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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 04-24-08, 02:23 PM   #1
Phantasie
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Newb Wondering feasibilty of a century? Insight appreciated!

Hi Guys.

Im new to road (and thus long distance) cycling, although I've mountain biked for last couple years.
I've ordered my road bike and will be getting it next week (Ridley Crossbow/105, will outfit in roadbike mode).

My ultimate goal is to cycle to a friends place which is just < 100 miles away (about 92). Its relatively level terrain, and would be backroads so no major traffic to worry about.

I'm ~30 years old and am in decent shape. If it matters, once I set my mind to something, I dont give up

My personal goal is to be able to do this ride in 2 months. I would approach this by starting with short rides and working my way up to 75% of the distance over training for the next two months (info I've found online says this is a good approach). FWIW, I'm up to 40k rides on my mountain bike (brutally undersized, terrible bike) and averaging 22km over that haul, so I can only expect better on a nice new roadie /

What I'm asking all of you, given this scant information, am I completely out of my mind to think that a newb cyclist could do a century 2 months from now? Or is this a reasonable, but challenging goal? Or would I be pathetic if I couldnt do it

Much thanks!
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Old 04-24-08, 02:42 PM   #2
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I am not as experienced as some on here but know enough to say with confidence that it is a perfectly reasonable goal. In fact it is good in that it is probably conservative. assuming you get your bike to fit and eat right with a good training plan you will walk it. ('Walk it' being an English colloquialism for 'find it easy', not walk it as in you wont finish it and have to walk - if you get what I mean )
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Old 04-24-08, 02:56 PM   #3
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Frankly, if you are in decent shape, it won't be bad at all...
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Old 04-24-08, 03:10 PM   #4
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Cool, thanks guys. I actually kinda wished I hadnt asked . I was anticipating this being a nightmare and would thus push myself to train. If I get in my head that its not *that* bad, I might be lax.
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Old 04-24-08, 03:18 PM   #5
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Quite reasonable. I'm doing a century on Saturday, and I've been really slacking! I used to use my commute to add up my miles, but now I work from home, and that "just going out for a bike ride" idea hasn't materialized (i.e., I've been lazy). Nothing like a century to kick start my riding!
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Old 04-24-08, 03:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Phantasie View Post
If it matters, once I set my mind to something, I dont give up
the mental battle can be one of the hardest parts of long-distance cycling, so yeah it matters!!

sounds to me that you should be fine doing the 92-miler, given enough training.

another thing to practice is eating/drinking on the bike. sounds simple, but after 6+ hours of stuffing yourself with [energy bar X] you might get tired of it. but then you're out of energy!

so finding the right foods (for you) on these long rides is definitely something to practice.

good luck!
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Old 04-24-08, 03:48 PM   #7
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I reckon doing it solo wont be easy - I think there is a mental aspect - so I wouldnt be slack. Also i have found both recently, and in the past, that the weather can play a big part.
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Old 04-24-08, 05:49 PM   #8
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Sounds like you're on the right track as far as training goes. Just remember to eat and drink plenty. Like 200-300 calories/hr, and plenty of fluids (sports drinks, not just plain water, due to the risk of hyponatremia). Oh, and make sure you post a ride report afterwards!

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Old 04-24-08, 06:12 PM   #9
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You will find that the change to a better fitting road bike from your current MTB will be an incredible contrast. I would suggest that if you are sustaining 40km at 22km/h right now on the MTB, you will have little trouble doubling that distance at the same average speed on the new bike over the same sort of terrain you are riding now.

Fit, as you have sort of identified, is one of the key factors to successful long-distance riding. Spend some time on your first rides with the Ridley changing the seat position up, down and back and forth, and look critically at your comfort in regards to reach to the handlebars which can translate into hand, arm, shoulder and lower back pain if its not right. You may need to consider a different seat if the stock one on the Ridley starts to cause numbness or chafing after, say, 80km (someitmes they can happen well before then).

Think about your tyre pressures -- while many racers insist on running the narrow tyres at max (upwards of 120psi), consider (a) putting wider tyres -- say 25mm -- on, and (b) running them at the lower end of the recommended pressure scale (I run my 25Cs at 80psi); you won't lose that much in speed, but you will be more comfortable.

mattm has given you the right idea about refuelling and rehydration -- practise the routines until they become habit. Lack of attention to detail here can result in the 80-mile wall becoming a bit higher. It's about 80 miles out of a century that inexperienced riders start to feel bad.

Take your time, too. Despite the assertions of some, you don't have to finish a century in 6 to 6-1/2 hours to be acclaimed as a century rider If you feel that you need a break, or want to take a longer break, do so. A good real-time average to attain on these types of rides is 15km/h, meaning about 10hr45m total time (randonneering average) -- plenty for summertime daylight and therefore no need to carry lighting.

While you have self-recognised a certain lack of self-discipline in training (and I am one of your mob, too), if you do decide to get into a relatively intensive program, make sure you do rest. Rest is one of the essential ingredients often left out of programs as people progress to a major event or ride and ramp up their training. The result can be overtraining syndromes, and your body doesn't have a chance to build strength into the muscles like it should.

So, two months to do a maiden century is not unrealistic at all.
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Old 04-24-08, 07:56 PM   #10
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Rowan - great response, im seeing how important hydration and calories are going to be, so Ill spend time looking into that for sure .

I was considering use my cross tires for this, but I like your idea of a middle side, 25, perhaps 28s. Ill look into this too.

Thanks
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Old 04-28-08, 09:56 PM   #11
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One key question - How much climbing is there on this route? That's a big factor.

A flat century ride (3 or 4 thousand ft of climbing) is relatively easy, particularly for someone like you who's young and in good shape. A century with 10,000 ft of climb is a different matter completely, and requires different kind of preparation.
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Old 04-28-08, 10:22 PM   #12
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Here's my article, written mainly for new century riders: http://www.machka.net/century.htm You might find some of those tips helpful.

Also check out the articles on centuries here: http://www.ultracycling.com/
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Old 04-29-08, 02:00 PM   #13
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Don't know if this helps, but my training for my ride last Sunday was commuting to work 10 miles each way.

I rode my mountain bike in the century since my behind is used to it. Now I can say I did a century on a mtn bike. It will be the last one on a mtn bike .

I stopped at all of the rest stops along the route (about every 20 miles) and that made a huge difference.

If have been riding 40 Km, you should be fine. Ditto on the food part. I figured (on 3 calculators online) that I burned around 6500 calories. I know there was one point where I ran out of gas and had to eat something. Don't wait until then!

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 04-29-08, 11:12 PM   #14
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Can't add much more to what Rowan and others have already contributed on how to go about doing it; sound advice there. I'll add my voice to the amen choir of it's a reasonable goal, given where you're coming from. The more saddle time you get in before the big ride, the more enjoyable experience you'll have.

FWIW, I did my first century a month after taking up road cycling. I did it on a mountain bike. And I did another century the following day, too. Longest ride before knocking that project off was 60 miles. Yeah, I was a bit sore, but I had a tremendous sense of accomplishment. And I bought a road bike the next weekend!
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Old 04-30-08, 10:54 AM   #15
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From personal experience I found it relatively easy to go from doing 20 mile rides (about where the OP is now) to 50 miles rides. However, 50 to 100 was far more difficult. The reasons are that above 50 miles you have to really think about nutrition and not bonking. Riding over 50 miles is a lot more technical and mental, it's not just going out for a few hours close to home. You have to make sure you are hydrated and eating enough, you will be on unfamiliar roads which can be disconcerting and you need to be mentally tough.

So I'd recommend doing at least one 80 or 90 mile ride before you attempt to ride to your friend's house.
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Old 04-30-08, 12:33 PM   #16
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Once again, thanks for the posts all.
Machka - I already found those articles, they are bookmarked ;P
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Old 05-01-08, 09:06 PM   #17
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When you get your road bike go out and try to do a 50-60 mile ride at a moderate pace. By how hard it is you may have a better feel for if it is something you can do in 2 months. However, the younger and better shape you are in the more likely you are to have success in a short training period.
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Old 05-01-08, 09:09 PM   #18
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From personal experience I found it relatively easy to go from doing 20 mile rides (about where the OP is now) to 50 miles rides. However, 50 to 100 was far more difficult. The reasons are that above 50 miles you have to really think about nutrition and not bonking. Riding over 50 miles is a lot more technical and mental, it's not just going out for a few hours close to home. You have to make sure you are hydrated and eating enough, you will be on unfamiliar roads which can be disconcerting and you need to be mentally tough.

So I'd recommend doing at least one 80 or 90 mile ride before you attempt to ride to your friend's house.
This is very true,

You can get yourself into a lot of trouble by bonking hard fifty or sixty miles away from home. Make sure you are prepared with enough food, hydration, money, tools and tire repair stuff.
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Old 05-02-08, 11:25 AM   #19
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I will share with you my personal experience. I'm 33 years old & ordered my first road bike in August with a delivery date in late October. About September, I started running about 4 miles a day, 5 days a week. By the time I picked up my bicycle (Nov 1), I had lost 12 pounds & was in decent shape. My initial goal was to ride my first century (100 miles) on April 6 of this year. So I started last November with a 20 mile ride; then a 25 mile ride with serious climbing & then a 40 mile ride with moderate climbing. So I got a wild hair to take my bicycle with me to the Keys & rode 105 miles in 1 day; just 3 week after getting my bike. Same scenerio; didn't care how long it was going to take me, the goal was just to finish. Mind you, this entire ride was at sea level. I can't say enough about eating & drinking during the ride.

To answer your question; it is very doable. Just take your time, know how to change a flat tire, pay attention to your eating & drinking & have a backup plan (someone who can come get you if you have major problems.) Also, break it up; make it 3 - 33 mile rides. Ride 30 miles, find a gas station & some shade. Take a 15 minute break, eat, drink & then hit another 30 miles. It will go quicker than you can imagine and most of all - enjoy it! It is epic rides like these that will dominate your cycling memories from now on!
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Old 05-02-08, 11:30 AM   #20
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As long as you get on the bike basically everyday and build yourself to 50-80 mile rides, which you can do in about 1.5 months you should be able to achieve your goal. Just get on the bike and ride and let your body decide if it's feasible.
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Old 05-02-08, 11:15 PM   #21
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I might be the only one here with this problem, but I can't stop for to long as my legs tend to freeze up. The longest I can rest or sit around is 10 minutes. What I've found that works for me is to take it down a notch, ride real easy for 10 to 15 minutes then take the pace back up again. I tend to average around 18 mph for a century that I'm not working hard at and I'll take it down to as far as 12 mph for a break. Double century rides I'll force myself to get off the bike and just walk around for a while till I feel like I've recovered some. Now this is what works well for me, I'm not sure if it will for you, but if you notice the riding to become a lot harder after a stop, it maybe you stopped to long.

Pace is the number one factor. Take your 92 miles at a comfortable pace and you'll enjoy the ride and probably come back for more. Go out to hard and bonk and you'll probably swear of road riding for good.
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Old 05-03-08, 05:12 PM   #22
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If you're in good shape, and the bike is comfortable, you could likely do it right now. If you're overweight or completely out of shape, or have a thousand hills to go over, probably not. The wind can be a big factor, too, so if you just happen to have a 30mph headwind all the way, that's a world of difference.

Farthest I've been is 66 miles. But one problem there was that I needed to be done in a reasonable time. If you're just going from point A to point B and you can take all day, that takes a lot of pressure off, lets you stop and rest more often and longer, etc.

Definitely try some rides that are pretty long before then just so you don't discover your seat gets unbearable after 2 hours or something like that.
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