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  1. #1
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    Centuries and bike choices

    Probably a stupid question, but I've been having a little trouble figuring this out. I've got a pretty light CF road bike and a pretty heavy touring bike. Hills have seemed to be pretty easy on the touring bike which I would think this is because of the gearing. I've got a century that I want to do in June that has 13k of climbing and I'm not sure which bike would be best for this. What do others here do for organized centuries that have a lot of climbing? Road bike or touring bike? I've yet to ride the touring bike on a century, the road bike a few.

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    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Lots of climbing you will be more comfortable on the touring bike with the low gears. What you will get from the road bike is a slightly faster time. Less comfort. Especially on the hills. But you may be more tired at the end on the touring bike.

    I have done many, many, centuries on my road bike and my touring bike. I enjoy the speed of the road bike just for the pleasure of it. I feel a little better after a century on my touring bike.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
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    Don't worry about your bike choice....

    Make sure you are in condition for the ride, and then make sure you make a good gearing choice. (Have one "bail out gear"--one gear that is easier than the one you normally use for similar climbs.)

    With that said, if you are going for speed pick the lighter bike that will help you accelerate and jump onto pacelines. If comfort more important pick the touring bike (which I'm assuming has a longer wheelbase and is more comfortable.)

    I have one bike significantly heavier than the other, and other than timed doubles, I let the weather dictate which one I'm taking. Good luck.

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    This ride is more a "can I do it" type of ride. It's called the "Blood, Sweat and Gears". It's suppose to be a very difficult ride. I'm more looking to do it comfortably so the suggestions on touring bike might be good. My training will be on rides that are in the moutains so it will probably work itself out there. Speed doesn't seem to be an issue really. I did 50 miles last weekend on the touring bike and averaged about the same as I do on the road bike. I just worry that at the end of 100, I might be a ready for the funeral home than if I would have road a bike a good 12 lbs lighter.

    Thanks for the feedback so far.

    Edit: Not going to jump on pacelines as my wife and I will be doing the ride together. The touring bike is a Trek 520 so it is very comfortable with the longer wheelbase and steel frame. I might switch the 32's for the 25's on the road bike.

  5. #5
    jcm
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    I have taken up Machka's challenge for a century per month. I did my December100 today. Actually, it was 111 miles. Frequent hills but no 13k worth. I just got back two hours ago. I admit it - I'm whipped. I used my Trek 520 that has a trunk pannier bag on it with two water bottles, all fendered up. Heavy clothing cuz it's cold right now. It took 10 hours on the nose.

    I probably could have used the Sequoia Elite since it's dry today (no fenders on it), but I opted for the tour bike because of the ride quality. Overall, I'm glad I did. All my bits feel fine, I'm just fatiqued.

    Usually, I go with the weather as I have different bikes to suit. My last four centuries have been on a roadified old MTB set up for distance.

    EDIT: I find that the 520 climbs very well when loaded like I described. If a heavier load, then I always take the MTB.

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    I'm going to take the century a month challenge myself, starting in Jan. I'm trying to do as many supported rides as possible, but a few are killers. One is "bridge to bridge" and climbs Grandfather mountain at the end of the century. Don't know the grade, but I had a hard time driving up it.

    Having said that, I think something with a good grany gear will work better for these hilly rides, but maybe using the road bike for more flat centuries will be good as well. Hard for me to believe people do all these sorts of different rides on one bike.

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    I rode the 3 Gap Fifty (part of the 6 Gap Century) in Georgia on my touring bike. I plan to ride the 3 State 3 Mountain 100 in Tennessee next May using this bike also. It is a Novara Randonee (REI). While it is heavier most bikes, it rides smooth as butter. Some riders are slow using fast bikes, some are fast on slow bikes. So unless you have something to prove other than having fun and meeting the challenge...ride the Trek 520. The only thing that feels odd is not having a nice flashy bike like the majority. I saw one guy beating most riders on his mountain bike.

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    I agree. I've seen people riding a good $5k Orbea that was only averaging about 15mph. I can understand the peer pressure though. I've shown up on my Trek Pilot 5.0 at the local club rides and felt like my bike was a Huffy. I could imagine the looks if I show up on a 93 520. The horror! I got dropped pretty easily by a guy on a Bianci Velope with full racks and a trunk. Right there I learnt that it's not the wheels, but the engine.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Road Rash's Avatar
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    I have a similar choice for Centuries a 1983 Trek 720 or a 2004 Lemond Zurich. What I found last year using the Trek on 5 centuries is that in the 2 centuries that I jumped on pacelines my Avg time was exactly the same as the Lemond. On 3 other centuries I went at my own pace and my time was 1.5 to 2 mph slower. If I was riding with my wife I would definitely choose the Trek, as mentally I am able to adapt to the slower pace better on the Trek. On the Road bike I would be tempted to jump on a paceline.

    I have adapted the Trek to be more of a long distance bike and less of a tourer. Sun CR 18 Wheels with 28 mm tires, a compact crank and a 9 speed casette. The bike weighs between 26 - 29 pounds depending on if I've got the rack, fenders, rack bag etc mounted.
    Road Rash

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    That makes a lot of sense. That's one thing that does irritate me a little. If I ride the Pilot, I'm constantly having to wait for her to catch up. If I ride the 520, I'm not as fast so there isn't as much wait. I rarely ride without her, so the 520 seems to be the best choice.

  11. #11
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    I did my first 7 or so centuries (last year) on a 1988 Miyata touring bike. very comfortable, ok climber, heavy at 27lbs. Always finished, and was always fatigued at the end.

    Bought a new Giant OCR (still a relaxed geometry). Very comfortable, very good climber, much lighter at 19lbs. I've done about 9 centuries this year on it (including repeating some of last year's), and the bottom line is that I'm easily 30mins (and frequently more) faster on the same centuries. But the big payoff is that I'm not nearly as fatigued.

    Both bikes have triples as I tend to do a lot of climbing in California, so the big differences would be the weight, the 6 speed drive train vs. the 10 speed, and the DT shifting as opposed to STI. I don't know what kind of climbing your 13k will be, but personally that would be the deciding factor for me and I'd pick the bike that has the better gearing.

    You also raise a good point re: the wife and her being able to keep up with you. When I ride with the wife and 11 year old, I usually saddle up on a vintage 12 speed so that we can all ride together.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, itís the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

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    Yeah, well we'll see about that. She just got a new Titanium Terry Isis a couple days ago and she said that I'm going to need the road bike in order to keep up with her now. We'll see this weekend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster
    Having said that, I think something with a good grany gear will work better for these hilly rides, but maybe using the road bike for more flat centuries will be good as well. Hard for me to believe people do all these sorts of different rides on one bike.
    fwiw, on the second day of the Boston 600k (w/ 20,000 ft. of elevation gain), I hit this half-mile 8% hill right about the height of noon. Up ahead, a guy was walking up with a rather nice Trek 5200 carbon. He was 3/4s up the hill and just spent. We'd probably both climbed about 17,000 by then. I passed him slowly on my 520 in my granniest of granny gears and he just said, "I'm saving my energy for after the next one."

    Next one? I looked up and just over the rise was another incline, just as steep and long as before. Freaking staircase climb.

    We both stopped at a convenience store about a 100 yards from the second climb, and under shade while passing a gallon of water back and forth between us, he said that he loved having a light, fast bike, but on that last climb, he really, really wished he had my 32 tooth rear cassette

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    That's a good post. Makes me wonder if changing out the gearing on my road bike to a more "touring" type of gear would be a good idea... I rarely use the low gears, but I have run out of gears on big hills, so maybe changing the granny out would be a good idea?

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    depends on how you feel about walking ... and if you feel ok with your wife razzing you about it

    I agree with many of the posters that it's important to have a 'bail out' gear. I know (and you will find, once you start in on brevets) that a lot of people run compact doubles, but I personally really like the flexibility and range of a triple. After all, it's not about how your bike performs on the first 50km that counts, it's how it feels tackling the last 50.

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    Wannabe commuter & tourer newsace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster
    This ride is more a "can I do it" type of ride. It's called the "Blood, Sweat and Gears". It's suppose to be a very difficult ride.
    Can't give any advice on your original question, but I'll chime in to say it's a good ride, and it is pretty tough. I've not yet done Bridge to Bridge (read Mike Magnusson's (sp?) Heft on Wheels for his take on it -- I think it was his "goal ride" when he lost all his weight), so I can't compare the Grandfather climb, but BS&G has one of the steepest climbs I've ever done. It's also one of the best run and supported rides I've done.

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    a question i have is how many people do centuries (or longer) on fixed gear bikes?

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    First of off, the bike needs to fit you well. If both bikes fit you well, I'd look for the one that would perform the best.

    13k is an ungodly amount of climbing for a century. With that much climbing, you're going to need a gear that allows you to spin most of the time, as your legs won't hold out grinding up that long.

    I have a Trek Madone with a triple up front, and I have a 12-27 on the rear to make the steeps a little easier. I'd definitely take my Madone on that sort of ride - I did a 70 miler with 5K of climbing (including long stretches in the 13% range and some nearing 20%), and boy was I happy to not be on my heavier bike.

    You already discounted the other reason to ride the light bike - if you might spend time in pacelines.
    Eric

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  19. #19
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    My $.02: If you're in the "can I do i?" category, opt for the better (lower) gearing. Make sure you train on the bike that you're planning on doing the ride on. Especially if the going gets slow -- whether from fatigue or from trying to match your SO's pace on the climbs -- you'll want the lower set of gears. If you can get a wider range of gears on your roadie, then you've got the best of both worlds!

    Pacing the SO on climbs can be an issue -- I ride really silly gearing and Mrs. Octopus has a triple and is a, uh, "deliberate" climber. If we're together on a long or steep climb, I'm standing doing the stair-master routine in my 39x23. My cadence falls to the 40s, or I ride away from her. Not ideal. (The tandem solved that problem!)

  20. #20
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Yup, tandem is the answer/equalizer!

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    hell's angels h/q e3st ny brunop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprouts
    a question i have is how many people do centuries (or longer) on fixed gear bikes?
    i've done a little over 70 on a fixed gear. albeit on a relatively flat course. and i know a woman who did boston montreal boston fixed. she said she'd likely not do it again as it was a little like crossing the sahara wearing a down jacket.
    ". . .a striped jersey under his jacket; bared calves (outside the bicycle track); cap pushed back; feet in a false position on the pedals; a barking horn, a disorderly appearance, an always-dry tongue, and a definite fondness for wine merchants. . ."

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprouts
    a question i have is how many people do centuries (or longer) on fixed gear bikes?
    based on the fact that, out of the 36-odd brevet riders that I saw in the Boston series this year (200k to 600k) , I saw 3 or 4 folks on fixed gear bikes -- my highly scientific hunch is that the number ranges between 8 and 10% of the overall population

    my estimation might need a bit of peer review, though

  23. #23
    Chief Chef BearsPaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprouts
    a question i have is how many people do centuries (or longer) on fixed gear bikes?
    I rode ~105 miles with a friend one day in April. I'm not very hip, so I was on a touring bike, but he was on a fixed gear bike. We were fully loaded too. Here's his blog entry about it:

    http://www.sultanik.com/blog/RideToReston

    Also, when I rode in the MS-150, a number of groups had fixed gear riders. My group had at least three that I can think of. I'm sure at least some of them did the first day century, and everyone did 150 miles over the course of two days.

  24. #24
    Senior Member ronjon10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster
    That's a good post. Makes me wonder if changing out the gearing on my road bike to a more "touring" type of gear would be a good idea... I rarely use the low gears, but I have run out of gears on big hills, so maybe changing the granny out would be a good idea?

    I use the 11-32 xt cassette on my road bike (which does get some light touring & commuter usage). I rarely venture into the 28&32 rings when the bike isn't loaded, but they've saved me more than once (many many many more times than once).
    just being

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by newsace
    Can't give any advice on your original question, but I'll chime in to say it's a good ride, and it is pretty tough. I've not yet done Bridge to Bridge (read Mike Magnusson's (sp?) Heft on Wheels for his take on it -- I think it was his "goal ride" when he lost all his weight), so I can't compare the Grandfather climb, but BS&G has one of the steepest climbs I've ever done. It's also one of the best run and supported rides I've done.
    My wife read that book and I think that's where she got her inspiration for this ride she wants us to do. I'm just along for the ride. So to speak. The most I've ever done, as far as climbing, is 5k on a century. That was pretty easy. I've heard it was a great ride as well.

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