Preparing for Your First Century

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 by Jay S. Hardcastle

This is the first in a series, based on Bicycle Garage Indy’s featured clinic: Preparing for Your First Long Rides.

tosrv_openroadThe first century rides were organized in the late 1880’s as quasi-competitions, based on finishing 100 miles in under 12 hours, on a single speed, 60 pound bike, while riding on gravel and hard packed stone roads. The century ride continues to be cycling’s equivalent of the marathon, as an achievement for cyclists at any level of interest. In general, century rides or endurance events offer cyclists at any level a personal goal to reach, at a mild level of competition, without the additional skill requirements and commitments required of full competitive cycling. And even a fast century event can be a very social, group oriented ride.

While we are discussing the century, 100 miles, the same basic concepts can apply to any multi-hour (three hours or more), endurance bike ride goal you want to set, from 50 to 100, 160 (the RAIN Ride in Indiana) or even double centuries, 200 miles in one day.

To complete a distance or endurance ride injury-free requires training your body in three different ways:

Cardio Conditioning: Training your heart and lungs
Muscular Conditioning: Legs, Arms, Back and Neck.
Mental Conditioning: This is developing the habits of training, nutrition, pacing and most of all, confidence.

Almost anybody can do 100 miles on a bike with little preparation, at least once. However, if you prepare with a training plan, it will be a lot more fun, you are much less likely to injure youself, and that means you will much more likely to want ride one agaim. This series will cover these three aspects through a progressive ride schedule, based on how you are riding now, and how you want to ride your event.
What type of rider are you now?
Knowing who you are and what you want to accomplish is essential to establishing a goal and training plan. If you aren’t an all-out competitive rider, you probably fall into one of these two broad categories.
Social Rider: Under 50 mile per week, 2-3 times per week, sometimes over an hour
Sport/Fitness Rider: Over 50 miles per week – 4-5 times per week, 1 hour or more, 1 ride over 2 hours

What Pace Can You Ride Now: What is your typical time for riding 10 miles, non-stop at a pace you can talk at? This is the best indication of where to set your first endurance ride goal. Your pace is your average MPH while riding; you may well ride faster (and slower) based on conditions during the ride. But your average MPH pace is what you can most improve through training.
Tip: Do your ten-mile test in the middle of a longer ride, after your are past the starting point excitement, and before you are tired. Also do it on open roads, where traffic and intersections are not a factor.

What do you want to ride?
Just like knowing what type of rider you are, you should also think about how you want participate in your endurance event. Start with the pace you want to ride, and consider how you like to enjoy your riding.

A “Social” Ride
On a social endurance ride, your goal is to make the distance. You are enjoying scenery, riding alone or in a small social group, taking breaks and eating a sit down lunch or snacks.

  • Total Time of 10-12 hours (100 Miles)
  • Riding Time of 7-10 hours – base your pace or average speed on this.

A “Fast” Ride
On a fast endurance ride, your goal is a specific time, and you are training for that goal. You are riding in a group for the pace line advantage. Any breaks from riding are short stops to pickup water and snacks.

  • Total time – Under 8 hours (100 Miles)
  • Riding time – under 7 hours – base your pace or average speed on this.

Next Time: Matching your bike to your goals


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