Before You Start
Before you head out on a ride, regardless if itís 5 or 50 miles, you should complete a few tasks. These should become ďautomaticĒ when you head out for your
- Check your tires (examine for tears, and sharp objects stuck in the tread. Make sure air pressure is appropriate).
- Inspect your chain
- Check the quick release levers (you donít want the surprise of a runaway wheel)
- Bounce the bike and listen for odd rattling sounds. If you hear some, a component may be loose.
- Check the brakes. Front and rear, separately.
- Spin the wheels (check for brake rubbing and listen for grinding sounds)
- Check the cranks. Bolts should be tight and chainrings shouldnít be missing teeth.
- Check the headset. (Hold front brake and rock bike back and forth. Loose bearings will make a clicking sound.)
- Check the handlebars; they (and the stem) should be securely fastened. Look for bends or cracks. If you find them, replace immediately.
- Check that you have everything you need (keys, phone, cash) in a safe area (seat pack)
- Grab your gear (sunglasses, helmet, gloves)
- Fill your water bottle(s)
- Check the weather forecast
- Make sure you and someone else knows where youíre going
If you follow these guidelines, you should avoid those long walks home alone. You will also be avoiding further damage caused to your bike. Of course, if
you are within range, a cell phone can save you from walking homeóanother good reason to tell someone where youíre going.
Training for a Century
For those new to cycling lingo, a century is a 100-mile ride. And we have the training plan to put it in anyoneís goal list. You will need a few important things to start: equipment, food and determination. All three have specific guidelines according to training experts. Read on to start working the right way on your goal.
Your equipment should be in good condition and, most importantly, it should be comfortable. You should be familiar with your bike and confident in its fit. If youíre experiencing pain or arenít sure if your bike is adjusted correctly, take your bike to your local professional to provide a fit-assessment. This should be 8-12 weeks before your century as your body will need time to adjust to a different fit. Donít arrange to ride a new or borrowed bike for a century.
You may want to have a tune-up before your ride; you should also carry a spare tire and patch kit, tools and a pump. Note: these things do little good if you lack the experienced knowledge of how to use them.
Youíll also need a helmet that fits you properly, water bottle(s) and cage(s), and cycling clothing including sunglasses, shoes, shorts, gloves and rain gear. You should bring a jacket and tights in the morning. Most Century events start early in the morning so be prepared for chilly and/or rainy weather.
Enough talk about the gear; the most important thing youíll do to prepare is train. Youíll need 12 weeks to train before the event and it will require strict diligence. If you already ride more than 7 hours/week you wonít require as much time to prepare. During most rides, you should reach about 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Two days of riding you should push yourself to 85% of your MHR. Hills will break up the monotony of your ride and bring your cardio level up as well. Interval training is an excellent way to prepare yourself for the century, particularly if you do some training on a stationary bike.
A typical training schedule should be somewhat similar to this mock workout. Remember to leave a day open for rest and recovery.
Monday- 1-1.5 hour interval ride
Tuesday- 1 hour easy recovery ride
Wednesday- 1-1.5 hours with hills
Thursday- Rest or 30 minute easy recovery ride
Friday- 1-2 hour ride with 30 minutes hard effort
Saturday- 1-2 hour ride at steady pace (65% mhr)
To measure your effort and keep you going, follow these training tips.
-maintain 70-90 revolutions per minute.
-increase your mileage as the century approaches. Donít increase it more than 10% a week.
-Complete a long ride (60-75) miles two weeks before the century.
-Cut your mileage back the week before the century. Your hard work is complete, just complete low resistance spin workouts. Rest up and start watching what you eat.
The Right Food
Itís important to start eating for the ride day about five days beforehand. Drink water and drink little, if any, caffeine and alcohol. Start eating carbohydrates a few days before the event.
Eat a light, carbohydrate-packed breakfast on ride day and drink lots of water. Start drinking before the ride and continue to drink every 20-30 minutes. Itís important to drink before youíre thirsty. You can replace water with your favorite sports drink. Just make sure itís what you regularly consume on your training rides. You want to make sure everything is ďnormalĒ to your body. This includes food that youíll need to snack on during your ride. Easily digestible carbs like energy bars, granola, fruit and bagels are good options. Just eat what youíre used to. The ride day is not the appropriate time to ďtryĒ something new.
The nice thing about a century is that itís not a race. If itís your first century, the goal is to finish comfortably. If youíve completed others, perhaps youíd like to beat your previous record. Some tips for enjoying the ride:
-Take short breaks. Nature will call if youíre well hydrated anyway. Stretch your legs and eat a little something. Donít stay off the bike more than 10 minutes though, you may start to get stiff. If youíre on an organized ride, there will be stations with bathrooms, water and snacks spread throughout the ride.
-While riding be sure to change your position. Move your hands, straighten up, stand and pedal for a little while, stretch your arms, shoulders and neck and arch your back. Youíll feel fresher, longer if you avoid staying in one position for a while.
-Talk. If youíre on an organized event, find one or two people to ride with. It will go faster if you can converse or just get your mind off how many miles you have left. Skilled riders may want to join a pack to do some drafting and save some energy. If youíre on your own you could arrange for a friend to bike a portion of the ride with you. The last 20 miles can be very encouraging if youíre worried about finishing.
Otherwise, sit back, consider what great shape youíre in and enjoy the scenery.