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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 05-28-10, 11:38 AM   #1
Standalone 
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Essential upgrades to an old bike for a century?

My Panasonic DX-2000 has a nice shimano 105/700c wolber alpine rim with up front an old 20mm racing tire.

Back wheel is a recent replacement 27" 6 speed. 126mm hub.

I recently removed the pipe-clamped bottle cage since I carry a messenger bag most places.

I'm sure I could ride pretty much whatever on a supported century like I'm planning on attempting, but I feel strong after a year and a half of serious commuting, and I'd like to test myself against the other riders out there.

I'm not really interested in spending much more than $200 on this $40 bike, but spd pedals and shoes will run close to that alone.

Any help in prioritizing?
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Old 05-28-10, 11:45 AM   #2
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What gearing is on the bike? Does the bike need basic maintenance?
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Old 05-28-10, 12:00 PM   #3
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I know people that ride everything from a 200k up to 1200k's in sandals on platform pedals, so that you can leave alone. You probably need at least 2 water bottles. I think you will hate yourself if you use a messenger bag for that purpose.
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Old 05-28-10, 12:03 PM   #4
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If you're not overly heavy, I'd probably get a new pair of decent 23mm tires (heavier riders I'd recommend 25-28s) new tubes and a spare tube. tools, emergency repair stuff (patch kit, spoke wrench, multitool, pump/CO2, quick link for the chain).

Even on a supported ride, you'll want to carry water (or some other fluid, I like Gatorade), usually at least two bottles or a Camelback.

I like toeclips, the wide MTB type works well with sandals.

Check the bike, replace cables, brake pads as needed. Repack hubs, bottom bracket, headset as needed (or just for the hell of it if it hasn't been done in a while).

Basically if the bike (and rider) is in good shape, take some emergency supplies and water and energy bars and you'll be good to go.
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Old 05-28-10, 12:04 PM   #5
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If the tire is "old", I'd consider a new tire. Maybe check for chain stretch. Otherwise, if everything works, you're good to go. Personally, I'd put a rack or bottle cages on it just so I didn't have to carry a bag all day.

You don't normally test yourself against other riders on a century. There will be people averaging 20 mph and other people averaging 10 mph so it doesn't tell you much.
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Old 05-28-10, 05:30 PM   #6
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Just back from ordering a wheel build on a used 7 sp cassette hub with a new rim. Cost about $130 incl. labor. Going to get new 23's, too.

Think I'll spring for spd's, though-- I want to access those other muscles.

Still thinking about water bottle placement-- I'll take the advice of putting two on. And yeah, I definitely wasn't thinking of taking the mess bag on the ride.

And as for testing myself, I just want to get out there and see where I fit in that 20mph avg / 10mph avg spectrum. When I was 12, it was the lower end. I want to see if I can be up with the faster men and women this time around.

Edit: and yes, the bike's in good repair. Recent repack of the front hub, and I degrease and triflow every so often. It's definitely in the beater category, and might use a good re-pack of the BB... otherwise everything's fine. I regularly ride it averaging 17-18 in heavy rush hour urban traffic, stoplights included.
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Old 05-28-10, 06:50 PM   #7
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It sounds like you have upgraded what is necessary. However, you don't mention the type of terrain you will be encountering, and the gearing of the bike (which another poster did ask about). In a group ride, good brakes might also be essential.

My main concern, however, is whether you are adopting the right strategy for a first century. I have this feeling from your last post that you will go out hard and fast, but by the 80-mile mark you will be so toasted you won't finish.

One of the essential mental prerequisites on any long-distance ride is to determine that you are going to ride your own ride. The UMCA website used to have an article (and maybe still does) about rabbits and the various ways to cook them. It's worth a read simply for determining where you stand.

My advice is that once you have the bike set-up settled, go out and ride some distance on it (not necessarily 100 miles, but 60 or 70). You also haven't mentioned saddle, and the distances you actually ride in commuting. A saddle can feel dandy for 30 miles, but get to 60 or 70, and bike fit along with the saddle can become a nightmare.

Oh yeah, I don't do big rides. I don't trust the other riders around me to keep me safe. If I am on a big randonnee, I will drop off the back for that reason... and even on the last PBP, there were riders going down ahead of us.

Solo commuting won't give you any skills in anticipation and keeping an eye on what's going on around you. If you get into a group, have a look at how the other riders are behaving... if they seem organised, you might be OK, but then you are the odd person out and a risk to them. If they are erratic, avoid them like the plague.

Don't get lulled into the false sense of security a paceline of even three or four will produce -- you must keep an eye on what is ahead of the paceline, not the wheel directly in front of you. Apart from anything else, I find pacelines or groups detract from any nice scenery along the way.

Riding in groups and especially those that are faster riders than you are normally, also carries the risk that your energy and fluid intakes are substantially ignored (at your peril) because you (a) are concentrating so hard on keeping a line and the right distance away from the guy in front of you and (b) you won't have the co-ordination to keep a line while you reach down and get a bottle or undo a bar/gel pack.

If you do want to refuel/rehydrate, do it at the back of the pack -- which means you run the risk of getting dropped off. Otherwise, practise your refuellling/rehydration routines until you know you can keep a line and maintain the pace.
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Old 05-29-10, 07:26 AM   #8
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Thanks, Rowan

The group riding aspect is a whole other ball of wax-- I have no real experience in that. But the commute I do is some pretty hardcore urban jungle I-95 corridor/rough neighborhood stuff. I'm pretty keyed in to what's going on around me.

I plan on being at the back of any pack in general. And when I say "test" myself against other riders, I don't mean that I'm out there to push myself over the limit. I just want to get out there with other riders on a serious ride and see how I do. It might mean that I'm moseying along and just staying out of everyone's way for eight hours. Who knows.

I do a New Haven to Bridgeport commute. 16 miles each way by bike, or 10 miles r/t when combining bike and train. Most days I do the bike/train route, but skip the train and do the ride home twice a week. Two other times a week, I get off the train seven miles early, load a 40 pound kid onto a kiddie seat, and ride home that way. One or two other days a week, I follow that commute up with a 14 mile R/T ride to church for evening commitments there.

So I'm getting in something like 50-80+ miles in a week, mostly on a 26" folder running 2.1's. I also teach all day in a rough urban high school, so I'm on my feet and very focused and working hard teaching English all day in between rides.

I always have a messenger bag on me with coffee thermos, 1L nalgene, Lunch, pants/shirt/tie/socks, and tools. I'm hoping for the Harrison Bergeron effect when I take off the weight.

I have the same concerns as you-- that I'll be going hard for 80 and wind up a DNF-- but I plan on taking it easy enough that this will not happen. Some old tendinitis in my knee is probably going to be the main issue.

I'll be doing some reading and searching on refueling and rehydrating routines and techniques so that I can best do them in the context of group riding.

Or maybe I'll just get out there and be one of the slow guys!

I've officially registered now, so in for a penny, in for a pound I guess!
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Old 06-01-10, 04:41 PM   #9
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I've officially registered now, so in for a penny, in for a pound I guess!
Which century? Hilly or flat?
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Old 06-01-10, 10:59 PM   #10
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Rowan hit it. According to several books on long distance riding, for your first century it is VERY important that you ride at YOUR pace if you plan to finish. After all it is a century ride, not a time trial.
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Old 06-02-10, 08:13 AM   #11
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Which century? Hilly or flat?
ha, well, I don't know. I registered for Elm City Cycling's century. They've only published the shortest of the routes so far (which is pretty much exactly a combination of the ride I do to work and the ride I do to church.)

http://www.elmcitycycling.org/newhavencentury/

The MS150's I used to do as a kid were in flat Delaware. And I mean Edwin Abbott Abbott flat.

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Rowan hit it. According to several books on long distance riding, for your first century it is VERY important that you ride at YOUR pace if you plan to finish. After all it is a century ride, not a time trial.
I know, I know. It's more like my third, after a 20 year hiatus. I guess I do need to hear these voices of reason when I find myself in a group that's above my level. I definitely don't want to toodle at 13mph all day long, though.

It's hard for me to know what my pace really is since most of my road riding over the winter was done at night with an unlit computer, and my commute is on a folder. Guess I have 3.5 weeks to figure it out!

Rowan-- I don't know what gearing I'm going to wind up with. The guy building up a wheel for me asked this: "so I should put on the widest range, cheapest cassette on here for you?" To which I replied that I was pretty much always in the big ring on my hybrid and commuter (carrying 20# or more in a mess bag and a kid), and could stand to have something a bit taller than the 6 speed freewheel that is being replaced. Since this is a budget project with a 126mm spacing, it's being built on a 7 speed hub.

I'll go to the calculator on the Sheldon Brown site when I get the bike back and take a look at the chart. And more importantly, see how the bike feels.

As far as finding a fast paceline-- my gear is going to hold me back from that-- I'm a steady rider, but I don't think that I can maintain the line that STI equipped bikes can when I have to be working the downtube shifters. But then I've never had anything but DT friction shift road bikes, so I might be selling myself short.
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Old 06-02-10, 08:45 AM   #12
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My commuter "training" schedule, FYI. Any particular week is some combination of these two. I don't think I have ever done all the rides indicated-- never done both the full ride home and the meeting on Mondays, for instance.

Heavy week (max 110 miles/week):
Monday:

AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
16+ miles home
DEACONATE MEETING (1x/month):
15 miles r/t
Tuesday:
AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
1.5 to train
7.5 Daycare to Home w/3 year old + hills
Wednesday:
AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
1.5 to train
3.5 to home

-or 16 miles home-

CHURCH CHOIR:
15 miles r/t
Thursday:AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
1.5 to train
7.5 Daycare to Home w/3 year old + hills
Friday:
AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
16+ miles home

Light Week (53-73 miles/week):Monday:AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
1.5 to train
3.5 to home
Tuesday:AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
1.5 to train
7.5 Daycare to Home w/3 year old + hills

--or drive if weather is to be bad or under 40deg F for ride home w/ kid--

Wednesday:AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
16+ miles home
CHURCH CHOIR:
15 miles r/t
Thursday:AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
1.5 to train
7.5 Daycare to Home w/3 year old + hills

--or drive if weather is to be bad or under 40deg F for ride home w/ kid--

Friday:AM COMMUTE
3.5 to train
1.5 to work
PM COMMUTE
1.5 to train
3.5 to home


Wow. that's the first time I've typed it up and added it all up.
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Old 06-04-10, 01:19 AM   #13
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ha, well, I don't know. I registered for Elm City Cycling's century. They've only published the shortest of the routes so far (which is pretty much exactly a combination of the ride I do to work and the ride I do to church.)

http://www.elmcitycycling.org/newhavencentury/

The MS150's I used to do as a kid were in flat Delaware. And I mean Edwin Abbott Abbott flat.

I know, I know. It's more like my third, after a 20 year hiatus. I guess I do need to hear these voices of reason when I find myself in a group that's above my level. I definitely don't want to toodle at 13mph all day long, though.

It's hard for me to know what my pace really is since most of my road riding over the winter was done at night with an unlit computer, and my commute is on a folder. Guess I have 3.5 weeks to figure it out!

Rowan-- I don't know what gearing I'm going to wind up with. The guy building up a wheel for me asked this: "so I should put on the widest range, cheapest cassette on here for you?" To which I replied that I was pretty much always in the big ring on my hybrid and commuter (carrying 20# or more in a mess bag and a kid), and could stand to have something a bit taller than the 6 speed freewheel that is being replaced. Since this is a budget project with a 126mm spacing, it's being built on a 7 speed hub.

I'll go to the calculator on the Sheldon Brown site when I get the bike back and take a look at the chart. And more importantly, see how the bike feels.

As far as finding a fast paceline-- my gear is going to hold me back from that-- I'm a steady rider, but I don't think that I can maintain the line that STI equipped bikes can when I have to be working the downtube shifters. But then I've never had anything but DT friction shift road bikes, so I might be selling myself short.
You should be fine with a reasonably wide range cassette. If it is in fact a cassette (as opposed to a spin-on freewheel cluster), then try to get an 11T cog on there.

I never found a DT shifter to be any hindrance to riding in a paceline. I don't think you will, either. It's all a matter of keeping up your concentration. The issues come with having to "look" for things like water bottles and food in a bar bag or out of your messenger or back bag.
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Old 06-04-10, 04:56 AM   #14
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Your gearing should stop you from riding with a group. You'll probably shift less often than the others, but you probably don't have single-tooth differentials between so many of your cogs either, so it's only logical. This isn't a race; while having your shifters at your fingertips makes a big difference in your ability to react to attacks or sprints in a split second, it's not nearly such a big deal when it comes with just hanging with a loose group on a century ride. Gearing is not such a huge deal; if you're used to what you've got, it will probably be fine unless you encounter something really extreme in terms of terrain. Plenty of people do centuries and longer with singlespeeds and fixed gears and still manage to hang with groups.
Just make sure that you can either hold your line when reaching for your shifters, or if you can't, then give yourself a little extra space when you need to shift. (And you may very well find that lots of people you encounter in groups on organized centuries can't even hold their line while shifting their STI's, or scratching their chin or looking at the guy next to them or riding over slight bumps... or riding straight ahead on flat ground with good pavement.... just to give you fair warning)
In any case, I suspect that the biggest performance increase you'll get from any of this stuff is going to come from clipless pedals and shoes. That really does make a huge difference over platforms.

It sounds like you've got the miles, a rough idea of how to pace yourself, and you know better than to start out full throttle; so as long as you make sure you keep eating and drinking and getting some salt if it's hot, you'll do fine. If you start to feel exhausted, discouraged, weak, and generally cruddy, don't call it quits before you sit down and get some calories into you. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel once you get some fuel back into the motor.
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Old 06-04-10, 08:02 AM   #15
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thanks, coluber. I'll interpret "should" as "shouldn't..." :-)

and that's what I want to get out there for-- just to get out there in a loose group like you describe. My week is too busy for Evening or Weekend AM club rides, so this kind of LD ride is the only way I can get in a decent amount of riding in with other folks.
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Old 06-04-10, 08:24 AM   #16
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It sounds like you've got the miles, a rough idea of how to pace yourself, and you know better than to start out full throttle; so as long as you make sure you keep eating and drinking and getting some salt if it's hot, you'll do fine. If you start to feel exhausted, discouraged, weak, and generally cruddy, don't call it quits before you sit down and get some calories into you. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel once you get some fuel back into the motor.
Salt is such a big one. When it's hot it isn't necessarily something you think of, even if you know you should, but I've definitely felt totally sapped on long rides only to find that all I needed was some Gatorade or a bag of chips. I try to make a habit of chomping salted peanuts or almonds on long rides; replaces what you sweat out and keeps you drinking water to boot.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:55 AM   #17
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Yeah, "shouldn't" is what I meant.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:16 AM   #18
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Thanks for the advice -- now I've got a bike I *love.* Mitch at Devil's Gear built me a wheel on the cheap around a nice but used hub and a new 7 speed cassette.

I might want to switch out the cassette for some closer and taller spacing. Today's 16 mile commute was the first long ride I've done, and I definitely felt that it would be more efficient with closer spacing. I'm still going up the big hills in the big ring for the most part, and that's with 25 pounds of coffee water lunch tools and clothes on my back. I still have to count the teeth up and run a calculator on it to see what's up.

It's running 23mm Schwalkbe blizzard tires and I sprung for a new set of clipless pedals (the shimano spd/platform 530's) and shoes. I have a long zefal frame pump on order. The turkey wing saftey levers are gone, and I'm adding bottle cages this week.

I'm glad I sunk some money into this $40 butted tange steel beater bike. It's light enough and more importantly, fits me like a glove and suits me to a T. Pics to follow tonight.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:53 AM   #19
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About this time next year - you'll be on a new bike! There's no stopping now - in a month or two you'll realize the limitations of old technology and realize how all new gear will benefit your cycling....
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Old 06-14-10, 09:51 AM   #20
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nah, certified retro grouch here! besides, this way I can always have an excuse for being slower than the fancy-gear set.

not that I'd mind a new bike...
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Old 06-14-10, 09:06 PM   #21
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photos. it goes fast now. I put 47 miles on it today, and was still rocking out 25mph+ on the flats. First day in clipless pedals. Awesome.
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Old 06-27-10, 01:39 PM   #22
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thanks everyone. 6h10, 104 miles, plus 10 miles of riding to and from the start. 4300' climbing. Got lost or turned around three times. No real paceline time, maybe 6 or 7 miles. They weren't giving times or anything, but only two people passed me, one at mile 92, the other at 94. I started 20 minutes into the rolling start, but the sponsoring shop owner who trued my wheel at mile 50 said that I was the first one through. I think about 100 of the registrants went for the full century. I figure I probably wound up in the top 10, but maybe I'm being wishful.

started bonking at mile 82 as some predicted, but the bag of salt & cracked pepper potato chips re-started the engine pretty well.
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Old 06-29-10, 01:39 AM   #23
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Great job, dude. Your bike looks awesome!
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Old 07-03-10, 11:05 AM   #24
Standalone 
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thanks. it was hard to really know how I did in comparison to other riders on this ride. I now hope to do my first race before the end of summer.
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Old 07-06-10, 02:05 PM   #25
dansoldit
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Bikes: 1975 Schwinn Super LeTour Steel Frame, Re-Built with all Dura-Ace Components and Bontrager Race-Light Rims.
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Good job on the ride! I have a 1975 Schwinn I re-built a few years ago. I rode it 1800 mi from Denver to Michigan. I have tried to lighten it up any way I can. Carbon bottle cages, race light rims, all Dura Ace components. It rode like a dream across country. Steel is Real!
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