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Almost every cyclist has had the idea or goal to go for a century bike ride at one point in their life. This dream can be turned into a reality if a person works hard to prepare for it, makes up his mind, and in the end, just starts pedaling.
A 100-mile bike ride is nothing special for some riders, as they are accustomed to riding more than 100 miles every weekend. There are multiple people that I follow on Strava that ride 100+ miles on a regular basis. I’ve ridden 100 miles but it isn’t part of my weekly cycling routine. For me, 100+ miles is still a difficult task. Don’t feel bad if this is how you feel too. It takes time to build up to 100 miles.
This article is meant for those who want to go for a 100-mile bicycle ride but are hesitant. This might be because of a lack of preparation or other aspects. Numerous factors should be considered if you want to go for a 100 miler on your magnificent bicycle. These factors are discussed in detail below and are split into five sections for your comfort. Let’s smash the 100-mile barrier together!
Table of Contents
What is a Century Ride?
A century ride is a commonly used term in the cycling community for a 100-mile bike ride. This comes from the fact a century is 100 years.
Preparation for a 100-mile bike ride
Some people don’t like riding with others. They want to go at their own pace and comfort. Then there are people who like to socialize with people and can only get motivated when they are in a group.
Taking part in a century ride event or an organized ride with your friends can help you smash the 100-mile ribbon. However, even if you want to go solo, here are some tips that can help you make the most out of your situation and will help you achieve your goal in so little time.
Training for a 100-mile ride
For most people, even the thought of physically training oneself for a bike ride is scary, but training doesn’t have to be a crazy intense process unless you’re training for an event.
You really just want to gradually push yourself further and further. If you are able to ride 30 miles today with ease, then ride 33 or 35 miles next time or add in a climb. If you keep doing this, you’ll gradually work your way up to 100 miles without even realizing it. If you want to get there faster, you could probably bridge the gap from 30-40+ mile rides to 100 miles in a couple of weeks.
The proper training for a century ride is to be able to ride 70-75% of the length of the ride and to train with that distance. So, before attempting to ride 100 miles you should go on multiple 70-75 mile rides. I didn’t know this at the time. I figured you should work your way up to it, but didn’t know there was an actual metric for this.
Personally, I jumped from multiple 30-40 mile rides per week to a single 100-mile ride. The reason I felt like I could jump from a 30-mile ride up to 100, was at the end of my 30ish mile rides, I was fully energized. I felt I could ride another 30 miles easily. I had also done a couple of 40-mile rides here and there and felt perfectly fine. I knew if I could double 30-40 miles to get to around 80 miles, at that point, it would be mind over matter to get to 100 miles. That’s pretty much how my first 100-mile ride went, around 90 miles, I got tired and just kept telling myself “just keep pedaling, we’re almost there”.
So, if you ride on a regular basis, you could probably get to 100 miles easily if you’re willing to push yourself but for those that are new or don’t ride consistently, this might be a complicated task. For new people, it just takes time, you have to build your cardio and leg strength.
Quick Tips For Your First Century Ride
You should also think about the kind of terrain that you will use to tackle your 100-mile ride. If you take your century ride in the mountains or through hilly areas, then consider training on that kind of terrain.
- It is very different trying to do an endurance ride through mountains if you’ve never climbed before. You could go from being able to ride 60 miles on flat ground, down to only being able to ride 30 miles with an aggressive climb.
- Counting the miles on your bike is only going to get you so far. That is why you should focus on spending more time on the saddle rather than calculating the time and miles you have covered. Ride at a comfortable pace. You don’t need to come out and ride 100 mph you’ll just burn out and not hit your goal. A good average pace in my opinion is around 15-17 mph on flat and a bit less if you’re climbing.
- Resting is as important as the ride itself. Taking short breaks spanning not more than 10 minutes will help you recover from the strain you might feel while riding the bike. Keep your legs turning and take rests accordingly.
Effort levels over 100-miles
It doesn’t matter if you are going solo, attending an event, or are group riding with your friends, pacing your efforts is the most important part of achieving your goal. Make sure not to use up all of your energy at once, and then struggle to ride your bicycle later. You should focus on maintaining an average speed because this will help you retain your energy levels and will be helpful in your 100-mile ride. Pick up the pace only when necessary.
Many people come out riding fast just to have to ride slower at the end. When if they had paced themselves from the beginning, they probably would have finished the ride in the same amount of time if not faster.
Make up your mind for the 100-miler
Most people are familiar with the power of the mind and what it can do both in positive and negative aspects. If you want to take the whole 100-mile ride alone, your mind will be your sole friend and will serve as a helpful ally.
You don’t want to let your mind focus on the difficulty of the ride because you’ll sike yourself out. Instead, focus on other things, such as scenery, your overall pedaling technique, and the rest stops. Something I like to do is listen to music or podcasts. An interesting podcast can keep your mind off the ride and before you know it you will have ridden 50+ miles. For me, music can be too passive, to the point where I start to tune it out and I start focusing on the ride.
You want to avoid thinking of the negatives on your ride because you’ll dwell on them. If it’s hot unzip your jersey and stop worrying about it, if it’s raining or cold, just know you’ll get warmer as you ride, but try not to focus on it. You never really want to dwell on bad weather. It doesn’t matter how hard the weather gets. The only thing that matters is your will to complete your 100-mile ride.
Recharge yourself before, during, and after the ride
You will only perform better if your body is charged and has the proper nutrients before the ride. That is why you should always eat well before and during your ride. Start refueling your body with energy-packed snacks during the ride and make sure you don’t just stop fueling immediately after your ride or you’ll crash. Cycling snacks can keep you going during your ride but you’ll need to fully refuel your electrolytes and nutrients after your ride too.
During your ride, at regular intervals, you’ll want to eat snacks. Depending on how long I plan on riding I eat my snacks at different intervals. If I’m doing a 100-mile ride, I try to eat a snack every 45 mins and make sure I finish my water bottles in regular intervals as well. If you wait until you’re hungry or thirsty to start eating and drinking, it’s probably too late and you’ll probably hit a wall.
After you have completed your ride and have finished it off, your body will need sugars, carbs, electrolytes, and much more to recover from the long ride. Fruit juices or a healthy smoothie is a great option after your ride. I don’t recommend it, but even bad sugars such as energy drinks could prove to be useful during that time. Keep yourself hydrated all the time, or else your energy will dissipate quite early.
Be fit ahead of a 100-mile ride.
This goes back to working up to your 100-mile ride and your overall fitness. You want to be a healthy overall individual if you plan on going for a 100-mile ride. Staying on the bike for several hours could cause you minor injuries and become major issues.
Depending on whether your 100-mile route is 50 miles out and 50 miles back, if you’re 50 miles in you may either have to ride 50 miles home or call someone to pick you up. So, you want to make sure you’re properly prepared before taking on this endeavor.
For long rides such as this, having a high-quality bike and a properly fitted bike is very important. I’d say having a properly fitted bike is more important than the former. Having an improperly fitted bike can lead to increase wear and tear on your joints and can cause injuries, especially on a long ride such as 100 miles.
You always want to maintain a professional and comfortable posture while riding your bike. To get a proper bike fit, you can take your bike to your local bike shop, most good bike shops can get you fitted, get your seat, seat height, stem length, etc. tuned in to your body for the best comfort, performance, and safety.