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Old 04-24-12, 09:32 PM   #1
matthewk4
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Zero to century while busy, possible?

I've decided that I need a goal like a century ride to get in shape. I haven't been in any kind of shape for 20 years, and I was never that good at endurance even when a kid. I successfully took some of the excess weight off a couple years ago just with diet, but half of it has crept back on with all the travel and work I do. So here I am, trying to set a high (but not ridiculous) goal.

I can make two weekdays and one weekend day, most weeks, available to work on this goal, but even that is stretching the limits of what my work schedule will allow. I also travel internationally 8+ times a year for a week at a time, so there'll be a few interruptions.

I successfully rode 4 miles today on my old bike, and feel like I could have done a bit more. And my new (road) bike will be ready later this week.

So... what's a reasonable training schedule to get to a century ride with only 3 days a week? Am I crazy thinking I might be able to do a century ride by the end of September (only 50 or so training days away, best case)? I live at the top of a very tall hill... should I be driving down to the flats and riding there to get the miles up (and to be pedaling constantly instead of coasting on the downhills), or taking advantage of the hills to get better at climbing (but probably not building up the miles as fast)?

The best references I've found say "here's a 10-week schedule to get ready for a century, but you need to already be in pretty good shape and ride 6 days a week" or "do 6 miles a day, add 2 miles every week, hope you eventually get to 100". Neither seems like a perfect fit to my situation.
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Old 04-24-12, 09:37 PM   #2
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Ride as often and as much as you can.

Take rest days when you need them.

Ask questions when you have a problem.
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Old 04-25-12, 04:48 AM   #3
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There is a Tips for riding a Century thread in the Long Distance forum. That might give you a place to start.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ding-a-Century
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Old 04-25-12, 08:49 AM   #4
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Try an intermediate goal first, like a half or metric century.

Examine your life and see where you can get more time or days to ride. It'll help a lot. They make nice inexpensive bike lights these days. There's also stationary trainers. I get up at 4:30 some days to get a good ride in. It's not miles that you should count, it's time on the bike.

I also live at the top of a big climb, on the other side of the ridge from you. When I came back to riding after a 9 year layoff I couldn't ride up to my house, which is on one of the more difficult local climbs. It took a number of years to get that fit and I still needed a triple to do it. Even now that I'm fit, when I want a recovery ride I drive into town where it's flat and ride from there. I've found that driving part way to work, doing a ride, then driving the rest of the way to work is one way to get a ride in. It's better of course if you can do some of that commute on the bike, but in my case neither end of the commute is bike friendly and I can make the time to do it this way.

When I came back at age 41 I could not have finished a century with only 50 days of training. It took at least that much before I could do a metric century. I'd been a competitive runner and bike racer in my 20s. It takes a long time to get fit when you're really out of shape, and being older doesn't help. But if you're patient and persistent it'll happen. Make sure you enjoy the process- what you want is a lifestyle change, not a fad that you will drop. If it takes a little longer to get to your goal but you enjoy the process more, that will be better in the long run.

My goals went from get in some sort of shape to metric century to full century to hilly full century to Death Ride to racing.
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Old 04-25-12, 09:23 AM   #5
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^+
I'd go a step further and say, "No immediate goals." Getting in shape and staying there is the goal. When I started back up at 50, it took me over a year to ride a century. Actually, as soon as I could ride a century, I could also ride a double and did so. It took months before I could ride up the 500' hill to the local shopping mall. Not that I shopped, but it was on the way to the next destination.

I was bitterly disappointed, because I expected to be able to ride a century sometime during that first year. I actually sat in a ditch and cried. I couldn't ride through the pain, and I'm unused to defeat.
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Old 04-25-12, 09:45 AM   #6
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I got my first real bike at the age of 22. While I was young and light-weight I had never been athletically inclined, but I had enjoyed riding a bike, so I figured I would go that route of getting into shape.

So I just rode (solo and with the local cycling club) and figured stuff out in terms of what worked for nutrition, hill climbing, etc. As I got fitter, the distances I could ride went up, and I began thinking that riding the clubs annual century in September was a reasonable goal.

And then I crashed my bike (breaking my collarbone) in July, missed most of August, and rode the century anyway about two or three weeks after getting my cast off.

So the point is that it is possible to go from newbie rider to "being able to ride a century" within a year, without some dedicated training plan and with missing some time. I'm not saying that's the most ideal way to do it, but it's possible.

I think the hardest part of a "first century" is the mental aspect of it; i.e., you're going to be on the bike for a long time. What you've learned in your training about fueling yourself and stretching and overall "feeling good" starts being more-and-more important as the mileage keeps increasing. A little back pain at mile 50 that isn't a big deal because your ride ends at mile 55 becomes a big deal when you have another 50 miles to go.
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Old 04-25-12, 12:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
When I came back at age 41 I could not have finished a century with only 50 days of training. It took at least that much before I could do a metric century. I'd been a competitive runner and bike racer in my 20s. It takes a long time to get fit when you're really out of shape, and being older doesn't help. But if you're patient and persistent it'll happen. Make sure you enjoy the process- what you want is a lifestyle change, not a fad that you will drop. If it takes a little longer to get to your goal but you enjoy the process more, that will be better in the long run.
Good information. I've set an intermediate goal as well, and we'll see how I progress, but it sounds like I should try pushing out the century goal a bit to make it more realistic.

As for "it's not miles that you should count, it's time on the bike"... I'm guessing that the reason to train in an area that is more flat is that the number of minutes of hill climbing I'll be able to sustain is low, and then I'll just turn around and coast back down. (Even that requires going somewhere, as I really live at the very top... so everywhere is down from here)
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Old 04-25-12, 12:43 PM   #8
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^+
I'd go a step further and say, "No immediate goals." Getting in shape and staying there is the goal.
Yes, but I know my brain well enough that if I set the goal as "getting in shape and staying there" I'll redefine "in shape" as "can ride 4 miles". If I pick a concrete definition that's outside of my current ability, I'll actually have to work to get there.
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Old 04-25-12, 12:59 PM   #9
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Yea, if you're goal oriented, "in shape" becomes meaningless. Technically I could always be in better shape in one aspect or another, so I'd never reach the goal. I like goals that are reachable if I do the work.

Matthew, for now do a mix of whatever riding you like. It'll all be good for you. If you can't do much climbing around home, drive to somewhere flatter and do that. BTW you'll probably want low gearing if you intend to ride in the mountains a lot. When I bought a new Cervelo a while back I had it fitted with a compact crank. When I picked it up they asked for my address for the sales slip. When I told them the guy said "oh, that explains it. We were wondering why someone who looks fit like you do would want a compact".
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Old 04-29-12, 06:19 PM   #10
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3 days a week should be plenty IMO. Of course it completely depends on what you do with those days. How much time do you have available to ride? I started with a similar routine a few years ago - I'd have lunchtimes or early mornings to do a hill climb and ride for an hour to an hour and a half and then a few hours one morning over the weekend (kids, chores etc. tended to define that for me). What I found helpful was to use the shorter weekday time for more intense workouts, and then build distance on the weekends.

It's totally doable.
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