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  1. #1
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    So you think you can ride a century....

    So, a couple of weeks ago I posted about riding 50 miles. Apparently, I was so proud of myself that I went and signed up for the Moab Century in mid September! Early dementia, or heatstroke from this Saturday's ride, not sure which.

    I have 14 weeks to prepare, so what I'm thinking is increasing my long ride 5 miles every other week. I bike commute 4 days/week now, riding 30, 16, 30, 18 round trip, do a "long" ride on Saturday, right now at 50 miles (this Saturday will be 55), and Fridays and Sundays off. I can increase the commute to 35-40 miles one or two days a week. The commute is all downhill in the morning and all uphill in the afternoon, gentle incline.

    I'm 49 (but in my 50th year!), female, 162 pounds but losing, and ok with my current mileage. Do you think this is a good plan?

    I'm riding a new Specialized Ruby Expert, that should be a good bike to ride it, do you think? It's a compact, not a triple, so that's one think I'm wondering about.

    Any advice/tips would be greatly appreciated! Still trying to eat on the ride, not there, yet. I rode Saturday's 50 without eating and did ok, maybe carrying this extra weight helps with enegy needs?

    Thanks
    Tabriz

  2. #2
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    If you can up your long ride to 75 - 80 miles you will be able to ride 100 when the time comes. Adding 5% - 10% a week is doable considering the amount of miles you currently ride.

    The compact gearing is a good choice unless you have some big long hills to ride. Usually the compact will give you all the gearing needed where the triple will provide about 1 and 1/2 more easier gears.

    Eating is vital for long rides when your efforts exceeds the amount of stored fuel, the energy in the blood, liver and muscles, which is usually about 50 miles or a few hours’ worth. Once you deplete the stored energy you get to a bonk phase which usually means failure. You should practice eating on your rides, even the short rides which will enable your body to adapt to drawing fuel from the consumed foods while on the fly and extending the use of the stored fuel.
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  3. #3
    Sumerian Street Rider khutch's Avatar
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    Mileage wise you will be so well prepared for this century that you will laugh your way through it! I'm 59 and recently did my first century after following a 10 week training plan which I, ahem, wasn't all that diligent at executing. I did make sure to ratchet up my long rides to 80 miles at a much more aggressive rate that you will. Do try to find out how much climbing is involved on the century ride and try to make your 80% long ride also 80% or more of the climbing. Yep, you want to learn to eat, learn to drink, and learn to deal with the heat while riding. Eating you can do at rest stops, drinking you need to while on the bike too. The most important thing is to experiment to learn what you need to eat and drink in the heat and then stick to that on century day, no matter how tempting other goodies at the rest stop may be. I almost didn't finish even though I had the mileage down because century day was in the middle of a sudden heat spell and I had no relevant experience at riding that long in that heat. You have plenty of time to get that experience, you will do just fine.

    Ken

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    http://skinnytireevents.com/images/s...Elevations.pdf

    This is the website showing the elevation change. It looks like I only really have to ride 50 miles, then coast downhill the rest of the way. However, I know that is probably misleading! It looks steeper than what I'm accustomed to. I live at the bottom of Sandia Mountain, which climbs 3,000 feet in I think 12 miles, but I haven't tried it, yet. I'm thinking getting used to the long miles is more important at this point than trying to get up that mountain? The course I do ride is hilly, but not as steep as the Sandias.

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    I have seen the Sandia route. Our west, I have not seen anything really steep on a major 2 lane paved road. Most of the roads max out at 7% and if you have low enough gears, you can sit and spin up them.

    There are several tricks to riding centuries.

    1) Get in adequate training before hand. As a rule of thumb, it you can ride 70 miles with a similar exposure to climbing, you should be good for the century.
    2) Pacing is vital. As you go faster, your body consumes more glycogen (storage carbohydrate). If you consume all of your glycogen, you have to burn fat which puts you at half power. It isn't fun. So ride at a comfortable cruising speed. Don't try to ride at the kind of speed that is the max speed you can do 30 miles at. You can always ride a bit slow and pick up the pace late in the ride.
    3) Stop every now and then but keep the stops brief. If you stop for too long a time, your muscles will tend to think the ride is over and getting them working again is not fun. It can be done though. Your stops should be to eat snacks, take "comfort breaks", get water, and get off your contact points.
    4) Don't change anything from your training. It is bad news to put on a new saddle, or try a new food, or well you get the idea.

    Also, if things are going bad, you can always bail out at 50 miles. Remember this is supposed to be "fun".

    It sounds as if you are well prepared already and should be very well prepared on the day. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    If you were to follow PatW's excellent advice you could likely do the ride tomorrow. The big differences between a fifty mile ride and a hundred miller are small snacks and continual hydration.

    If you have the chance you might want to ride the first twenty or thirty miles of the route to make sure you have the right gearing.
    Last edited by gcottay; 06-13-11 at 11:11 AM. Reason: fix typoo
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  7. #7
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    IMO, the full century is actually easier than the metric. The grades on the La Sal Loop are pretty steep at times. Besides, I would ride the century just to ride out to Dead Horse Point for the view.
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  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    70 miles is quite far enough in training. Provided you do that 70 miles right. There are hills on the 100 miler so make certain you do hills----A lot of them. There will be places where you can find a bit of speed so ride on the flat with effort.

    My summer training puts me right for a Century next weekend if it comes up--Without thinking about it.

    50 to 60 miles at the weekends on a varied course. Then 2 evening rides of around 20 miles. One taking in hills and the other flattish but with a bit more pace than my weekend rides.

    But plenty to think of beforehand. Get the bike serviced about a month beforehand and pay attention to the Chain- tyres and wheel true. Check that the fit is right now and carry out any experiments well beforehand so you can adjust to any changes.

    And FOOD. You will need food but it does not have to be Power bars and Special high carb stuff. Munch as you go and take things you like. Jelly beans- Dried Fruit and nut- Cake- Anything you like to eat that does have carb content. Try a few Gels out- not all of them taste good and can affect some people.

    And my favourite food comes at my 65 mile rest break. A Tin (Now a plastic carton) of creamed rice. Soft almost liquid food that can be swallowed easily- Even if you don't want to.

    The Ruby is a good bike for Century rides and as it is newish- then won't have much wear on it by then. Still get the wheels checked though. You have probably followed the Compact V Triple debates on this forum and unless there are hills in training that defeat you that are as hard as on the Century- It will be good.
    Last edited by stapfam; 06-13-11 at 12:47 PM.
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  9. #9
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    The advice here has been sage!

    I'm a gal, too, and I've done some metrics so far this year with no issue what so ever, and as a natural course of events I've followed the advice given here (as given by people I ride with) and it has worked out perfectly. I'll add that I ride further than a metric distance (66 miles) regularly, and I have no doubt I could do a century without any issues.

    Let me stress 1) saddle comfort 2) shorts comfort 3) and hydration!

    The best advice? It is supposed to be fun (and it is)!

    You'll be fine, you'll have fun, and if you have to stop - no worries. There are always other centuries!

    Enjoy!
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  10. #10
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here. One thing I would like to add. I don't think that anyone on there first century gets any sleep the night before the event. It's just too much excitement to sleep. Don't worry! Take several rest days before the event and get "good" sleep on those days. Try to take it easy the day before too. You will do great. Take lots of pictures before and after the race and maybe at aid stations too. After all this is your first and you will want to have the pictures to remember this day. Good luck and safe ridding.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil85207 View Post
    Lots of good advice here. One thing I would like to add. I don't think that anyone on there first century gets any sleep the night before the event. It's just too much excitement to sleep. Don't worry! Take several rest days before the event and get "good" sleep on those days. Try to take it easy the day before too. You will do great. Take lots of pictures before and after the race and maybe at aid stations too. After all this is your first and you will want to have the pictures to remember this day. Good luck and safe ridding.
    I've been wondering about that.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  12. #12
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    I've done this ride a couple times, it is a grind on the climb in the LaSalle's. They call the long climb the big nasty, and it can be nasty if you start riding too late and it gets hot when you start climbing. To train for this event ride lots and lots of hills, this will help more than anything, build leg strength and the compact double will be fine. Start riding early and you'll enjoy it, it's beautiful. Also, the ride is not over when you come down out of the LaSalles, the road along the river rolls and has some good, but short hills, save a bit of leg for that. Have fun, Moab is such a great place to ride road.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  13. #13
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    I'll stress the hydration. Food's critical but I have also found using some form of hydration with sodium, potassium, protein and some complex sugars to also be very helpful on rides over 50miles. For short rides under 50 I just take water and maybe a snack or two. Over 50 I use gu and snack more carefully and regularly. Get a good carb meal 4 hours before the event...

  14. #14
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    I've done this ride a couple times, it is a grind on the climb in the LaSalle's. They call the long climb the big nasty, and it can be nasty if you start riding too late and it gets hot when you start climbing. To train for this event ride lots and lots of hills, this will help more than anything, build leg strength and the compact double will be fine. Start riding early and you'll enjoy it, it's beautiful. Also, the ride is not over when you come down out of the LaSalles, the road along the river rolls and has some good, but short hills, save a bit of leg for that. Have fun, Moab is such a great place to ride road.
    I think she's doing the century which doesn't go over the loop but out Canyonlands to Dead Horse Point and back. Either way, expect wind especially in the afternoon. The wind can make a downhill grade work and be a mental challenge as the day wears on.
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    Senior Member RepWI's Avatar
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    I am 61 years old and tour, fully loaded. last year when touring I tended to average 60-75 miles a day. One day out I made an error in calculating the days ride. What I thought would be a 70 mile ride ended up 112. I have done my century and am proud.

    For training for my tours I ran much like you have said you are going to. You will be fine and we will be here to congratulate you upon completion. Have fun.
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    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
    I think she's doing the century which doesn't go over the loop but out Canyonlands to Dead Horse Point and back. Either way, expect wind especially in the afternoon. The wind can make a downhill grade work and be a mental challenge as the day wears on.
    Ah, yes, I guess that they made the change when they completed the bike path along the highway up to the Canyonlands turn off. That's a nice ride out to Dead Horse Point, lots of climbing, but beautiful.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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    Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the information and encouragement! I'm mostly worried about finishing within the time limit, I'm so slow! And I don't want to miss the party, which ends at 5.

    Yes, I did choose the full century over the metric because the metric actually sounds harder.

    I'll try eating this Saturday on the ride. I love jelly beans, I bet nothing could make me not want them! And I'll fill up one water bottle with gatorade, and bring gu, too.

    My husband is doing the 40 mile ride. Once he is done with that, can he drive the road we'll be riding on to find me, or do they close it?

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    And, does anyone know what grade the hills are on the century? I can't tell.

    Tabriz

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    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Great advise from everyone. As with any opinion, everyone has one so I am going to give you mine. I would follow what everyone has posted here as far as training and hydration. However, there are a few more things that are worth considering. If you plan on doing several centuries in the near future, you may want to consider having your bike computer fitted. It's a bit pricy, but believe me, it's worth every penny of it. Another thing to consider is a spare water bottle containing a quick recovery mix, like Perpetuem from Hammer. Take some gel packs and some power chews. I normally take three water bottles with me when I ride distance rides. One has the Perpetuem, one has electrolyte's and the other is just water. I take a gel pack before the ride and one every 10 miles into it. I also use GU Chews. They are like gummy bears, come in various flavors, and are loaded with carbs and protein. I let them dissolve rather than chew them because the effect will last longer and it keeps your mouth from drying out because it forces you to ride with your mouth closed.

    So, if you take everyone's advise, modify it a bit so that it fits what you do, then you will find yourself crossing the finish line before you know it. Just remember, this isn't a race. The object here is to finish. Pace yourself and above all, don't try and keep up with the younger riders. It ain't gonna happen.
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    What kind of food do they have at the aid stations? And should I expect that they will run out before the last riders get there (me)? Do they ever run out of water? Should I plan on bringing my large camelback?

    Tabriz

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    Thanks, JohnV. I'll try some of these foods and drinks. Do you put water in the quick recovery mix, or just the mix and add water at the aid stations?

    Keeping up with younger riders, no problem there, I have absolutely no chance of that!

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    Sorry for all the questions. Are there usually quite a few riders that come in just under the wire? Will I have company?

  23. #23
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Yes, I did choose the full century over the metric because the metric actually sounds harder.
    So does the metric century take a completely different route than the century? Most of the rides I have been on use a common route, normally the shortest ride, and branch off of that route to roads that return to the common route to add the miles. If this is the case where you are at, a metric century is only 62 miles. Pretty much guarantees that you'll be at that party. But then again, once you have ridden a century, you can say you have ridden a bike.

    What kind of food do they have at the aid stations? And should I expect that they will run out before the last riders get there (me)? Do they ever run out of water? Should I plan on bringing my large camelback?
    The SAG stations usually have energy food; granola bars, bananas, some have extra gel packs. They also have water and Gator Aid. I have never seen them run out of water and if you want to ride with the extra weight on your back, bring your camelback.

    Do you put water in the quick recovery mix, or just the mix and add water at the aid stations?
    Yes, it's a mix. I mix it up before the ride and carry it in a water bottle behind my seat. I also have a small handlebar bag that I use to carry extra gel packs and chews. I try not to put too much stuff in my jersey pockets because the weight sits right on the area of your back that is bent the most and the longest.

    Are there usually quite a few riders that come in just under the wire? Will I have company?
    Absolutely! There are always going to be riders that are faster than you are and there will always be riders that are slower than you. I'm 64 and the last distance ride I did was a half century (had anemia) and I did it in 3h 28m. Almost 4 hours if you include the SAG stops. Not the first rider in, but definitely not the last of the ones doing the half century.

    Make up a training schedule and plan, follow it and don't worry. You'll do fine! Enjoy the ride .... it's a great feeling when you get done.
    Last edited by John_V; 06-13-11 at 08:40 PM.
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  24. #24
    Sumerian Street Rider khutch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tabriz View Post
    This is the website showing the elevation change.
    It looks like the first 30 miles of the century route are an average of 60 feet per mile or a little over 1% average grade. The century I just did was 14 feet per mile which is pretty flat even by Illinois standards. In the NW corner of the state and the SW corner of Wisconsin there is a driftless area which evidently is geology speak for the region that the glaciers of the last ice age missed so it was not bulldozed flat. It is an endless sea of hills and the Wisconsin Triple Crown events are held in that area with climbs of 100 feet and more per mile. My 80 mile training ride actually had almost 60% more climbing than the century route. You don't need to go to that extreme but you do want to get used to climbing hills. Personally I would try to work up to 65 to 80% of the distance and 100% of the climbing. If you can do that you will know that you can do the century and you will have more attention to devote to what sounds like awesome scenery. Plus, you will sleep fine the night before. I slept like a baby knowing that I could do the miles and I was blissfully unaware of what the heat would do to me the next day. Next time I will have that down too and I will sleep just as well.

    Looks like you have a great ride ahead of you, keep at the training and you will have a great time doing it.

    Ken

  25. #25
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tabriz View Post
    And, does anyone know what grade the hills are on the century? I can't tell.

    Tabriz
    It's a steady grade up highway 191 to the turn off to Canyonlands park, maybe 5 -6 percent. The highway into Canyonlands continues to climb at about that same amount, with a couple steeper sections until you get to rest stop 5. Past this rest stop you climb a bit more then turn onto the Dead Horse Point access road, you get a break here, then climb again to the canyon rim and the halfway stop. Train for hills all summer, ride them hard.
    They will have plenty of water at the rest stops, or you can flag down a SAG for more. They'll also have Gatorade at rest stops, You shouldn't need a camelback, but I'd say an insulated water bottle would be best to keep fluids from getting hot. They will have lots of food, but start very early and don't be in the last group. get to the halfway point as early as you can.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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