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Old 06-03-08, 07:46 PM   #1
BikeArkansas
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Wondering if a century is worth the effort

Last weekend I completed another 100 mile ride. That was my sixth century in the past 12 months. As is normal, I was exhausted after the ride. I did not want to do much of anything the rest of that day or on Sunday.

This makes me take a look at my riding. I have completed several metric centuries. After the metric rides I have been tired, but enjoyed the ride. Also, I recovered later that day and was ready to return to normal activities the next day.

Is it worth the effort to ride past a point where you can recover the same day? I know that some people ride double centuries and some ride a maximum of 25 miles, so my question is not about a specific number of miles, but about riding past a point that you can physically recover by the next day.
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Old 06-03-08, 07:58 PM   #2
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Some would say yes. But I think it's an individual decision. You have to decide how much bicycling can you afford in your life. I'd ask Mrs. BikeArkansas.
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Old 06-03-08, 08:03 PM   #3
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It's only worth it, well...if it's worth it.
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Old 06-03-08, 08:03 PM   #4
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I prefer metric centuries also. it's enough riding to satisfy me
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Old 06-03-08, 08:06 PM   #5
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I think this falls into the 'which is the best saddle/shoe/short' category. To each his
own. I agree, metric is a nice stopping point for me also which balances recovery
versus being snowed for the next 12hrs. 5 yrs ago I had a hard time even completing
a century and sagged in at 60-85 mi on several. Kind of a psychic blow after having
done a century in 5H20' in '00. About a year ago I began stoking on a tandem and
riding longer and longer rides and we just completed our third weekend out and back
centuries, moteling it Sat nite. Counter to my years ago experience, I was able to
stay awake driving home! Centuries still take it out of me but the recovery is
much faster than I would have believed possible 2 yrs ago. (One other contribution
was to switch from lipitor to zocor, muscle aches whole lot less with zocor; and
perhaps an LAD stent might have helped also )
And then there was the guy that rode 86mi out with us on Sat, turned
around and rode 86mi back to the car and rode a century on Sun this past
weekend.
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Old 06-03-08, 08:08 PM   #6
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I've ridden two centuries. The first was years ago and solo. The second was a couple of weeks ago captaining a tandem on an organized ride. I'm pleased to have completed both of these rides, but don't plan to put centuries into my normal routine, although I won't rule out another at some point. I ride for fun and fitness, and the last 30 miles of each ride contributed to neither.

Cheers!
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Old 06-03-08, 08:26 PM   #7
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I don't make a steady diet of centurys, one or two a year is fine. This year I am contemplating 3. I prefer a metric as well, have done 1 so far this year and plan to do 6 more. Our local bike club does a century weekend, many people I know do the metric two days in a row.
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Old 06-03-08, 08:38 PM   #8
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I have done one double, two hilly double metrics, and a few assorted centuries and metrics, but that was all in the past. Since I currently tend to bonk after 35-40 mi / 60-65 km or so, I am slowly working my way back up to where I can knock off a metric century comfortably.
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Old 06-03-08, 08:58 PM   #9
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I suppose from a pure logic point of view it is not worth it. We humans unfortunately do not operate on pure logic. I'm in no rush to do my first century. Primarily because I ride slow. Maybe it's my age, medication, weight, or physical condition. No doubt all the above, but when I do ride that 100 miles I will be lucky to complete it under 11 hours. And probably even more lucky if I'm recovered by the following day. But it does represent a goal I'm shooting for this year. It will probably be worth it only to myself for just a few days. Wife will think I'm nuts. Kids will feel a little happiness for me. But after those few days I'll question it's worth as you are now. And in my case I probably will not repeat it.
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Old 06-03-08, 09:11 PM   #10
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Centuries are a goal every year and most years (for the last 20) I have completed 1 or 2. Metric centuries suit my lifestyle better as other pursuits (wife, teenage kids, job, yard work, kayak, ski patrol, etc) rob me of saddle time. Presently I try to ride 4 times per week, 16 - 18 mph, for at least 5 total hours. When the kids are on their own and the job becomes part time then I will allocate more time to all my healthy, outdoor pursuits - God willing.
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Old 06-03-08, 09:12 PM   #11
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I do them if my friends are, that adds a lot for me. Sometimes they are so memorable, like the century I did this past Saturday. A tough ride, but everything just fell into place. The weather was perfect, friends were there, one of my favorite routes, and the support was the best. Pics in the Sunday ride thread.
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Old 06-03-08, 09:58 PM   #12
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Sounds like you are not taking on enough nutrition before during or after the ride. It doesn't have to leave you so wiped out.
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Old 06-03-08, 10:07 PM   #13
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How about recognizing that you are fifty, or more? Try listening to what your body is telling you and acting accordingly. It's Zen, my man. It's one thing to build up to it slowly, and another to continually go way past your limit. What's the big hurry? Trying to get to your last day ahead of the grim reaper? bk
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Old 06-03-08, 10:24 PM   #14
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I've done 4 centuries and one double this year. I'm signed up to do Seattle to Portland. I may well toss in another 1 or 2 100 milers.

I'm 54. How much longer can I do this stuff? Not long. I'm doing it while I can.

Plus, you get a patch, or a tee shirt, or the opportunity to buy a jersey. How can that not be worth it?

Any thing worth doing is worth over doing!
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Old 06-03-08, 10:54 PM   #15
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Any thing worth doing is worth over doing!

That's ALWAYS been my motto!
And look what it's did for me
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Old 06-04-08, 01:21 AM   #16
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Centuries are worth it. I do unsupported centuries. This year, I plan to do one each month I'm off (I teach). I average about 12 to 13 miles per hour, and bring a change of clothes.

I found that Hammer Nutrition products perpetuem, recoverite, help me get back on the bike and keep me going. I usually take the next day off.

BTW, I'm 59 years old. I see things on centuries that take my breath away, wetlands, full moons over lakes, spider webs forming on my bike as I ride. Plus, the ability to ride these distances is a personal affront to my arthritis.
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Old 06-04-08, 06:27 AM   #17
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How about recognizing that you are fifty, or more? bk
I was 51 when I rode my first century, and have completed 17 since then, mostly on the tandem.

It's not about age so much as training. You can't expect to go from 30 miles to 100 without some uncomfortable consequences. You have to have some distance rides in between those epic rides to keep your endurance and tolerance for long rides and sustained work high.

Those last 20 miles can be tough, even with good nutrition and preparation; however, the ride shouldn't leave you that beaten up. That said, I agree with others who've said that everyone responds differently, and each ride you'll respond differently.

Maybe it's time to reassess your goals, or your training. Just keep the fun alive -- because if it isn't fun, it won't be done.
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Old 06-04-08, 07:00 AM   #18
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Is it worth the effort to ride past a point where you can recover the same day? I know that some people ride double centuries and some ride a maximum of 25 miles, so my question is not about a specific number of miles, but about riding past a point that you can physically recover by the next day.
If you are riding yourself into a state of exhaustion - then of course, what's the point? My question is: "What is it about the way you ride these long rides that you have not discovered how to maintain your well being?"

Certainly, the point of challenging yourself to ride farther and faster is a part of bicycling. However, learning how to cope and manage your energy for your own enjoyment is a skill, if not an art, to be accomplished as well.

You may be riding at the wrong effort level, on the wrong rides, for the wrong reasons, you'll have to figure that out for yourself. No one else can possibly know.
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Old 06-04-08, 07:47 AM   #19
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What's the big hurry? Trying to get to your last day ahead of the grim reaper? bk
I've seen him, he's out there!
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Old 06-04-08, 08:05 AM   #20
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I do recreational things for all sorts of reasons. I ride centuries for a sense of accomplishment. For me the first 50 miles are fun, the next 30 are tedious and hard, and the last 20 are an odd mixture of agony and elation when I think I'm actually going to make it. I'm not much good for anything afterwards except walking slowly and enjoying the glow of endorphins, plus the relief that it's over and I made it. The next day is pretty much shot too, except for laying around, but there's still a glow - this time it's the feeling of accomplishment.
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Old 06-04-08, 08:19 AM   #21
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Hi big john,

Great photo of Colleen with the Reaper! The "ICY" sign in the background is good, but the "Onyx Summit, 8,440 Feet" would have been better! I think this is actually a Chuck Bramwell photo, yes?

As I've said before, centuries are great training for doubles! Supported or self-supported, it's all good.

Recovery wise, sometimes it's scary. After the Heartbreak 100 on Sat. I rode the club ride with some of the fast guys, thinking, "Well, I'll see how long I can hang on . . . " and actually did 32 miles with an 18 mph average, though there was some pace-lining in there. Pretty funny! Guess I recovered alright!

Then the next day (Monday, Memorial Day) I rode 68 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing with my wife and her friend Roseanne, and felt great, lots of power and no pain. And I'm 58, plus, certainly not a naturally gifted rider (as Richard Cranium and big john both know!).

So, to the OP, I say, "Be sure to eat right during and after the ride (pretty much immediately after), then go for an easy (emphasis on easy) ride the following day, maybe 20 miles or so." Recovery rides really do your body good. I recommend a single-speed or fixed gear as a speed-limiting device, but whatever works for you!

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Old 06-04-08, 08:27 AM   #22
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It is hard work to do 100 miles without stops or minimum time stops. I have done many of those and they do not come easy.
OTOH doing 50 miles 8:00 to 11:00 AM is fun for me. After that I do a long stop and a long lunch and walk around and relax. Next do the other 50 miles from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. This is not a race schedule but a lets enjoy life schedule.
Why do it at all? It is nice to be fit. Frequent centuries like this keep me fit. I can eat what I want (reasonably) and I am out in Nature which I like a lot. Mosquitoes do not bite me and the summer heat is reduced due to wind factor. Life is good.
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Old 06-04-08, 08:41 AM   #23
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I've done three so far this year, and would like to do many more. I only did three total last year. I'm not bored with them yet

Still it can be too much. On one of the rides I was wasted the next day. Not only tired and sluggish, but my heart rate was elevated, and I was light-headed. Not great.

Also my standards are getting higher. I won't do one just to do one any more, especially unsupported. I want to see different areas or ride with different styles of groups.

On a really great day, doing only 60, 70, 80 miles seems like a wasted day...
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Old 06-04-08, 09:19 AM   #24
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"Post-partum depression" is well recognized among runners, many of whom train for a year or two so they can run their first marathon, then in the days after wonder "Why did I dedicate a year of my life to THAT?".

They also accept that it might take from 1-3 weeks until life starts making sense again.

I don't see this written about in the cycling literature, but I'm sure its the same phenominon. My suggestion is not to make up your mind until about three weeks from now. If centuries no longer have an appeal, train for something else. Like an IronMan.
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Old 06-04-08, 09:35 AM   #25
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It takes time to prepare for a century. Its mostly conditioning, long hours of riding. Once you get the body to get used to this type of riding, then its not going to be a problem. This practice also includes taking nutrition breaks and getting enough hydration.

During the century, if its properly supported, make sure you stop at every rest stop and get the nutrition and hydration. Then after the century make sure you get a lot of electrolytes back into your body as soon as possible.
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