Your First Century

Charlie Jenkins

Cycling's #1 goal is the century ride (riding 100 miles in one day). Cyclists everywhere have the common goal of riding their first century. Centuries are definitely doable for most cyclists with minimal fitness & cycling ability, reasonably good health, and a little determination. Start training in June, and you will have plenty of time to prepare for an August century! The starting month & century month are merely arbitrary. Given that I'm writing this in June, and the popular local centuries (Red River Rally & Hotter n Hell Hundred) are in August...How convenient!

Pick your event, and pre-register for it (if you are pre-registered, your training will have more urgency and you will be more focused).

You should have a definite plan. Some of your goals should be:

  • Improve base fitness
  • Get used to being in the saddle for hours
  • Prepare for the terrain of your chosen century
  • Get your bike dialed in perfectly
  • Find out what foods & drink works and don't work for you
  • Be consistent

Your personal schedule will dictate how much time you have to train & prepare. However, it takes less than most people think. Simply ensure you ride at least one long ride per week, and 2-4 shorter rides throughout the week. Your long ride should increase in mileage by 10%-15% each week. So, if your long ride is 35 miles now, you can be ready for a century in 8-12 weeks! In addition to your long ride every week, ride at least one short but high intensity ride per week, ride at least one easy recovery ride each week, and take at least one day off the bike completely. Remember, your recovery & rest days are as important as your riding days.

Ride all hours of the day, in all types of weather, on all types of roads, on all terrain. This will prepare you for whatever the "Big Day" throws at you, will improve your adaptability. Plus, this will help keep things fresh & prevent boredom. Find a club, group or buddy to ride with that has similar ability and similar goals. Riding in groups (even a group of two) will help keep you motivated & make the miles & hours fly by.

Prior to "Century Day":

Ensure your bike is ready a couple weeks early. Have it inspected & repairs done at least 1-2 weeks prior. Don't wait until right before the big day. Your bike shop may be too busy to get the work done. Besides, some repairs need a couple rides to get everything seated & dialed in. Even if you do your own work, don't procrastinate until the last few days. Some of the things to check:

  • Tires - make sure they are not too worn (worn tires are prone to frequent flats)
  • Brakes - ensure they are working well & pads are not worn
  • Derailleurs - make sure they are adjusted properly & lubricated
  • Chain - replace if worn out, clean & lubricate regardless
  • Cables - replace if frayed, rusted or corroded,
  • Bolts & nuts - check for tightness
  • Wheels - ensure they are true & no spokes are loose

Make sure you are properly hydrated & rested the week prior to the event.

Century Day!

Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Carry the following with you:

  • Tube (at least one...maybe two)
  • Patch kit
  • Pump (or Co2 inflator & a couple cartridges)
  • Multi-tool
  • Any clothes you may need: i.e. arm and leg warmers, jacket, etc. (this will be dictated by the weather, but don't get caught unprepared!)
  • Sufficient Nutrition & Hydration products (if you are riding an organized rally, these may be furnished by the host, verify if unsure)

Stay hydrated & properly fueled. Don't spend much time at the rest stops. Don't even refer to them as "rest" stops. Consider them "refuel" stops instead. Stop, fill your bottles, grab some nutrition & be back on the bike in 5 minutes. If the lines are long, and you have sufficient drink & nutrition to make it to the next stop, go on. However, don't cut yourself short. If it's questionable, take the couple minutes to refuel.

Avoid dangerous pacelines & groups, resist the temptation to ride too fast. Instead, find some riders you are comfortable and compatible with. If you find yourself with the wrong group (i.e. too fast, dangerous and erratic, etc.), slow down & wait for the next group. Follow the rules of the road & stay safe.

Hopefully these tips will help you prepare for the big day & allow you to "enjoy the ride"!

  • alll1g25
  • Chad
  • Charlie
  • Charlie
  • JimG
  • Jlafoy


f g