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Old 08-25-10, 06:19 PM   #1
BittenByTheBug
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Help! Pre-Century Nervous wreck!!!!!!!!!

Well lads,

Entered for my first century (167km) this coming Sunday. Lot of climbing involved, including an early killer hairpin hill (only 1.4km, but 36% gradient at one point!), followed by several long drags and two very tough climbs along dead mountain roads, before a 10km downhill finish (if I get that far!).

Basically I don't know if I can do it. I'm 37, started cycling 14 months ago, and this time last year I did the 100km version of this tour and it went fairly well - though I started off too quickly (never again!). Since then I've done a few 100km rides, mostly 30-70km spins, and managed a 125km solo ride (in 5hrs) about 5 weeks ago along much of this century route, after which I reckon I could have done another 20k (max).

However, over the last 4 weeks I've struggled for form and motivation, which seems strange what with the big century day looming. A little bit of that is connected to a concern about an old knee injury (ACL reconstruction in 2003, tweaked it playing my first soccer match in 13 years three weeks ago and it's paining me a bit but not too bad).

In saying that, I think it's more a mental thing. I'm not a member of a cycling club and most of my spins are solo or with one other person at most. A month back I joined in with a fast group to see what it would be like and got burned off after only 10k. My confidence really took a nosedive that day and I've found it hard to stick at it, wondering what the hell am I doing even riding a bike?!

Sunday's century is regarded as a definite toughie, but achievable. My plan was to start off slow, maybe ride for spells alongside a few small mid-paced groups to break the boredom (there'll be c.1500 on the route), take 4 proper food/water stops and hope my knee (and the weather!) holds.

Any advice from someone who has rode centuries solo about how to handle the psychological side of things (or any other tips - the obvious often escapes me!) would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:52 PM   #2
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Well, not sure what you need to hear, but I can give you some fat old man advice, for what that's worth. First off, on lots of these rides, you can detour off the long route onto one of the shorter routes at some point, so you're not obligated to go for the 100 miles until you get past the last Y. Don't worry about how fast you'll go or how many stops you'll make, just go ride and stop when you feel like it, and if that's every 10 miles, that's fine. If there's 1500 people there, there's bound to be some fast ones and bound to be some slow ones, so you're bound to be somewhere in the middle, and there's no need to rush unless you just feel energetic. My personal code of biking ethics says it is forbidden to walk a hill, but it's okay to ride 2 mph and stop 8 times on the way up to rest if you need to.
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Old 08-26-10, 02:11 AM   #3
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I'm not a lad, but I've done something close to 150 centuries or other longer rides.


My tip ... break the ride up into manageable bites. Can you ride 40 km fairly comfortably? If so ... then you are just going out and doing four 40 km rides.

Also ... eat and drink regularly all the way through the ride from the start to the finish.

36% gradient? Are you sure? Is the ride off-road, or are you riding in New Zealand or Wales? Anyyway, I am of the opinion that there is no problem with getting off and walking if necessary. It is often a good thing to get off the bicycle and stretch.
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Old 08-26-10, 06:57 AM   #4
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To me it is a chance to escape life for a few hours while listening to music.

Stay hydrated, keep up your fueling from start to finish, and you'll be ok.
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Old 08-26-10, 11:49 AM   #5
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"Anyyway, I am of the opinion that there is no problem with getting off and walking if necessary."

I might change my mind if we had 36% hills around here.
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Old 08-26-10, 09:39 PM   #6
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I did my first century ride this year. I started the afternoon before the big ride when I loaded up my bike with a tent and sleeping bag and rode a little over 70 miles to the ride. The next morning I packed everything up, put my panniers with tent, sleeping bag etc on the pile to be transported by the support truck, rode about 90 miles before loading the bike up and heading home (a little over 100 miles that day). I did a little over 170 miles in 26 and a half hours. The problem I had was I wasn't watching what I ate. I had some fruit, walking tacos, pie, granola bars etc but never really sat down for a good meal. That resulted in a huge "bonk" at around the 23 hour mark and a really long ride into the next town where I picked up the panniers. The firefighters were doing a "all you can eat" spaghetti fundraiser and that saved the day for the rest of the ride. The point is I hope you don't make the same mistake I did and stop once or twice for a real meal.
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Old 08-28-10, 01:12 AM   #7
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Have an early dinner and take sleeping pills the night before the ride.
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Old 08-28-10, 01:21 AM   #8
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Have an early dinner and take sleeping pills the night before the ride.
lol....yeah then you should either wake up at the end, or in the ER...
I would just make sure you are eating properly, hydrating, and pacing yourself...
As said in "The Waterboy": You can dew eeet!!
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Old 08-28-10, 04:39 AM   #9
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If you don't make it all the way, there is always next year...

Just go out to enjoy the ride and challenge. If you never do a ride and not reach your goal, then maybe you are not challenging yourself enough. If you never succeed, then that is a different issue.

And walk up some hills if you must... my stance is that it wouldn't disqualify someone from King of the Mountain points in the Tour de France, so why should we amateurs hold ourselves to a higher standard.
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Old 08-29-10, 05:41 PM   #10
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36% gradient cannot be right. There's only a handful of roads in the world that steep. But for all I know you might be in those places of the world.

Don't think of it as a "century" first of all. That's a meaningless designation that people get too worked up about and also take too much pride in. I had a buddy that rode around a parking lot a few times after a 99+ mile ride just so he could hit a "century." And don't even get me started on people who say "metric century"... I mean really??

Just go out there with the intention of having fun, realizing that it's not a race, and if you don't succeed at your goal you're not going to lose anything but a little time because you'll be back at it again when you've trained more. Take it easy and ride below pace if you're feeling weak. Don't be ashamed of walking up hills if you have to either.
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Old 08-29-10, 06:52 PM   #11
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36% gradient cannot be right. There's only a handful of roads in the world that steep. But for all I know you might be in those places of the world.

Don't think of it as a "century" first of all. That's a meaningless designation that people get too worked up about and also take too much pride in. I had a buddy that rode around a parking lot a few times after a 99+ mile ride just so he could hit a "century." And don't even get me started on people who say "metric century"... I mean really??

Just go out there with the intention of having fun, realizing that it's not a race, and if you don't succeed at your goal you're not going to lose anything but a little time because you'll be back at it again when you've trained more. Take it easy and ride below pace if you're feeling weak. Don't be ashamed of walking up hills if you have to either.

+1 to all.

Fargo Street in Los Angeles is 33%, IIRC. They don't put hills like that in the middle of a century: http://www.pbase.com/davewyman/fargo2010

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Old 08-29-10, 07:51 PM   #12
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Well, how'd it go?
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