A century ride is one of the easiest rides which almost any cycle rider can do without much training.
A number of riders have expressed their intention of completing a century this summer as though it were the ultimate accomplishment and that they were in intensive training to reach that goal. Some have mapped out a plan of increasing their distances each week on a regular basis until sometime in late August or early September they finally ride a century.
At the risk of being branded a fanatic, let me say that such a training pattern is actually counterproductive. If you have ridden a ride of 40 or 50 miles, you are already capable of doing a century. However, there are a number of factors which might make you think that a century is impossible at this time. Perhaps I can enumerate a few things which might help you do a century sooner than you had anticipated.
1. A century is a distance which stretches your mind more than your physical strength. If you can ride 40 or 50 miles you have the physical strength to ride 100 miles. It is the thought that this is a formidable distance that needs to be overcome. Lots of people (not just the strong athletic types) have done a century with very little training.
2. Be sure your bike properly fits you. Although you could do the ride on any bike, you will be more comfortable on one that is fitted to you. If you don't know if your bike is the proper fit, get in touch with a good bicycle shop or members of a local cycling club.
3. Forget about those riders who tell you that they completed a century in under five hours. Plan on a ride of ten or eleven hours. In the future you can try for a sub-five century; but for your first century, aim to complete it at a reasonable average rate of about 15 km/hr (10 mph).
4. Map out your ride by riding 50 miles to a particular town and then back again. This is a preferable ride than a circular route. When you arrive at that town, stop at a food place for something to eat. On my first century, I kept thinking about the ad which offered two big hamburgers for $5.00 -- I could hardly wait to take advantage of that bargain. I like to spend 30 min. or more relaxing with my lunch.
5. Start your ride at 8:00 am. You will probably arrive at the 50 mile town around noon.
6. Be prepared with the right equipment: two water bottles (one with Gatorade and the other with plain water); a couple of energy bars (I like fig newtons); a small tool bag with minimal tools; a cell phone for dire emergencies and to call home to say you have reached 50 miles and are planning to come back.
7. Take sips of liquid frequently. You should finish at least three-quarters of your liquid by the 50-mile town.
8. Wear the right clothing: padded cycling shorts, wickable jersey, helmet, cycling gloves, jacket if necessry, tights if necessary
9. Use sunblock
10. Use a good lotion to prevent crotch and butt rash.
Perhaps there are some things I forgot to mention. Those of you who ride lots of centuries, perhaps you could add a few items.
For those of you who are not "century believers," you might want to give it a try before you respond negatively.