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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 08-31-09, 07:23 AM   #1
JunkYardBike
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First (and last) Century

Completed my first century yesterday. I've been wanting to attempt one for a couple years, and now my curiousity is thoroughly satisfied. I've decided the whole lot of you are nuts, in a good way of course. I can't even imagine the pain and suffering that you who ride brevet series and double centuries endure. My hats off to you. Granted, I didn't have the greatest training under my belt for this ride, but I was as prepared as I'll ever be.

The route took me to the monument at High Point, NJ, the highest elevation in the state at 1803 feet. Overall, there was probably about 5000 feet of climbing, mostly in the first half. I'm glad I planned a flattish return trip, because at about mile 70 I began experiencing severe cramping. I was fully hydrated and was eating plenty, but I think I had reached the limit of my muscles' training. It was a tough, tough last 30 miles.

I will say the trip there was very nice, through very low traffic, scenic countryside, excepting the mile or so of milled pavement awaiting new asphalt. For those with a 'television expertise' of New Jersey, you'd be surprised at how much of the state is rural and forested.

I completed the ride on a new to me Giant OCR2 which I had ridden only 5 miles previous to this ride to get it dialed in. It performed wonderfully. If only I could say the same of my legs!

Took about 9 hours total, probably 8 of them on the bike.

Here's the route for those interested: http://www.mapmyride.com/route/us/nj...25167383815684

Oh yeah, I don't have a cyclo-computer, so I relied on the mileage provided by the original route I plotted. However, we deviated a bit from it, so when I came home and plotted the actual route (thank god I did!) I found that I was 1.05 miles short. So out I went to ride 2 more miles in the neighborhood for good measure. Then I remembered we took a wrong turn that I am sure was longer than 1.05 miles. So, I think I'm covered.

Here are some photos:

Ride buddy passing one of the many, many barns en route:



Obligatory cow photo:



Another farm:



Approaching the monument:



Proof that I made it to the monument:



It's possible to climb the stairs to the top. Yeah right!





One view from the base of the monmument (hey, views like this are a big deal in NJ!):



The rig on an I-80 overpass, almost home:

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Old 08-31-09, 07:52 AM   #2
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Looks like a great ride and it sounds like you had fun.Why would this be your last century?With a nice ride like that I would figure you would be eager for more.
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Old 08-31-09, 08:02 AM   #3
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First, congrats on the ride. You've finished something most people will not even attempt.

Never say never. I, too, finished my first century in 1991 only to say I would never do that again. I was naive and didn't fully realize what I was getting into, thinking it wouldn't be much different then the 40 mile rides I had been doing up to the century. 17 years later took up road cycling again, got a bike that fit me, followed a training schedule for a century, and ever since I love doing centuries. For 2009 I have taken the century a month challenge and have ridden up to 4 centuries a month as time permits.

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I've decided the whole lot of you are nuts, ... Granted, I didn't have the greatest training under my belt for this ride, but I was as prepared as I'll ever be. ... I completed the ride on a new to me Giant OCR2 which I had ridden only 5 miles previous to this ride to get it dialed in.
Ummm, you're nuts! It doesn't sound to me like you trained very well for this ride. Things you could have done differently to prepare would have been to find a century training schedule and stick to it (takes about 10 weeks of riding 4-6 times per week, slowly building milage). Also, no way can you fit a new bike in ONLY 5 MILES OF RIDING! It takes me about 2 months of riding before I can get a new bike fitted to me properly, by adjusting saddle height/position, change stem length/angle, pedal/cleat placement, brifter placement on handlebars, handlebar angle -- there's a lot of fine tuning to be done and that can be done. You'll be surprised at how much a difference minor things make on a ride. One issue I had related to foot pain was shoes that were not loose enough. On long rides one's feet swell. I would have foot pain because my shoes that fit fine for short rides were suddenly too tight. Took me a while to figure that one out, and even though I read about it on the net, for the longest time I didn't think that could be my problem. I bought new, larger sized shoes, and problem solved.

So if you have the desire to ride long distances, and are willing to learn and make some modifications, you may just get hooked for a lifetime.
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Old 08-31-09, 08:06 AM   #4
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Looks like a great ride and it sounds like you had fun.Why would this be your last century?With a nice ride like that I would figure you would be eager for more.
I do enjoy rides of 50-60 miles, but that seems to be my limit. I've done rides between 70-90 miles, and I always seem to suffer after 60 miles. I just don't find much enjoyment in physical suffering or pushing my body to the limits. I know some do, and that's fine. And I know more training and longer rides would likely alleviate the problem, but I'm a bit limited with time. It is possible I could enjoy longer rides if I were to ride at a very slow pace, but I'd likely still be out there!
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Old 08-31-09, 08:14 AM   #5
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Great pics and thanks for sharing.

Rides longer than 3 hours are all about bike fit, hydration and nutrition. Once a rider solves those issues, Century rides are kinda fun!

Cheers,

Michael
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Old 08-31-09, 08:17 AM   #6
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Never say never.
Yeah, it's probably like giving birth. I'm going to forget about the pain and make the stupid decision to try another.

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Ummm, you're nuts! It doesn't sound to me like you trained very well for this ride. Things you could have done differently to prepare would have been to find a century training schedule and stick to it (takes about 10 weeks of riding 4-6 times per week, slowly building milage). Also, no way can you fit a new bike in ONLY 5 MILES OF RIDING! It takes me about 2 months of riding before I can get a new bike fitted to me properly, by adjusting saddle height/position, change stem length/angle, pedal/cleat placement, brifter placement on handlebars, handlebar angle -- there's a lot of fine tuning to be done and that can be done.
You're right, but I just don't have the time for that kind of training. As per the fit, I have other bikes and I have a pretty good sense of my fit. But I wasn't about to take my 30+ lbs steel Trek on this ride, like my ride buddy (who, incidentally, rides circles around me). I had some soreness in my shoulders and neck, but I always get that on long rides, and of course some saddle soreness, but nothing bad. The significant pain was in my legs which were in full protest mode.

I am a bit perplexed by the cramping, because even on a couple 80-90 mile rides for which I was less prepared, I experienced significant muscle fatigue but never the severe cramping. This has only occured recently, even on shorter rides, despite an improvement in my hydration and nutrition (higher caloric intake, sodium replacement, potassium replacement).
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Old 08-31-09, 09:37 AM   #7
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Yeah, it's probably like giving birth. I'm going to forget about the pain and make the stupid decision to try another.



You're right, but I just don't have the time for that kind of training. As per the fit, I have other bikes and I have a pretty good sense of my fit. But I wasn't about to take my 30+ lbs steel Trek on this ride, like my ride buddy (who, incidentally, rides circles around me). I had some soreness in my shoulders and neck, but I always get that on long rides, and of course some saddle soreness, but nothing bad. The significant pain was in my legs which were in full protest mode.

I am a bit perplexed by the cramping, because even on a couple 80-90 mile rides for which I was less prepared, I experienced significant muscle fatigue but never the severe cramping. This has only occured recently, even on shorter rides, despite an improvement in my hydration and nutrition (higher caloric intake, sodium replacement, potassium replacement).
Gearing, foot placement, pedaling technique, riding position, hydration and nutrition are all potential factors. One thing I have also noticed though is that if I ride near my limit on climbs, I have similar problems. Taking it easy on climbs makes a pretty big difference - at least to me.
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Old 08-31-09, 09:40 AM   #8
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Pain and suffering? I must be doing something wrong - haven't had any of that since I quit racing.

As one other poster said, it IS a good idea to put more than 5 miles in on a new bike before doing a big ride. That may well be a big part of the problems you experienced. The ol' bod needs time to get used to something new, like a new bike.

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Old 08-31-09, 10:39 AM   #9
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I'm 99% certain it wasn't bike fit. I was fine for 60 miles, then I hit a wall when muscle fatigue then cramps set in. I think part of the reason I prefer shorter, more enjoyable rides is that I don't want to work on my pedaling technique, fiddle with my foot position and create gearing charts. I just want to ride and enjoy it. My unscientific fit was close enough that I have no pain today, and I really didn't have any pain yesterday...just the pain of the cramps and muscle fatigue. I don't care how fit or dialed in my bike is, 8 hours in the saddle is gonna make me suffer to some degree (okay, yeah, if I'm more fit I can do it in 5). Sitting in a car for a 4 hour drive induces pain and suffering. Maybe I'm just a wimp!
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Old 08-31-09, 11:22 AM   #10
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JunkYard, it seems to me you want to be able to do centuries and enjoy them. If so, just keep riding, making some of your shorter rides a harder effort, and make sure to get in some longer distance days, and the endurance will come. You can't expect your first foray into long distance to be just like a ten mile ride. Maybe next year I'll see your name on the century-a-month thread.
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Old 08-31-09, 01:16 PM   #11
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I'm not too convienced that fit is all of your problem here. Muscle fatigue and especially cramps are often a result of a lack of potassium, electrolytes etc. How were you replacing your electrolytes? Were you drinking enough? Based on your post I'd say no. I suggest you look into something like E-Caps or a similar product before you do another long ride.
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Old 08-31-09, 01:36 PM   #12
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I'm not too convienced that fit is all of your problem here. Muscle fatigue and especially cramps are often a result of a lack of potassium, electrolytes etc. How were you replacing your electrolytes? Were you drinking enough? Based on your post I'd say no. I suggest you look into something like E-Caps or a similar product before you do another long ride.
+1
I had the same issue over 90 miles--tho' it had shades of the bataan death march at times, the real problem was when I started to cramp @ mile 75. (65 miles for me was not a problem). A banana and a snickers bar and more gatorade fixed it. Next time I will try to bring some salt tablets or some similar electrolyte pills with me. It seemed like every time I wanted to get up to cruising speed my legs would start to seize.

The time doesn't matter. You rode a hundred miles in a day. Congratulations.
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Old 08-31-09, 01:56 PM   #13
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You'll be back.

In the meantime, use the "feedback" you got from this ride to tweak bike fit, nutrition, hydration, etc. so next time is more fun.

Thanks for pics. Nice.
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Old 08-31-09, 02:18 PM   #14
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I completed the ride on a new to me Giant OCR2 which I had ridden only 5 miles previous to this ride to get it dialed in.
Heh heh

I'm just guessing but...

The bike may 'fit' but your positioning is probably different from that which you have 'trained', enough so as to tax a different 'less-trained' muscle group to cramping. If previous 60's are trouble free then I don't see how a century would be if you adjust your pace, hydration, and nutrition.
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Old 08-31-09, 02:44 PM   #15
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I'm not too convienced that fit is all of your problem here. Muscle fatigue and especially cramps are often a result of a lack of potassium, electrolytes etc. How were you replacing your electrolytes? Were you drinking enough? Based on your post I'd say no. I suggest you look into something like E-Caps or a similar product before you do another long ride.
I did drink plenty, and mostly 'original' gatorade (though I hate the chalky feeling it gives my mouth) as I could have stopped every 30 minutes for a bathroom break. I drank 7 20 fl oz bottles of gatorade and 3 20 fl oz bottles of water. I hydrated the previous two days until I was pissing clear water every hour, ate oatmeal and 1 banana pre-ride along with 40 oz of water; one Larabar and another salty peanut bar until the midway point; a turkey/ham/cheese sandwich and a banana for lunch; salted almonds, trail mix and a snickers bar the next two hours; and some more trail mix and salted almonds about an hour later. I drank consistently throughout.

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The bike may 'fit' but your positioning is probably different from that which you have 'trained', enough so as to tax a different 'less-trained' muscle group to cramping. If previous 60's are trouble free then I don't see how a century would be if you adjust your pace, hydration, and nutrition.
This is legitimate, but I like riding my various junkers! I have to say, though, I've recently experienced the cramping even on bikes I've ridden for distances in the past without the same problem.

I have been reading up on cramping, however, and I might try some electrolyte supplement when I ride longer distances.
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Old 08-31-09, 03:09 PM   #16
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I have to say, though, I've recently experienced the cramping even on bikes I've ridden for distances in the past without the same problem.
Hey, I think I got it now!

If you weren't cramping on previous 60's and your other 'junkers' and it's not for the lack of training and your hydration/nutrition looks OK to me, then it has to be your riding buddy!

Just have him slow up a bit or drop you behind the horizon. Problem solved.

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Old 08-31-09, 03:18 PM   #17
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Okay, to backtrack a bit on what I said about fit , you can see two bikes in the pic. The one on the left is my friend's vintage Trek 'sport touring' geometry, which is exactly the geometry I've ridden in the past. You can see the newer Giant has a steeper seat tube angle. On the two vintage frames I've ridden with relaxed seat tubes, I've always felt too far back on the pedal spindles, like my calves were doing all the work. I 'feel' better on the Giant, because I feel my thighs do more work, and that I have more power in my thighs (I've got more of a sprinter's build in my legs if that makes sense). So, yes, I was cramping in my thighs, which has only happened recently.

I suppose I should also confess that most of my riding recently has been on a couple other steel 'road race' geometry bikes with steeper seat tubes, because they are lighter and climb better than my 'rando built' bikes. I tend to ride in higher gears on these, and even stand out of the saddle, using more of my thigh muscles.

So, this does lend credence to the idea that the fit is exercising muscle groups that are untrained.

However, I was also cramping in my toes, my back and my abdomen, which suggests more nutrition as well as fit.

This is so complicated. Can't I just ride?
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Old 08-31-09, 03:22 PM   #18
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Hey, I think I got it now!

If you weren't cramping on previous 60's and your other 'junkers' and it's not for the lack of training and your hydration/nutrition looks OK to me, then it has to be your riding buddy!

Just have him slow up a bit or drop you behind the horizon. Problem solved.

Ha ha! Well, I've revised my thinking a bit. But yes, he did drop me at about mile 70, without even telling me. Never saw him again! Ha! I think his strategy was to ride easy the first half, then pick up the pace the second. The initial pace was fine for me - it was moderate and I never pushed myself too hard.
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Old 08-31-09, 03:24 PM   #19
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Hey, I think I got it now!

If you weren't cramping on previous 60's and your other 'junkers' and it's not for the lack of training and your hydration/nutrition looks OK to me, then it has to be your riding buddy!

Just have him slow up a bit or drop you behind the horizon. Problem solved.

I'm not certain how seriously this was intended to be, but I suspect there may be something to this. If you rode beyond your body's comfort level early in the ride, you'll have fatigued your muscles, and for all the hydration and electrolyte replacement you pump in, you're not going to be able to catch up to the needs of your muscles. The ultimate result - cramping after a few hours on the bike. The fatigue could be due to pushing too hard, or using muscles that aren't used to the level of effort (possibly due to position differences and not having built up to the distance).
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Old 08-31-09, 03:30 PM   #20
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There's no law against "knowing when to say when." Long rides are an acquired taste.

There are many activities in life that can cause quite a bit of pain and suffering if not pursued in moderation. Doesn't matter if its playing three rounds of golf in a weekend or riding a bike for 100 miles at a time - all kinds of things can cause that familiar "too much of a good thing" crash.

You're way ahead of most of the crowd if you already realize that you're going to ride when, where and how far based on your own experiences and not some one else's idea of what makes a "great" bike ride. Good for you.
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Old 08-31-09, 04:21 PM   #21
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Can't I just ride?
No.

Finish eating your vegetables, clear the table, do your homework, then you can go play with your bikes.
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Old 08-31-09, 07:30 PM   #22
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You get off the bike and say "Never again!" A couple of days later, you start thinking "You know, that wasn't so bad." Before long, you're ready to try another. Hang in there.

If it's a major challenge for you, try a flatter course next time. If you're just riding around on your own route, take your time, and that can make it a bit better. No law that says you can't stop for lunch halfway through and all.
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Old 09-01-09, 04:12 AM   #23
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"First (and last) Century"

That's what I said too, after my first century in 1994. I've now done more than 130 of them ... or even longer rides.
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Old 09-01-09, 09:44 AM   #24
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You messed up the obligatory cow photo . . . the cow must be looking at you like "Dood, what are you doing to yourself?"

Try a group event next time, they are A LOT easier than unsupported century rides.
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Old 09-01-09, 07:43 PM   #25
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You messed up the obligatory cow photo . . . the cow must be looking at you like "Dood, what are you doing to yourself?"
Well, then, this one must think I'm an ...

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