Hydration ... aim for one 750 ml bottle of water and/or sports drink and/or other beverages every 1 to 1.5 hours. This will depend on heat, wind, effort etc.
So, what I usually do is to drink a tall glass of water, fruit juice, or even diet coke before the ride. Then I carry two 1-litre bottles of water which I sip while riding. When I stop for a break at a rest stop or convenience store, I'll get a 500-600 ml bottle of fruit juice, coke, iced tea, or whatever appeals to me (or a large cup of whatever is provided at the rest stop), and drink it all then and there. Slowly. I don't gulp it down, and while I'm drinking I'm trying to eat salty snacks.
Incidentally, this brings up a small rant about supported events. Quite often I've rolled into a rest stop with the idea in mind that I will fill at least one of my 1-litre bottles with water, and drink 500-600 litres of sports drink or fruit juice or whatever they have there ... but they don't have enough for me and for the 6 other people standing there to do the same thing. It's like they expect we're all going to take maybe 500 ml of water or less ... not 1.5 l or more. Even if organised events can't calculate the food properly, they should have ample liquid for the cyclists.
When I finish, I'll drink another 500-600 ml of water, fruit juice, iced tea, coke or whatever as soon as I'm done.
Food - no, a banana every 30 miles was probably not enough. Nowhere near enough.
Aim for 200-300 calories per hour right from the beginning of the ride.
A banana runs about 80 calories. 3 bananas would have provided you with enough calories for about an hour. Of course, you would have had about 2000 calories stored in your liver and muscles if you had been eating well the week before, and you would have likely eaten breakfast, so that would have helped you get through, but you would have been pretty depleted by the end.
Have approx. 500 calories for breakfast (more if you can stomach it), then carry some good quality granola bars or cookies (oatmeal raisin are good) with you, and nibble them while you ride. Take a bite ... wait 10 minutes or so ... take a bite ... and repeat. I find a bento bag works really well for this purpose.
When you stop, a banana is a good choice, but have some salty snacks with the banana. Go for potato chips, pretzels, pickles, salted almonds, etc. The banana will provide you with potassium, but you also need salt as the slightly more important electrolyte.
During your first few centuries or longer rides, aim to eat quite a bit. As you get fitter and more used to long distance rides, you may be able to cut down on the amount you are eating. But have the food with you so that if you run into trouble (i.e. a stiff headwind between rest stops that saps your energy and slows you down), you have a cookie or something with you to eat and give you a bit of extra energy.
On many of the centuries Rowan and I have done as a part of the Century-A-Month challenge, we stop at about the halfway point and have a meal ... it might be McDonalds or Subway or whatever happens to be in the town we're in at that point. But it will be something full of calories and salt. And it will get us a couple hours down the road with quite a bit of energy.
One of the best organised centuries I've done provides a 6-inch sub from Subway at the halfway point, plus 3 cookies to carry with you, plus a small bag of potato chips, plus enough water or other drinks so that you can fill your bottles and drink lots. Andt then they provide all sorts of fruit and a few other snacks along the way as well. More organised centuries should take notes from that one.
And yes ... throwing a few more 70+ mile rides into the mix will help. Riding longer distances in preparation for even longer distances does more than just train your muscles. It helps you determine if there are fit issues with the bicycle and helps you sort out your nutrition, determining what works and what doesn't work.
Also, someone asked me once how to make a 100 mile ride easier, and my response was ... "Ride a double century". But even doing a 200K (125 miles) one month, and then doing a century the following month can make that century seem a bit easier.
It's also important to get the angle of the saddle right - if the nose is too high it will tend to cause you to crush your testicles into it as you lean forward for the bars; if the nose is too low you'll tend to slide forward on the saddle, putting your weight on the narrow section. A tiny change can make a huge difference - a while back I was aware I had to keep sliding myself back on the saddle so I raised the nose by a little over 1/4" and found it was too much, I had to take it down a little.
Also consider what clothing you're wearing. I only started wearing cycling shorts fairly recently - my first ever century was on a mountain bike with regular clothing, platform pedals and regular training shoes. But I had worked out that some of my underwear was tight in ways that really didn't work on a bike, and some was loose in ways that caused it to soak with sweat and bunch up underneath me (which was as unpleasant for me to ride on as it probably was for you to read about). Padded cycling shorts aren't essential by any means but do make riding so much more comfortable you won't want to go back.
"For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"
I'm taking on my first century this Saturday and this seems to be exactly the thread I was looking for. I feel like I'm okay on mileage and nutrition during the ride, but I'm wondering if I should do anything different this week as far as eating. More or less of anything in particular or just eat like I normally would?
I believe it stopped being about the OP a while ago.
How many energy bar/gel should I bring for a century ride ?
I rode the STP Classic in July, a back to back century. Trained for 6 months with prior six weeks pushing 100-125 miles a week. I'm 57 and 190#'s
What I did right.
Stop every 15 miles for a short break.
Always ate something, even on bike (Cliff bars, fig newtons)
Drank water regularly (or so I thought)
Rode my ride, did not try to keep a pace that would burn me out (14-15 mph was my pace by myself, never drafted).
Used butter 2nd day, saved my ass.
Things I did wrong
Didn't eat enough real food, can't live off energy bars.
Drank water at well under a quart an hour rate. Not enough. Should've been at 32 oz per hour.
I ended up moderately dehydrated. Low pulse and high blood pressure.
Solid food and hydration got me back up quickly post ride.
What I do now: Ride with two 32oz water bottles and carry 1-3 sandwiches of my favorite food (PB&ham/turkey on potato bread). I still pack 3-4 energy bars, I just don't rely 100% on them. Drink at about 32 oz per hour in frequent sips. Stop at 1 hour or so, eat solid food.
Amerika, Land of the Very Brief.
Great tips in here!
Excited to apply this to my first century in about a month here.
One more clothing question: I own a pair of padded biking shorts, and I usually wear boxers underneath, should I refrain from the boxers and wear just the bike shorts? I also gold bond up and will be using lube.
Chitown_Mike, No underwear with padded shorts. If you are self-conscious about lycra, try a pair of mountain bike shorts instead.
Thanks for the info lanahk!
Great tips everyone. I'll be doing my first century in 2 weeks (tour de bayou at Alexandria, LA). We'll see how it goes
Look for me on the old blue Schwinn Continental, this one to be exact, just minus the rack on the rear, I have learned to ride lighter than that:
I did my first Century last month (Camp Pendleton to Huntington Beach and back via PCH), three months after I started road biking. I finished it in 6:41. It was easy but for the last 10 miles when the temps started getting to me.
My training plan was to just ride. 20 to 30 milers twice to three times a week and a long 50 to 70 miler on Saturdays with my Century Buddy.
My day of the ride plan was simple. Drink constantly and eat every 20 miles. I brought bananas, Mooncakes and M&Ms. I had substantial food at the halfway mark and a big sweet pastry at around 70 miles. I also had a pint of milk at the 95 mile mark.
For comfort I had my Brooks saddle, gel filled gloves and a good balance of riding in the drops, hoods and tops. I kept my RPMs at an easy high (85 to 95) and shifted when practical instead of mashing. Felt good after the ride and in fact am ready to try it again this month.
- What about chafing? Does anyone use Body Glide or other similar product?
- On a solo ride, how does one carry enough food/drink on their bike or would a person make stops?
- Bathroom breaks? On my occassional 58km ride to the cottage (1hr paved, 1.5hr gravel), I haven't needed to poop (yet) but during a century, I might.
2. A person would make stops. Small country grocery stores in the middle of nowhwere are good choices.
3. Do your #2 before the ride ... use the ditch for everything else. Or the toilet in the small country grocery store in the middle of nowhere.
I went through a whole process of trying to find decent cycling shorts for long distance riding several years ago. I tried on all kinds of shorts, mens and womens, brands from very expensive to not expensive at all.
I have a slight allergy to nylon/lycra so the blend has to be just right for me or I feel like ripping them off about 2 minutes after I had them on ... so I weeded out a whole bunch that way. Then, the padding needed to cover my sitbones. I did not want to sit on the seams or not sit on any portion of the padding at all. And some had very narrow padding or padding in all the wrong places. I also don't like it when the padding is formed into lumps and bumps all over the place. I like relatively thin padding that is all one smooth piece. So that weeded out a lot more. And finally I ended up with the $35 shorts from MEC.
They were wonderful ... so comfortable. Unfortunately I wore them out (as you do after a couple years of long distance cycling), and I ordered more to be picked up when I went to Canada in 2011. And sadly, they have changed their shorts. The padding is lumpy and bumpy now. The shorts are OK, but I'm not sure I could wear them for much more than a 200K.
You've got to find something that works for you (and I'm back on the hunt again for really good long distance cycling shorts).
Machka, I have a found that if I want comfort in regards to saddle position/riding style then I sacrifice my ability to maintain a more moderate pace and tire easily, from my guessing it is because I am sitting up straighter. But when I set the seat more aggressive I can maintain a faster pace but then run into chafing problems, but I have been using Bag Balm on all my long rides and have very little soreness or issues. What have you done/suggestions to the situation?
Also I know what you mean on finding shorts, I have a pair of Canari shorts that I love, but since they have a few thousand miles on them and are a few years old I am finding that they will need replacing soon. I haven't found a pair with the same "setup", as you will, that matches how these are made. Should have bought 2 when I did.
A century riding cue sheet tip. I filmed this in the desert during the White Mountain Double Century that started in Bishop, California.
And if your ride crosses cattle guards.