive for me except to cut the ride short as I am bored. The large organised rides though to me are fantastic. Always some one at your pace to ride with- you can attach to a group that are just a bit faster (But not too fast) to get a good workout- and always the reassurance that if problems do occur, someone will be able to give assistance.

Now our 100 mile ofroad is always covered by a back up vehicle. Mainly carrying spares for the Tandem, and not often used any of them, but I do have the reassurance that if I bend a wheel or shred a tyre, a replacement is not too far away. On top of that- it carries a supply of spare clothing and food and water that I would not like to carry on the ride. Only drawback is that if things are not going right, it is too easy to abort the ride, that I will regret after a short break. It also acts as a sag van for the poor unfortunates that have broken down, and need a lift to the next checkpoint.

I find that the mental part of a century comes in about 75 miles. The worry as to whether you should be slowing down to conserve a bit of energy, or that new noise- whats starting to fail on the bike? or the actual pain really sets in and it weighs on you making the wish to stop too easy. Then there is the euphoria of finishing the ride, and this starts a few miles before the end to get me through the pain? barrier that makes me want to give up.

Overral century rides are fantastic. I have the training to pace myself for the distance, I have the fitness to do the ride without many problems- I have the Endurance and stamina for this sort of ride and on top of that- it is great to prove to the youngsters on the ride that it is not only the fit ones that train every night, race every weekend and spend more on their bikes than I will over the next 5 years that can do a ride of this type.
Now where did I put the spare pair of legs for tomorrows ride as It looks as though I am out solo again.
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Old 01-28-06, 07:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Paulie

Oddly enough, I find long group rides to be more taxing, what with the conversation and concern for riding safety in close quarters. I like disappearing into my own thoughts for the 7-8 hours a century takes me...until I get a flat!
I can greatly appreciate that perspective. I used to feel very much the same way but after I figured out how much faster a group can go with the same energy exertion, I like to take advantage of someone else's wheel every chance I can get. I still immensely enjoy my solo, introspective rides as well.

Multiple century rides a week. Wow!! That's impressive!
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Old 01-28-06, 09:27 PM   #8
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I've done a couple of figure-eight centuries and I like that format. Usually the first "half" is a metric century with a 40-mile second loop in the other direction. I like stopping by home base, grabbing some stuff out of the car, and then heading back out.
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Old 01-29-06, 09:13 PM   #9
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I can tell you that back in about 96, I took a weeks vacation to paint the house. I lived on the shores of Lake Erie. Instead I got a map out and figured I could ride around Lake Erie. Many solo centuries. I just put a credit card in my back pack along with an extra pair of shorts and a jersey. 750 miles in five and a half days. Seeing different scenery was great. It was also boring at times and a little scary being unsupported. On the other hand, you realize that the only way to back to your start point is is to keep riding. Mentally, I think you have to be able to live within yourself, not needing a companion to make the hours travel quicker. I will also admit that it was the first I "stopped to smell the roses". On Other centuries I rode all I saw was the pavement
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Old 01-29-06, 11:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Gene James
I can tell you that back in about 96, I took a weeks vacation to paint the house. I lived on the shores of Lake Erie. Instead I got a map out and figured I could ride around Lake Erie. I just put a credit card in my back pack along with an extra pair of shorts and a jersey. 750 miles in five and a half days. I will also admit that it was the first I "stopped to smell the roses". On Other centuries I rode all I saw was the pavement
What a great story, Gene! So, tell us... did you have any problems along the way?

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Old 01-30-06, 12:29 PM   #11
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I haven't done that many centuries, but one thing that is a major effect for me is whether I know the route or not. When I know the route (as in the multiple laps scenario), I can go much faster than the the "unknown" routes where I am constantly having to stop the check the cue sheet (even though it may be mounted on my bars). Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages; I would get a little bit bored if I didn't discover new turf, and a little overwhelmed if I never saw any familar sights.

My centuries have all been circular, although I have done some touring point-to-point rides (but as part of a bigger circle).
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Old 01-30-06, 03:57 PM   #12
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I haven't done that many centuries, but one thing that is a major effect for me is whether I know the route or not. When I know the route (as in the multiple laps scenario), I can go much faster than the the "unknown" routes where I am constantly having to stop the check the cue sheet (even though it may be mounted on my bars). Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages; I would get a little bit bored if I didn't discover new turf, and a little overwhelmed if I never saw any familar sights.

My centuries have all been circular, although I have done some touring point-to-point rides (but as part of a bigger circle).
Most of my rides have been well sign posted or marked, but I did a ride in 98 that the only instructions you had were a cue sheet. That was the hardest, most tiring 100 miler I have ever done. You had to slow or stop at almost every junction to check the cue sheet, every 5 miles or so you had to read the cue sheet, just in case there was a left or right turn- and then memorise till the next stop. All that slowing down and then accelerating up to speed took a lot of energy. Then 10 miles from the end- we fell in with an Audax rider, (Used to long rides) that had a marvellous system. The cue sheet was folded on her arm and held in place by elastic bands. No stopping or slowing- just lift the arm and she could read it. When the sheet needed turning, she stopped and had it all carefully folded so that it was just a simple turn on the sheet to the next page.
Only good point about that ride was that at 60 miles you passed through a town that had a Fish and Chip shop- OPEN at midday and on a Sunday. That does not happen in the UK !!!. The ride may have been awkward, but that Lunch was fantastic.

Then a good point about Rides you do know is that you collect a lot of riders around you- just because you know the route- and they know that fact. Good chance of getting a slipstream, but not so good on one ride we did, when it did get very heavy going into a headwind with,and we did count them, 22 riders getting a tow from those up the front.
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Old 01-30-06, 05:35 PM   #13
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I also do one or more centuries a week. Often I get home after midnight.

There are benefits to out and back...

when you are really tired it's easier to not miss a turn on familiar roads.
It's easier to pace yourself just right.
You know how far it is to food, bathroom etc. is.
On my night centuries, it's easier to keep track of where you are in the dark.
It's easier to keep track of your headlight run time.
It's easier to keep track of a friend if they know the route too.


I like loops because..

lots of opportunity for exploring new routes and places. You learn your way around better.
Can be more interesting in the daytime. You may discover something really good.
Homeland security has a harder time following me.

I almost never do one way centuries. For myself why waste potential ride time with the car?

I do an organized century
with friends once or twice a year that is one way, just because my friends are going. I find I need to
concentrate on the route more, so I end up taking more time. But it's fun to have all the company.
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Old 01-30-06, 06:10 PM   #14
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What a great story, Gene! So, tell us... did you have any problems along the way?

Steve
I can only tell you my personnal experience. The ride East out of Cleveland to Buffalo was great. Light traffic and wonderful small towns. I hugged the lake shore as best I could. I found out that AAA maps are good for auto travel But... The road I was on turned into an expressway in Buffalo. I asked a police officer how to get to the border. He said "just stay on the skyway[freeway] till somebody kicks you off" I just looked at him. I found a mailman who directed me. Crossing the border was a snap. I was waved around the cars and "welcomed". The northern border of Lake Erie is Canada's farming country. It's a little boring but quiet and peaceful. I had two tubes with me and I had a flat. The small towns I was traveling through had "real" hardware stores but they didn't carry 700/23 tubes. This bothered me,having only one tube left. I considered stopping in Leaminton Canada,as they had a ferry across the lake to Cedar Point Ohio. I thought that would be interesting. But the ferry was broken down so I pushed on. Big mistake! Traffic became very heavy as everyone was going to Windsor to gamble. Then I got to the Detroit/Windsor Bridge. The guard said "where do you think you're going?" I'm going to cross. No, no bicycles. Ok, I'll walk across. No, no foot traffic. And you can't use the tunnel either. Now, I was starting to get a little pissed. How do I get across? You either have to hitch a ride or call a taxi. WHAT! I just couldn't believe it. It turns out the bridge has a private owner who makes his own rules concerning the bridge.Then came the ride through the heart of Detroit. Good Grief! I had rocks and beer bottles thrown at me and cars swerving at me. But now I was no mood to be a gracious traveler. I gave what I got. To my surprise,I got laughed at. I can live with that. Nobody takes a person seriously when you're dressed in spandex I had more problems in Dearborn. Car is definitely king there. Plus, I'm sure I wasn't using the roads I should have been using[lack of prior planning]. I crossed into Ohio and again the road I was on close to the lake Rt2/6 became a freeway over the bay. I called AAA and asked if bicycles are allowed on it as this is the only road across. They said, yes, they are allowing bicycles to use it. I got 1/4 of a mile when I sense that there's flashing red lights behind me. STATE TROPPERS! whoppee. I stated my problem. You would have thought he would have given me a ride across the bay,but no. He made me walk back to where I started as he followed me. So I pulled out the maps. I had to travel way south to Findley Ohio and back north again to pick up the route. I can't remember how far it was but I do remember it was 95*. I was exhausted. Just before I returned to my route, I passed a little run-down bar. I figured things couldn't get any worse, I'm going in and having a beer. I walked in, spandex shorts, orange and yellow cycling jersey that said "Test Dummy" on it and look cleats on my shoes, on a wooden floor. Inside were farmers in bib overalls and "Harley Boys". I was sweating like a pig. I orderd two beers and inhaled them. Nobody said a word but I got plenty of stares. The next day was great. I was traveling Rt6 right on the edge of Lake Erie. I had a tail wind and the happy thought of being home for lunch. I'm sure I bored you enough. Sorry to be so long-winded
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Old 02-08-06, 07:40 PM   #15
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Great story! Always pays to know your route- and how unfriendly the US can be to cyclists.
BTW- You are lucky to have survived Detroit in your cycling garb. I grew up in that area & still travel there several times each year. I know of many stories where Motown car passengers have smacked a cyclist in the head with a bat/club just for "sport". My own brother was badly whipped by a car passenger with an antenna a few years ago. The police literally laughed at my father when he tried to file a crime report.
Detroit- The Disneyland of Death.

FWIW- It may have been a nicer (but longer) trip to ride up to Sarnia, Ontario, cross at Port Huron, then ridden back south to Ohio (i.e. staying west of Motown). Beautiful scenery and MUCH nicer people. (I've never ridden that full route, but have ridden in rural SW MI).
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