Century Preparation

Are you ready?        

Physical and mental preparation are essential to completing a century ride. This applies to those of you who have already completed a (100Km) century and those who still aspire to such a goal. Since joining the club in 1999, I have completed several centuries of different distances, including the last (6) club centuries.

While I do not consider myself an expert in long distance riding, the completion of, (26) 100+, (6) 160+, (2) 200+ and (1) 300+ Km rides since 1999, there are a few things that I can pass along.

Expectations: Do not set your goal(s) too high, otherwise, it can have an adverse effect by being disappointed or “turned-off,” by not completing what you set out to accomplish. Ride within your own capabilities.
Fitness: For most of us, winter training/exercise is common, however, for those of you who wait until spring and the new riding season to gain their fitness; this hampers your ability to ride longer distances earlier in the season. A good cardio/aerobic base to start the season is an advantage some riders have over some of the others.
Progression: A steady progression is recommended, especially for the novice rider or those who only cycle up to 40-50Km per ride. Again, ride within your own capabilities.Try to increase your riding distances by, approximately 10%-20% after 2-3 rides at the shorter distance i.e. 2 x 40Km to 45-50Km, 2 x 50Km to 55-60Km etc.  

You will be surprised how quickly your endurance and distances will improve.

Planning: Taking turns at being ride directors, the planning of a ride/route is a major factor in the involvement and enjoyment of our fellow riders for our various rides.Just as important as planning is for others, planning the ride for oneself is essential for the longer and more demanding rides.  

Regarding your bicycle, make sure that it is in good/safe working order and that you take the necessary tools and equipment in case of emergencies.

It may be a good idea to have your local bike store or knowledgeable friend to look over your bike prior to the ride i.e. wheels, tires & pressure, brakes & derailleur cables, chain, lubrication etc.

Ride Day: Decide before the ride how far you are willing to cycle and how long it should take. If you plan on 80Km for instance, 18-20 KPH should take approximately, 4-4 1/2 hours. Likewise, 100Km should take approximately 5-5 1/2 hours depending on the weather conditions and terrain.This is not the time for experimenting with equipment and/or apparel. Comfort is essential for completing longer rides and the more comfort, the better the end result.  

Rather than think about a 50, 75, 100, 160 or 200Km ride, try to break your ride into 25Km segments. Forget the “big picture,” and work in, “snap shots” which should take your mindset away from a lengthy, “end of the road,” distance. The only problem with this strategy is, after 2-3 segments, you reach a point of, “no return” and your 50 or 75Km becomes a 100 or 150Km ride. Remember, plan ahead.

For those riding the longer distances, patience and pacing yourself could be a factor in completion of the ride. Depending on your abilities, choose a pace (KPH) that suits you.

Taking smaller (10-15 min.) breaks rather than larger (30-40 min.) breaks has its advantages, for not only your momentum, but your body as well. Smaller breaks may prevent the “build-up” of lactic acid in your muscles, whereas longer breaks create muscle stiffness and it takes longer to get back into a “groove.”

Hydration: This cannot be emphasized enough. Whether it is a short or long ride, keeping your body well hydrated combined with appropriate snacking, is essential for the completion of your ride. While cold water is thirst quenching and refreshing, it is not as effective as the various sports drinks that are available. If sports drinks are not your favorite, it can be diluted with some water.Appropriate snacking is an individual choice and what works for you, however, avoid eating “fatty” foods or those that cannot be digested properly. “No fish & chips.”
Completion: No matter what the distance, enjoy the day and your accomplishments. Better still, enjoy a well-deserved beer(s) as you watch the later riders arrive.

Ian Cardey