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  1. #1
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Is there something wrong with NOT doing a century?

    I've had this question in the back of my mind for some time now, and I would like to hear input from others. Here in the 50+ Forum, we seem to pride ourselves on riding, on setting goals, on getting up off our duffs and being physical and active and accomplishing more -- sometimes far more -- than our peers who are content to lay on the couch, watch TV, and slowly but surely lose strength, flexibility, aerobic capacity, and so on.

    When I arrived here last year, it wasn't long before someone had posted a challenge to Ride Your Age on your birthday. I was intimidated and anxious over that challenge, and for a while, I didn't even respond to that thread. I couldn't imagine ever riding 54 miles in a single day. Of course, I had just started back into the sport and had never riden more than 50 miles in a day in my life, and the last (and only) time was twenty five years ago.

    As many of you know, I accomlished that goal and then some, doing my one and only metric century last October. There seemed to be a general consensus that the next logical step was to begin thinking about doing a century -- maybe two -- in 2006.

    I find myself as daunted, anxious and intimidated by that goal as I was about Riding Your Age. Part of me would really like to do it, because it would be a point of pride that could never be taken away from me, and because it would far surpass anything I had ever imagined I could do.

    But another part of me is asking, why? Is it THAT important? I find that the kind of riding I really enjoy, day in and day out, is the 10-25 mile rides, 3-5 times a week. And I find myself asking myself, "What would be so wrong with doing that kind of riding forever?" It will get me 2,500 - 3,000 miles a year, which seems like one helluva lot of miles and hours in the saddle.

    Somehow the thought of training for a century is almost demotivating me, because, to be honest, it just doesn't strike me as much fun. Yes, a tough, demanding goal that would feel incredibly amazing to achieve, but -- do I really need to do that? And I'm now realizing that the concerns I have over this issue, the vacillation back and forth, has an impact on my daily riding. A voice keeps saying that if I'm to do a century, I must do more and more and more miles -- that my daily rides aren't enough. When I hear that, I stop having as much fun. Now it's a chore, an obligation, a 'commitment' that seems to spoil the spontaneity of my current rides.

    So I guess I'm wondering -- should I just 'get over it,' train up and do the darn century, at least once, and then see how I feel? Or should I just let go of the century for a while, until and unless it starts to sound more compelling?

    And last, am I the only one to go through these kinds of back-and-forths?
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  2. #2
    fredelicious mini-masher overthere's Avatar
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    All right, I'm sneaking in at 47. Heck, I have no trouble saying no to a century. I like metrics, but I have no interest in a century, cause I don't care for the sore butt, and I'm happy spreading a century over 2 days and enjoying my ride. I'm really looking forward to 50 because in my mind that means I can REALLY not give a hoot what anybody, or any forum, feels about what I do. You're already awesome, as are all the riders here. You're out on a bike!! At your age!!

  3. #3
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    The only wrong thing around here is NOT following your personal cycling impulse and circumstances. Some (well, one Brit) ride at night in a blizzard. Another is pedaling 3K miles. Yet another (go Blackberry) completed a proud 12 miles. Someone else races. Another rides with a broken neck. Another only cruises 7 miles to work. (And one is currently riding a jailhouse bunk-- or is it an inflatable doll?)

    The point is we all seem to be finding fulfillment in our own way and celebrating that achievement in ourselves and others. Having escaped the Recliner Hell of so many of our immobile peers, we've each earned the right to do and be proud of whatever we do. End of Sermon.

    Gary, cut yourself some slack and chill, dude. The Force will guide you as time unfolds.
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  4. #4
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Reply #2. Sometimes I still find it hard to know what I want. Ride fast with the younger crowd-- until I'm dropped. Or be one of those lean, burnt brown solo long riders on ancient touring bikes climbing towards the sun up in the Sierras. Maybe get a Riv Atlantis and ride sexy-utilitarian. Or, take up a recumbent and be "alternative" (apologies to BudBent). Or.............be whatever.

    Trouble is, there are weeks so busy and distracting that any riding---even 1 hour becomes a major achievement. So, keep tussling with yourself, Deege, and try not to let Bicycling Magazine, your "I should get a heart rate monitor and work harder" conscience, some titanium lycra beast who flies by you, or whomever/whatever distract you from finding your own cycling identity. It can be hard to do. See how normal you are!!
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee

    Somehow the thought of training for a century is almost demotivating me, because, to be honest, it just doesn't strike me as much fun. Yes, a tough, demanding goal that would feel incredibly amazing to achieve, but -- do I really need to do that? And I'm now realizing that the concerns I have over this issue, the vacillation back and forth, has an impact on my daily riding. A voice keeps saying that if I'm to do a century, I must do more and more and more miles -- that my daily rides aren't enough. When I hear that, I stop having as much fun. Now it's a chore, an obligation, a 'commitment' that seems to spoil the spontaneity of my current rides.

    So I guess I'm wondering -- should I just 'get over it,' train up and do the darn century, at least once, and then see how I feel? Or should I just let go of the century for a while, until and unless it starts to sound more compelling?

    And last, am I the only one to go through these kinds of back-and-forths?

    I probably do the hardest century of all of us. 100 miles offroad in one day over terrain that although may be relatively smooth for offroading, still takes it out of you. I do this ride each year to prove to myself that I can do it. If I don't then I would have had a bloody good attempt at it- and I don't think disappointment would come into it. After all, riders alot younger than me will be giving up well before I do.

    The real reason though is that I am a lazy bu**er. To do this ride I have to train, and train hard. I have to get out every weekend in all weathers- I have to get that extra ride in the week so thats why I'm nightriding-The pure fact that it is a challenge does not come into this training- I have to do it. Then there are the rides after wards. I will be doing my century on May 20th- so why do I have a gentle Metric on the road planned for the following weekend. Then I want to try and get in a few Randonnees over the "Ditch" (The English Channel) in France. No idea how they ride them- organise them or what they are like- but I want to do them.

    Century rides are not the ultimate in rides, and I do struggle on some of them. Now if you were to ask me if I would prefer a ride of 30 miles at a gentle pace along cycle tracks or a long ride offroad that is going to test me- then I would opt for the long rides. Then again- a Century ride or a FAST blast for 3 hours over our local hills- struggling to keep up with the 25 year olds- then it would be a Century.

    I have set myself up for one ride a year and to be quite honest- that is enough. It is the training for that ride that takes in such a variety of riding- that I enjoy. Whether that be falling off in the 6" mud up on the hills- or taking a 3 hour ride chasing the 25 year olds- or even going onto that smooth black stuff for a 4 hour gentle jaunt on a Metric Century. (Getting nearer 5 now though).

    Now if you start talking about a 5 day tour with 50 to a hundred miles a day- I would not be interested. I think the boredom of riding day after day would get through to me.
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  6. #6
    Email for new group DnvrFox's Avatar
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    DG, fortunately I was born without a conscience, scruples, absolutely no knowledge of peer pressure or any guilt feelings. So, I find it hard to place myself in your new bicycling shoes.

    Shed the old you, bring in the new you - the one who doesn't give a hoot what others think, or peer pressure or whatever. Be true to yourself. Set (or don't set) your own goals, revel (or not) in your own accomplishments (or lack thereof) and just "Be happy."

    Please send a check to me for $250 for this advice.
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  7. #7
    Pat
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    Digital,

    Over the years, I have seen quite a few people drop out of the sport.

    Now, I am your age and I still do ride centuries. But I am not interested in doing longer distances. I have found through experience that once I have done 100 miles, I have had all the fun I am going to have on a bike that day. I mean, I have ridden longer distances but after awhile, what is the point?

    It seems to me there are some ways to avoid dropping out of the sport. For one thing, cycling should be fun. It should feel good. It should be rewarding. It should be something you like to do.

    Avoid making it drudgery. Avoid making it something that is routinely painful (every now and then is OK if it is fun or rewarding).

    So, in your case, I would suggest that you NOT do a century until you WANT to do it.

    Pat

  8. #8
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    I think I have one more left in me.

    I'm going to try to do one this year--it's been several years since I rode one, and I had a lot of trouble motivating myself last season to go beyond 30 or 40 miles at a time, even though I felt fine at that distance. To give myself something to train for, in January I committed to a September century with some friends who do several a year.
    It's more a gesture than anything else, though. I turned 61 in January, and for the first time, I'm feeling old, stiff and slow. I'm sure it's mainly conditioning: I pretty much sat on my butt all winter, gained 15 pounds, and now it's hard to get out the door.
    As for NOT doing one, though--seems sensible to me. I know from experience that it kicks my butt for two or three weeks, and there's really not much gain from it over doing, say, two 50-milers on the same weekend. It's just something I want to do once more before I get officially Old.

  9. #9
    Not So Senior Member jisaak's Avatar
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    Granny Gear is right on - it's what ever turns your crank. We all have different goals and reasons to cycle, but if the century is something that you really want to accomplish then go for it- if not then let it go.
    For myself I rode my very first centry last fall - I rode most of the year when weather permitted, averaging 100+ miles/week during the peak of the summer but I never trained for the century as it was going to be a 2006 goal. I ended up planning the ride as a last minute thought with a friend who rides for the local road club and I fretted over it for a couple days - I was intimidated by the distance, I questioned my ability/strength and the last thing I wanted to do was fail having to call to be picked up. But I planned to eat a good breakfast & carry lots of liquids and snacks, we planned a semi flat route that kept us near corner stores in case we ran out of supplies and no ride in Canada would be complete without a stop at the national coffee shop institution - Tim Hortons.
    The day came and it was a great ride - I had no issues with ability, the legs held in, I had a plate of pasta for breakfast, I snacked and drank frequently during the ride (really key), we stopped twice for 10 minute breaks - I enjoyed every minute of it and I had goose bumps as the odometer cranked over the 100 mile mark.
    That's my story but your right it is intimidating and I had second thoughts until I actually got on the bike that day, but after reading your accomplishments on the bike you could do a century but plan for it and if need be pick a flat route. But don't sweat it if you wait another year since the only person keeping score is you.
    FWIW - I only started cycling a couple years ago, my 50th is in a couple weeks, I am over weight but working at it, I have had multiple operations to my left knee (waiting for knee replacement when older) and I rode my Trek 4500 mtb on the century - all 32 lbs of it on semi slicks.

  10. #10
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    Ride just what you want. I lost my interest in cycling a long time ago because I started racing and 'training". Because I was a strong rider people just kept telling me thats what i should do. Well, I was a crappy racer and hated training, and even the concept that I had to go train. So I lost interest in cycling because it wasno longer fun. Now, I have come back to cycling, and with a lot of effort on my part, am finally getting back to cycling for fun! Its not easy to re-learn how ride for fun and enjoyment. I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that its OK to not be breathing hard. Now I am back doing 40 miles and up rides at whatever pace I like. Bottom line ride how you like, or you risk losing whatever it is you really like about biking.
    Recycle, Reclaim, Reuse and Repair
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  11. #11
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I tend to agree with the general theme emerging here. Ride for you; in ways that make you happy. For me riding a century is one way to push myself toward my fitness goals on those days when I just feel lazy. The reality is that on many rides, I hate the first 20 to 30 minutes until I get into a zone. Unfortunately, if the weather is a bit off, or I'm a bit tired, the thought of that first 20 to 30 minutes makes it real easy to find something else to do. I found, however, that when I set an ambitious goal, I tend to push myself past those initial negative thoughts. With that said, I note with pride that I hae trained for century rides that I never actaully rode. On at least two occassions I was training for a specific ride, but did not go. The interesting thing is that I felt no guilt. I know I was in good enough shape to do the ride. Conversely, I've had the experience of riding a century when I hadn't planned on it. I got a call from a friend who wants to know if I'll ride with him on his first century that weekend. So, the spirit moved me, and I rode with him. It was a blast. Bottom line is, you can only ride for yourself. Don't let other people set your goals or standards for achievement for you. Set them yourself and respect your internal wisdom when it tells you something isn't right for you.
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  12. #12
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    Great thread Digital, and alot of food for thought. Speaking only for myself here, I think we are all motivated by different things, under different circumstances. I started back up with the only thing in mind to get back in shape. The feeling grew, I enjoyed it so much, made me feel young, feel at peace with myself. My divorce had drained me of my old self, and it seemed the bike helped put me back together. Soon I got more bikes, and thought of riding different things. A couple of group rides, a metric, and soon the Century loomed ever present in my psyche...

    Scared of it? Hell yeah! Intimidated? Hell yeah. But I knew if I didn't do it soon, I would never do it, and that's the kind of thing that haunts us when we get to looking back I think. And that's what got me out after the duathlon last year, and motivated me to keep pushing, keep trying, keep turning those pedals more than I would have if I hadn't had it as a goal. I didn't over-train, or go gonzo every trip. I got stronger and got alot of base miles in...I was prepared when the day came and it was amazing. Not easy, but it felt so good. I completed it and felt on top of the world. No one can take that away from me, not even my ex. My kids were proud of me, neighbors, co-workers, even hard-core roadies in town congratulated me. And all for a T-shirt and a water bottle...

    Am I doing it again this year...well, I want to do two, maybe more. I dread the thought of what it will take just like last year, and I fear getting injured again, but isn't that part of it too, the anticipation? We all tick a little different inside, but I think we all need to get all we can out of this life, be it a century, or a hard 10 miler. Is a century for everyone? no, but neither is biking in general. Just a way to keep us looking toward the horizon with slobber coming out the side of our mouth, telling ourselves we're enjoying every minute. But knowing deep down inside, we're really kinda crazy...

  13. #13
    just over the next hill cruzMOKS's Avatar
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    It could be that you need another year under your belt before you ride 100 miles. The added experience may give you confidence and strength.

  14. #14
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    I think we all go back and forth with this question. The answer is don't ride the century. It's a lot of work to get prepped for such a ride along with a lot of stress worrying about it. That's not why you, or for that matter any of us, rides bikes. Instead of doing a century do this; continue to ride your normal distances. Enjoy the bike, scenery, life. Then one day when you've got all day to do whatever you'd like get out a map and find a destination about 50 miles from home and ride to it. Make it a fun location. You're in California right? Plenty of fun destinations there, pick one, say, Disneyland. Next get on the bike and start riding. Anyone asks you where you are going, well, you know the answer. Bring money and stop frequently at convenience stores for Gatoraide, etc. Take your time, Dineyland is open until midnight and you're not in any rush to get there. Did I mention to stop often? Once you get there realize that the guards can't let you in after closing, so time to ride home. Stop often.

    Seriously, if the century thing is gonna bug you then you've got to do it. For me riding a century on a pre-planned loop route is about as exciting as doing 400 laps on a 1/4 mile track. So instead of making it a century, make it a trip. A trip to some place you want to go. A trip where you're using the bike for it's intended purpose, transportation. Don't do a six week training program to get ready, that's like going to the dentist everyday. Just stay in shape and one day wake up and go. An out and back route will give you plenty of bailout opportunities. Picking a destination with a motel nearby might also offer a good mind game crutch to get you there. Once there you can bed down or go for it. By taking your time, spending time off the bike, eating and drinking will keep you fresh longer. It's not the 100 yard dash. There isn't going to be someone standing at the finish line with a clipboard and a stop watch. There is no finish line. And when you're done, whether in 5 hours or 15 hours, it's in the books, done. Then it's time to move on.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Lots of good replies here. My reply is heck no. Don't do it just to do it. As some else suggested try a compromise and do a half century or a metric and they decide. I did a flatish century last year and it was okay. But I have a ride that I do four or five times a year that is 80 miles, 3000 feet climbing, all above 7200 feet elevation and usually with a tailwind for the final 20 miles (and no stop lights and one stop sign in the 80 miles and almost no traffic and good roads ). I enjoy that ride a whole bunch more. Plus I like riding alone so it suits me more than riding with (or near) a bunch of other people. Might do that century again this year, the money they raise goes to a charity.

  16. #16
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    Skip the century and go straight to RAAM.

    Teasing of course. I'm 54 also and feel absolutely no pressure to do a century. I am amused when I look at my total miles on a given day of riding and see it creeping upward. There may be a Saturday morning when I'll head out and find myself over 100 miles at the end of the day.

    I have set a minimum goal for riding. In other words, I have a goal to average more than 12 miles per day. Last year that goal was more than 10 miles daily. My actual average daily ride is closer to 20. A 35 - 40 miler is not rare.

    When I ride I do sometimes apply some training activities, like intervals, hill climbs or some other challenge besides adding base miles. I do these things irregularly and impulsively though; not habitually and compulsively.

    My philosophy is: "As long as I am aerobically challenged and stress my muscles with weights for at least 30 minutes 3 or more times per week I'm maintaining my health, strength, flexibility, etc. The rest of it is fun.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  17. #17
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I must chime in with many/all of the rest.

    If a century is important to you, then it is important. If it is not, then nobody else should say otherwise.

    I personally hope to do a century this year... 2004 was my year of centuries... I got to the milestone of losing 100 pounds and I rode a metric century. This year, I would LOVE to lose another 110 pounds so I could lose 100 Kilos and ride an imperial century... but I won't lose that much this year... That is right for me, and not right for everyone.

    The only thing I would encourage you to do, is to try an organized supported ride (of any length) if you haven't already... but only because they can be a lot of fun! But, if that is not your thing, then simply keep enjoying your time in the saddle.
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  18. #18
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    Gary

    I can relate to the feeling of unspoken competition and setting of major goals. I am a slightly competitive person but not in an organized competition way - no desire to race, even for fun. But on the other hand I don't really like being miles behind everyone on a regular ride and will do what I have to to keep up that is unless I know I am totally out of my league - then I'll just drift back and do my merry old thing on my own.
    So I suppose if everyone I was hanging around with was planning I century I would jump on board so I wouldn't miss anything ) But as luck has it - no one I bike with on a regular basis wants to do a century - so no pressure

    I plan on doing my first supported tour this summer - there is a century option for one day. My biggest concern is just getting through the 65 mile day and then getting up and doing it again the next day!

    I just started riding about 4 years ago and have wanted to do the candisc tour but never had the confidence.

    I put that as my goal last summer after I got a new bike. As I am a major planner (no surprises desired here) I have been getting ready all winter, planning what to take, researching touring, lifting weights (for that and other reasons) swimming, practicing my cadence on a trainer, and last week got the bike outside to start doing hills and saddle time.

    I push myself on "training rides" when I am by myself but go for fun rides with friends too - I haven't thought much about the century because I have the attitude that I just want to get through the normal 75 mile day. I have a feeling I will decide on the spot to keep going or quit - depending on the weather - the terrain, and of course the inevitable WIND! ! !

    So all in all I have a feeling my century will happen when it happens when the time is right. I am still doing baby steps - 45 miles in a day will be my first major accomplishment and I am in the planning stages for that training ride - have the route just not the day.

    My attitude - relax and just let it happen when the time is right

    As far as riding my age on my birthday - probably will never happen unless I move somewhere warm and have no where else to go or nothing to do - I was born on Christmas day - so will have to do it on my "half birthday" during the summer - so does that mean I have to ride 50.5 miles?

    Eclectic

  19. #19
    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    No century for me. For one thing I know I could never possibly do it in one day without having to stop a zillion times. Second, it would take all the "fun" out of riding for me. I enjoy short rides -- 30 miles, maybe a little more, even though I have done a metric century. I enjoy stopping and smelling the roses, not to say I haven't set goals for myself. I find it fun when I accomplice something, like being able to climb a certain hill without stopping, and yes that does make me feel good. I have no "competitive" nature so a century ride would have no meaning for me. If I can just enjoy riding until I'm close to dead, that's fine by me.

  20. #20
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    You should ride whatever makes you happiest.
    I enjoy 50 to 70 mile rides. I'll probably do a century, someday, just for my own satisfaction, and then I may, or may not ever do another one.

    Thinking about it, you're right about the pressure. I like ride metric versions of some of the organized century rides, and the century riders sometimes sneer at the other riders. Of course I'm sneering at the half-metric riders, so its only fair.
    Last edited by cc_rider; 04-13-06 at 02:01 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webist
    Skip the century and go straight to RAAM.
    I see they do have a new category this year where the riders are required to sleep a certain number hours per night. I'll bet that makes it LOT easier

  22. #22
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    I'm so glad I started this thread, because the responses have been outstanding. From what I've read and my own reflections, I've decided a couple of things:

    1. I just might not be ready for a century in 2006, although it might happen if I don't make too big a deal about it and just take a "long ride" one ideal day,

    2. Most important, I'm going to keep doing the rides I'm enjoying, and playing with this and that to see how they feel, always with the focus on having fun (and training CAN be fun, sometimes), and fitness.

    I also realized this morning that one of the things that sort of threw me was this: as I have been looking for a new bike, I keep hearing people talk about this component or that frame or whatever, and how it will feel after a century. In other words, I heard people saying that this frame was comfy for 20-40 miles, but not much more than that, for example. Well, I wasn't sure what to do with that information. Since most of my rides are in that range, then that sounds like a good bike for me, right? But I found myself using the century as the criteria to evaluate a bike -- will it be comfortable (or endurable!) for a century, when the truth is, even if I do a century or two, that represents less than 3% of my annual mileage. Shouldn't I be using the 20-40 mile criteria instead? (Am I making any sense?)

    So anyway, I'm going to relax, let the century happen if and when it's supposed to, but not set it as a particular goal this particular year. I can definately see doing some half-centuries from time to time, and I really, REALLY like the idea of just setting out for the day with the idea of spending the whole day on the bike, going somewhere and coming back, and not worrying at all about how many miles.

    The responses have been very helpful, thanks!
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  23. #23
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Goals evolve. Who knows what goals one sets for oneself as you mature into any endeavor. Never say no. Just get better at what you like and set goals as your abilities change. I'd say it is wrong to say you are determined Not to do it.
    At the start 50 miles sounds like a lot. Now it is just a typical twice a week ride.You can do it only if you want. You have to feel able and want it.

  24. #24
    Senior Member GeorgeBaby's Avatar
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    I do one century a year (for my birthday), and like stapfam, do it to prove I still can (I'm not old yet, I cry!).

    Up to about 80-85 miles is fun for me, beyond that, somewhat less. Having just moved to a clime where I ride a larger part of the year, that may change, since my conditioning will inevitably improve,

  25. #25
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    To Digital-G:

    I think you're focusing on the wrong thing AGAIN, Gary - It isn't the miles you cover but the journey. Enjoy the ride. Some day, you'll find that you've exceeded the century mark without even realizing it. If so, great. If not, you've still done yourself much good, and had a fine time doing it.

    Myself, I don't even have a computer on my bike (although since a neighbor gave me one for Christmas and keeps asking why I haven't mounted it yet, that may change). I just ride. On days when I feel good, I ride harder and longer. On days when I don't, I just take it easy. If you don't enjoy the ride, why do it?

    I understand that many feel that they need goals and focus in their riding. I'm the opposite. I ride to avoid the focus and intensity that I must bring to other pursuits in my life. When I ride, it is pure recreation and renewal. Makes me feel like being a kid again. A famous (or not...) line from the movie "The Straight Story" comes to mind: "The hardest thing about growing old is remembering when you were young." Cycling, for me, preserves not only the rememberance of youth but the feeling of it as well - the feeling of infinite possibility, the feeling of a new (and wonderful) experience ahead, and the feeling that things will always turn out just fine.

    Perhaps I'm just overly romantic, but there's nothing else I can think of but cycling that gives me such strong and positive feelings while doing my body so much good. May I wish all the same experiences for you!

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