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Old 09-15-09, 02:50 PM   #1
seawind161
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Century: Psychology or Physiology?

So what is it that makes a century ride "special"?

Personally, I can go off to ride a 60 or a 70 or even an 80-miler and it's a pretty casual thing, but when I set off to "do a Century" it seems like an EVENT of some sort.

Is it psychological? Or do you cross some sort of a line at 96.5 miles that makes it different, somehow?

And for our British cousins, does a Metric Century have the same psychological impact, or is it just another 60+ mile ride?

Rainy day here, time on my hands...
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Old 09-15-09, 03:07 PM   #2
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It's all in your head.
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Old 09-15-09, 03:11 PM   #3
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Metric centuries are training rides for me. Get near that distance most weekends with just a couple of 20 milers in the week.

But it does depend on your level of fitness. I have a friend that I took on a metric a couple of years ago. His first organised ride and his longest. Took 5 hours and we both enjoyed it- but he knew he had done a ride.

But going for the 100 miler---is all in the mind set. The distance I like is the metric. 4 hours or there abouts and it is just a good ride. To do that extra 38 miles- takes a bit longer. Best time for me for the 100 miler is 7 hours.

Unless the 100 miler is offroad. I don't do it now but the South Downs Way in one day. 100 miles with 10,000ft of climbing. Mind set does not come into that one but physical condition does. I class myself as fit but I start training in February for the ride in June. Start gently with just adding Gym sessions to my normal rides. Then increase the distance off road and increase the speed. When I can do 3,000ft of climbing and 30 miles in 2 1/2 hours- then I am ready for the SDW. Never bother doing anywhere the 100 miles in training but might do a couple of offroad metrics just to get the saddle time in.

For me- doing a 100 miler is a bit of a challenge. On the road and I can do one tomorrow but I will know I have done it. But for offroad ones- I want 4 months notice.
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Old 09-15-09, 03:46 PM   #4
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And for our British cousins, does a Metric Century have the same psychological impact, or is it just another 60+ mile ride.
Europe measures in KM's except for Britain which still uses miles.


http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/200...t-britain.html

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Old 09-15-09, 04:17 PM   #5
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Cocktail party bragging rights, that's all it is.
I haven't done one in years, and in fact completed a 94-miler a few months ago.

You can make a 20-miler special, just by making it your goal to pedal in perfect, fluid circles the entire time. I'd feel prouder of that than finishing 100 miles of herky-jerky and finishing with a sore butt.
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Old 09-15-09, 05:13 PM   #6
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If all it takes to make a ride of 20 miles perfect is to pedal in perfect circles I could ride a fixie that far. I don't care much for fixies however. But the Century rides are more of an event. It is the group effort of community and riders that make it different. JMHO
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Old 09-15-09, 07:39 PM   #7
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It's the whole business of venturing into three digits and having the number be a nice round number: 100. It's also a long distance for many people ... a challenge to reach that point and cross it.

The first time I finished an imperial century (100 miles), it was a huge accomplishment for me. I'd never ridden that sort of distance before ... and when I got off the bicycle, I never wanted to ride that sort of distance again.

It took 3 years before I decided to attempt it again. I've now done 81 centuries, and 140 rides of either the century distance or longer. I love the long distances!!


Just a note, the whole world is a metric place with the exception of the US and ... Myanmar, or some place like that.

But as for metric centuries ... although I'm Canadian and we've been using the metric system for some time, I have not kept track of the metric centuries I've done. If I've done 140 rides of 100 miles (162 km) or longer, then the number of metric centuries I've done probably numbers in the 200+ range. When I'm in shape to cycle (DVT kind of knocked my legs out from under me the last few months), a metric century is a nice, comfortable distance for a weekend training ride.


Have you been to the Long Distance forum yet? You might want to pay it a visit. There are some additional challenges going on over there, like the Century-A-Month challenge and monthly distance challenges. If you've done several centuries and are looking for an additional challenge some of those might interest you.
http://www.bikeforums.net/long-distance-competition-ultracycling-randonneuring-endurance-cycling/
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Old 09-15-09, 08:00 PM   #8
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Europe measures in KM's except for Britain which is still uses miles.


http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/200...t-britain.html
Oops, I shoulda known that...
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Old 09-15-09, 08:46 PM   #9
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To be really hardcore, you should just keep doing longer and longer rides, find out the rate at which your body tires out, and find out what your absolute limit is. Then start doing rides that are 10 miles longer than that.
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Old 09-15-09, 09:13 PM   #10
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To be really hardcore, you should just keep doing longer and longer rides, find out the rate at which your body tires out, and find out what your absolute limit is. Then start doing rides that are 10 miles longer than that.
I've reached a little over 1200K. It's not so much that my body was tired out by that point, but that I really didn't want to continue cycling. I wanted a break!!
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Old 09-16-09, 02:54 AM   #11
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I notice a lot of riding in general is psychological. The idea of riding as far as I've gotten (43 mi) sets people on edge. A lot is physical too in a number of ways. The obvious is doing it, but there's other barriers there too. The one I ran into for going farther than 43 mi in one ride is a logistical one. Getting enough food and water at the right times. Planning so you can resupply (if needed). And so on.

I'm even finding it a challenge to plan out a route that would constitute a good imperial century ride. I guess there's a number of things you got to get through to make 100 miles happen.
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Old 09-16-09, 08:33 AM   #12
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@ Machka- 1200K?!!! You're an animal! How long did that take, and what kind of terrain did you cover?

I just got back into cycling 17 months ago after a 12-year break. (I'm 62, and recently involuntarily retired, so I have lots of time to ride).

The reason I posted the original question is that I've noticed a turning point at around 90-95 miles. Training rides of 75-80 miles are now fairly commonplace, and I don't do much to prepare for them other than make sure the bike's in order, but the five century+ rides I've done so far just seemed to be more serious, somehow, and I suspected it was "all in my head" as an earlier poster suggested. I hope that is so, as the mind is more flexible than the body at my age.

For those of you, like Machka, who have obviously shattered the century barrier, are there other distances at which you feel you cross psychological barriers?

And one more question: 95% of my riding is solo, including the centuries I have done and most training rides. I truly enjoy the solitude and the quiet, and the chance to silence the "Monkey Mind", as our Zen brothers call it. How much does a riding companion contribute to your ability to push your limits? I guess I'm asking about psychological support here, and not elements of safety or shared supplies and so on.

Sorry this was so long. Still raining here. Bad case of cabin fever...
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Old 09-16-09, 08:41 AM   #13
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I've reached a little over 1200K. It's not so much that my body was tired out by that point, but that I really didn't want to continue cycling. I wanted a break!!
If you tell me that you did that in ONE DAY, I will **** bricks.

Also, [scientist] there's no separation between "physiological" and "psychological," it's a false duality; all psychology is the function of physiological processes. [/scientist]
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Old 09-16-09, 08:46 AM   #14
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I'm even finding it a challenge to plan out a route that would constitute a good imperial century ride. I guess there's a number of things you got to get through to make 100 miles happen.
I don't know where you're located, but here (north Georgia) once you get out of the metro areas the world is your oyster.

Local cycling clubs usually have routes of various lengths posted, and they have the advantage of having been ridden by others and selected for low traffic, scenic terrain and so on.

Your local quickie stores usually have county maps that can keep you from getting (too) lost if you just decide to get out and go. I carry a cheap GPS, too, to ensure that I can find my way back. As Daniel Boone is quoted as saying, "I've never been lost, but I was mighty turned around for three days once."
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Old 09-16-09, 09:21 AM   #15
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So what is it that makes a century ride "special"?...
FYA, this thread from last year had 132 posts:

"So, Why ride 100 miles?"

So, Why ride 100 miles?

My post:

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Dittoes to all the above posts. Now that 100 miles, with the elegant name of a "Century" is established as a cycling milestone, I am particularly motivated to ride that distance...

Fitness is my main goal, and it also encourages me to experience the nice weather between May and October to the max. I also have learned the roads and terrain over a wide swath of Metropolitan Boston quite intimately.

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Old 09-16-09, 06:10 PM   #16
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@ Machka- 1200K?!!! You're an animal! How long did that take, and what kind of terrain did you cover?

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If you tell me that you did that in ONE DAY, I will **** bricks.
Have a look at my website: www.machka.net ... it's got all my major rides listed there.

I've actually completed four 1200K randonnees ... the Rocky Mountain 1200 (in the Canadian Rockies), the Paris-Brest-Paris (between Paris and Brest on the west coast), the Great Southern (Great Ocean Road area of Australia), and the Last Chance (Colorado/Kansas).

With a 1200K Randonnee, you're allowed 90 hours to complete it ... and that includes all breaks for eating, sleeping, etc. Those four took me between 88.5 hours and 89.5 hours.

Terrain ...

RM 1200 - gradual mountain passes; typical Rocky Mountain stuff
PBP - constant undulations; short to longish steep hills the whole way
GSR - a mix of flat and hilly
LC - lots of rolling hills; this was probably the flattest one I've done.


As for one day distances, I've also raced a couple 24-hour events, and the most I've done in 24 hours is 287.3 miles (462.4 kms). One day I'd like to crack the 300 mile mark.



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For those of you, like Machka, who have obviously shattered the century barrier, are there other distances at which you feel you cross psychological barriers?
For some reason I have a lot of trouble with the 600K distance. I'd rather ride a 1000K randonnee than a 600K brevet. I'm not sure what it is. The only thing I can think of is that for the whole 600K you have to maintain a 15 km/h minimum speed (including all breaks) so I don't usually end up with a whole lot of sleep anywhere in there. I actually did my first 600K straight through with no sleep ... 36 hours on the bicycle, with no sleep.

But on the 1000K you have to maintain 15 km/h for the first 600K, and then it eases off a bit and drops to 13 km/h for the remaining 400K so when you start to get really tired, you get a bit more time to work with, and can afford to take a nap.



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And one more question: 95% of my riding is solo, including the centuries I have done and most training rides. I truly enjoy the solitude and the quiet, and the chance to silence the "Monkey Mind", as our Zen brothers call it. How much does a riding companion contribute to your ability to push your limits? I guess I'm asking about psychological support here, and not elements of safety or shared supplies and so on.
Having a riding partner pushes me in terms of speed ... but I can do the distance thing on my own.
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Old 09-16-09, 08:16 PM   #17
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I don't know where you're located, but here (north Georgia) once you get out of the metro areas the world is your oyster.

Local cycling clubs usually have routes of various lengths posted, and they have the advantage of having been ridden by others and selected for low traffic, scenic terrain and so on.
The main problem is that there isn't a whole lot of choice where I live if you want to go any distance. Most of the cycling club routes are very linear and always go along the same paths with very little deviation. While it may help them, it doesn't help me much if I wanted to go for a imperial century, unless I just wanted to do laps on it.

Then, as well, there seems to be too much that's dangerous to go on at all for whatever reason (interstate traffic, packs of dogs, or whatever). My last ride scout was a great example of that. I thought of riding then ended up driving and found out that I was very thankful to be driving (let's just say). The best route I've been able to come up with is about 70 miles total, and even then there are resource issues on them.
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Old 09-16-09, 10:13 PM   #18
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OK - so 1200km didn't happen in one day. I was gonna say that's physically impossible.

Hell, DRIVING that long in one day would make me insane.
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Old 09-16-09, 10:19 PM   #19
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OK - so 1200km didn't happen in one day. I was gonna say that's physically impossible.

Hell, DRIVING that long in one day would make me insane.
I don't think 1200K has happened in one day, but a number of cyclists have done more than 500 miles (800K) in one 24-hour period of time.

Have a look at the Ultracycling records:
http://www.ultracycling.com/records/staterecords.html
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Old 09-16-09, 11:36 PM   #20
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For those of you, like Machka, who have obviously shattered the century barrier, are there other distances at which you feel you cross psychological barriers?
I'll add this ...

At one time, in my really early days of cycling, I was riding 1000 miles in the months of May, June, July, and August, and I thought I was covering an incredible amount of ground. Hardly anyone else in the world could be riding that much. And then I met someone who I thought was a very casual cyclist who told me that he rode more than that.

So I started pushing it a bit more, and discovered that I could ride more ... lots more.

Then I heard about the century and thought that was it. That was the longest distance a person could possible ride all in one day. And I wanted to do it ... and did in 1994, and decided it was indeed the longest distance a person could possibly ride in one day. I didn't have a good first century.

Then one day, while reading a magazine and riding a stationary bicycle, I read an article about a guy training for a double century. I nearly fell off the stationary bicycle. 200 miles all in one day??? How could that even be possible. But I tucked it away in my mind and a little part of me started to want to do that. That's what prompted me to try a century again, and I did two of them in 1997.

By 2000, I rode 200 km in one go, and had done a lot of rides between the 160 km (century) and 180 km point. And in 2001, I started randonneuring ... and broke through all the psychological barriers I had set up in my mind. Suddenly it was indeed possible to do so much more than I'd ever imagined I could!! By the time I'd finished that first 600K, I knew I could do longer distances if I wanted to ... and I did.



Now, if only I could break through my speed barrier.
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Old 09-17-09, 04:28 PM   #21
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So what is it that makes a century ride "special"?

Personally, I can go off to ride a 60 or a 70 or even an 80-miler and it's a pretty casual thing, but when I set off to "do a Century" it seems like an EVENT of some sort.

Is it psychological? Or do you cross some sort of a line at 96.5 miles that makes it different, somehow?

And for our British cousins, does a Metric Century have the same psychological impact, or is it just another 60+ mile ride?

Rainy day here, time on my hands...
Maybe its because most riders simply don't spend the time to get into the fitness level to ride 100 miles without hurting. For some its like 80 miles and then your body seems to go into some kind of rejection mode. For others it could be less than 80. Sure a rider can break up the ride into 20 mile sections with lots of rest half way and reasonable rests in between. Most organized century rides are like this. Solo rides are different and can be more challenging.

When you sign up to run a marathon, you really don't train to plan to stop and rest. Sure you take water from the tables, but you don't really want to stop in the middle of a marathon run.

Last edited by Garfield Cat; 09-17-09 at 04:32 PM.
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