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Old 06-01-14, 11:08 PM   #1
jyl
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No-Preparation Century?

Hmm, I just realized the Portland Wheelmen's Pioneer Century ride is in a week, on June 7. I signed up some months ago, but a commitment was going to prevent me from riding it. Now that commitment has gone away so I have no reason not to get my $42 worth of riding.

The minor issue is, I've done zero preparation.

Okay, I ride to work and back every day - a whopping 4 miles each way. I've been doing weekend rides, uh, more like every other weekend rides, usually 40-ish miles. I've ridden centuries before, four of them. And this particular route is, I'm told, largely flat. I'm definitely behind on mileage, compared to where I normally am by the start of summer (but ahead, in terms of fatness - I'm at mid-winter weight, sadly), but I've recovered from my almost two months off the bike this winter.

So . . . some people say that a fit cyclist can up and ride a century pretty much any time he or she likes. Not enjoy it, perhaps, but ride it.

What do you think? I'm not worried. Should I be?
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Old 06-01-14, 11:10 PM   #2
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Go for it. Start slow. Stop lots.
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Old 06-02-14, 03:06 AM   #3
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For me going from 40 to 100 would be a fair challenge, more due to my butt being broken in than anything. If you're good in that regard or willing to put up with the pain, I'd say most folks that can do 40 can do 100. The key, IMHO, is to: 1) ride comfortably slowly as compared to a faster training ride. 2) Remain hydrated and snack along the way. 3) Keep in a very comfortable, easy spinning gear.
If it's mostly flat, go for it. I would also strongly suggest you don't ride -at all- the day before. Perhaps for two days before to allow your legs to fully recover from any other training. I'd certainly try to get one rather long ride in beforehand...as long a ride as you can pull off.. . Good luck. BTW...I just did a 102mi hilly ride a few days ago but I'll admit to having 2,000 mi this year under my belt. It's not much for some, but it's a pretty good number for me.
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Old 06-02-14, 04:18 AM   #4
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I dunno. My personal experience is that with no work at all, 40 is doable. Beyond that it gets hard quickly. For me without doing at least 30 regularly, 100 is a pretty big challenge.

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Old 06-02-14, 04:28 AM   #5
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Were any of those four centuries in the last year? Are you highly active or more sedentary?

A flat century only requires a moderate amount of fitness. However, the random occasional cyclist might be moderately fit, or not.
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Old 06-02-14, 04:31 AM   #6
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Go for it, we will cheer you on.

On the plus side is your bike fit and general physical familiarity with riding. Add to that, this isnt your first rodeo. On the minus side, 100mi is still 100mi no matter the terrain. Heat conditioning might be the factor.
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Old 06-02-14, 05:06 AM   #7
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I say go for it, but I'm a maroon and you'd be better off not listening to me.

The heat conditioning is a good point. That might be the toughest issue.
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Old 06-02-14, 08:58 AM   #8
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The ride looks flat, has lots of bail out points, and combines two shorter loops, what's the hesitation?
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Old 06-02-14, 10:41 AM   #9
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When I was in my 20's, without much preparation, I rode 200 miles in 24 hours on a totally flat 5 mile circuit on an upright Schwinn Suburban five-speed. (The Wolverine Sports Club Double Century held annually on Belle Isle on the Detroit River.
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Old 06-02-14, 12:46 PM   #10
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Two prior centuries last July (I'm counting 2-day STP as two centuries), the prior two were July 2012.

I ride my bike as noted, otherwise am sadly sedentary.

Heat - hmm, in Oregon we don't usually worry about heat, but it is summer, so I'm told, so maybe I will add a second bottle cage.
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Old 06-02-14, 01:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zinger View Post
Go for it. Start slow. Stop lots.
I agree. Pace yourself. Stop at all rest stops, but don't stop for more than 5 or so minutes. With no preparation, with the distances you have been riding, 50 - 60 miles may be your limit. But, if you only do 60 miles and SAG the remainder, it's still a personal best for you.
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Old 06-02-14, 01:07 PM   #12
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Start Early , get in 60+ miles before Lunch.. then you only have 40 remaining ..

wheel suck the tandems, for a tow.


You are already on the bike daily as it is , just putting in more time in the saddle .. on that 1 day.

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Old 06-02-14, 01:09 PM   #13
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It's just 25 four-mile rides. You can do it.
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Old 06-02-14, 02:18 PM   #14
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Two prior centuries last July (I'm counting 2-day STP as two centuries), the prior two were July 2012.

I ride my bike as noted, otherwise am sadly sedentary.

Heat - hmm, in Oregon we don't usually worry about heat, but it is summer, so I'm told, so maybe I will add a second bottle cage.
Yeah don't run out of water for sure. Stop anywhere you can and fill back up even if only half empty because you never know how well these are supported along the way.
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Old 06-02-14, 08:27 PM   #15
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Hmmm... If I had to ride a century tomorrow.... Drink Drink Drink and eat eat eat. When I commute (26 miles each way) I have to chant to myself "don't chase, don't pass" over and over. It's no good to get to work sweating. You need that attitude for this ride. Whatever gear you would normally ride in for any particular section, go one lower. I also find that if I spend too much time at a rest stop, the first mile out of it hurts.
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Old 06-02-14, 08:46 PM   #16
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You won't really know until you try. I'm betting you can do it if you just take your sweet time-especially given you don't have the humidity to mess you up. When you finish it you will have an accomplishment of a lifetime!
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Old 06-02-14, 09:58 PM   #17
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I'm pretty sure you're gonna die - or at least wish you did. I did 100 in my 20's with no preparation, but it was brutal. Draft, draft, draft. And I'm talking about terms of your will.
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Old 06-02-14, 10:54 PM   #18
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I think you can do it. I think I could do it, although I'm probably delusional. But I'm not very good and I can do a metric with no prep. If you've ridden centuries before, you can do it. Just pace yourself.
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Old 06-03-14, 12:49 AM   #19
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I just got back from a ride down the coast. Prior to this tour, my wife and I had been too busy for any training rides over forty miles and neither of us rode more than once a week, other than in-town errands, over the prior month. Add in the fact that she was injured for a month and a half (mid-January to the end of February), and we wondered what kind of daily mileage we would put in on a loaded tandem. We rode eight days. Seven of them were over 85 miles with the last three being 100, 90 and 140 miles. Riding centuries is like riding a bike. Once you learn how, you don't forget.

I do disagree with the folks who are advising a slow start. I recommend going out as fast as you can ride, but keep the cadence high. Much of your challenge will be psychological; get the miles in while you are fresh and strong. It's the saddle time that will get to you, not the miles.
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Old 06-03-14, 01:15 AM   #20
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^^^
You can keep cadence in your warmup gear if you want. I'm just saying cook yourself early hot dogging though and the sags are going to be hovering the last stretch while you're struggling. He'll find a comfortable middle.
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Old 06-03-14, 02:14 AM   #21
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If your butt can do it the rest of you can.
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Old 06-03-14, 02:43 AM   #22
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If your butt can do it the rest of you can.
Well you might have a point since I've never done a century on 40 mile preparations. But I'm also betting most sag fares probably come from exhaustion not numb butts.
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Old 06-03-14, 03:05 PM   #23
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Well you might have a point since I've never done a century on 40 mile preparations. But I'm also betting most sag fares probably come from exhaustion not numb butts.
The two can be related. As a rider fatigues, there is a tendency to put less load on the pedals and thus more on the saddle. Eventually, that load leads to hot spots, especially when the rider hasn't been riding much. Sometimes, the rest stops just can't come frequently enough to relieve this.
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Old 06-03-14, 03:17 PM   #24
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The two can be related. As a rider fatigues, there is a tendency to put less load on the pedals and thus more on the saddle. Eventually, that load leads to hot spots, especially when the rider hasn't been riding much. Sometimes, the rest stops just can't come frequently enough to relieve this.
Yeah I'm trying to remember that ill prepared century I rode in '85.

I was showing off through the first part. After my last pull I dropped out of the paceline and solo'd through the last half bucking a pretty good headwind. I was struggling alright but refused the sag and took a donut from him.......kicked me right back into gear through the finish but I did have to pull my pickup over on the way home, roll out of it and straighten my legs out for the cramps.

What I would have done different is not to hot dog through the first of it as if I were properly prepared.
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Old 06-08-14, 11:11 AM   #25
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Pioneer Century Report

Aka "The No-Preparation Century"

It can, in fact, be done. With no preparation other than a daily 4 mile/each way bike commute, and just a few 25 to 45 mile weekend rides under my belt so far in 2014, the Pioneer Century was perhaps not so easy, but it was doable and done.

The ride is organized by the Portland Wheelmen. There are loops of 10, 30, 45 and 55 miles from the ride's base in a big park in Canby OR. For the century, you ride the 55 mile loop, then the 45 mile loop.

The 55 mile loop has a 1300 foot climb and miles of choppy rollers. After it leaves the town, the route is on quiet two lane roads, with only occasional cars. There are two rest stops with food, water, toilets, and a mechanic. A quick bite at the base, and its on to the 45 mile loop. This one is mostly flat with some rollers, and we also had rising wind that had grown into a relentless headwind on the return leg.

I didn't start the ride well. Beyond being untrained, I was just feeling flat that morning. My riding buddy and I set off at 7 am. By the first hour I was conscious of working and breathing harder than I should have been doing; in the second hour I was getting worried about my fitness and my left lower back hurt. I calmed the backache with stretching on the bike and then a straighter spine position. My legs smoothed out in hour three and four, so that I was riding, maybe not veeery strongly, but at least manageably with short bursts of strength. At the top of hour five I had some discomfort above my left knee and the tops of my calf muscles were hinting at cramping up; I varied my cadence and position for awhile and both problems went away. My buddy regretted wearing his Camelback as the straps hurt his neck. During the last ten miles I was really quite tired. If necessary, I could have done the 45 mile loop again, but with a lot of groveling and potentially bonking.

We rode 103 miles, in 6:00 hours ride time, with an hour stopped, at average speed 17.1 mph not counting stops. There was 2300 ft climbed and my top speed was 42.9 mph - on a downhill, of course. On the flats, we sometimes cruised slowly at 17 mph (16 mph when the headwind started) and sometimes wasted energy at 19-21 mph (usually in groups, but there were a couple ill advised stretches when we pushed 19 mph into the wind). On the hills, we started out climbing them with vim, but after hour two I was trying to go up slowly to save energy. Unfortunately, 42x26 is not actually low enough to spin seated up a sharp roller, and every time I got out of the saddle, I felt the level in my gas tank fall a little. I burned 5,500 calories and ate a banana, a PBJ, a couple Dixie cups of M&Ms, a small burrito, half a potato, and a few cookies.

Unlike STP, at the Pioneer Century you're riding alone much of the time, especially on the 45 mile loop. My riding buddy and I spent many miles pushing into the wind, with no other riders in sight. But when we did encounter other riders, these were frequently repeat sightings, and as we began to recognize each other, we had some nice chats and I had some stretches of being towed, which was nice on this breezy day. Overall this route was harder than STP.

My riding buddy and I were both on vintage steel. He rides a gorgeous green/purple '80s Basso, that always gets lots of comments. I rode the same bike I always choose for centuries, my fendered and saddle-bagged commuter-machine, an '80s Peugeot. It the heaviest road bike I own by far (30 lbs), but it also has the lowest low gear among my roadbikes (42x26), fits me like a old baseball mitt, and is thoroughly sorted and reliable. The only problem I had was a flat, which I repaired with a can of Vittoria Pit Stop.

Later that day I was kind of stiff, my quads protested if I walked slowly down stairs, and my back is slightly achy.

To sum it up: I did this century with no real preparation, it was more taxing than I would have liked, but all in all the ride went fine.

My buddy needs to ride a couple more centuries this month to prepare for the STP 1-day ride in July. I may do one with him. It has been a slow start to the year, fitness-wise. I'm five lb heavier than I normally am at this point, with weaker lungs and wind. I turned 51 y/o in March and realize that I need to work harder - not just for bike fitness, but for daily living fitness like flexibility, lifting things, squatting to fish something from the bottom cupboard. This ride was a nice kick in the pants.

Last edited by jyl; 06-08-14 at 11:31 AM.
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