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Old 09-15-09, 11:05 AM   #1
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Are centuries hard?

My longest ride to date has been 75 miles, and on weekends I regularly do 40-60 mile solo rides. Usually early in the morning after a light breakfast. I'm thinking of signing up for a supported century ride. Sound like a good idea?
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Old 09-15-09, 11:13 AM   #2
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A century's always a good idea, atmo. And it sounds like you're in shape for it. Just don't go out too fast (a common problem @ centuries), and make sure you eat and drink plenty (2-300 cal/hr). Oh, and have fun!

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Old 09-15-09, 11:15 AM   #3
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That depends on what you think a "good idea" is. But it sounds to me that the notion of riding a century appeals to you.

The rule of thumb for centuries is do a 70 mile ride in the training process. The idea is that the excitement of doing a "CENTURY" will get you over the top.

You say you do 40-60 mile solo rides. It sounds to me that your preparation is good.

How do you feel after a 40-60 mile ride? If I ride with a fast group and do a fair amount of pulling, I can be pretty beaten up after 50 miles. I know I can do a century because I have done piles.

The trick to doing a century is backing off a bit on the pace. You stop to get water, relieve the contact points and take a snack. Do 3-5 stops during the century. What is the rush? I have done a 1 stop century but I was in good shape and I was in a hurry for some reason.

Now go out there and have fun.
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Old 09-15-09, 11:41 AM   #4
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My longest ride to date has been 75 miles, and on weekends I regularly do 40-60 mile solo rides. Usually early in the morning after a light breakfast. I'm thinking of signing up for a supported century ride. Sound like a good idea?
A supported century is worth 30 miles so you can do it. Just watch out for the 70 mile bonk. I stop at 65- have something more substantial to eat- a full bottle of Energy drink- have a stretch and all it takes is 5 minutes.

And if you do not use them- try an energy gel----on your next ride. They do not agree with everyone so hence the try and they do not work miracles. But after that long climb that you took at a sensible pace- a gel is a good idea.
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Old 09-15-09, 11:42 AM   #5
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Just to get you prepared. Find out the route and try to trace it on Google Earth. Pay attention to the elevation. I don't know if Illinois is pretty much flat or hilly. If there are hilly portions, Google Earth tools can give you an idea of the elevation gains. But you have to do this calculation by yourself.
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Old 09-15-09, 11:44 AM   #6
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Great idea. You will gain valuable experience riding in a group, and you will learn new routes you can ride on your own later, if the ride is in your 'hood.

If you stop at all the food stops, it's actually way easier than riding 40-60 miles by yourself. The stops are usually spaced about 30 miles apart, so you'll ride maybe an hour and a half to two hours and then you can stop and refill your bottles and get free stuff to eat that you've paid for. Some guys try to finish the ride as fast as possible, so they either blow past the food stops, or they stop and fill their bottles and jersey pockets as fast as they can and take off so they don't get left by the others in the fast group. I think this is dumb, as you miss the point of the ride (if you do this, then you should be racing, where they'll hand up a bottle or a musette and you don't even have to stop!). Most centuries don't record finishing times because you can start whenever you want, and most riders have absolutely no interest in how quickly you rode 100 miles.

But if you do stop, and you are concerned about your finishing time, then remember my "two-minute rule," which is something I use on randonneur rides (which are timed): every two minutes you spend at the rest stop is equal to one kilometer per hour. Of course, this assumes you're averaging a comfortable 25-30 kmh (15-18 mph) pace. So if you get in a nice tempo group and you do 30 km in an hour, and you stop for 10 minutes, your average is now down to 25 kmh.

Here's a tip for cheapskates: start the ride with an empty waterbottle and empty pockets. Your breakfast will carry you to the first food stop, where you can then fill your bottle(s), stuff yourself with cookies and fruit, and fill your pockets with enough supplies to get to the next food stop. Also, unless the ride info says there's a lunch or barbeque after the ride, there will be no food or water at the finish, so prepare accordingly at the last food stop!

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Old 09-15-09, 11:45 AM   #7
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. . . Sound like a good idea?
If you like the route and the other riders it sounds like an excellent idea.

Though racing a hundred miles is tough, riding that far can be a piece of cake with a bit of attention to the basics:

Eat a good breakfast. Eat and drink frequently. Take breaks as the spirit moves. Have a spare tube or two along. Take the first thirty or so miles at a pace that seems maybe one gear too slow. Enjoy meeting other riders.

For your first century, I suggest benefiting from lhbernhardt's excellent food stop advice. A focus on time and pace can come in future rides.

Last edited by gcottay; 09-15-09 at 11:53 AM. Reason: lhbernhardt's advice
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Old 09-15-09, 12:08 PM   #8
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Sounds like a great idea.
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Old 09-15-09, 12:43 PM   #9
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I have never done a supported century but have done one solo. I think you could/can do either. I say a good idea and go for it. All good advice above too.
Have you ridden with groups before?
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Old 09-15-09, 01:16 PM   #10
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Your current training is what I do for getting ready for the first century of the season. Usually I feel comfortable with a metric when riding with a fast group and 75 miles solo. With this training a century can be easy (if it is flat and you back off on speed) or hard (if you try to keep a fast group pace and it is hilly). As stated above - eat well, drink lots. Find an electrolite replacement that you can tolerate well - I don't drink straight water, I use Nuun. Gels are good, I always take them with an energy bar - one gives me a boost quickly and the other sustains me. As others have stated the 70 to 80 mile mark can be hard if you have not paced yourself or not followed the nutrition advice.

Enjoy - find some compatible company and ride the ride together, it makes a big difference.
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Old 09-15-09, 01:23 PM   #11
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My longest ride to date has been 75 miles, and on weekends I regularly do 40-60 mile solo rides. Usually early in the morning after a light breakfast. I'm thinking of signing up for a supported century ride. Sound like a good idea?
absolutely, do it! if you've gone 75, you are ready. It's a lot of fun riding a supported ride, you can find a new friend or two along the way and ride with them. It's a blast. You will be hooked
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Old 09-15-09, 02:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
Just to get you prepared. Find out the route and try to trace it on Google Earth. Pay attention to the elevation. I don't know if Illinois is pretty much flat or hilly. If there are hilly portions, Google Earth tools can give you an idea of the elevation gains. But you have to do this calculation by yourself.
I suggest using mapmyride.com to get a pretty good idea (but not perfect) for elevation changes.
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Old 09-15-09, 02:34 PM   #13
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That extra 30 miles will play on your mind--Don't let it.

Bit of training you ought to do and that involves nutrition and water. Week before the ride- start eating more carbo-hydrates. Couple of days before the ride start water loading. They just put a bit extra reserves into the body for the start of the ride. Night before the ride and I normally have pasta- and plenty of it. Morning of the ride and porridge (Oatmeal?) 30 minutes before the ride starts and drink a bottle of energy drink. 20 minutes into the ride and start snacking. Dried fruit- cereal bars- Cake- or anything you fancy. Drink at least one bottle per hour- more if you can manage it and take it in sips.

So eat on the ride and drink- then drink and eat some more and after that eat and drink some more. Then when you get to the satge that you feel you have eaten and snacked enough- have some more food and another drink.

And don't get hung up on energy drink. After the 5th bottle it gets nausious. So take water on its own or a can of coke or best out of the lot- A Marmite sandwich. I can't stand the stuff but it is full of essential salts and clears the pallette.

And just go and enjoy the ride. And we want pics of the ride.
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Old 09-15-09, 03:12 PM   #14
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"Are centuries hard?"

There would be no point to them if they weren't. ;-) The harder, the better. Like much else in life. What, you want to sit around on a couch all day in your old age? You're old a long time...
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Old 09-15-09, 04:56 PM   #15
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You're ready. Go for it.
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Old 09-15-09, 05:05 PM   #16
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There is no question in my mind that you can do 100 miles.
As someone else said: Do you have experience with pace line cycling?
If not that will be your challenge. It takes some experience to do that right.
The efficiency of a pace line will make the ride seem easy as long as you guys are reasonably matched. I would not recommend that you go with much faster cyclists. That may not be good for you.
Been there, done that.
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Old 09-15-09, 05:41 PM   #17
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Centuries are truly a state of mind. If you believe you are prepare and are excited to ride one, it will be no problem. If you believe its going to be hard... don't even try.

With your base you are more than prepared. If you have the attitude, then I say try one. I have done quite a few and enjoyed each one. Even my first... I meant to ride 50 miles and quit but enjoyed the event so much, just kept going. My time was decent considering... around 8 hours. The fastest time for me was just under 6. I never before a century do a century but will try to do a metric or something close as a training ride. I generally rode only 30 - 45 miles fairly consistantly.

Most important thing to remember is nutrition and hydration. Every 20 miles (at least) EAT, and drink before getting thirsty. I know you can do 50 miles on a snack bar but remember you need to have fuel stores for 100+.
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Old 09-15-09, 05:44 PM   #18
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Here's a tip for cheapskates: start the ride with an empty waterbottle and empty pockets. Your breakfast will carry you to the first food stop, where you can then fill your bottle(s), stuff yourself with cookies and fruit, and fill your pockets with enough supplies to get to the next food stop. Also, unless the ride info says there's a lunch or barbeque after the ride, there will be no food or water at the finish, so prepare accordingly at the last food stop!

L.
We call that "shopping for groceries"! I do however start out with water since I get that from the tap...

However know your event... I have been left with nothing because the promoters didn't plan right. Nothing worse than dreaming of a fig bar and orange slices and all that is left is a dried out CLif bar. Ugh!
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Old 09-15-09, 07:17 PM   #19
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I thought the 20th Century was fairly hard. But the 21st Century is shaping up to be a real doozie.
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Old 09-15-09, 08:23 PM   #20
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Are centuries hard? - yes

I'm thinking of signing up for a supported century ride. Sound like a good idea? - yes
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Old 09-15-09, 08:26 PM   #21
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I do at least one a month-sometimes 2-3. If you want to do one-you can do it. Its probably better to pick a decent route and avoid one that has lots of serious climbing for your first one. Doing a supported century is better for lots of reasons as well. Avoid doing anything differently than you normally do-like trying new foods or liquids or changes in saddle, measurements etc. You will generally get some discomfort after 80 miles but just work through it and you'll do fine.
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Old 09-15-09, 09:13 PM   #22
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We call that "shopping for groceries"! I do however start out with water since I get that from the tap...

However know your event... I have been left with nothing because the promoters didn't plan right. Nothing worse than dreaming of a fig bar and orange slices and all that is left is a dried out CLif bar. Ugh!
Shopping for Groceries! I love it! I've never heard the expression, but it's dead on!

And I forgot about the stop running out of food. One advantage of being in the fast group is you have a better selection at the food stops. But at a badly-organized century where they run out of food, the poor devils that need it most are the ones riding up to bare cupboards.

And I concur with the sentiment that it's worth doing because it is hard. When I first started racing bikes in Berkeley in the early 70's, we had this really old guy in the club, he must have been around 80 as I recall. His name was Ed Delano, and he wore a club jersey that had "Foxy Grandpa" sewn on the back. I read an interview he once did where he was asked if he liked doing the really long rides. "Yep," he replied, "the longer they are, the better I like 'em."

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Old 09-16-09, 12:48 AM   #23
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My longest ride to date has been 75 miles, and on weekends I regularly do 40-60 mile solo rides. Usually early in the morning after a light breakfast. I'm thinking of signing up for a supported century ride. Sound like a good idea?
A century is hard only if you think it is. If your mindset is that you're riding 5-20 mile segments (based on how far apart your stops are) it's a piece of cake.

You may find yourself questioning your sanity toward the end, especially if there are hills involved, or unrelenting headwind, but as long as you know in your head and your heart you'll make it, you'll make it.

I love a century -- the miles and miles of pedaling in beautiful country takes me away from my stressful work and semi-mundane life. My brain relaxes and lets new thoughts and ideas enter. And the endorphin overload is amazing.

Sounds like you're well on your way -- I recommend a carb overload the night before, a hearty breakfast, and plenty of hydration. Try to be in and out of stops in 10 minutes. You won't have much lactic build up if you don't linger at the stops.

Above all, have fun! 'Cause if it isn't fun, it won't be done.
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Old 09-16-09, 08:12 AM   #24
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Yes. You can do it.

Start out slower that you think you should and keep a steady pace.
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Old 09-16-09, 10:32 AM   #25
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I'm gonna do it. Thanks everyone.
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