In the last 3 weeks, I've completed training rides of 75, 80 and yesterday 93 miles. All went well. I purposely rode the 75 mile/3500 ft climb ride conservatively and it felt very easy to me. Ave speed of 12.8 mph, which is slow even for me. My Garmin battery ran dead during the 80 mile ride, so I don't have good data on that ride, but I would have rated the effort as medium, overall average speed approx 13.5 mph. Yesterday, I did 93 mi/4000 ft ride at an average speed of 13.8 mph and I would rate the effort as medium-strong. Felt good at the end, finished well, could have probably ridden another 20 miles. Today I felt good, a little leg soreness but rode a mellow 38 mi & now feel fine except for a little saddle soreness (after 9:45 pedaling time in past two days!).
The Century ride is in 2 weeks; its in Palm Springs, about 3000 ft of climbing but sometimes very windy. The real end goal is the Wildflower Century in late April, 7000 ft of climbing. The Palm Springs ride was always meant to just be a stepping stone to the Wildflower. I had a semi-notion when I started training for the Palm Springs ride that it might be nice to ride it at 14mph, but I didn't want to set any really specific goal until I got far enough into my training that I could set something realistic. But the primary goal of the Palm Springs ride is just to get an organized century ride under my belt.
I'm happy with how the training has gone, feel very well-prepared and confident about the Palm Springs ride. I'm trying to figure out how to ride it in general. My orginal idea was to ride it conservatively, just finish it to get the check in the box. Now I'm thinking of riding it more aggressively to see how fast I can do it. Its strange to say this after so much work but if I rode Palm Springs aggressively and did not finish as a result, I'd be ok with that- that would be a valuable training lesson itself, giving me an idea of how much I can push things. I'm looking at the Palm Springs Century as just another training ride at this point.
There are circumstances in which I would not try for speed- for example if there's tons of wind, surviving that might become the goal. But say, I go for a fast (for me) ride and I blow up and do not finish- what would be the consequence training-wise? Do I just get back on the bike the next week and continue on training for the Wildflower? Or could it cause some bigger set-back that would take me longer to bounce back from? I have 9-10 weeks between the two centuries, so a lot of time to recover from a training mistake.
I'm also totally ok with being patient, keeping it in check now in order to better prepare for the Wildflower.