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Old 07-06-11, 09:19 AM   #1
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Do I have enough time to prepare?

I need some advice. I am fairly new to cycling, and I was wondering if it a reasonable expectation that I will be able to ride a century later this year.

I have cycled in the past, but nothing too serious or long-distancy, just a few rides here and there. I just started up again a couple weeks ago.

Fitness level:
I am 25 years old. My general fitness level is average, or better than average. I can currently do a 30 mile ride at an easy pace without being too tired afterwards. I plan to do 35 miles this weekend for my "long ride."

Time constraints:
Due to my work and other sports commitments, I can ride (on average) 3.5 days a week (3 days every week, and an additional day every other week). I can do a long ride once per week.

The question:
There are a couple centuries coming up late this fall around where I live. One is at the end of September, one is at the end of October.

I thought these might be fun to do, and also would be a goal that I can work towards. Simple math shows me that if I do a 35 mile ride this week, and increase the length of my long ride by 10% each week, I could be doing a 75 mile ride by middle September.

Would it be a reasonable goal to do be able to do these, or would that be pushing it too fast too soon? My goal isn't to go fast or try to be competitive, just to finish and enjoy it. I don't want to burn out with training, but at the same time, I want to push myself a bit.

Thanks in advance for the advice.
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Old 07-06-11, 10:33 AM   #2
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There are many "Get ready for a century in [a month|six weeks|two months|three months] articles out there.
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Old 07-06-11, 11:18 AM   #3
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I figure that anyone in any kind of shape who is reasonably young (under 45) can ride a century with 10 weeks of preparation. OK, that gives you 8 weeks in July & August and 2 weeks in September. You have time.

First suggestion. The more days you do aerobic exercise the better. It does not have to be long. But on the days you are not on the bike, if you can do something like a fast walk for 30 minutes (more is better), it will help.

Second suggestion. Push yourself at least at the back half on one of your shorter rides per week or even twice on shorter rides. For the long ride, take a more normal cruise. Pushing helps you improve your average speed and your level of fitness.

Third Suggestion. Listen to your body. If you exercise and you are having trouble, back off. If you think you can go farther than 35 miles, like 40, you can do that too.

Fourth Suggestion. On long rides, pacing is the important thing. Stop periodically to rest your contact points (like once every hour and a half or so). Also, eat small snacks and drink water or electrolyte drinks. Hydration is important.

Fifth Suggestion. Always have your emergency kit - ID, money, water, tire irons, pump, tubes and whatever else you need.

You should do fine. The human body can improve its conditioning very fast. Have fun.
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Old 07-06-11, 01:13 PM   #4
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And just figure you will, but be mentally ready to not. So many things can go wrong with one's body and its relation to equipment. Main thing - don't injure yourself by pushing to do something that your body absolutely doesn't want to do. Plenty of time for that in future years of riding when you have more experience with pain and its meanings.
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Old 07-06-11, 04:20 PM   #5
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I think you can do 100 miles by the end of the year. The biggest problem I had was not my legs, but my back/shoulder after 60-70 miles. Nothing beats some test rides that are more than 2/3s of your target distance. I also don't know why you should limit yourself to 10% gains week over week, this isn't running, you should try jumping up when you find a good route and feel up to it.
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