Century Ride Tips for First-Timers

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by traveling333, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. traveling333

    traveling333 New Member

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    Just read a post by athletic-minded traveler about doing Century Rides. The person who posted is an editor for the travel portal site. Anyway, it gives tips about choosing the race and pointers for race-day. She also lists SoCal races. It's pretty good.

    It doesn't give any training advice though. Would be good to have a post on just that.

    Athletic-Minded Traveler :: Blog :: Blog Archive Century Rides for Beginners
     
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  2. CalicoCat

    CalicoCat Member

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    OK, I'll bite here, but only because I am off the bike for a day thanks to a sore/stiff knee and therefore have some extra time. In fact, there are several threads about this on this forum and all over the internet.

    First of all, training for a century is not complicated, but does require some time and the ability to gauge how your body is feeling. The basic rule of thumb is to increase your mileage slowly so as to prevent injury and overtraining.

    I understand that this is the first time you have trained for the century distance, but I don't know what kind of base fitness you are bringing to your endeavor.
    I will assume that you are bringing none.

    Step #1: Buy a bike that fits and learn how to change tubes and make minor adjustments. This is important if you are training on your own and you long rides will leave you stranded far from home if you don't know how to fix things that go wrong with your bike. Your LBS should have classes to teach you about your bike, or just ask for them to show you.

    #2: Start riding it around the neighborhood to get comfortable on the bike and to see how far/long you can easily ride without being totally wiped at the end.

    #3: Start adding miles in 10% increments. Do this very slowly as your body needs to adapt to the demands of distance riding. Stick to a given distance until it becomes very easy, only then should you bump up the mileage by 10%. Also, train on the type of terrain you will be riding your century on (make sure to train on hills if your century will be hilly).

    #4: as you increase your mileage you might start running into issue like finding that your saddle isn't as comfortable as you thought, or you get saddle sores, etc. Use your training as an opportunity to experiment with different shorts with different amounts/kinds of padding, different chamois butter, and even different saddles. You will be in the saddle for a long time during century (and during your century training) and you need to be comfortable.

    #5: NUTRITION. I used to be a short distance runner before becoming an endurance cyclist, and the one thing that I was most intimidated by when starting with my new sport was nutrition. Ultimately, it is not that complicated. You don't want to start a ride on an empty stomach. Ideally, eat 2 hrs before riding. In the real world, where real life imposes time constraints, it is often necessary to eat right before training (due to having to schedule in training early in the morning before work, etc.). I usually eat a banana and/or a PBJ sandwich depending on the workout I have planned for myself. Keep in mind here, that nutrition requirements are very individual so what works for one person could be a disaster for someone else. Unfortunately trial and error is your only option here. Also keep in mind that the fitter you get and the more accustomed your body gets to long miles the less energy will be required to go the distance (but if you make other changes as you get fitter, like going faster, climbing more, intervals, etc then you will need to increase your fuel intake). For your longer rides, you will want to carry food that you can eat easily while riding, and is easily digested. Bananas, cliff shot blocks, gu, granola bars, power bars, are all good options, but you have to try them out for yourself to see what works for you. If you have an especially long day planned, you might also want to bring a sandwich to eat a rest stop. You don't want to eat too much, however, because doing so could make you sick when you get back on the bike. Rule of thumb: EAT BEFORE YOU ARE HUNGRY!!!!!! You will be depleting glycogen stores as you ride and if you don't replenish in time you will "bonk" (hit the proverbial wall). When you bonk you will be unable to maintain to your core temp, you will lose concentration, become dizzy, and be unable to continue. It is a fear of all endurance athletes, but one that with proper planning, rarely becomes an issue.

    #6 Recovery. Recovery is another aspect of training that is very important. You will want to schedule in recovery days. Recovery days can be off the bike completely, or "active recovery". A lot of people are proponents of active recovery as this recovery methods lets you spin out your legs reducing lactic acid buildup/stiffness. However, active recovery is, in my opinion, really hard to do properly because our competitive nature and the feeling that if we are taking time out of the day to spend it on the bike that we should be pushing ourselves. So, my "active recovery" days often because 30mi tempo rides (aka, not recovery). Active recovery can be achieved by riding with someone much slower than you. Otherwise, if you find that you are as bad at recovery as I (and other people) then just take those days completely off the bike. You also probably want to take every 3rd or 4th week extra easy. Ramp down your weekly mileage and take a few more rest days (for example, do 2 relatively short rides during the course of the week). This will be a "rest week" during which your body will recovery from the hard work it has been doing, and thereby get stronger.

    #7: Beware of the warning signs of overtraining. Really, to complete a century, you should not get yourself anywhere remotely close to overtraining. However, if you do, you want to be aware of it, and know what to do about it. Your resting heart rate might increase in the event of overtraining. People who think that they might be overtraining obsessively check their heart rates each morning. However, if you heart rate is really high, you'll feel it, and you should use that as a clue to back down a little (off the bike for a few days, at least). Overtraining will also lead to a decrease in performance and depression. There is a lot of information available on-line about overtrainig that you can read if you are really worried.

    That pretty much covers everything you need to know to complete a 100mi bike ride. If you want to go faster, say finish in less than 5hrs, you may want to add some intensity to your workouts (intervals, hill repeats). You don't want to do much, if any, intensity, before getting a solid fitness base of at least 1000 easy miles. Adding intesnity too early can lead to injury. Another thing to keep in mind is that once you start adding intensity days to go along with distance days then you do need to pay more attention to overtraining and make a plan to help you avoid it.
     
  3. traveling333

    traveling333 New Member

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    Wow!! what a great post. Can I cut and paste this as a comment to the Century Ride Post I read on athleticmindedtraveler? it has great training advice. thanks!
     
  4. CalicoCat

    CalicoCat Member

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    Sure.
     
  5. cram1960

    cram1960 New Member

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    Can't dispute the broad advice given above. I'll just add ride slower than you can, and concentrate on riding longer. Building up to 6-8 hours in the saddle is a real challenge. As your conditioning improves, speed will come. Of course you'll throw in some faster shorter rides, but nothing can replace time in the saddle.

    I did my first metric century last year...with about 4 months of training (July was pretty much a rain out here). Mostly riding on weekends (with 3-4 days of stationary in the gym of 40 minutes).

    The gym workouts were mainly 2X15-20 min intervals or just spinning on rest days.

    Did the 62 miles/100Km with about 500 total miles of training.
     
  6. rockapple

    rockapple New Member

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    My weekly schedule for pre Century

    Mon: 65 miles
    Tues: 40 miles Add Hill repeats ( Great For climbing)
    Wed: 55 miles
    Thurs: 25miles Spin Out Recovery Day (Flats Only) Take it easy
    Fri: 25 miles Mountain Biking (Great for Cadence)
    Sat : 50 miles
    Sun: 80 miles

    Your easily ready to go 80 to 100 is a small bump.

    Rock:D
     
  7. gman0482

    gman0482 Member

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    Good stuff.
    I plan on doing a couple of cent's myself this year.

    -Greg
     
  8. CalicoCat

    CalicoCat Member

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    OK, my mid-summer high volume weeks look a lot like this (but due to living in chicago where there are no hills, my tuesdays/thurs are HIIT days instead of hill repeat days), but I am concerned that you don't have enough rest planned into your schedule. You have 5 straight high mileage days (sat-wed) before your only rest/active recovery day. I recommend making monday (the day after a long ride, and the day before hard intervals) a spin out/active recovery day. Then, take your next rest day (thurs) totally off the bike. I really don't recommend 7 days/week of riding. Even if the body can handle it, the mind usually can't.

    Finally, a newbie needs to build to this kind of mileage very slowly. I don't recommend a week like this one until maybe 2 weeks before the century distance, otherwise, the newbie is at a high risk of injury.
     
  9. rockapple

    rockapple New Member

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    I couldn't agree more with ya Cali

    This type of week would definitely be rough for a newbie however its something to shoot for. I also don't recommend this type of week for everybody, Its personal preference I guess.
    Cheers:)
     
  10. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Way, way too much... I didn't ride that much for mountainous double centuries.

    You really don't need much more than 2.5 to 3 hours on a bike at any one time to prep for a ride that 100 miles or longer. Once you can pass the 3 hour mark comfortably then riding a steady pace for even 12+ hours is more down to correct feeding, good position and comfy saddle 'n shorts.
     
  11. Buckeyes

    Buckeyes New Member

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    Agreed, I did my first century ride last summer and had nowhere near the training to pull off a week like that. I ended up doing 3 by the end of the summer last year and realized that the most important part for me was regulating my food/liquid intake before and during the ride. My 2nd century last summer was the first time I bonked I finished in 5:15, but the last 25 miles of the ride were miserable and my pace had dropped nearly 5 MPH. I talked to some of the guys I started the ride with and they told me to take in more food and gatorade to keep my energy levels up, it worked I finished my 3rd and final century of the summer in under 5 hours and felt like I could have tacked on another 50 easy.
     
  12. traveling333

    traveling333 New Member

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    Wow, under five hours is impressive. So what exactly do you eat and do you dilute your Gatorade. We do. I started this post because my friends at Athletic-Minded Traveler posted a blog about tips for beginners. Now, as a follow up and mainly because of Calico Cat's thoughtful reply on training, they posted yesterday about training. This is the post link.

    We favor Gu and diluted Gatorade for longer rides and maybe a bar too.
     
  13. Buckeyes

    Buckeyes New Member

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    Alright my fault a bit of a misleading post before. First of all I am a newbie on a bike and on both these rides we had a tailwind heading south plus I was locked onto the back of an experienced group of riders, they were punching it. I led a couple of times but manly hung around in the middle of the group. I should have explained before that the finishing times themselves weren't what I was trying to get across more the feeling I had when I finished the races. But anyway from my running days and college lacrosse days I like to keep my diet pretty normal before events just up the carbs alittle a day or two before. I stay away from spicy food, mexican food and anything loaded with fiber 48 hours before a long event, theres no reason to have GI issues during a race. When I'm on the road I feel like cliff bars are the best for me I also carry a couple hammer gels, although the more I use the gel the less I like them compared to a solid food. I would say make sure to test everything during your long practice sessions new stuff can give you different feelings during a ride and they are not always good.
     
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