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What level of training do I REALLY need for a century.

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What level of training do I REALLY need for a century.

Old 03-14-06, 10:41 AM
  #1  
MrCjolsen
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What level of training do I REALLY need for a century.

I'm really itching to do one. I know of an almost flat century (The Bike Around the Buttes) near where I live next month.

I've been riding about 100 miles a week lately, mostly commuting. My longest ride has been about 40 miles. My issue is time constraints and weather at this point in time. I just don't have time to go out and do 60 or 70 miles every weekend. A ride that long basically kills the whole day and I have a life outside of cycling.

Can I do a flat century at my level? Speed wise, I average 17-18 mph. More if I don't have any stop signs or lights to cross.
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Old 03-14-06, 10:45 AM
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At 100 miles a week, you can do an easy century, particularly if you back off your normal pace a bit and take it easy. However stretching your long ride from 40 to 100 is likely to make for a relatively uncomfortable day, particularly the last 20 or so. I'd try to get in a couple of rides of 50 to 60 miles if possible. Also if you just don't have the time, putting in some more intense (read interval) efforts will help your overall strength, which translates some to endurance (but doesn't do much for conditioning your butt).
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Old 03-14-06, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
I'm really itching to do one. I know of an almost flat century (The Bike Around the Buttes) near where I live next month.

I've been riding about 100 miles a week lately, mostly commuting. My longest ride has been about 40 miles. My issue is time constraints and weather at this point in time. I just don't have time to go out and do 60 or 70 miles every weekend. A ride that long basically kills the whole day and I have a life outside of cycling.

Can I do a flat century at my level? Speed wise, I average 17-18 mph. More if I don't have any stop signs or lights to cross.
How did you do on the 40 mile ride? It sounds like you would do just fine, especially since you are planning on attempting it on a flat surface. I say plan it and go for it, then post back to this thread so we can see how you did!
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Old 03-14-06, 10:56 AM
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i think you'd have the fitness already. riding a century is mostly about pacing and eating anyway. just keep it slow and don't blow yourself up the first half.

here is what i notice about centuries:

miles 1-40: i feel very strong and often have trouble keeping myself from going too fast. don't need a break, but i'll drink enough and have an energy bar.

miles 40-60: it starts feeling like a long ride at this point. mentally i start getting tired and my legs get a little tight. i would definitely need to have a break and some food around mile 60.

miles 60-80: getting tired of being on the bike. why the hell did i sign up for this century again?? usually i stop for a break and eat again toward mile 75-80.

miles 80-100: i always get a second wind because i'm excited to finish. i usually feel worn out but can maintain a decent clip to the end. as i roll to the end i think, that wasn't bad at all.

just save yourself for the end. most of the ride you should be riding below your limit.
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Old 03-14-06, 10:59 AM
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I started cycling last July.
A week after I bought my bike I did a 55 mile ride.
The next weekend I did a century (104 miles actually).
I rode with a large group, did a lot of drafting and we stopped every 20 miles for several minutes to eat, fill bottles etc.
At the time I thought it was some huge ultraendurance event, and was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish. Now I regularly do long rides of 80, 90 100+ miles with just 2 water bottles and a few Cliff bars.

It should really be a piece of cake for you, just be sure to take it easy for the first half.
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Old 03-14-06, 10:59 AM
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I suspect you are capable of doing a century. But if I were you, I'd really try to get in a couple 50-60 mile rides beforehand, to get a better sense of what to expect.
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Old 03-14-06, 11:02 AM
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You're likely in good enough shape, but I recommend doing two 50+ rides in the 2-3 weeks before the event.
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Old 03-14-06, 11:02 AM
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i forgot to mention one thing. do you have any aches and pains on longer rides now? is your back super sore or your feet in pain? if so, try to resolve that before your century. nothing is worse than riding long miles in pain. being worn out and tired is one thing, but actually hurting is entirely something else. i did my first 65 miler with a bad knee. the last 30 miles were horrendous.
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Old 03-14-06, 11:09 AM
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If you can average 18mph for 40 miles, then a flat century should be trivial if the weather is nice. Just slow down a little (maybe 15mph average instead of 18mph) and make sure you drink regularly and eat at least a couple of times along the way.
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Old 03-14-06, 11:13 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by timmhaan
i think you'd have the fitness already. riding a century is mostly about pacing and eating anyway. just keep it slow and don't blow yourself up the first half.

here is what i notice about centuries:

miles 1-40: i feel very strong and often have trouble keeping myself from going too fast. don't need a break, but i'll drink enough and have an energy bar.

miles 40-60: it starts feeling like a long ride at this point. mentally i start getting tired and my legs get a little tight. i would definitely need to have a break and some food around mile 60.

miles 60-80: getting tired of being on the bike. why the hell did i sign up for this century again?? usually i stop for a break and eat again toward mile 75-80.

miles 80-100: i always get a second wind because i'm excited to finish. i usually feel worn out but can maintain a decent clip to the end. as i roll to the end i think, that wasn't bad at all.

just save yourself for the end. most of the ride you should be riding below your limit.

Couldn't have said it better. I once quit a century at mile 70 because I was just tired of sitting on that damn bike. Suck a wheel every chance you get, even if it's just 50 meters, unless it puts you over 80% max HR.

Last edited by Dubbayoo; 03-14-06 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 03-14-06, 11:16 AM
  #11  
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This will be no sweat for you. Just pace yourself (i.e. knock 1-2 mph off your normal cruising speed) and don't skimp on food or drink. If you find yourself feeling tired when there's still a long way to go, ease off the pace but don't stop. I would recommend against setting a speed goal for your first century -- it may tempt you to ride too hard or fight the wind. Riding 1/2 mph too fast can be the difference between a lot of fun and exhaustion.

If you ride 100 miles a week and can normally handle 17-18 mph, there's a decent chance you'll find yourself in the 40th or 50th percentile of riders there fitness wise. In other words, you'll see people who are a lot faster than you, but you will also be faster than many other people there.

Don't worry about not having time to put in some 60 mile training rides. Anyone who still feels good after 20 can handle a century.
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Old 03-14-06, 11:37 AM
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Your issue, if you have one at all, won't be fitness-related from what you report. Nor will it be related to total time on the bike, which at 100 miles a week, is good. With those two things in order, you can "finish" a century without doing anything else.

If you want to enjoy the experience, I'd recommend fitting in one ride of 65 miles between now and your event (preferably two weeks before). If you can ride 65 miles in similar weather and on similar terrain to your upcoming century, then you can ride the century and actually have fun doing it.

Don't underestimate hom much a long ride impacts both your body and your mind. You can read all about it on the internet, but there's no substitute for going out there and doing it. A 65-mile ride will show you valuable things that you'll experience in a century that you'd never discover in a 40-mile ride: how you do with water and food, soreness in your hands, neck, arms, back, feet, and legs, how your butt does on the saddle, what a proper pace might be for 100 miles, etc.... Have fun and good luck!
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Old 03-14-06, 12:20 PM
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^^^ Good advice.

Last year before I did my first centuries, I did several metric centuries (62 miles). Although you do increase your fitness by doing these longer rides, the really important part is that you also boost your confidence so that you know you can make it.

Centuries (unless you are going for speed) are less about fitness, and more about eating/drinking and staying comfortable on the bike. You won't be able to store enough energy even with a big dinner to last beyond a couple hours, so you need to "refuel" on the run. And any little pain gets magnified. I've never really been "tired" after any of the three centuries I've done, but my butt was definitely a little sore!

Another thing to keep in mind is that a 100 mile ride is just 2 and half of your 40 mile rides, and you can take whatever break you want to between segments.
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Old 03-14-06, 01:03 PM
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I would highly recommend you get in at least 1 ride of 65 or 70 miles and don't forget about the mental part. My first century I did hit that "What am I doing" thing about 70 miles in. Now I know I can do it and that is a big help when battling the demons.
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Old 03-14-06, 01:19 PM
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I did my first century two months ago. I second the suggestions to get a few slightly longer rides in if possible. And make sure you eat/drink plenty. Good luck.
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Old 03-14-06, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
Couldn't have said it better. I once quit a century at mile 70 because I was just tired of sitting on that damn bike. Suck a wheel every chance you get, even if it's just 50 meters, unless it puts you over 80% max HR.
Amen to the above.

Couple of tips: Staying hydrated is just as critical, if not more important, than eating. Eat bananas, Fig Newtons, Clif Bars. Drink water. WATER. Carry two bottles and fill 'em every time you stop.

Try stringing together a back-to-back pair of 50+ milers. If your body doesn't complain about that, you're good to go for the century.
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Old 03-14-06, 02:04 PM
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Do the math. 100 divided by 20 is 5. By 18 is 5.5. By 15 is 6.6. And that doesnt include at least a couple of decent breaks. Are you prepared to spend that much time in the saddle? For me its not the legs its the butt that goes first. The only way to get your butt used to long hours in the saddle is to spend long hours in the saddle.
If you are comfortable in the saddle on your long rides you will probably do fine.
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Old 03-14-06, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
I'm really itching to do one. I know of an almost flat century (The Bike Around the Buttes) near where I live next month.

I've been riding about 100 miles a week lately, mostly commuting. My longest ride has been about 40 miles. My issue is time constraints and weather at this point in time. I just don't have time to go out and do 60 or 70 miles every weekend. A ride that long basically kills the whole day and I have a life outside of cycling.

Can I do a flat century at my level? Speed wise, I average 17-18 mph. More if I don't have any stop signs or lights to cross.
If you can do 25 hilly miles before work, you can do a century.

At least that worked for me. Last year was my first century. It's actually 112 miles, and hilly in places. I usually do a 10 mile ride before work, then the occasional longer 30-60 mile ride if I get a good portion of the day to myself. So last year as the Onion River Century was drawing near, not having had a lot of time to prepare I woke up an hour earlier than usual, and did 27 miles. I reasoned if that didn't wipe me out for the rest of the day I could pull off 4 of those over the course of the day. It reassured me, and while I was sore and tired at then end it was quite do-able. SO maybe I shouldn't be so glib as to insinuate what worked for me will work for you, but I would say if 25 miles isn't any big deal first thing in the morning, four of them over the course of a day shouldn't be either.

Last edited by mattface; 03-14-06 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 03-14-06, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
Suck a wheel every chance you get, even if it's just 50 meters,....
Nahh, don't do that -- it will cheapen your accomplishment. You're strong enough to do this without help. You'll feel best about the ride if you pull your own weight the entire way (maybe while towing others).
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Old 03-14-06, 02:39 PM
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MrCjolsen, thanks for posting this question, I have been following this thread since I am also thinking about doing at least one or two this season and it will be my first also.

Thanks for all the great advices from everyone, I have done 65 mile on my mtb with fat tires last year granted slept for a week after the ride but enjoyed the first 40 miles, then it was hell.

I have a nice road bike now and the club I will be biking with usually start with 20-35 for few times, then they go into the 40-65, then the centuries.

Good luck to us guys trying to get a century under our belt.
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Old 03-14-06, 02:47 PM
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I found this site very helpful for training for my first century:

http://www.ultracycling.com/training/century.html


I agree with many responses here and think it is very important to get in at least one ride of 60-70 miles. There are many pains that often do not appear on a road bike until you hit that 50-mile mark (hot-foot, leg cramps, sore back, shoulders, neck, butt…).
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Old 03-14-06, 03:14 PM
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I'm confused. If you don't have the time to do 60 miles on a Saturday, how do you have the time to do 100 miles. Most charity rides offer shorter rides as well. On the one you are planning, sign up for the metric century and see how you do. If you do it with no problems, sign up for a full century at the next opportunity, or do a solo. The embarrassment of riding in on the SAG wagon isn't worth it to me. But then I don't like to fail at anything. Sounds to me like you have the time, you just don't want to do the work.
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Old 03-14-06, 03:18 PM
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I did the Solvang 50 because I hadn't ridden over 45 in 10 yrs. I knew I didn't have a c-note in me. When I did my first century I had not ridden over 50-55 I'd guess.
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Old 03-14-06, 03:24 PM
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Timely advice from lots of people. I have my first ever century ride coming up in three weeks (Cactus Hugger in Southern Utah) and I've been told that there are lots of rolling hills and a couple of notable canyon climbs.

I've been working my way up distance-wise, with a 60-miler a couple of weeks ago, a 70-miler a week ago, and an 80-miler last Sunday. What has helped me has been to bring an iPod, bring candy/snacks, and to stop at gas stations at regular intervals to buy gatorade and/or refill the water bottles. For example, on Sunday I stopped at 30 miles, 50 miles, and 70 miles. At the 70-mile point I was starting to feel neck fatigue but the 5 minute pit-stop really refueled me mentally and the last 10 miles I was able to actually bring up my MPH average for the ride.

I'll say this... If you're not able to do any 60+ mile rides you should Keep a really good pulse on things like finger/hand numbness, neck fatigue, butt soreness, knee aches, foot hot-spots, etc. during your 40-50 mile rides. If you feel any of those things during 50 miles you'll REALLY feel them by the time you reach 100.

I'm coming at this from a running culture and I must say that the typical century ride seems way more laid-back than a marathon. Nobody would stop in the middle of a marathon to have lunch but it happens all the time during century rides--and its a GOOD THING, imo. Have fun, meet folks along the way, stop frequently to refuel physically and mentally.

--Steve
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Old 03-14-06, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by CardiacKid
I'm confused. If you don't have the time to do 60 miles on a Saturday, how do you have the time to do 100 miles.
You're kidding, right? If the original poster has a family then I can totally understand him being able to schedule a one-time six hour event but not necessarily being able to spend that much time away every weekend.

--Steve
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