Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Century ride - how (not) to do it

Century ride - every cyclist's milestone to "serious riding". That transitional step when you advance from "baby steps" cycling to the "seriously committed" level.

Yet for most of us, a simple century ride means completely different things. First, the distance. Century indicates a length of 100 units. For me, being a metric person, it's 100km. For most Americans it's 100 miles and I will stick with this "American century" definition for the rest of this page.

Next, there is a question of how you would ride that distance. If you have never tried riding that many miles in one day, perhaps you tried to learn more about the coming challenge from the internet. And that might have been a mistake, because apparently, lots of advice out there is targeted to competitive cyclists who ride a century for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take this article from Bicycling magazine. Turns out that you should expect pain, suffering, hunger, thirst and a heatstroke. Their list of thoughts you may have on such a ride includes:
"I should have a snack." 
"Why am I out of snacks?"
"I’m in hell. All you people in your cars, with your air conditioning... You have no idea how lucky you are."
"I was crazy to think I could do this."
"I hate my gloves/jersey/helmet/socks/bike. I hate that tree. I hate everything."
It gets better. This video suggests that in order to ride 100 miles you should enter an organized event. On top of that, you will need a special training session to prepare you for the ride.

Fortunately, this is not true. It's doesn't have to be rocket science, especially if you're not planning on finishing the ride in 5 hours, that is - racing. As long as you take it easy, you don't need to worry too much about suffering, thirst or nutrition. Ah yes, nutrition. You can follow the advice from this video if you want to become a drug addict:

... or you can just eat regular food like the rest of us.

The point is - all of these advice may apply to people who want to race over 100 mile distance but are completely unsuitable for the rest of us. As long as you ride regularly and did a few 30, 50, 70-mile rides before, you are ready for a century. Just pick a relatively flat route for the first attempt and a day with pleasant weather. For some of you 90F and humid is pleasant, while for others (myself included) it would be a torture. Pack the basic toolkit, water and a few snacks but don't worry about food - you will stop for lunch anyway.

The most important thing is - take it easy and don't rush. Seems like the how-to showed above applies to competitive cyclists who expect to complete a century before lunch. If you don't race, there is little point in that. It takes me about 11-12 hours to finish a 100 mile ride. That's the whole day of riding,
 but instead of staring at the front tire the whole time, I enjoy the view...
 ... and the open road.

I also take numerous stops to take pictures and eat my lunch. No pills and "products" can replace a juicy burger with good beer.
Then, you can treat yourself with another one after the ride.

No comments:

Post a Comment