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-   -   Tips for riding a Century (http://www.bikeforums.net/long-distance-competition-ultracycling-randonneuring-endurance-cycling/808559-tips-riding-century.html)

poplid 09-23-12 09:41 AM

Great Thread!!

EdgewaterDude 09-25-12 11:25 AM

Yes, this thread is excellent. I took Machka's advice and came out very successfully on my century ride this past Sunday. I was plenty hydrated and well fueled. It sounds odd that someone would want to eat bit by bit every 10 minutes or so, but I was able to snack at the pre-determined rest stops and on the bike. I didn't bonk out at all and felt pretty good (well, except for my knees, but that's my fault) afterwards!

Chitown_Mike 09-25-12 02:40 PM

Just want to add something that I don't think was mentioned yet.

Ride with a friend, or make one on the ride:)

I can say after my first century that I rode the first almost 2 hours pretty solo, or tailing on the end of some groups that were a little too fast for me (I would fall off and wasn't going to ask them to slow down). But once I got in a group that was pacing at a reasonable pace (IMO) and got to chatting, the next several hours flew by and the ride was 150% more enjoyable.

Excited to ride centuries outside of organized events, but also very excited to ride with some folks, makes it all the more enjoyable and allows you to keep a pace that you know is acceptable because you can talk and not huff and puff the whole time.

Rowan 09-25-12 03:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chidonchea (Post 14753329)
And if your ride crosses cattle guards.

I've just noticed this.

Be very, very careful about aiming for the plates in wet weather. If they are polished as tram and railway lines are, and you try to run along them, you will come down very fast and very painfully on the grid. Polished steel is like ice, and I and other riders I know have come down hard on train and tram tracks.

I regard cattle grids in wet weather with great caution, to the point of stopping and walking over the last one I encountered.

Netdewt 10-28-12 06:11 PM

Thanks Machka for the thread and the web page. Still reading through the thread.

I'd like to ride a century next summer. I'm still searching for organized rides to do in the Minneapolis area. Thinking of maybe joining a club.
http://www.ltgranfondo.com/page/show/476441-the-ride
http://biketcbc.org/

Any suggestions for getting ready during the winter?

wheelinthai 03-10-13 07:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Machka (Post 14568250)
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.




[HR][/HR]
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". :D 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. :)

Machka seems to drink and eat a lot more than I do, and I drink much more than my friends. I guess it's an individual needs.
However, I agree on training well for the ride. If you train religiously, you'll sort out every possible problem. I tend to get leg cramps after passing 70miles mark, but training up to 100 miles got me over the dreaded cramp. BTW, I would highly recommend serious stretching at every break. I do only three stops, every 25 miles.

four de trance 03-10-13 12:23 PM

I'm planning on doing my first century this summer and the most I've ridden on a single ride was about 70 miles and I've done that exact same ride three times. I did well on that particular ride and I had energy to spare, but there were some terrible climbs that made me wnt to go home! That feeling only lasted during the climb I felt goofy for having those thoughts once I was over the hill, but funny thing is: they always pop up on the devilish climbs.

I love the tips on this thread and I have to say that I'm one of those guys that SWEATS LIKE CRAAAAAAAAZY! Not a little perspiration, I'm soaked after about 25 miles, so my hydration is a lot different than most folks. I have the larger Camelbak bottles and I go through two of those and a smaller, frozen bottle in my middle jersey pocket in one 20 mile ride, so I'll need to either stop often to get more fluid refills or carry more on me. I don't like the camelbak backpacks because of the weight and the lack of air circulation. I usually stop at convenience stores at least three times on my 70 mile rides.

I used to be a paramedic of 12 years, so I'm good at preventing myself from becoming a heat casualty. Thank you all for the wonderful comments on the subject and I'm looking forward to seeing ore comments that will help me stay prepared for my first century ride. I'll come back and post my results of what I did correctly and what I should of done correctly to help better prepare future century riders. Happy riding everybody!

Voulost 04-03-13 02:44 AM

For me, I usually ride 25 miles then take a 30 minute break, it slows down your time, but long distance riding and centuries aren't about how fast you can do them (at least at first :P) it's about the ride and making sure you complete it. Bring a lunch with you and a couple of snacks and some water(I usually bring 2 1-liter bottles for a century) and make sure you don't chug it or you'll just get sick. Speed-wise I tend to average about 13-15 MPH but with my breaks it leans more towards 10-12 MPH so for me, a century takes about 10 hours, so make sure you have the time to dedicate, though if you ride faster or take shorter breaks you can get it done much faster than my rides.

chasm54 04-03-13 03:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Voulost (Post 15463015)
For me, I usually ride 25 miles then take a 30 minute break...

If it works for you, fine, but in general I'd advise against this. Lengthy breaks just allow lactate products to accumulate in your legs, so that when you restart it is harder going than it would have been had you just carried on. My stops are long enough for me to fill water bottles, pee, grab some food, that's all. Maybe add some stretching if you're uncomfortable for any reason. But keeping downtime to a minimum, in my experience, is a recipe for feeling fresher as well as for finishing faster.

Voulost 04-03-13 09:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chasm54 (Post 15463034)
If it works for you, fine, but in general I'd advise against this. Lengthy breaks just allow lactate products to accumulate in your legs, so that when you restart it is harder going than it would have been had you just carried on. My stops are long enough for me to fill water bottles, pee, grab some food, that's all. Maybe add some stretching if you're uncomfortable for any reason. But keeping downtime to a minimum, in my experience, is a recipe for feeling fresher as well as for finishing faster.

I'll have to try this next time, I've just always done it my way and never bothered to try to cut downtime :D

wheelinthai 04-08-13 06:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chasm54 (Post 15463034)
If it works for you, fine, but in general I'd advise against this. Lengthy breaks just allow lactate products to accumulate in your legs, so that when you restart it is harder going than it would have been had you just carried on. My stops are long enough for me to fill water bottles, pee, grab some food, that's all. Maybe add some stretching if you're uncomfortable for any reason. But keeping downtime to a minimum, in my experience, is a recipe for feeling fresher as well as for finishing faster.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Voulost (Post 15467703)
I'll have to try this next time, I've just always done it my way and never bothered to try to cut downtime :D

I allow for some rest time, but in total, not exceeding 10 minutes per break. I give lots of attention to stretching, may be because I'm old. Icy water on tired muscles along with gentle massage work wonder for me. Starting out again, try not to rush it despite feeling fresh. Slowly work your heart(correction: inserted "r":D to heat) rate up A century is not all that difficult. Anticipation can kill you however. That's why finding friends to chat, as mention above, will curb your nervous tension on you first try.

contango 04-08-13 07:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike (Post 14773680)
Just want to add something that I don't think was mentioned yet.

Ride with a friend, or make one on the ride:)

I can say after my first century that I rode the first almost 2 hours pretty solo, or tailing on the end of some groups that were a little too fast for me (I would fall off and wasn't going to ask them to slow down). But once I got in a group that was pacing at a reasonable pace (IMO) and got to chatting, the next several hours flew by and the ride was 150% more enjoyable.

Excited to ride centuries outside of organized events, but also very excited to ride with some folks, makes it all the more enjoyable and allows you to keep a pace that you know is acceptable because you can talk and not huff and puff the whole time.

Just noticed this post and agree entirely that riding with someone else makes it a whole lot easier. Ideally that someone else would be a friend but just having some company beats cycling long distances solo.

When I did a 150k last year (about 95 miles all in) the group dropped me fairly early on so I was expecting to do the next 85-odd miles on my own. Then a guy who had stopped a while back for a nature break caught up and the two of us rode to the first control, stopped for a drink and snack, then rode on to the next control. At that control we caught up with some more of the group so six of us continued, and further down the line we split into two groups of three, and subsequently one of the guys in my group said not to wait for him as he'd take the hills at his own pace.

I did a 200k last year as well and ended up riding with a guy who had done multiple 1000k+ rides - he was the kind of rider who left me wondering why he bothered getting his bike out for a ride as short as 200k (which was ironic, since it was my first ever 200). His tales of varied rides that I regarded as silly distances helped pass the time and the miles.

The first time I ever did 100 miles in a day was with a group of friends which was really good, as when one of us was struggling (physically or mentally) the others could offer a bit of support and we all knew that short of a show-stopping issue (in which case we'd take the train to our destination) nobody was going to get left behind.

jrickards 04-15-13 12:43 PM

I would like to start my "century" riding with a 2-day 200km ride (Toronto to Barrie on Saturday, Barrie to Toronto on Sunday, 100km each). My training schedule is significantly steeper than the 5%/wk: this coming weekend, I'll be riding my first 60km ride, next is another, next is two 60km-days back to back, next is 100km/60km, next is 100/100, and continue that distance until the ride in late May. I do ride a 16km commute 2x/day, a hilly commute: the 2x centuries is on a flat route and my 60 and 100km training rides are intermediate in terms of hills. I think I'll be fine. I've been this agressive before with a swimming distance: I prepared for 7-8 wks from little swimming (although I was a racer in high school so I had the techniques and experience) to a 5km event (200 lengths of the 1/2 Olympic pool) and I did the "event" a couple of times before the actual day.

The issue I've had to deal with, in both distance swimming and riding, are leg cramps: I drink lots of water and some Gatorade and I eat a couple of granola bars during the 60km distance so nutrition shouldn't be the issue, I don't know what it is but I do know that in previous 60km rides, I've pushed fairly hard even though I tell myself to "ride to finish" not "ride to race". I'll definitely take it easy on the speed during training for this upcoming ride. Hopefully, leg cramps (calf) will not occur.

m2tiguy 05-08-13 09:45 PM

cramps ? - sport legs - fuel ? - hammer sustained energy - - quick energy ? - honey or,,, if you insist on GU - please, please don't throw your wrappers on the road - it was a shame all the damn used GU packets I saw on the road during the breathless

Bikey Mikey 05-09-13 03:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by m2tiguy (Post 15605460)
cramps ? - sport legs - fuel ? - hammer sustained energy - - quick energy ? - honey or,,, if you insist on GU - please, please don't throw your wrappers on the road - it was a shame all the damn used GU packets I saw on the road during the breathless

I have a top tube bag up front that I often stuff the wrappers into or stuff them in my jersey. The only time it goes on the road, it was an error. Don't litter.

Rmagers 06-15-13 02:23 PM

Doing my first century in August, Hotter than Hell 100, in Texas. Looking for some hydration tips. Do riders use hydration packs, such as a camelback, on century rides or does the extra weight make it not practical?

cafzali 06-15-13 09:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rmagers (Post 15746261)
Doing my first century in August, Hotter than Hell 100, in Texas. Looking for some hydration tips. Do riders use hydration packs, such as a camelback, on century rides or does the extra weight make it not practical?

Personally, I'd say unless your ride doesn't have regular rest stops, I'd just carry two bottles and be done with it. In my experience, hydration packs aren't that common in general, but I live in a populated area where it's relatively easy to find somewhere to stop as often as you want, even on longer rides. I usually don't even carry two bottles unless I'm going through some of our large state parks.

pdlamb 06-18-13 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rmagers (Post 15746261)
Doing my first century in August, Hotter than Hell 100, in Texas. Looking for some hydration tips. Do riders use hydration packs, such as a camelback, on century rides or does the extra weight make it not practical?

It depends.

I (and I think most people) have a hard time drinking more than about a quart an hour. If your bike will hold 2 24 oz bottles, that's 1.5 hours riding between fill-ups. How fast are you riding, and how far apart are the SAG stops? Worst case? If there's a 20 mph headwind, and you can only average 12 mph into that headwind, and the SAG stops are 40 miles apart, take the water pack. If they have three SAGs equally spaced, and you can average 25 mph in all conditions, you only need to stop at the half way stop to refill.

unterhausen 06-18-13 12:11 PM

last summer I rode in North Carolina and at the hottest part of the day I was having to stop every 15 miles for water. Under those conditions I felt like an idiot for not having a hydration pack. I rode with one on my recent 600k attempts, and it's definitely something that takes some getting used to. My second try was more successful than the first. Under very hot conditions, load the pack up with ice and when done drinking, blow the water in the tube back into the pack or you will always be drinking hot water. If it's not too hot, I can make it almost 100 miles on 2 liters

Chitown_Mike 06-18-13 12:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rmagers (Post 15746261)
Doing my first century in August, Hotter than Hell 100, in Texas. Looking for some hydration tips. Do riders use hydration packs, such as a camelback, on century rides or does the extra weight make it not practical?


I will echo the above sentiments if you have the stops, use them to refill some bottles and ditch the pack.

In regards to a pack, while I have been seeing more and more on rides and talked to people on longer rides wearing them, they are still rare over all. I will say that I have played paintball with one on and when the water is cool, it feels great. But playing in the heat with one only feels like there is a bag of hot urine on my back and it causes me to sweat more. Granted this isn't some fancy pack made to vent the back, but it still gets annoying after a few hours in the sun. I can't imagine it on a bike the the sun beating down.


However if you are a thirsty/sweaty person (like myself) I can down 2 bottles of drink in an hour on a hot day and still sweat it all out. I go with a 32 oz of just water and a 24 oz of some sort of mix at every stop. I make sure the water is gone and sometimes split the mix if 1/2 is left at every stop, which is usually every 18-22 miles on MOST organized rides.

I haven't done a solo century, but when I ride alone I will do between 50-80 miles and I have routes that have some sort of water stop every 15-20 miles. That, coupled with 2 bottles, means I don't have to worry about not having water. If I was to get into randonneuring I would probably get a pack. Personally I hate stopping and would rather just ride the route and go home carrying what I need, so a pack might potentially be in my future.

10 Wheels 06-18-13 12:49 PM

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Take four with you.

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bknaus 08-23-13 12:01 PM

From someone about to do his first Century the end of September (http://www.slobc.org/lighthouse/index.html) I've read this whole thread and got a lot of good info.

The other thing I have to add is if the century is going to be hot, train in the heat! It's 100+ here all summer and in the beginning it was harsh but now my rule is as long as it's 2 digits (<100) I can ride and it's not nearly as bad since I got used to it. It also helps you understand the huge difference in water intake between a cool weather ride.

One questions I didn't see covered here is there's a lot of talk about what to eat during the rides, but what about leading up to a ride? I used to play a lot of soccer and we would do the pasta carbo load feeds the night before games but I hear differing opinions on what/how to eat the week leading up to the ride.

Another is what to expect for recovery. I have two centuries back to back weekends and wouldn't mind advice on the best recovery methods to be ready again the next week...

bknaus 08-23-13 12:08 PM

One other thing I thought of, is advice on how a lot of organized centuries work. How much food do they usually provide vs how much should you bring. Also, how do water fill ups work, use your water bottles or exchange them? They provide sag or not? I know there are some differences but just a general idea of what to expect since most I see assume you've done others and don't have basics like that easily available for newbies...

ThermionicScott 08-24-13 02:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bknaus (Post 15992113)
One questions I didn't see covered here is there's a lot of talk about what to eat during the rides, but what about leading up to a ride? I used to play a lot of soccer and we would do the pasta carbo load feeds the night before games but I hear differing opinions on what/how to eat the week leading up to the ride.

The consensus these days is that carb-loading only provides psychological benefits -- the spaghetti dinners the night before the meet were largely a team-building activity.

Glycogen supercompensation is possible, but only after a comprehensive "depletion" workout that few would consider wise before a big event.

Bowman1 10-07-13 02:22 PM

Thanks for this thread. This is some very helpful information.

Does anyone have tips for riding into the wind? I entered a 110k 'populaire' this last Saturday, and after fighting a 20 mph wind for 20 miles, I just didn't have anything left in the tank (mentally or physically) to keep going. Obviously I need to do a better job of preparing for this sort of thing, but I'm not really sure where to start.

Any advice?


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