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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 07-03-06, 10:07 PM   #1
Brad Smith
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Doing First Century (Heatstroke 100)

I began commuting to work about 4 weeks ago, riding my bike 4 out of 5 days each week and usually once on the weekend. It's 12 miles round trip, and on average I do a total of around 60 miles per week. The more I ride, the more interested I get in cycling. And I'm interested in doing a century ride. I am not the most athletic guy in the world, though.

Typically my coworkers and some friends laugh when they hear about me working out. They laughed more when I started commuting to work. But bring up the idea of doing a century, and even my best friends say things like "Brad, I really don't think you should try doing that. You're not an athletic person. Don't kill yourself." I'm not a big guy. I'm 5'11" and weighed around 214lbs back in October '05 and got down to around 200 in early January of this year before injuring my knee. After staying off it for quite some time (with mixed results) and heading back to 204lbs, I started working out again in May and then biking in June. I'm not down to around 190-191lbs. My speed is not quick. Maybe 15mph on flat ground without any wind resistance. Usually somewhere between 8 and 13mph would be my best guess (no computer on the bike).

I ride a 2006 Marin San Anselmo which will soon have Shimano A520 clipless pedals on it, fenders, and a rear rack (for commuting).

I plan on hopefully riding in the Heatstroke 100 in Nebraska in late August (http://www.greatplainsbikeclub.org/H...e100-2006.pdf). In the meantime, I'm going to try and do some longer trail rides and join a club ride or two. Any recommendations to help out? Or are my friends right?
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Old 07-04-06, 08:44 AM   #2
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I think you're on the money and you're certainly not crazy.

I started riding a hard tail mountain bike in 1999 back and forth to work. I was 220 lbs at 6'2". I was fat. My trip to work was 4.7 miles one way, and I started doing it on the bike only. Usually ended up at 4 days a week. I got it down to 12 minutes on the road in good weather days. (basically flat 4.7 mile sprint). 3-4 months later, I began adding 4-8 miles in any direction so I'd get 4.7 miles in the morning, and 2-3 days a week I'd do 13 miles on the way home instead of the 4.7 mile straight shot. 6 months later and some smart dieting, I was down to 190lbs and in some of the best cardio shape of my life.

The only thing I didn't add then was significant distance due to time constraints. Last July I put away the MTB and started road biking seriously. Since then I've done just over 10,000km - of which 7,100 have been in 2006. I ramped up from July to December and by the time spring hit, I was going 320km per week pretty routinely.

Now, what you have to ask yourself is if you're willing to do the ramp up. I definitely wouldn't recommend to anyone to do a century without preparing your body and mind for 7 1/2 hours ride time (based on a 15mph pace and about 1 hour worth of stopping - reasonable for a first century). Start now and begin incorporating a long ride to your week. You have about 6 weeks if you want a taper week in there, so that sounds like the next six weeks could have progressively longer rides of 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 miles. Then the week before the 26th only do rides less than 30ish miles.

Follow a plan, and you'll accomplish more than just the distance. You'll accomplish a FUN ride.
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Old 07-04-06, 11:00 AM   #3
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Brad,

I think that if you were to push really hard on your commute two days a week to make it a training sprint and then do one slow ride on the weekend of 4 - 5 hours in duration working up to as high a mileage as you can get. You could prepare yourself to do a century within a year or so. Depending on your age and fitness gains.
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Old 07-04-06, 02:23 PM   #4
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Brad,

You've been exercising, you've dropped 20 pounds, and your friends and coworkers are telling you to be careful so that you don't hurt yourself?

Your friends and coworkers are tools. Don't listen to them.

To complete a century, here's what you need:

1) Sufficient aerobic capacity to ride at a given speed for long enough
2) Enough leg power to deal with any climbs on the route
3) Enough butt toughness to be able to be on your bike long enough
4) Experience riding in whatever weather is likely during the century
5) Experience eating and drinking on the bike so you can keep going for the whole time.

#1 is pretty easy to do - you can simply ride more slowly. It's not uncommon for first-time century riders to spend 8 hours or so on the bike - that would be only 12.5 MPH average.

#2 depends on the route - you need gearing that's low enough so that you don't kill your legs on the climbs

#3 is something you have to build up. You may need a different seat, and unfortunately there are few ways to find a good one without trying a lot.

#4 is likely to be pretty important for you given where you live. Riding in hot weather is something you have to get your body used to.

#5 is also something you need to practice.

If you want to ride the century, you will need to build up to be able to ride four hours in a day, and up your weekly mileage to around 100 miles per week. If you can do that, you should be able to complete the century.

Not to discourage you, but given your lack of long-distance riding, I think you'd be cutting it a bit tight to try a century in August.

My suggestion is that you start gradually increasing the time you spend on the bike for a long ride, and see where you are a couple of weeks before the ride. If you feel good, you can go for the century - if you're still a bit apprehensive, you could do the 47 mile or 67 mile variant. Just make sure you do very light rides the week before (that's known as a taper) so that you're best on the day of the event.

By all means look for a group to ride with. Long rides not only go faster when you're in a group (because you can draft behind other riders), having companions to talk with, share the pain with, and help fix flats or other problems makes the ride much more enjoyable than doing it by yourself.

Good luck
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Old 07-04-06, 03:21 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice guys. I'm hoping to be able to do at least the 47 mile variant, but if possible I'm shooting for the 67 or even the 100. I think it's probably the easiest century for me to try, as it is on some good paths, has full rest stops, sag support, etc. and the alternate distances.
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Old 07-04-06, 08:26 PM   #6
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First of all, you need to get more comfortable doing a much longer distance than the twelve mile commute you are currently doing. Use the weekends (and occasional weekdays) to do some longer distances. When you are comfortable riding 50 to 60 miles at one time, you'll be ready to do a century.

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Typically my coworkers and some friends laugh when they hear about me working out. They laughed more when I started commuting to work. But bring up the idea of doing a century, and even my best friends say things like "Brad, I really don't think you should try doing that. You're not an athletic person. Don't kill yourself." I'm not a big guy. I'm 5'11" and weighed around 214lbs back in October '05 and got down to around 200 in early January of this year before injuring my knee. After staying off it for quite some time (with mixed results) and heading back to 204lbs, I started working out again in May and then biking in June. I'm not down to around 190-191lbs. My speed is not quick. Maybe 15mph on flat ground without any wind resistance. Usually somewhere between 8 and 13mph would be my best guess (no computer on the bike).
Tell 'em to kiss your biking ass. I'm 5'10" 290-something, and I've done two centuries and about 4 half centuries already this year(I do a 100mi/week on average). If you can get yourself up to riding 60 miles in one trip, you can do a century. They are projecting the fact that theyare a bunch of pansies onto you. Just because they can't do it, doesn't mean you can't.
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Old 07-04-06, 08:49 PM   #7
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I just got back from my first long ride. Went a bit longer than I planned because I blew past the "town" (looked like a few farm houses to me) that I was going to grab dinner in and turn around. All told I biked about 40 miles (15 in the city, 25 on the crushed limestone Mopac Trail). It took me about 4 hours total (including about 20 minutes of rest time stopped at various points). Discovered my rear wheel was not trued and was scraping the brake the whole time. All in all, though, it went well. My bike shorts irritated me at times on one side (Pearl Izumi Attack Shorts), probably because they kept riding down a bit and then bunching up. The saddle was generally pretty comfortable, especially compared to my old bike, but could be better. Had to stretch quite a bit when I stumbled back into the apartment to avoid cramping, but that feeling has gone away. Now I'm just really tired.

The good thing? If I can do 40 miles relatively easily, I'm definitely hitting the 47 mile loop of the Heatstroke 100 if I can't do more!
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Old 07-16-06, 10:39 PM   #8
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Working up to my first century

This thread is most interesting. I just turned 50, am waiting for a new Trek 7.6 FX to arrive, and plan to ride my own century ride in Sept. I'm joking with everyone that this is my midlife crisis bright red convertible! I'm swapping out the crankset and rear cassette with a touring setup (48-36-26 and 12-34) to get better climbing ability -- I'm not a speed junkie.

Right now I'm pounding out 10-20 mile rides every other day on an old 21-speed Diamond Back, with the odd 30-35 mile ride at least once a week. I've done many 40-50 mile rides. I'm riding in western Colorado, so I'm climbing any direction I go -- one reason for the new bike! The route I'm working on would be from Delta to Ouray -- elevation change from 4,800 to about 8,500 over 50 miles. The good thing is the return trip is all down!

Picking up good tips from this forum . . . any thoughts about hydration? I'm planning to fill my camelback with water, and carry 2-3 water bottles with power drinks -- refilling along the way as needed. Got a great restaurant in mind in Ouray for a good lunch -- maybe a quick dip in the hot springs, and then hit the return trip.
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Old 07-16-06, 11:41 PM   #9
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Brad:

You won't have a problem doing 100 miles in August. Get in a few 60 mile rides between now and then and get used to the time in the saddle. Sometimes things get weird after about 5 hours. Have some vaseline or chamois butter available and be sure you have some good shorts. Hydrate and eat well.

You can do it, no doubt.
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Old 07-17-06, 09:06 AM   #10
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Hey Brad, if you're looking for a club, try the Great Plains Bicycling Club (where you got the info for the Heatstroke 100). They're good people - I know, because I'm one of them!

Sounds like you should be able to do the 67 mile variant without a problem. Like one of the poster said, increase your mileage each week (say 10 -15%) and when you get within a couple of weeks of the Heatstroke ride you can decide which distance to go for. Make sure you taper off on the mileage the week before the ride so you can recover properly. Good luck!

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Old 07-17-06, 10:01 AM   #11
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Brad, I know it gets pretty hot in Nebraska in the summer. Be careful of that.

Take your time, and be sure evrything keeps going according to plan. I think for you a century next May or June is the perfect time. Learn to enjoy your bike this summer, and go as far as you can in Sept or Oct when the weather is better. Learn to love your bike, instead of looking at it as a burden.
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Old 08-25-06, 11:56 AM   #12
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It's the day before the ride, and I'm going for it. I'm registered for the full century distance (actually 103 miles), but I can bail at 67 miles if I am struggling. The weather is going to be in the low 80s for a high, so it should be beautiful weather. I've gone on 4 long rides this summer (42, 45, 50, and 70 miles) and tons of shorter 15-30 mile rides. I know the last 30 miles will be tough, but I feel up to the challenge. Thanks for all the encouragement, and I'll check back in after the ride!
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Old 08-25-06, 12:50 PM   #13
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Best of luck Brad and let everyone know how it went!!
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Old 08-25-06, 02:17 PM   #14
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I've heard of many people that start centuries and never complete them. Nothing wrong with that. Will give you experience for the next time you do one. The tips that people have given here is very good. I followed them for my first century a few weeks ago and finished it with no problems. Did mine in 6.5 hours. The biggest thing I found was eating and drinking enough. Bonking is no fun. Take your time and keep your mind off the difficulties of the ride. There should be plenty of people in your speed range though. Mine was harder. Not one person riding with me after about 50 miles. Maybe I should have used more deoderant...
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Old 08-26-06, 01:40 PM   #15
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Great day for cycling, wonderful temperature, mostly-cloudy. Unfortunately I had to grab a ride in the SAG vehicle at 52 miles into the ride. I had a new seatpost installed and moved the seat back a tad at the time, and now it seems like that was a bad idea. My knees started killing me about 40 miles in. I tried making some adjustments, and I slowed the pace down, but to no avail. The damage was done for the day and I grabbed the ride in the SAG vehicle. Disappointing considering I was not tired at all and the day was so beautiful. I'll make it to 100 one of these days!
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Old 08-26-06, 07:50 PM   #16
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Hey Brad, congratulations on the 52 miles! With the heart you showed, I have no doubt you would have and will on the next try!
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Old 08-27-06, 02:50 AM   #17
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52 miles is still a very respectable distance and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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