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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Training for a Century

Old 08-10-10, 03:56 PM
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Training for a Century

Hello All! I have been riding for a couple of months now and have recently set my sights on someday completing a century ride. I used to be involved with long distance running, including marathon distance so it seems my love of endurance events has translated to cycling.

When I started riding I had a good base level of fitness- had been running, weight lifting and doing yoga. At this point I am riding 3-4 days a week with at least one of those rides being over 20 miles (average speed 15 mph and up). My longest so far has been 27 miles (roads and multi-use paths). I make it through those rides pretty comfortably and usually without too much soreness the next day depending on how hilly my route was, etc. I am also practicing yoga for about 30 minutes a couple times a week.

My question is how long is a "reasonable" amount of time to train for a century? Given my current level and the fact that I don't want to complete it for time (but also don't want to take 10 hours) and don't want to be miserable the entire way. I am located in Southern CA and the Tour de Palm Springs is in February. They have a century option and a 55 mile option. Do you think I could be ready for a century by February?

Also, what is the best way to train for one? Any good books or websites to check out? Is there a good schedule for building up distance? How long should your longest training ride be (when marathon training we always said if you could do 20 you could do 26.2)? What are good cross training exercises or recommended strength training routines?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-10-10, 04:03 PM
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Training for a Century:

https://www.bikenewyork.org/resources...s/century.html
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Old 08-10-10, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by pedal-away
Hello All! I have been riding for a couple of months now and have recently set my sights on someday completing a century ride. I used to be involved with long distance running, including marathon distance so it seems my love of endurance events has translated to cycling.

When I started riding I had a good base level of fitness- had been running, weight lifting and doing yoga. At this point I am riding 3-4 days a week with at least one of those rides being over 20 miles (average speed 15 mph and up). My longest so far has been 27 miles (roads and multi-use paths). I make it through those rides pretty comfortably and usually without too much soreness the next day depending on how hilly my route was, etc. I am also practicing yoga for about 30 minutes a couple times a week.

My question is how long is a "reasonable" amount of time to train for a century? Given my current level and the fact that I don't want to complete it for time (but also don't want to take 10 hours) and don't want to be miserable the entire way. I am located in Southern CA and the Tour de Palm Springs is in February. They have a century option and a 55 mile option. Do you think I could be ready for a century by February?

Also, what is the best way to train for one? Any good books or websites to check out? Is there a good schedule for building up distance? How long should your longest training ride be (when marathon training we always said if you could do 20 you could do 26.2)? What are good cross training exercises or recommended strength training routines?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
You should easily be ready!
The primary challenge will be maintaining good nutrition & hydration. This often determines your ability to have a successful ride for distances over 50 miles. Also ascertain that the bike fits well over longer distances. The contact points (seat, handlebar & shoes/pedals) should be completely comfortable. I would add two 75 mile long rides per month to your riding schedule.
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Old 08-10-10, 04:05 PM
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Do a Google search on century training and you'll find lots of programs/schedules.

Century training is a lot like marathon training. You can finish one with nothing but long easy rides. Gradually increase your weekly distnace by no more than 10% of the previous weeks total. Also do a progessivelly long ride on the weekends until you can do at least a 70 mile ride. But this won't have you going very fast. To get faster, mix in a couple speed days each week - intervals, sprints, "racing" with some friends, etc. If your century involves some hills, do some hill work as well.

If you can just ride, that's the best thing for training. There's nothing as good as just getting on the bike. If the weather is bad, get a stationary trainer so you can ride indoors.

Enjoy the training.
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Old 08-10-10, 04:26 PM
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I agree with the above--especially the part about getting bike fit and 'contact point' comfort. It is pretty miserable to be in good enough physical condition to do a century, and suffer through the end because of saddle issues, for example. If you can do a long ride of 75mi comfortably, you should be good to go for a full century. Pay attention to your nutrition and hydration--these will keep you strong for the event. Good luck!
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Old 08-10-10, 06:37 PM
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I'm in about the same situation as you--I'm new to cycling (got my bike at the end of June) but not new to intense physical activity (ballet and modern dance in my case). After the first week of getting my butt used to being on the saddle, I felt really comfortable on my bike, and just started trying longer rides. I did a metric century last month. After that ride and several other rides in the 40-60 mile range which were challenging but still felt well within what I could accomplish, I just said "what the heck" and went for it. I did a full century last week, and had a great time.

Though I didn't really consciously do a century training program, the 20+ years of intensive dance training more than provided the raw physical stamina I needed. The bike specific things that I did were more along the lines of getting other challenges out of the way so that I could rely on my pre-existing conditioning, such as:
--futzing with my bike fit so that it feels really comfortable
--waiting on the century until my wrists (a personal weak point) had gained a fair amount of strength
--going over my route several times the night before (Google streetview is great!) so that I wouldn't waste mental energy worrying about getting lost
--the usual stuff of eating and drinking before hungry or thirsty

I think you should go for it--try a couple rides in the 50+ mile range, and pay attention to your comfort on the bike (contact points, and any areas of known weakness such as neck, knees, wrists, etc). If any issues come up deal with them, but if you still feel good, you're probably ready for a century right now, much less in February. Have fun!
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Old 08-10-10, 08:05 PM
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You could probably go do it now. You might take 10 hours, but nothing wrong with that, either. Just keep riding, increase distances. Go ride a 100k when you get a chance. If you feel pretty good when you get done, that's a good sign.

For the ride in question, look up how much climbing it has, and make sure what you're riding is comparable. Do a little research and try to find out if wind is normally a big issue on the route in question (mainly a mental issue if it is, but handy to know.)
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Old 08-11-10, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by StephenH
For the ride in question, look up how much climbing it has, and make sure what you're riding is comparable. Do a little research and try to find out if wind is normally a big issue on the route in question (mainly a mental issue if it is, but handy to know.)
+1. For my first (metric) century, I did almost all my prep rides on a convenient rail-trail. I knew I could do the distance and more, but I was at least mentally unprepared for what was then a WALL (to me) followed by 30 minutes of rolling hills starting about 16 miles in. Fortunately, I had no shame about using my granny gears and made it, just not as easily as I expected. You have plenty of time to prep for a ride in 6+ months, including what weather conditions to expect that time of year. Family and friends can get you bike stuff (or gift cards) as holiday presents. Remember to have fun getting ready as well as on the day of the event.

As a data point, my riding time for centuries ranges from approx 6 hrs (flat, some headwinds & opportune drafting) to 7.5-8hrs [6,000-8,000 ft climbing]. Total time can run much longer depending on how much time you take (or lose) at rest stops. I schmooze too much, and usually underestimate how much time I give up.
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Old 08-13-10, 08:02 AM
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Great thread!
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Old 08-14-10, 07:20 PM
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All good suggestions above. Don't know if you have access to hills, but I would suggest spending some time in them , if possible. Hills will make you really strong. Just take your time and keep your heart rate at or below lactate threshold as much as possible. Doing so builds endurance. Tough to do in hills. Mix up your riding with hills, rollers and flats.
Also, make sure you have some good butt creme. Nu Butte or Beljum Budder are both excellent. They are pricey, but a little goes a long way.
Sounds like you can do a century now, or at least by October. Enjoy
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Old 08-15-10, 08:03 PM
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My question is how long is a "reasonable" amount of time to train for a century?
Pretty silly -don't you think?

I mean, why judge a century by 100 miles only? What about hills? What about gravel or potholes? What about 100 degree heat? Who knows - my job is to point out that exercise on a bike is NOT strictly measured by distance.

OK so we don't know what you are training for.
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Old 08-17-10, 06:04 AM
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Some tips for training for a century:
https://www.machka.net/articles/century.htm
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Old 08-23-10, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
Pretty silly -don't you think?

I mean, why judge a century by 100 miles only? What about hills? What about gravel or potholes? What about 100 degree heat? Who knows - my job is to point out that exercise on a bike is NOT strictly measured by distance.

OK so we don't know what you are training for.
Gravel would suck, what do people on road bikes do carry them?
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Old 08-23-10, 08:11 AM
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The Tour de Palm Springs, while not flat, doesn't appear to have anything that would qualify as a climb. Max grade on Mapmyride is 3% and the peak elevation, while 1750 ft., is reached 15 miles into the ride . Not that hills aren't an important part of training, but this looks like a very good first century. You've done marathons so your used to more pain than you'll feel on a century. Just increase your mileage and longest run gradually and you'll be fine. Get in the habit of drinking even on shorter rides. Hope you don't have to switch saddles 3 times before finding one that works for 6+ hours; some are lucky in this regard, some not so lucky. I image temps are reasonable in February, but all sorts of approaches to electrolyte replacement, if needed. I've been suffering from cramps at 40+ miles, but we did a tough 100K Saturday on the tandem and I avoided cramps. Good luck - it looks like a fun century.
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Old 08-23-10, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by hamanu23
Gravel would suck, what do people on road bikes do carry them?
Why would you carry it? Ride the darned thing. That's what it's got wheels for. It's 2 1/2miles of dirt road from my house to the nearest paved road. I certainly am not carrying my bike that far...
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