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Mentally (and Physically) Preparing for a Century Ride

Preparing for a century rideYou’ve spent the spring and summer on the saddle pedaling 50-60 mile rides. Having completed just a few of these rides will give you the base strength that's physically required to tackle a century ride. It’s also a good cap to the season and everyone should have a Century ride on their bucket list. They are fun. Trust us. I’m going to skip the training part, because it is assumed you are there already.


Your bike fits for your regular club ride. Don’t make any adjustments to fit for a longer ride. If you haven’t gone to wider tires (25-28mm) this might be worth it. Run your pressure at the lower end (85-95psi depending on your weight). Bib shorts - They wear out and breakdown just like running shoes. Check the pad to make sure there is still thickness there. Use chamois cream (Enzo’s, is there any other kind)? Apply at the beginning and again at 50 and maybe more often. Make sure you have a spare tube and a way to repair if you get a second flat. Some rides have support, don’t assume you will. Wear a trim, snug fitting jersey. This is a personal preference with a reason. Floppy jerseys catch a lot of wind costing watts. Even 2-3 watts will make a big difference over 100 miles. Make sure your drive train / chain is clean and lubed. Again, that can add 2-4 watts. You don’t need an aero helmet, but a light one will help your neck. Don’t wear a GoPro on your helmet. It might feel like an anvil at mile 90. Nutrition - Don’t get crazy leading up to the ride. Eat normal foods, but things that don’t usually cause distress. Lay off the alcohol maybe a week in advance. Drink extra water all week. Don’t fear salt. You need to be well hydrated. Salt makes you retain water. That’s a good thing for planned exertion. During the ride, make sure you eat and drink often. One bottle per hour is a good rule of thumb. Double that when it’s really hot. This is not a low carb event. It’s high carb. Don’t worry, you will burn it off during the ride. Energy bars, electrolyte drinks, gels, and soft candies work. PBJ and bagels are good too. Fruit is a good quick energy. Pickles and brine can help warding off cramps. Figure about 3000-4000 calories for the day. The ride - Have a plan of what kind of time / speed you want to ride for the day. If you just want to ride at a leisurely pace and not watch the computer, great.  Many treat centuries competitively and ride for personal best times. “A” level riders will be shooting for sub 5 hours. “B” level, I would advise about a 1.0-0.5mph average less than your regular club ride. The easiest mistake is starting too fast. There will always be others tempting you to go harder than you want. Break the ride down into thirds. Shoot for 70-75% hard effort to start. Maintain that level. If you’re still feeling fresh after 65 miles, then increase your effort. If you’re watching your pace and the numbers are showing you below your goals, do not over exert to try and make up speed. One problem is math. It’s just harder to move the number the longer you’re riding. The other is problem is physiological. Pushing harder puts you into the anaerobic zone, and once you do that for too long, you’re toast. Don’t do that. Social - The other reason to participate in a century ride is the social aspect. Form a group to ride or form one while you’re on the road. As you know from group rides, it will be immensely easier to ride as a group. You can also develop new friendships and help someone else in reaching their goals. That’s why we do this, right? Now go do that something you can talk about at winter cocktail parties. For more information preparing for a century ride, contact Colavita Chicagland.