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  1. #1
    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    from century to double century

    I've started considering the possibility of riding a double century. Any suggestions for someone transitioning from riding centuries to riding a double century? Since September, I've done six century rides, with the longest being 125 miles long and the steepest having over 10,000 feet of climbing. There was a one month period where I rode one double metric, three centuries, and one metric. I basically feel like I can ride a century whenever I want right now with no special preparation.

    I intend for my first double to be relatively flat, so climbing ability shouldn't be an issue. But I figure working up to the sheer distance and getting used to riding at night will be necessary. And I figure I'll need to start eating and drinking a bit more since I currently run a mild nutritional deficit that allows me to ride a century comfortably, but leaves me really hungry when I'm done. Is there other stuff I should be working on and preparing for? Any other advice for preparing for a double?
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    If you're riding that much, you should have no problem competing a double century.

    For nutrition, you should be looking at taking in around 250 calories per hour, perhaps up to 350 calories per hour max. If you're taking that much in, you're probably doing fine *if* the majority of it carbs (and perhaps a little protein). If you told us what you were eating/how many calories in a century, we could likely give better advice.

    You also need to worry about hydration. If you weigh yourself after a long ride, you should weigh the same as what you did at the beginning.

    You will have the mental challenge around the 7th hour.
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  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    and getting used to riding at night will be necessary. And I figure I'll need to start eating and drinking a bit more since I currently run a mild nutritional deficit that allows me to ride a century comfortably, but leaves me really hungry when I'm done. Is there other stuff I should be working on and preparing for? Any other advice for preparing for a double?
    Depending on the time of year you plan to do your double century, and how fast a rider you are, you won't necessarily have to ride at night. I'm pretty slow, but I can do a double century in May and just fit it into daylight hours ... just! However, you may want to go out for short rides around your neighborhood after dark prior to your double, and if you're going to do that you should plan to ride a bit in an area where it is as dark as possible (no street lights) so you can make any necessary adjustments to your lights.

    As for food, eat a good breakfast, 250-300 calories per hour while you ride all the way through the ride, and meals at about the 6-8 hour point after starting, and then every 4-6 hours after that.

    Other than that, a double century really isn't much different from a century ... it's just a bit longer!




    And it sounds like you've ridden enough to be ready for the distance.

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    Senior Member brianmcg123's Avatar
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    One thing about a Double Century, the first 199 miles are the toughest, it gets a lot easier after that.
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  5. #5
    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgu
    If you told us what you were eating/how many calories in a century, we could likely give better advice.
    I figure right now I'm taking in about 100 calories/hour via my electrolyte drink when I drink at the rate I should be drinking. On top of that, I eat perhaps 500-800 calories over the course of a century. So let's say 1200-1500 calories. At the low end, it gets me through a century just fine, but I do feel really hungry when I'm through. I guess the high end of what I eat now is a bit less than the minimum I'd have to eat on a double century.

    Quote Originally Posted by machka
    I'm pretty slow, but I can do a double century in May and just fit it into daylight hours ... just!
    During that time of year, you Canadians get some long daylight hours being so far north! I'm eyeing a ride in February. I'd definitely need lights.
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  6. #6
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    For your first double, try to take it easy on the ride. You may want to shoot for an average heart rate a few beat lower than for your centuries. If there are any hills, try not to attack them or stand while climbing. You'll want to conserve glycogen as best you can. use energy gel, or some other easy toconsume food on the bike. A gel pack every half hour plus sports drink will get you up to 250 cal/hr.

    After you get the first double, you can work on faster speeds. But for the first, be conservative to avoid bonking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    I figure right now I'm taking in about 100 calories/hour via my electrolyte drink when I drink at the rate I should be drinking. On top of that, I eat perhaps 500-800 calories over the course of a century. So let's say 1200-1500 calories. At the low end, it gets me through a century just fine, but I do feel really hungry when I'm through. I guess the high end of what I eat now is a bit less than the minimum I'd have to eat on a double century.


    During that time of year, you Canadians get some long daylight hours being so far north! I'm eyeing a ride in February. I'd definitely need lights.
    We are talking about the Butterfield Double?

    http://www.planetultra.com/butterfield/index.html

    It has about 9000 feet of climbing, which is about right, but I would not call it flatish. You will definitely notice the climbing.

    Plan on spending 4-6 hours riding in the dark. Starting in the early group at 0530 gives you an hour in the morning and 5 hours in the evening, if you take the entire time. In 2006 it took me 17:45 to complete the route.

    You want to start now getting used to have lights and reflectors on your bike. Do test rides not only at night but also during the day. When putting new gear on your bike there is always the chance that it will loosen or fall off after a hundred miles. This is not the type of stuff you want to deal with in the middle of a double. I am very leary about making any kind of changes right before a long ride. Shorter rides, like centuries and double metrics, are perfect for testing new stuff.

  8. #8
    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    Yup... thinking about the Butterfield Double. Thanks for the advice. I'll be sure to get the lights in the next week or so.
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  9. #9
    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    Speaking of which... any suggestions/advice about lighting? I assume a HID front and a rear blinkie with sufficient battery life will do. Any other supplemental lighting suggested? How does one read a route slip in the dark or read off a mileage from one's cyclocomputer to keep track of where one is?
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  10. #10
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    For your first double, try to take it easy on the ride. You may want to shoot for an average heart rate a few beat lower than for your centuries. If there are any hills, try not to attack them or stand while climbing. You'll want to conserve glycogen as best you can. use energy gel, or some other easy toconsume food on the bike. A gel pack every half hour plus sports drink will get you up to 250 cal/hr.

    After you get the first double, you can work on faster speeds. But for the first, be conservative to avoid bonking.
    I second this advice. My first double was a pretty hilly 400K, with my previous long ride being only 200K. I did all the climbing, from the very first hill through the end, in the lowest gear I had. I also kept my perceived exertion on the climbs at the level of "what pace do I need to ride to not ride Mrs. Octopus off my wheel were she here with me?" Being conservative on the effort meant that not only did I finish, but I had a ton of fun and was in good shape at the finish.

    Being religious about nutrition and hydration is critical, too, when going beyond 100 miles. As distance increases, it gets tougher to recover from mistakes made earlier in the ride. You might gut out a century after getting behind on the food and water at mile 50, but gutting out the double your first time out is a place that you definitely don't want to be. Play around with feeding and hydration schedules, amounts, and items that work for you on shorter training rides and then go with what you know works on game day.

    Of great importance, too, is expectations management. I'd recommend forgetting about any particular finish time. Focus on finishing, having fun, and staying in good shape. A good, flexible attitude will help ensure that you're there at the end with a big smile on your face!

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    Speaking of which... any suggestions/advice about lighting? I assume a HID front and a rear blinkie with sufficient battery life will do. Any other supplemental lighting suggested? How does one read a route slip in the dark or read off a mileage from one's cyclocomputer to keep track of where one is?
    One gets a helmet light ... which is not only useful for reading one's route slip or mileage, but also for lighting up the road signs so that one doesn't miss a turn!

  12. #12
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    Speaking of which... any suggestions/advice about lighting? I assume a HID front and a rear blinkie with sufficient battery life will do. Any other supplemental lighting suggested? How does one read a route slip in the dark or read off a mileage from one's cyclocomputer to keep track of where one is?
    An HID is probably overkill, but if you can manage enough battery life, it will certainly work. Figure on 14-15 hours to complete the ride, subtract off the number of hours of daylight for the day and location and make sure your batteries will accommodate that run time.

    The suggestion for a helmet light, doesn't need to be high powered, is a good one. It's pretty frustrating to not be able to read a cue sheet or see you odometer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    Speaking of which... any suggestions/advice about lighting? I assume a HID front and a rear blinkie with sufficient battery life will do. Any other supplemental lighting suggested? How does one read a route slip in the dark or read off a mileage from one's cyclocomputer to keep track of where one is?
    Plan on spending 16-18 hours doing this double. Time can really slip away, specially in the second century. If you do this double in 14 hours, then good for you.

    As others have suggested a helmet light is a good idea. Not only will it allow you to read the route sheet, but it also helps with stuff like changing a flat in the dark. Imagine that without a light. In 2006 we started the Hemet Double at 0400. In the first 30 minutes I had a flat, and it was pitch black.

    Tail lights are easy. Get a couple of Cateye LD500s or LD1000s and you are set. You do want more than one. I run three, two on my bike and one on the back of my helmet (I sit upright on a recumbent). The one on the helmet balances out the helmet light on the front. Tail light batteries last forever.

    Headlights are different. Not only do you want one, you also want a backup. They can fail, batteries can go out, you can drop them, they can jump off the bike. All sorts of things. You don't want to ride 175 miles and then have to stop because you only have one light, which is now broken.

    Simplest and fairly cost effective is to run two Cateye LEDs, such as two of the new 530 models. They give you redundancy, and a fair amount of light.

    If you want to do something more powerful without going to HID, I'd suggest:

    http://www.bicyclelights.com

    For $100 you can't go wrong. I have had these lights for a couple of years, and they are very good. The battery is somewhat heavy, but it does give you 6 hours of 5 watt run time, easy. Being able to crank up 15 watts is very nice.

    From what I have read the Light & Motion Arc HID is the best choice of the HID lights. But it doesn't give you a lot of run time. The attractive solution is the Niterider Moab, but that is big money.

    Just as important is reflective gear. Go overboard. Planet Ultra demands ankle reflectors. I carry two sets just in case I lose one. Put some reflective stuff on your bike. Geek it up. On this ride in the evening hours you will be riding through suburbia, so you want to be as noticeable as possible.

    If I run my main lights, from www.bicyclelights.com, I will also carry a Cateye EL530, plus spare batteries. The weight adds up, but it is worth it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I guess it would be best to take it a little easier. You don't want to get into a situation where discover that you run out of gas at 150. It helps if it is an "out and back" route, then you know what you are left with on the second 100.

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    My first double century took me 16 hours because I got lost in the dark at the beginning, adding 25 "bonus miles".

    As for preparation, if you can ride 160 - 200 miles a week with a significant amount of climbing, you can do a double century. Some people do it on less than that, but I think they are pushing it a bit.

  16. #16
    Dagger Boy Extort's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    I figure right now I'm taking in about 100 calories/hour via my electrolyte drink when I drink at the rate I should be drinking. On top of that, I eat perhaps 500-800 calories over the course of a century. So let's say 1200-1500 calories. At the low end, it gets me through a century just fine, but I do feel really hungry when I'm through. I guess the high end of what I eat now is a bit less than the minimum I'd have to eat on a double century.
    Expect to increase your eating and drinking considerably!

    I try to munch on a clifbar halfway in between rest stops and always have a goo packet ready for when I am approaching an extended climb. At the rest stops I start with bananas (2 halves), then move to the PBJ's (at least 1/2 a sandwich), and then look for something with quick energy like fruit or fig newtons. I also attach a bento box onto my bike with my own trail mix (clif bloks, sharkies, sport beans, and some of those gummy type candies) and I munch on a couple pieces of that whenever I need some flavor in my mouth.

    I also carry a camelback with me on doubles because I can only fit one water bottle on my bike (because of the forced location of my frame pump) and that water bottle is filled with a double strength version of my sports drink. I try to make sure that the bottle is empty before I hit a rest stop.

    I have found that normally the rest stops have Hammer Perpetuum (sp?) but I think that it tastes awful. I have discovered that mixing the Perpetuum with some HammerGel (raspberry) in the water bottle will work if I run out of my own powders.
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  17. #17
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Jason, you might think about doing the Seattle to Portland (STP) for your double. It is in mid-July, so the longest of days in the year, very mild temps, mostly flat course, and food and water stops along the way. You can also ride with any number of pacelines, or join in with the Portland BF group for a fast steady pace ride. They start one day riders at 5:00 am, lodging at the UofW just steps from the start. I plan to do the one day double this year, it would be great to ride this with you, also get a Socal BF group to come up and make it a party.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    I figure right now I'm taking in about 100 calories/hour via my electrolyte drink when I drink at the rate I should be drinking. On top of that, I eat perhaps 500-800 calories over the course of a century. So let's say 1200-1500 calories. At the low end, it gets me through a century just fine, but I do feel really hungry when I'm through. I guess the high end of what I eat now is a bit less than the minimum I'd have to eat on a double century.
    200-250 calories/hour is generally considered the optimal range. It's hard to absorb a lot more than that, though it depends on the person, their training, and how hard they're working out. It also depends on how accessible the calories are - if you have a fair bit of fat, it doesn't really help you.

    I think you're probably fairly close to that, though my guess is that if you're really hungry right after, you need more liquid calories, though not a lot.
    Eric

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