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  1. #1
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    Solo century advice?

    Well, my main biking buddy is STFU as the season draws to a close, rather than HTFU. I'm starting to doubt him. I want to bag a Century this year; I've been riding lots of miles and I'm ready. There's a window of opportunity in front of me weather-wise and I may just go it alone before weather, elk season, and shortening days hose me.

    Any advice that's different for doing it solo?
    Every time that wheel turn 'round,
    Bound to cover just a little more ground!

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    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I don't stop as often when going solo as I do on an organized event. I don't think the actual riding is much different. The main thing is to do a little extra planning. Plan where you can stop to get water. Plan to bring enough food with you, or know where you can buy some. (As always) carry enough tools and supplies to be able to fix a flat and fix minor mechanical problems.

    Have fun!
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  3. #3
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Take it easy for the first 50miles.

  4. #4
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    I do most of my centuries solo. I like to start really early, like 5 AM, so I get home well before dinner. A bowl of oat meal before I head out; I usually bring a package of fig newtons. If there comes a time when they become tempting, I eat them; but as often as not, the package comes home unopened. I usually make two lunch stops.

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    Senior Member lsberrios1's Avatar
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    * Make sure to know where your stops are beforehand. I did a solo about a month back in a route i had done a metric before. I thought it'd be fine just doing the Imperial since it was only 38 more miles and there was a town in the middle. Turns out EVERYTHING in the town was closed due to it being sunday and the only stop after mile 60 was 3 miles before mile 103. I had to stop at somebody's house to ask for water at mile 83ish.

    * Take food with you. Overdoing it is better than underdoing it. I usually take 2 bananas, three energy bars (meal replacements). I'd also recommend you take something along the lines of Nuun tablets to recover in case you find yourself with signs of dehydration. Eat a lot. They say 250cal/hour but I'd rather do 300 than 150. You'll feel much better towards the end. Also carry food that wont get sticky with the heat and is easy to eat while riding.

    * Don't hammer until you are about 75% done, in which case you'd probably have no intention of hammering either way. If you have a Garmin or PM try to keep it z2 with few bursts into z3. Digging into your higher zones early on can really drain your energy meter. I usually save THE REST for the last 20 miles. By the time I get to the 100th mile I should be done.

    *Wear your comfiest kit. Keep yourself light and dont overdo your jersey pockets. Use the bike to carry your stuff for you. Those extra 2 pounds (of food, tubes etc.) are better in bag on your bike than on your back.

    * Get more than one tube. You might even have to take 3. Non supported, or solo, centuries can turn bad if you have more than one flat.

    Solo centuries are mentally tough. Being alone for 5+ hours in the middle of nowhere tends to get really tough on the mind. For me, it's mile 40 that makes me cringe. After mile 50 it's all downhill

    Good luck and have fun!
    Cat 6 going on PRO....

  6. #6
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Pace yourself, bring food (or know ahead of time where you can buy some), plenty of fluids (I carry two bottles in my cages and keep a throw-away bottle in my jersey pocket, which I don't actually "throw-away" on the ride. It goes into a trash barrel somewhere). Two spare tubes is the absolute minimum. Two unopened boxes fit in my wedge, along with levers, a CO2 head and canisters, and a multi-tool. Bring a cell phone, ID, a debit or credit card (debit is better if you don't want to carry cash) AND don't forget your health insurance card, if you have one. All of that fits into a Ziplock bag for relative water proofing if it rains.

    Unless you are going to ride point to point and get picked up at the end, somewhere along the route you are going to run into wind. Try to plan it so you start out into the wind, and finish with it at your back. Not always possible, but IMO there's nothing worse than bucking a headwind over the last 30-40 miles of a century. Try to get major climbs, if any, out of the way on the first half of your route, too. Headwinds and hills together can make the last 30 miles a real sufferfest.

    I've never done a complete century without stopping. Even if you can average 20 mph, you're going to be on the bike for 5 hours. Probably longer for you. I'm 60 and I can't go that long without a pee break. I'm not peeing into my chamois, or trying to rig up some sort of half-assed catheter. I made it to about 70 miles on my first century of this spring, until I just had to take a run into the woods. When stuff like your shoulders, neck, or lower back starts to hurt, 3-5 minutes off the bike can work wonders.

    You can do this. Just a question of how much you'll enjoy it, but whatever little aches you get, whatever burning in your quads or hammies you feel, when you finish, you're gonna feel like you're walking on air, with a sense of accomplishment.

    BTW--I hadn't planned on doing my very first century when I started the ride (solo). I had planned a metric, and when I was near the end, I felt so good that I decided to add on a known 40 mile extension. I didn't feel so fresh any more at the end of that, but I did it. You will, too.

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    Thanks guys! I was thinking I might do it today, but I've been fighting something and woke up feeling a bit dizzy and nauseous.

    It did occur to me that if I'm solo I'd better have some sort of bike security- even if just so I can use a gas station restroom or the like. However, being a bit of a gun lover, I have a ton of these little cable-locks (trigger locks) that are very light and should serve to keep honest people honest for a few minutes.

    I'm heading out to do my normal 55-miler... might add some to it... but my next window is probably next week. Ugh. Time is getting short!
    Every time that wheel turn 'round,
    Bound to cover just a little more ground!

  8. #8
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    All the above is good advice. I normally plan to be able to stop for at least water every 25-30 miles at a gas station or even a park.
    The cable locks will work if you can find somewhere to lock the bike too. I carry a cheap cable tumbler style bike lock when I am by myself. I also fasten the strap from my helmet thru the front wheel and around the downtube. It will slow the opportune thief down a little if they try to ride off on it.
    Do a search for century rides in your area. Even if they have already happened, they may still have their route maps posted.
    I see your a Ducks fan. If you are in Oregon, check out the Covered Bridge tour out of Albany. It is easily done unsupported with a couple short detours.
    Jerry

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    You have gotten great advice already but I will second riding with a head wind to start the ride rather than facing it in the latter stages of the ride. I also plan pit stops in park rest rooms because I can just bring the bike in with me. Some of my favorite centuries have been solo, unsupported ones. Good luck!

  10. #10
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Cell phone. If no camera in phone, bring a camera. Post photos here.

    Know when sunset is and bring lights with enough run time, and a little extra just in case of a flat etc. in the dark. If appropriate, bring extra batteries, and an extra light.

    Check the weather report the morning of ride day. The closer to the ride the more accurate it will be.

    Plenty of cash is handy.

    If you think you will be exhausted at the end, being on familiar roads is easier, especially in the dark.

    If finish time is important add extra time beyond just the riding time. On a century an extra hour shows up very easily. Even two.

    If your bike is now working OK, don't make any changes or adjustments just before the ride. Don't depend on anything new that is not tested yet.

    Cheap fruit drinks at the store does wonders for a bonk. It can get you going in 5-10 minutes. Then buy another to bring with you.

    Dog cookies are a big help with an aggressive dog.

    Try getting some things ready the night before. Maybe even check the tire pressure then, if the tires hold air well. If you need an extra jacket etc. do some packing the night before.

    I have a special place in my kitchen that I put things like water bottles, food, etc. that I check when I leave.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  11. #11
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    The other reason for trying to avoid starting out with a tail wind is, after you warm up, you're gonna feel so good that you'll be tempted to open it up and overextend yourself early in the ride. With a headwind, you'll be more likely to settle into spinning an easy gear until you turn out of it.

    Chocolate milk also is a great thing for a fairly quick anti-bonk remedy. That is, unless like me, you're mildly lactose intolerant. Last thing you want is the overwhelming urge to make #2 when you're miles away from the nearest rest room. Which brings me to, might be a good idea to stuff some napkins or paper towels into a jersey pocket, just in case the mad dash into the woods while ripping your jersey off to take down the bib straps thing happens. It's only happened to me once, on a ride. I save the chocolate milk for my post-ride treat.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mycoalson's Avatar
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    I did my first century a month ago. I went solo and had a great time. I actually ended up doing 110, instead of 100.

    I missed a turn at one point and headed off about a mile in the wrong direction before turning around. It really didn't effect me much, but it was a bit of a downer.

    But, the thing is, through the ride I felt very good. It wasn't until I'd completed it, that I realized I'd extended myself a bit.

    Since then, I've done several 60 milers, a couple of 70's and a couple of 80's without any real prelude. Just went for a longer ride.

    But, here is what I did for the ride:

    1. Took spare tubes.
    2. Took two sandwiches, and two pieces of fruit.
    3. Took gatorade instead of water or tea.
    4. Took toilet paper.
    5. Made sure I had spare CO2, my valve, an allen/screwdriver tool(mine is small, but works great). A leatherman multi tool.
    6. A debit card.
    7. A cell phone.
    8. ID.
    9. This was entirely unnecessary, but I took an extra pair of shorts and shirt. In the event of weather concerns, I'd consider taking something to protect against that.

    CONCLUSION: I have a large Topeak bag on back, I took advantage of this. I felt as if I were preparing for the Odyssey and might have taken more than I needed. I did eat the food I took with, I didn't over eat before going. I finished feeling pretty strong....but as if I'd exerted myself. By this I mean, I wasn't starving to death, ready to fall down, or very hungry. But, in going down a flight of stairs, I could feel it in my legs pretty good.

  13. #13
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znomit View Post
    Take it easy for the first 50miles.
    This. And, don't change you eating patterns beforehand. Biggest mistake I made distance riding was over fueling; you can always take stuff with you and supplement when needed. Second big mistake was going out fast.

  14. #14
    I love the rolling hills. ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mprelaw View Post
    The other reason for trying to avoid starting out with a tail wind is, after you warm up, you're gonna feel so good that you'll be tempted to open it up and overextend yourself early in the ride. With a headwind, you'll be more likely to settle into spinning an easy gear until you turn out of it.
    +1. I always seem to start out too fast on 200ks, especially if I have a tailwind.

    Last thing you want is the overwhelming urge to make #2 when you're miles away from the nearest rest room. Which brings me to, might be a good idea to stuff some napkins or paper towels into a jersey pocket, just in case the mad dash into the woods while ripping your jersey off to take down the bib straps thing happens. It's only happened to me once, on a ride.
    +1000. I learned during my first or second RAGBRAI that it's never a bad idea to carry some TP with you, in case you find yourself in a place without adequate facilities. I stash about 12 squares of my favorite TP in the same Ziplock bag that carries my cellphone, ID, and money card. Folds up nicely and weighs nothing.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  15. #15
    Senior Member david58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Long Tom View Post
    Thanks guys! I was thinking I might do it today, but I've been fighting something and woke up feeling a bit dizzy and nauseous.

    It did occur to me that if I'm solo I'd better have some sort of bike security- even if just so I can use a gas station restroom or the like. However, being a bit of a gun lover, I have a ton of these little cable-locks (trigger locks) that are very light and should serve to keep honest people honest for a few minutes.

    I'm heading out to do my normal 55-miler... might add some to it... but my next window is probably next week. Ugh. Time is getting short!
    I was headed out this am as well, but woke up with a cranky gut. Sure hate to look at the beautiful weather this morning and not be on the bike or in the woods hunting. I don't know what you think about riding in the winter, but there are plenty of chances to ride if a bit o' wet isn't too offensive to you. I just usually pull it back a notch or two and allow myself to ride more "relaxed". I live up here in "Go Beavers" land - if you can bring yourself to do it there are a lot of longer Saturday rides available. If you are in Eugene, you might look at a round trip to Corvallis, lots of stores and Peoria Road from Corvallis to Harrisburg is a good road.

  16. #16
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    David, yeah, there's a gut component to what I've got going too. Ugh. Wife and I went out for Thai at the Ring of Fire last night- maybe that'll cure me.

    I'm outside of Elmira, and I ride around here, and also the Junction City area north up to Monroe. Anyway, Corvallis is my leading candidate for the century ride so you nailed it! I like that there's bike shops if I need something...

    It's a good thing I didn't try the century yesterday. I went to do my normal 56-mile loop- which is a great ride, if you ever want to join me; it's got an epic vibe- and my rear tire asploded 40 miles in! Oops. I'd noticed a little cord showing before I rode but in my noobiness, thought I could squeeze a little more out of the tire. It was a shame, because even though I felt like ass before the ride, once I got going I felt strong and was hammering the route pretty good.

    Oh well; I'll buy a new tire today, which will make the century "safer". I need to look at my ride log and see how many miles I got out of that Conti that just blew...
    Every time that wheel turn 'round,
    Bound to cover just a little more ground!

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