Advice from experienced distance riders?



ethelred

New Member
Sep 10, 2007
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Hello all,

I'm a newbie... bought a road bike last fall and was instantly addicted. Right now, I'm training for a century ride on July 19. I'm one of those very anal and organized people, and have this whole chart (based on lots of reading and research) of how many total miles I need to do each week, and how long my "long" ride needs to be each week.

So far, in four weeks, I've had no problem meeting those goals. I am really excited about this century ride and have no trouble motivating myself to get out and ride.

My question is: We're having a week of severe weather where I live (in the Midwest) -- hail and thunderstorms -- the kind of weather it's not really safe to ride in. I'm kind of freaking out about potentially not meeting my mileage goals. For those of you who have done centuries, will I still be OK if I miss the goals for a week (or a couple weeks... who knows what weather lies ahead?) because of severe weather? How important is it to stick to a strict plan like I have... or is it more important just to gradually build up mileage and intensity and I'm being way too literal about this?

Thanks!
 

wiredued

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Aug 17, 2004
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If you feel like riding and you can't that's not good do you have an indoor trainer I use the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine or rollers indoors. FWIW When indoors I do 3x20s (L4) mostly and a 3x4 (L5) once a week. Every body is different you may see real progress without the L5 if you are just starting out.



ethelred said:
Hello all,

I'm a newbie... bought a road bike last fall and was instantly addicted. Right now, I'm training for a century ride on July 19. I'm one of those very anal and organized people, and have this whole chart (based on lots of reading and research) of how many total miles I need to do each week, and how long my "long" ride needs to be each week.

So far, in four weeks, I've had no problem meeting those goals. I am really excited about this century ride and have no trouble motivating myself to get out and ride.

My question is: We're having a week of severe weather where I live (in the Midwest) -- hail and thunderstorms -- the kind of weather it's not really safe to ride in. I'm kind of freaking out about potentially not meeting my mileage goals. For those of you who have done centuries, will I still be OK if I miss the goals for a week (or a couple weeks... who knows what weather lies ahead?) because of severe weather? How important is it to stick to a strict plan like I have... or is it more important just to gradually build up mileage and intensity and I'm being way too literal about this?

Thanks!
 

ethelred

New Member
Sep 10, 2007
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wiredued said:
If you feel like riding and you can't that's not good do you have an indoor trainer I use the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine or rollers indoors. FWIW When indoors I do 3x20s (L4) mostly and a 3x4 (L5) once a week. Every body is different you may see real progress without the L5 if you are just starting out.

Nope, I don't have an indoor trainer but I do have a gym membership, where I could ride a stationary bike (or go into the group room and use a spinning bike if there's no class going on), but that's not really the same as being on my own bike... and I'm not sure it "counts" toward building up mileage for an outdoor endurance ride.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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If you are in decent shape a week or so off will not kill your form. I am guess your butt and shoulders will suffer as much as anything on the century, so work on your upper body and core during bad weather.
A few push up and or sit up won't hurt a thing.
 

FreeHueco

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Sep 9, 2003
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jhuskey said:
If you are in decent shape a week or so off will not kill your form. I am guess your butt and shoulders will suffer as much as anything on the century, so work on your upper body and core during bad weather.
A few push up and or sit up won't hurt a thing.

FWIW, my current training is for a triple century in 3+ weeks and a 500 in September (and a few doubles thrown in for good measure).

When I can't do my rides outdoors, I usually ride an hour on a trainer. My normal workout is a 20 minute warmup, 20 minutes of intervals (usually alternating 100 revolutions of hard effort with 100 easy, or some variation of that), and then a 20 minute cool down.

But then, my training is not really organized. Some weeks are well over 250 miles and others are in the 150 range...
 

wiredued

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Aug 17, 2004
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Think in terms of hours on the bike go at a pace for an hour total (20min intervals works well) where you have to concentrate a bit that is repeatable 3 to 5 times a week. Have sugar and carbs in the critical half hour when you get off the bike if you want to recover within 24hrs. Being in the gym is tough without a big fan you probably won't get a full hour in the sweet spot.

ethelred said:
Nope, I don't have an indoor trainer but I do have a gym membership, where I could ride a stationary bike (or go into the group room and use a spinning bike if there's no class going on), but that's not really the same as being on my own bike... and I'm not sure it "counts" toward building up mileage for an outdoor endurance ride.
 

kopride

Member
May 17, 2006
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If your goal is to finish, then you will be fine taking a week or two off. (Many of the other riders will be in the same boat as you if the weather is so bad). Most reasonably fit people can finish a supported/charity-type century. They pay for it in terms of back and butt pain, and might spend significant time in the rest stops, but they finish. If you are following a structured plan and you just want to complete the ride, then you are already ahead. If your goal is to finish it in a certain time, then a week off could cost you a little bit depending upon how hard and long you have been training, but you are talking in terms of minutes, not hours.

If it is a group club ride where they push a certain pace, then you need to make sure that you can ride the right amount of hours at that pace, or you will get dropped, or bonk. Under those circumstances, you might want to hit that stationary bike for a few hours this week. Most of the clubs in my area will tell participants what the pace will be before they drag someone out on a long ride and drop them. Even under those circumstances, some nice but annoyed soul will usually hang back and nurse you home. Bring a cell phone and have a loved one on call to pick you up if you have any doubts. Make sure that you have food, extra tubes, etc as well. Contact the club or ride leader if you have concerns about a particular unsupported century.

Good luck and have fun. Centuries are a great way to get into cycling. The pace is usually such that you can carry on a conversation and you always meet nice people. After the initial 20 miles, you will naturally fall in with a group that is basically riding at your level. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment in finishing and they usually support some great cause.
 

ethelred

New Member
Sep 10, 2007
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Thank you all so much. This is extremely helpful information and I appreciate your responses.

Yes, it's a supported century ride, with rest stops and sag wagon. The local bike club I belong to will have some people there as a loose group... I've ridden with many of these people on shorter rides and we do ride at the same pace, but I wouldn't mind at all if they drop me during the century, and I'll be sure to let them know that. I don't want to hold anyone back. They all have their own goals that may be different from mine.

Yes, my goal is simply to finish. Once I do this one and see how it goes, I may do others and set a time goal (my average pace is about 15 mph for rides up to 40 miles, but I have no idea whether I can maintain that for 100 miles) -- but for my first century, I just want to have fun, enjoy the experience, and feel strong. I don't want to drag across the finish line completely bonked out -- I'm prepared for pain and discomfort, but don't want to be wiped out to the point of misery because I didn't prepare enough. I want to go into it feeling like I trained as well as I could.

So your suggestions of spending time in the gym doing weight training and cardio workouts when it's crappy outside are excellent, and make me feel a lot better about the outdoor time I'm missing. Stupid Minnesota weather.
 

kopride

Member
May 17, 2006
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ethelred said:
Yes, my goal is simply to finish. Once I do this one and see how it goes, I may do others and set a time goal (my average pace is about 15 mph for rides up to 40 miles, but I have no idea whether I can maintain that for 100 miles)
Then it is just about pacing. Keep in mind that peasants in rural China regularly rode their fully loaded single speed Flying Pigeon bikes these kinds of distances. They don't have your training or nutrition but can ride 100 mi round trip in one day for health care or to market, often with a few kids on the handlebars and a basket of produce balanced on their heads. No sag wagons or power bars. No specific training. What passes as an epic event in our culture is just business as usual in the third world.

Every year there is an elderly chinese woman in our area that rides the two day South Jersey MS 150 on an upright single speed wearing sandles and a straw hat. She stops at no rest stops and just plods on at 15 mph (on a very flat course.) It is quite humbling. She is not last by any means and always finishes both days.