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  1. #1
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    Is a century REALLY that hard???

    So I'm a newbie (this is actually my first post). I've been riding a couple weeks now, doing about 20 miles a ride and surprisingly feeling pretty good. I'm wanting to start increasing that to get to the point where I can do a three day, hundred mile a day tour. I have my stops along the way already planned out so it's looking like I won't need to bring a tent or anything (for the first one at least).

    The question is how hard will it be to get to a hundred miles a day? From what I've found on this forum is that your body will actually surprise you and do a lot more then you think you can take. Obviously I'll have all day to complete the miles, so (although I'm sure it'll be tough) am I out of my mind?

    I'm thinking if I keep training I might be able to do this before winter hits. Maybe in October (that's when the schedule's looking free). Thanks for the input, this forum REALLY is something.

    Jon

  2. #2
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Completing a century that is a stretch for your current condition is one thing. Getting on the bike and doing it again the next day is something else entirely.

    How much training you need beforehand depends on your fitness now and how fast you can adapt. Also, your age. The older you are the longer it will take.

    I'd plan a gradual approach- work up your longest ride to roughly a century (80 miles is fine). Then add in longer rides on the day after. I think interim goals are useful, so perhaps plan an organized century first.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You've got several months to get ready, so start increasing your distance now.

    Since you want to do three centuries in a row in October, I'd suggest you aim to do one century in late August and see how it feels.

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    Senior Member SteelCan's Avatar
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    I asked a somewhat similar question about mileage from a guy who cycled across the US last year over 40 days. (I was asking him if he thought I could handle 225 miles x 2 when I entertained the idea of riding to VT from NJ)

    He rode with a group of ~20 experienced cyclists. They averaged approx 80 miles/day and had some sag support. BTW this guy is a strong rider on group rides. And can stick on the wheel of most any Cat 2)

    On his most taxing day, they rode about 150 miles. No one wanted to ride the day after and it still affected them the day after that. So to mirror what else has been mentioned, I would think that the second and third 100 mile legs would be severely taxing and your body would simply refuse.

    ** oh he also pointed out (in my case) that I would be riding solo, hitting some serious elevation on the way to VT and even though I would be carrying a limited amount of gear, it would still make a huge difference compared to a typical century ride.
    Last edited by SteelCan; 07-01-09 at 04:14 AM.

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    there is a world of difference between riding 20 miles and 100 miles, especially riding 100 a few days in a row. increase your mileage slowly- the other thing you need to be careful of is injury. riding too much too soon will put you at great risk for an overuse injury which could sideline you for a while.
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  6. #6
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    Riding 100 miles isn't REALLY that hard. What made it hard for me was doing that century unintelligently. My first century was 2007. I could ride 40-50 miles at 17-18mph with no major problems. So I tried to ride 100 miles at the same pace and without fueling properly. So I did OK, until 40-50 miles in. Then I ran out of glycogen reserves and spent the next 50-60 miles limping along feeling like crap.

    Summary: Don't worry about your goal too much. Drop your pace a bit and make sure to drink and eat a bunch and you'll be fine.

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    Yes it can be very hard or it can be managable if done properly. Sometimes thou someone comes along who can handle it no problem. I young guy in our club who's in his second year did a one day 275k ride and went out next day for a little 85k jaunt. Ah to be 23 again.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

  8. #8
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    yeah, you'll definitely have to pace yourself. I think most of us remember our first longer ride, when we thought we could keep up our 40 mile average speed for twice that far. pretty stupid, when you think about it.

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    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    100 miles is not hard at all. 200 isn't hard. it is all relative. did you blow up early, then mile 70 is agony ? or do you ride sensible for the distance ?

    anyhow...no...100 miles is not hard one bit. not for someone who rides a lot. it is just time in the saddle with a lot of non-stop pedaling
    drinking and eating involved.

    are you fed, watered, and do you have base miles in your legs already ? are you using chamois cream ?
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Well supported Century rides give you the opportunity to hydrate, re-fuel, and get somewhat rested. That way you won't feel alone and not knowing.

    Distance riding wisdom is mostly trial and error, getting to know how your body reacts to demands. The whole process changes over time, the more aerobically fit you become.

    I would mention one thing: the bike seat and your bike shorts. As you tool around before October, go the 70 mile ride just to see how the seat is working for you. Good bike shorts are worth every penny. If your skin breaks, you're finished.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    Well supported Century rides give you the opportunity to hydrate, re-fuel, and get somewhat rested. That way you won't feel alone and not knowing.

    Distance riding wisdom is mostly trial and error, getting to know how your body reacts to demands. The whole process changes over time, the more aerobically fit you become.

    I would mention one thing: the bike seat and your bike shorts. As you tool around before October, go the 70 mile ride just to see how the seat is working for you. Good bike shorts are worth every penny. If your skin breaks, you're finished.

    He's doing a 3-day ride, 100 miles a day. One 70 mile ride in October isn't going to cut it.

    OP: Start building up your distance now so you can do a century ride, one 100 mile ride, in August ... mid to late August. See how you feel on that ride. See if you can get out for a short (20 mile?) recovery ride the next day.

    Then about 3 weeks later, sometime early to mid September, you might want to either back-to-back centuries or a century the first day and a metric century the second day. And a short recovery ride the third day.

    Keep up with your riding in between. Shorter rides during the week, longer rides on the weekends, and you should be set.

  12. #12
    Roadie brian416's Avatar
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    With your current riding, doing 100 miles would be quite tough. I think the first one is the hardest and they continually get easier after that because you know that you can do it. It shouldn't be too hard to be able to do it by October if you start ramping up your mileage now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonMorton View Post
    So I'm a newbie (this is actually my first post). I've been riding a couple weeks now, doing about 20 miles a ride and surprisingly feeling pretty good. I'm wanting to start increasing that to get to the point where I can do a three day, hundred mile a day tour. I have my stops along the way already planned out so it's looking like I won't need to bring a tent or anything (for the first one at least).

    The question is how hard will it be to get to a hundred miles a day? From what I've found on this forum is that your body will actually surprise you and do a lot more then you think you can take. Obviously I'll have all day to complete the miles, so (although I'm sure it'll be tough) am I out of my mind?

    I'm thinking if I keep training I might be able to do this before winter hits. Maybe in October (that's when the schedule's looking free). Thanks for the input, this forum REALLY is something.

    Jon
    Depends a ton on how hard the riding is. Flat riding means you can dial back the effort - if you ride at 16MPH normally you can ride for a *long* time at 14MPH. Any decent hills, however, can take a lot out of you unless you have the gearing to ride them really slowly.

    My general benchmark is that you should be able to do your weekly mileage in a single day. You may not enjoy it, but you can probably do it - if you keep up with nutrition and hydration.
    Eric

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  14. #14
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    You could gut it out if it's a one day event. If it's multiple century days then it gets difficult. I think my one took me 7+ hours.

  15. #15
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    He's doing a 3-day ride, 100 miles a day. One 70 mile ride in October isn't going to cut it.

    OP: Start building up your distance now so you can do a century ride, one 100 mile ride, in August ... mid to late August. See how you feel on that ride. See if you can get out for a short (20 mile?) recovery ride the next day.

    Then about 3 weeks later, sometime early to mid September, you might want to either back-to-back centuries or a century the first day and a metric century the second day. And a short recovery ride the third day.

    Keep up with your riding in between. Shorter rides during the week, longer rides on the weekends, and you should be set.
    Listen to Machka. Additionally, because you are doing 3 centuries in 3 days, recovery is going to be important. The best way to ensure good recovery is to not beat yourself up too bad in the first place. Maintain a comfortable pace that is well within your means and, more importantly, ensure that you start out properly fueled & hydrated and keep properly fueled and hydrated as you ride and after you ride. Then, after the ride, ice down any sore or swollen joints (ibuprofen helps reduce inflammation too), then soak in a tub or jacuzzi, get a massage if you can and above all, get some good sleep.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  16. #16
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Speaking as an older rider who has only done a (gasp) metric, I can tell you that legs and energy aren't that big a problem if you use some sense about it. OTOH, it's the neck and back and butt and occasional migraine that puts the dampers on my longer rides.

  17. #17
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Not hard - just takes a long time. I did it for the first time this year and it took me 8.5 hrs, with 6 hrs in the saddle. I'm gonna try it again before the riding season is over and might be able to rest less, but I'll bet it's still an all day event for me.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  18. #18
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    I did a 600+ mile week tour with a group using a van. We took turns driving. My training was building up where I did 40, 50 and 60 miles daily comfortably.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  19. #19
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    Well thanks guys for all the advice.. This place really is incredible with how many TRUE RIDERS are on here and willing to help.

    Like it's been said above, I don't think I'm really worried about the idea of doing ONE century. I'm 27, in pretty good shape, and feel like I could gut it out tomorrow if I really needed to. It's just the following TWO that would be a problem Training wise I guess (like you've all said), time in the saddle is key. I think I'll attempt to do my first one either the end of this month or August sometime. Then I can see how the ole body responds.

    Now about quality shorts. Somebody made a comment about this. It really helps that much eh? Is there anywhere to get them somewhat cheap, or do I need to buy the $60+ dollar ones that I'm finding all over the internet? Also do you guys wear just the shorts, or get the "bibs"? Lots of questions here so I'll stop for now As of right now I'm just the guy that put some soccer shorts on and hopped on a bike..

    Gotta get learned up reeeal good!!

    Thanks,
    Jon

  20. #20
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    With a good saddle that is properly positioned on a properly fit bike, you don't really need anything more cycling specific than a good pair of flat seamed wool undies and gusseted crotch cargo shorts (preferably not cotton).

    That said, bibs rawk!
    (I recommend Voler bibs for a good compromise between cost and quality)
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  21. #21
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    lay off the gas and be sure to fuel the engine.

    yes, buy the good shorts.

    a little "body glide" in the creases where your leg connects to your groin will be a good safeguard as well. better safe than sorry
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  22. #22
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Is a century REALLY that hard???
    No matter how easy the route, no matter how high-tech the bike, no matter how many "energy bars" a person eats - riding a bicycle 100 miles represents five or more hours of physical activity.

    To the majority of American - this represents a formidable task. Your ability to ride a century is inversely proportional to your interest in reality television.

    If you know who's on "idol" or the "island" - a century will probably seem hard.

  23. #23
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    No matter how easy the route, no matter how high-tech the bike, no matter how many "energy bars" a person eats - riding a bicycle 100 miles represents five or more hours of physical activity.

    To the majority of American - this represents a formidable task. Your ability to ride a century is inversely proportional to your interest in reality television.

    If you know who's on "idol" or the "island" - a century will probably seem hard.
    LOL! What's "idol" or "island?" RC gets it right again. Kill your television! OTOH, we now have a DVD player hooked to an old analogue set, and are currently addicted to The Wire DVDs. Today's news, 5 years ago, it's all the same . . .

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