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  1. #1
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    Century Training Plan

    Hi everybody,

    Does anyone know of a good 12 week training plan for a century ride. I'm a beginner who is moderately fit and just got into road cycling.

  2. #2
    Afterburners...good idea Sapling's Avatar
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    Try this:
    http://www.carbboom.com/education/century.php (this one is 10 weeks)
    or
    http://www.planetpedal.com/goals/cen..._schedule.html

    One of those should have weekly mileage that fits your ability.

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    3 day plan

    Try this:

    Day 1 - Take it easy. Check your bike. Get a good night's sleep.

    Day 2 - Ride your bike a hundred miles. Have fun; its not a race.

    Day 3 - Sleep late. Brag to your friends.

    John Moore
    Manchester NH
    RUSA #235

  4. #4
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmoore49 View Post
    Try this:

    Day 1 - Take it easy. Check your bike. Get a good night's sleep.

    Day 2 - Ride your bike a hundred miles. Have fun; its not a race.

    Day 3 - Sleep late. Brag to your friends.
    Day 4 - Ask someone to throw your bike in the trash because you don't ever want to see it again. You have to ask someone, since you can't actually get up and do it yourself because your legs feel like someone beat them with sledgehammers.


    Rodale Press has a book called "100 Days to 100 Miles", and if you're already in reasonably good shape then it's not a far stretch to be doing your first century in 100 days.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

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    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    When I trained of a century, my main goal was to ride 55 miles a day for 3 consecutive days.
    I was guessing that the kind of fatigue that would put on me had to be similar to a 100 mile ride.
    I worked up to that 55mi X 3days the weekend before the century, and did a 30 mile ride on
    wednesday.The following saturday I completed my first century.

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

  6. #6
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    The message you seem to be getting from several folks above is that you really don't need much training to ride a century. If you're a "beginner" at riding centuries, but you're already a decently fit cyclist, I would tend to agree, i.e. just do it.

    I rode my first century when I was 28, and at a decent (but not wonderful) level of cycling fitness, and I did it, no problem (actually turned out to be 120 miles). Now I'm 57 and in decent (but not great) shape, and I rode a century two weeks ago, no problem (6 hr. 15 min.). Then last weekend I rode a double century, no problem, 15 hrs. 39 minutes.

    So if you're in decent shape/fitness, don't worry, be happy, just do it. If you're a total beginner cyclist, that's another story.

    Rick / OCRR

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    ThreadKiller Evoracer's Avatar
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    Choose the right century as your first. A ton of climbing is not recommended, IMO.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Stallionforce's Avatar
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    Just do it. Take plenty of rest stops along the way. I recommend setting your bike computer to something that doesn't compound your initial anxiety, like 'calories' or 'average speed'. I also find it useful if I'm really struggling to pick a 3 to 5 km loop and go around it several times. The km's seem easier that way.

    If you don't have any serious injury issues (knees/back) you should be able to do it right now. It's not so much physiological as it is psychological: send yourself only positive thoughts. And don't bonk! Take more bars and gels than you think you'll need.

  9. #9
    Nomadic Cyclist JohnM1949's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Day 4 - Ask someone to throw your bike in the trash because you don't ever want to see it again. You have to ask someone, since you can't actually get up and do it yourself because your legs feel like someone beat them with sledgehammers.
    Yes, toss the bike in the trash the next day if you feel like you've been beaten up. Why? Because you probably had the wrong bike in the first place, or at least had it set up wrong; wrong seat, wrong pedals/shoes, wrong bars, i.e. the whole bike/rider interface was wrong. Or you didn't eat or drink properly. Or took off too fast, pushing too high gears, hammering up hills, turning the century into a time trial. If you need 10-12 weeks to prepare for a century ride, spend your time figuring out what works and doesn't work for you on long rides. Forget the mileage and leave your stopwatch at home.

    Look at the UMCA rules for centuries in their Year-Rounder program:
    Time and Distance: Riders on Personal rides must average at least 8.33 mph including off-the-bike time. Personal Century rides must be between 90 and 149 miles at an elapsed average of at least 8.33 mph, i.e., 90 miles within 11 hours, etc. Personal Long rides must be at least 150 miles at an elapsed average of at least 8.33 mph, i.e., 150 miles within 18 hours, 200 miles within 24 hours, etc.
    8.33 MPH! IT'S NOT A RACE!! It's not about time, but miles. Think distance, not speed. Relax. Enjoy the scenery. Eat ice cream. Stop for a nap under a shady tree. Take a dip at a swimming hole. Have fun. Just get back home within 12 hours.

    Of course, if you are riding a RUSA sanctioned event, it's a whole different story. For RUSA you have to maintain a blistering 9.2 MPH!

    John Moore
    Manchester NH
    RUSA #235
    2006 UMCA Year-Rounder Challenge, 1602 miles


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnM1949 View Post
    Yes, toss the bike in the trash the next day if you feel like you've been beaten up. Why? Because you probably had the wrong bike in the first place, or at least had it set up wrong; wrong seat, wrong pedals/shoes, wrong bars, i.e. the whole bike/rider interface was wrong. Or you didn't eat or drink properly. Or took off too fast, pushing too high gears, hammering up hills, turning the century into a time trial. If you need 10-12 weeks to prepare for a century ride, spend your time figuring out what works and doesn't work for you on long rides. Forget the mileage and leave your stopwatch at home.
    I understand that having the wrong setup or not eating/hydrating properly or pushing too hard are things that lead to pain the following days. But your suggestion (for someone who admits to being a "beginner who just got into road cycling") was to just go out and ride 100 miles. Now you're suggesting spending time figuring out what works.
    Which is it: Just get out there and go, or build your way up to that first century so you can learn over progressively longer rides what does and doesn't work for you? 100 days is probably an excessive amount of training time for someone who's already moderately athletic, but there's a happy medium to be reached between 100 and 1, I'm sure.
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  11. #11
    Nomadic Cyclist JohnM1949's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I understand that having the wrong setup or not eating/hydrating properly or pushing too hard are things that lead to pain the following days. But your suggestion (for someone who admits to being a "beginner who just got into road cycling") was to just go out and ride 100 miles. Now you're suggesting spending time figuring out what works.
    Which is it: Just get out there and go, or build your way up to that first century so you can learn over progressively longer rides what does and doesn't work for you? 100 days is probably an excessive amount of training time for someone who's already moderately athletic, but there's a happy medium to be reached between 100 and 1, I'm sure.
    I'm suggesting that a 12 week 'training plan' is a waste of time and turns a fun event into a drawn out bore. Go out and ride all summer just for the pleasure of cycling. When the big century ride comes around in September you'll know what works for you. Enjoy.

    John "58 years old and never taken a 'training ride'" Moore
    Manchester, NH

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    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    12 weeks (or worse, 100 days) is a long time to follow a training plan for a century if you're already fit, even if you're just getting into cycling. Some people just like to have a regimen laid out for them to follow. A friend of mine is doing the Big Climb for leukemia fundraising. It's a 1,311 stair climb up 69 flights, which totals about 700' elevation. Not much considering people around here do 6 mile mountain ascents with 6000' of gain in one day, but she's got an 8 week training plan that she's following to get prepped for it, and she's already a competitive runner.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I think the people who are saying "just do it, no training necessary" forget how hard their first century was.

    Also, a century isn't as bad as it may seem. I found that running a half marathon was significantly more challenging than a typical century.

    The three main reasons to train are, as others have alluded to already:
    - avoid overuse injuries
    - make sure your bike is set up properly
    - make sure you know how to eat and drink enough

    Sapling's links look pretty good to me. Make sure your bike fits you properly, and that you get in the habit of consuming about 250 calories and 500-750ml of water or sports drink every hour.

  14. #14
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    The three main reasons to train are, as others have alluded to already:
    - avoid overuse injuries
    - make sure your bike is set up properly
    - make sure you know how to eat and drink enough

    Sapling's links look pretty good to me. Make sure your bike fits you properly, and that you get in the habit of consuming about 250 calories and 500-750ml of water or sports drink every hour.
    This has been the most important with me getting back into distance riding. I was making improper adjustments to my bar position in an attempt to alleviate back and shoulder pain which was cutting my rides short at ~70 miles. Now that I have everything properly adjusted, 70 - 80 miles is just as comfortable as a cruise around the block.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  15. #15
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    The folks who say "just do it" are being rather unhelpful. If you are starting as a beginner a Century is a big deal.

    I'd suggest slowly building up your distance. Try to go out for a couple of hours 3 times during the work week. Start off with 5 miles, next week do 10, then 25, 20, 25 etc. up to the limit that time allows. In the spring I'll go out for a couple of hours 3 times a week and do 30 miles each time.

    At the weekends go for longer rides. Work up from 30 miles increasing slowly until you can easily do 75 or 80 miles. This will be an all day ride starting in the morning and returning in the afternoon

    Remember to drink and eat enough. For long day rides I pick a lunch destination to cut the ride in half

  16. #16
    Linux HA Author :-) ncherry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kefalonitis View Post
    Hi everybody,

    Does anyone know of a good 12 week training plan for a century ride. I'm a beginner who is moderately fit and just got into road cycling.
    I hole heartedly disagree with the 'just do it' folks. There are som many things the beginner could know that makes the ride a breeze. Once you've done it you'll see why and once you've done it many times you might say 'oh yeah, just do it'. I ride centuries from May to October and at least 40 mile rides during the off season. If I were to try and jump from my 40 mile rides right to a century I'd be sore in a number of places (can you say been rubbed the wrong way). You need to build up saddle time to comfortably do the ride. BTW, my best speed was 19.8 mph (pace line) and 17.8 mph solo. These are very flat centuries.

    Now I'll give you my opinion on how to ride centuries. Rodale has a few good books on the subject (try 100 Days to 100 Miles, nobody said you have to buy new ). When I first started out I used them and they worked well. I can now build up to riding centuries in half the time. As a beginner start out with a comfortable bike something you've ridden your longest distances on before. If your starting out with 0 miles under you belt try riding 1 hours worth. Do that at least twice that week (preferably three times). The next week increase by 10%, each week increase but try to get in a few more days. The advise is to avoid increasing by more than 10% per week. Sometimes this is hard to do but a large jump will, at minimum, make you sore, at worst leave you with an injury (muscle pulls or tears). If you're feeling grumpy or bone tire that means take the day off. Eat properly and find out what your body can eat while on the bike. Some foods are hard on the stomach and will sit like a rock. That's something you don't want to learn on the century. Also experiment with drinks.

    One thing you will really need to do is start riding longer miles. One thing you'll learn about distance is that when you first do it you find the doldrums. This is a point where you are physically and mentally exhausted. On my early centuries I find this to be around 65 to 80 miles. At this point you need to have enough confidence that you can do it and then you'll do it. But be careful being this kind of tired is where you can make mistakes. As long as you are aware of the problem you can battle the problem. Next make sure you drink more than you need to (and make sure that you use the facilities before you need to). Also eating small amounts all day long that way you don't run out of energy.

    One more thing some work with weights is not a bad idea. You're not trying to build up a huge amount of muscle mass but get the other muscles that are neglected into some kind of shape. I work the arms, wrists and shoulders. On long rides the shoulders and wrists take a bit of beating so move your hand position around so they don't get numb.

    If you want to learn a bit more I did a write up on my bike club's Longest Day ride. It's 206 miles but the information there is useful for centuries too (that's where I learned the information). It usually takes me about 6 weeks to go from nothing to ready for the Longest Day. This year I want more speed (18+ mph avg riding speed) and to be done before 7 pm.

    Sorry for the sloppy brain dump, usually I train people for centuries on my rides (out of Cranbury, NJ for CJBC and PFW clubs). It's a lot easier when you have hours to teach, comment and question.

  17. #17
    Linux HA Author :-) ncherry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnM1949 View Post
    I'm suggesting that a 12 week 'training plan' is a waste of time and turns a fun event into a drawn out bore. Go out and ride all summer just for the pleasure of cycling. When the big century ride comes around in September you'll know what works for you. Enjoy.

    John "58 years old and never taken a 'training ride'" Moore
    Manchester, NH
    Every ride is a training ride!

    Actually I'm a little serious, I ride every ride hard. One of my mottoes is that if your not dead then you're not pedaling fast enough. I ride with a group who enjoys riding long and hard. We're not racers just long distance fanatics as long as we can keep it to one day rides (I still need to go home and mow the lawn or some other 'Honey Do' items).

    If this ride is September you have plenty of time, heck if it's in May you still have plenty of time.

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    A couple people have brought up the "100 days to 100 miles book" and I just finished reading that. I'm also working up to my first century ride and am in good shape from years of practicing yoga and kickboxing. But I read this book because everyone said it was great and all it did was make me think "jesus I have a LONG way to go." The lady who wrote this is a real pro and she makes it sound like you should be finishing your first century in 5 hours, among other things. Sooo...
    Here I am riding as hard and as fast I can to try to make good times because this is my frame of reference (I can only read one book at a time and this is the first one I picked up) and I just am not that fast on my bike. My heart's pounding when I hit 17 mph and I can't stay there that long typically. I'm sore constantly and beginning to hate even getting out there to do it because I feel like I'm pushing to hard to live up to this books idea of what one should be accomplishing.
    But this thread has undone some of the damage that book caused (I have a lot of issues with this book actually). So now instead of thinking I have to ride the century like an Olympic race, I'm going to actually go back to having fun on my bike and not being so hard on myself.

  19. #19
    Steel Frame BrooklynRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burnt Sienna View Post
    The lady who wrote this is a real pro and she makes it sound like you should be finishing your first century in 5 hours, among other things. Sooo...
    Relax, enjoy the scenery. You'll meet more ladies taking your time, than riding behind some dude at 20 mph worrying you're not doing it right.

    IME, centuries are when I help fix 4 flats for folks in trouble. Last year I helped a lovely lady pull the chain out of her bottom bracket on a Great South Bay Bridge with my my 600 gram Gerber Multi Tool that I bothered to take with me. She remembered us at the bar and was vexed by all the people who just passed her by in trouble! Take a few minutes to see the surf rolling in and take some pictures.

    If you're riding to ride through pain, and are worrying about. Then you really do have a long way to go.

    Take a chill pill.

    You really should put some hours in the saddle and get your ride feeling right to be sure. If you ride 50 miles a week for a few weeks prior, like a regular city commuter, you shouldn't have any major problems.

    If you want to join a 22mph pelaton then go for it. Long distance riding, for me and a lot of folks, should not be about training for the Olympics! But you do not want surprises either. If you go unprepared, your knees ITB and a** will be really angry!

    Enjoy it. Some things require more time to see where you are. Enjoy a rest stop off-the-course fo 20 minutes, that no one else even bothered to take the time to enjoy!

    The Montauk Century on Long Island NY is a perfect example. There are gorgeous beaches and rest stops that 99% of the rider miss, worrying about their time to finish on that ride is silly, IMO.

    Some journeys are about the journey. Not what your Cat Eye and Polar say. Not to mention the taciturn Hammerheads who look down on the Fred's from their pillar of cycling-is-not-meant-to-be-fun. Those Hammerheads are the same folks who happily ignore people in distress and leave them for the sag.

    Just finish before 7 hours and you'll enjoy every minute. Finish in 5 and you might decide it ain't worth it...
    Last edited by BrooklynRider; 02-28-08 at 09:56 PM.

  20. #20
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burnt Sienna View Post
    <<>> My heart's pounding when I hit 17 mph and I can't stay there that long typically. I'm sore constantly and beginning to hate even getting out there to do it because I feel like I'm pushing to hard to live up to this books idea of what one should be accomplishing. <<>>
    Hey, take comfort in the thought that it takes 5-7 years of cycling to reach your potential. 100 days is ridiculous unless you are already an experienced cyclist. Now, the "sore constantly" thing. If you are going to push yourself, you're going to be sore a lot. You want to learn to cycle the soreness. Get sore for a couple of weeks, then back off. Go easy for a week or even take 2-3 days off. You should still notice some swelling or a bit of stiffness in your muscles, but they shouldn't hurt any more. Then go back for 2 or 3 more weeks of hurt. If hurting is a big bummer for you, maybe LD cycling isn't your sport. But if you're a kickboxer, that wouldn't seem to be the case. Sounds to me like you are a frustrated athlete, because it isn't going as easily as some guru writes that it should. Need new guru.

  21. #21
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    I think I misrepresented my soreness (or rather didn't explain it!). I get sore on the level of can't walk for a day or three. Which probably sets me back more since it puts me out of commission. I realize I'm going to be sore, like with anything new especially, I think its just the level seems ridiculous and probably is. I probably do push it a little too hard trying to reach unrealistic goals.
    Somewhere while reading that book I went from riding all the time (because I started doing that anyway to save gas) to being completely insane about it!

  22. #22
    Linux HA Author :-) ncherry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burnt Sienna View Post
    A couple people have brought up the "100 days to 100 miles book" and I just finished reading that. I'm also working up to my first century ride and am in good shape from years of practicing yoga and kickboxing. But I read this book because everyone said it was great and all it did was make me think "jesus I have a LONG way to go." The lady who wrote this is a real pro and she makes it sound like you should be finishing your first century in 5 hours, among other things. Sooo...
    ...
    actually). So now instead of thinking I have to ride the century like an Olympic race, I'm going to actually go back to having fun on my bike and not being so hard on myself.
    My apologies if I made it sound like you should go out and train as if this were the Tour de France. Train at what ever speed you are comfortable with. Just as long as you are realistic. An 8 mph avg speed over 100 miles means you'll be on the course for 12.5 hours (plus stops). If the ride is in October you don't have that much time then instead of being disappointed do a shorter ride. Of course if you can keep a 15 mph avg pace that means a ride of less than 7 hours. That's a lot more doable. If you can keep a pace of 20 mph avg then you don't need to be asking me.

    Rule number 1 of riding: do it as long as you enjoy it otherwise don't do it.

    I enjoy going fast and I enjoy going long. I enjoy hills and wind (no really, I do) even though they hurt. Once my legs get going they pretty much know what to do. I just point the bike, watch traffic and enjoy the scenery. And on a century there is a lot of scenery!

    Next month I hope to join the Century of the month club. That's where you ride a century every month for a year. This should be interesting as I've always wanted to see the Pine Barrens in the Winter.

  23. #23
    Linux HA Author :-) ncherry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynRider View Post
    Relax, enjoy the scenery. You'll meet more ladies taking your time, than riding behind some dude at 20 mph worrying you're not doing it right.
    Okay this will get me in some trouble but I prefer riding behind a lady.

    IME, centuries are when I help fix 4 flats for folks in trouble. Last year I helped a lovely lady pull the chain out of her bottom bracket on a Great South Bay Bridge with my my 600 gram Gerber Multi Tool that I bothered to take with me. She remembered us at the bar and was vexed by all the people who just passed her by in trouble! Take a few minutes to see the surf rolling in and take some pictures.
    If you're ever in NJ and you see a guy riding with a LARGE orange Camelbak and you need a tool, just ask. I probably have it. If you're unlucky I might hand the Camelbak to you to hold (be prepared for a lot of weight). I usually carry 2 tires, 4 tubes, patch kits, first aid, tools and enough coins for bail. There are no bike shops on my commutes or on my weekend rides. I have to have enough to fix most problems. And I help when ever I can. It's as much fun to save someone's ride as it is to complete a ride in a 20mph avg pace. Not all Hammerheads leave the wounded behind but then I probably don't look like a hammerhead with the Camelbak.

    If you're riding to ride through pain, and are worrying about. Then you really do have a long way to go.

    Take a chill pill.
    Very good advise, there is sore as in I haven't ridden this far and I'm sore and then there is sore as in I think I pulled a muscle. The later is bad, the former is normal at first but shouldn't be the norm.

    You really should put some hours in the saddle and get your ride feeling right to be sure. If you ride 50 miles a week for a few weeks prior, like a regular city commuter, you shouldn't have any major problems.

    If you want to join a 22mph pelaton then go for it. Long distance riding, for me and a lot of folks, should not be about training for the Olympics! But you do not want surprises either. If you go unprepared, your knees ITB and a** will be really angry!
    Swollen, Swollen, Swollen, Raw Hide! The real training here is, as Brooklyn points out, saddle time/mileage. You are getting your body used to what is about to happen. If you were a club rider and you consistently did 40 mile rides with your group and suddenly decided to jump to a century you'd find the following: Swollen, Swollen, Swollen! You'd have saddle sores. Your hands would most likely go numb because you weren't aware that you needed to change your hand position more often. Your legs, arms, shoulders and neck would be sore because they hadn't built up to that strain before. You'd be tired of drinking that same flavor of drink you've been drinking for the last 60 or so miles. You'd find that at about mile 65 - 75 you'd start wondering why are you doing this. And a few more things. You'd experience this all at once (I've done it in the past when weather messed up my schedule). That is not an enjoyable ride. Build up to your ride, at your pace (I think that's what Brooklyn is saying) the rest of the training is to prepare you for the ride.

    Enjoy it. Some things require more time to see where you are. Enjoy a rest stop off-the-course fo 20 minutes, that no one else even bothered to take the time to enjoy!

    The Montauk Century on Long Island NY is a perfect example. There are gorgeous beaches and rest stops that 99% of the rider miss, worrying about their time to finish on that ride is silly, IMO.
    I don't remember beaches, except at the end, but I do remember that tail wind. Most of the time the wind is from the West, sometimes also the South. That makes for one hell of a Montauk ride, though I am more partial to NJ.

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