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  1. #1
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Unsanctioned, solo first centures

    I'd be interested in hearing the comments from those of you who rode your first century alone, not as part of an organized ride, and not with other cyclists along for the ride, so to speak.

    How long had you been active in cycling before making your first attempt at a century?

    Did you train for it?

    Did you plan it very carefully or pretty much wing it?

    What would you have done differently if you were to do it again?

    How long did it take?

    How would you describe your course (hilly, flat, out and back, round and round, etc.)?

    Any other pearls of wisdom?
    Visit my blog! The Leadership Almanac
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  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    How long had you been active in cycling before making your first attempt at a century?

    Did you train for it?

    Did you plan it very carefully or pretty much wing it?

    What would you have done differently if you were to do it again?

    How long did it take?

    How would you describe your course (hilly, flat, out and back, round and round, etc.)?

    Any other pearls of wisdom?
    My first century was on the South Downs Way and was done with a riding partner. No way can you chance a long trip like this offroad on your own. Had 3 weeks notice and I had been riding for 4 years. Started at 6AM and finished at 10pm. The ride was only supposed to be a shortened version but we got lost and did 115 miles instead of the 80 as planned. I was dead for a week after.

    However- My second was on the mountain bike, with slicks on the road and I decided to go and visit a friend who lived about 30 miles away- Just do a long ride as such. Felt so good when I got to him that I did not stay long and got back on the bike to go to a transport rally that was just down the road. Just down the road? got there and I had the wrong town. It was this place the previous year and did not realise that they had a different venue each year. Now looked at the route home and realised that I had a few big hills to do on the way home from here and I did not fancy them. Felt OK but just did not like the idea of 15% climbs. Took a detour to miss them- but found another hill that was just as bad. Not so long but steeper. Only problem was that I was now committed to this longer route home so carried on. Eventually got home and Found the computer had stopped at 60 miles. I knew I had done more so out came the maps and that said I had done 110 miles. Got in the car the next day to check it out and I had done 108. I had left at 9 am and got home at 6pm. speed I did check on at the 30mile mark at it was 14mph. Other than that- Not much more to remember.

    To me that is the way to do a solo 100miler. Plan a circular route that will give you an extra leg so that at the 30mile mark- if you feel good you can attempt it. Or more sensible is to get the extra bit in at 50miles on a 65 miler.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  3. #3
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    How long had you been active in cycling before making your first attempt at a century?
    Answer: I remember it well, about two years. Back to back 100 miles on a Limestone Rail to Trail.

    Did you train for it?
    Answer: I thought I did on a flat 25 mile Trail in Wisconsin. Did repeated 50 miles/day and figured two 100 miles/day are no problem.

    Did you plan it very carefully or pretty much wing it?
    Answer: Well, I did get the motel reserved, that is about it.

    What would you have done differently if you were to do it again?
    Answer: My average speed was way too slow, I had no idea of nutrition or hydration, I underestimated the effects of 100 degree temperature and high humidity.

    How long did it take?
    Answer: About ten hours.

    How would you describe your course (hilly, flat, out and back, round and round, etc.)?
    Answer: Hilly, but R to T are only 3 degrees. The problem is the weather and resistance from the bumps on the Limestone and prevailing headwinds. Sand in gears when it rains. (It always does)

    Any other pearls of wisdom?
    Answer: Fixing flats efficiently is very important. Biking on trails in any kind of weather is a challenge. What to wear? How much to take with you? BTW, there are very few people! So, be prepared to help yourselves. Do not get sick and do not have an accident. There may not be someone to rescue you. However, I love trails. What an escape!

  4. #4
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    Not a century, but close (about 90 miles)

    When I was 18 I jumped on my English 3 speed (Sturmey-Archer internal gear) and rode to visit the summer camp I used to go to. From NYC to about 20 miles north of Poughkeepsie was I think 90 miles. I don't remember making any preparations. Just left in the morning, got there late afternoon. And there were some hills, nothing severe by Western U.S. standards, but hills nonetheless. Also don't remember what I did for food, or being tired.

  5. #5
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    My hat is off to anyone who does their first Century solo as you've described. I just don't think I could have gotten through the "mental barriers" at that point in time without someone else not letting me take a shortcut or quit. On second thought the first one I did, after 70-80 miles into the ride, the closest way to get to our vehicles was to just keep going......

  6. #6
    Senior Member Raketmensch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    How long had you been active in cycling before making your first attempt at a century?
    About 8 months.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    Did you train for it?
    Well, I had been riding a lot for 8 months. Not specifically training for a century, but I had definitely been increasing the mileage of my longest rides. I had done a 75-mile ride a week or two before, so 100 miles wasn't a big jump.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    Did you plan it very carefully or pretty much wing it?
    Completely winged it. Woke up that morning, looked out the window, and decided it would be a nice day to ride 100 miles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    What would you have done differently if you were to do it again?
    Nothing, actually... had a great time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    How long did it take?
    'Bout six and a half hours, I think. The weather wasn't great, so I didn't stop much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    How would you describe your course (hilly, flat, out and back, round and round, etc.)?
    A hilly loop. Everything around here is hilly. I just strung together segments from other rides I had already done, making up a total distance that I figured would be about 100 miles. It came in at 102.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    Any other pearls of wisdom?
    Spontaneity and solitude can both be good things.

  7. #7
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    How long had you been active in cycling before making your first attempt at a century?
    About 25 years. (Truth in advertising: I rode one sanctioned century in my misspent youth)

    Did you train for it?
    Yes. I waited until September (National Century Month) and had been riding regularly all season.

    Did you plan it very carefully or pretty much wing it?
    Ummm. Yes and no. I actually intended to ride an officially sanctioned century that day, but I got lost and couldn't find the start. So, I decided to wing it.

    What would you have done differently if you were to do it again?
    I might have remembered to bring directions to the official start, but actually I had a splended time on my own.

    How long did it take?
    Can't remember. I think I averaged around 14 mph, which is a good bit faster than I'd attempt for 100 miles in my current state.

    How would you describe your course (hilly, flat, out and back, round and round, etc.)?
    Out and back. I was already lost so I didn't want to get more lost, but i saw a sign that read "Clifton Forge 50 Miles." From my map, I knew the road there was a straight shot, so I took it. Some hills but flatter than a lot of Virginia.

    Any other pearls of wisdom?
    Put as much on your side as you can: a decent road bike with narrow tires (I can't imagine our our British friend does this on a Mt. Bike!); keep sipping water; make sure you have enough grub; build up to it with some fairly long rides.

    There are a number of training programs available in books and on the web, but I never had the discipline to follow them. I did have several metric centuries (62 miles) comfortably under my belt before going for the big dawg.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  8. #8
    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    I'd be interested in hearing the comments from those of you who rode your first century alone, not as part of an organized ride, and not with other cyclists along for the ride, so to speak.
    OK, here's my story:

    I was 31 (1982) and quit smoking. To keep from gaining weight, I got on an old clunker that I just happen to have and started riding a couple of miles a day. At the end of a week or so, I was up to 7-8 miles and kind of enjoying it. I didn't know squat about riding, but it was pretty fun and kept doing it.

    About 3 weeks in, my wife brings home a little book from the grocery store called "How To Ride 100 Miles." It was one of those itty bitty books one finds at the checkout. Anyway, it layed out a plan for training to be able to ride a century after 10 weeks. From reading the book, I got the impression that all cyclists routinely rode 100 mile rides so I started following the plan.

    I followed the plan to a "T" but on the 9th week ride, my exuberance got the best of me and I jumped ahead and rode the 100 miles. I think the total time since I got the bike down from the rafters until I rode 100 miles was like less than 10 weeks because I didn't finish the plan and actually started on like week 4 instead of week 1.

    So, I got bored riding centuries by myself the next few weekends and decided to go to a local club ride that I read about in our local newspaper. I show up and the organizer took one look at me and my bike, which was new but still a heavy cheapo I had just bought, and warned me that the ride was 40 miles and shouldn't go with them unless I thought I could make it. I told him I thought I could make it and finished with the front group.

    I'll never forget a lady came up to me after the ride and told me that I rode well and should spend the next three months training to do a century in the Fall. When I told her that I'd already ridden a few, she wanted to know where. I told her solo and got this look like "Yeah, right, those aren't real centuries." We later became friends and rode many centuries together.

    In all fairness, I was only 31 at the time and had ridden zillions of miles as a youngster, often riding 10 miles one way several times a week to neighboring towns. However, I had been a smoker since 16 and was a 3 pack a dayer when I quit.

    I wish I still had that little training book, but I used to loan it out to new riders and somebody along the way kept it.

    Dennis
    Last edited by Trsnrtr; 06-02-06 at 09:04 PM.
    Dennis T

  9. #9
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    I have never done a solo century nor have I even considered it. I've ridden many (hundreds) but never alone. My first was in 1988. I had been riding the bike path on a heavy clunker for about a year and bought a nicer bike and started going out on the road with a guy I met at the path. He wanted to do a century so we trained some, did a few 50s and one 75 before the big day. It was organized but I don't remember much support. It was fairly flat with some crappy roads and I had some respiratory crud. I didn't think I could finish and did a lot of whining and sniveling. I wish I had trained more, maybe a few more 65-75 mile rides, and I shouldn't have done it sick. My next one was 4 months later and I had a much better time even though the ride was a lot harder. I never go for speed and my centuries take between 6.5-8 hours, as much as 11. In the early 90s I did one every weekend at least for 3 years. Like the man said "90% of this game is 1/2 mental".

  10. #10
    Elite Fred mollusk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    Any other pearls of wisdom?
    Do it because you want to do it, not because you think we want you to do it.
    I'm the world's forgotten boy. The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy.

  11. #11
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    Started riding last September, In January got a new bike Roubaix. Starting in Jan, each week I bumped up my long ride mileage by about 10 miles. Then in March, I rode my century. Drove up to the bike shop, did a 38 miles out and back (mild hills but able to ride in big chain ring), refueled (ate a jelly sandwich and refilled water bottles with gatorade), rode a 34 mile out and back, refueled, then rode the rest during our normal groupd ride. Did it in 5 hrs 54 minutes. Eat and drink more than you think you need to.

  12. #12
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    I did my first official (in recent history) century last year w/ my wife. I've done three of them now.

    We worked our way up to doing metric centuries (62 mi) first, and then it wasn't a big step.

    I post this under "solo centuries" because although our first was an official event, we were the last car in the parking lot when we returned

  13. #13
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    It was back in 1971, I think. I was living in Oakland, CA, and working part-time at the Oakland Public Library. One of the librarians was a cyclist, but more out of appreciation for fine machinery (he owned a Porsche C as well). He talked me into buying a bike, so I went to Velo Sport in Berkeley and bought a $75 heavy steel Centurion 10-speed with wing-nut hubs and toe clips. I was really hooked on the sensation of riding a bicycle and wanted to do more, so I read all the books I could find. I learned there was a bike path along one of the canals in the Central Valley of California, near Sacramento or Stockton, I forget. So I drove the bike out there one day and set off by myself, 50 miles out and back.

    The thangs I remember about this ride: 1. riding along a flat bike path next to a canal in California's Central Valley is incredibly boring; 2. At about mile 85 or so, I had run out of food and was getting mighty hungry. I hadn't brought much to begin with, probably a bag of m&m's or something. And I had one regular-size water bottle filled with plain water; they hadn't invented sports drinks yet in 1971 and I hadn't yet discovered diluted apple juice. There were no stores along the bike path. The last 10 or 15 miles were a death march where I learned what the bonk was all about. I remember stopping at one point and lying down on the pavement, dreaming of hamburgers and fries, feeling a little chilly even though it was summer in the CV. I finally made it back to the car, but I forget how long it took. Maybe seven or eight hours? Still, I never regretted doing the ride.

    - L.

  14. #14
    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhbernhardt
    The last 10 or 15 miles were a death march where I learned what the bonk was all about. I remember stopping at one point and lying down on the pavement, dreaming of hamburgers and fries, feeling a little chilly even though it was summer in the CV. I finally made it back to the car, but I forget how long it took. Maybe seven or eight hours? Still, I never regretted doing the ride.

    - L.
    Been there, done that. In fact, I still have at least one of those kind of centuries almost every year. Sometimes, the body just doesn't want to do it no matter how many you've ridden before. Keep doing it though.
    Dennis T

  15. #15
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    As someone planning to do their first century this summer, I have found this thread to be really informative. I like most the idea that if it feels right, just keep going. I'll keep you all posted.

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    Any other pearls of wisdom?
    Put as much on your side as you can: a decent road bike with narrow tires (I can't imagine our our British friend does this on a Mt. Bike!); keep sipping water; make sure you have enough grub; build up to it with some fairly long rides.

    There are a number of training programs available in books and on the web, but I never had the discipline to follow them. I did have several metric centuries (62 miles) comfortably under my belt before going for the big dawg.
    If you count our metric centuries off road as True road centuries- (Offroad miles are longer than Road ones by around 50%) Then we do have knobbly tyres- I even do mixed metrics- 50% offroad and then on the dark stuff on knobblies- but if it is a true 100miler on the road- with supposedly no trails to traverse- then it is on Conti Grand prix slicks at 110psi. That sipping water and eating is a must. And as far as I am concerned- a break at around the 60 to 65 mile mark to stretch the legs and drink and feed in comfort is a good idea. Only 5 minutes but you then have the barrier broken. You have done more than half the ride and you are on your way home.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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