First Century Ride - my advice for normal blokes

forgotrafe
forgotrafe Posts: 637
edited April 2013 in Road beginners
A friend-of-a-friend asked me for some advice on doing an 88 mile charity ride, so I wrote the below (no practical difference between training for 88 miles and 100 miles).

Am posting it on here - at risk of being blasted by people far more knowledgeable than me - in case it's of use to others. If you think I'm way off on anything, feel free to add your opinion, but I can't be wrong because I've done lots of long rides and help plan (and do) a 200-mile-in-2-day charity ride every year (300 in 3 this year) and this works for me :)

Providing your goal is to do it comfortably, rather than set any records, then a lot of the "training for a century" guides and advice you'll find on-line are overly complicated in my opinion. They're for fitties not fatties. I'm just a normal bloke with a bit of a belly that likes very long bike rides, I'm not an athlete, I've never been into sport, I don't know anything about nutrition or muscles.

In my simple world, training is all about getting miles in on the bike. I find 3-4 rides a week ideal and manageable around job/wife/life/mountain biking. 3 early on in the training schedule, 4 later on. 2 rides will be mid-week of 20 miles or so, the 1 or 2 rides will be longer ones at the weekend. My big rides are 100 miles per day for 2 or 3 consecutive days, so practising back-to-back long rides is important. If you're doing a single century and can't fit in 2 rides every weekend then it's probably not the end of the world.

You increase the effectiveness of the shorter mid-week training rides by doing "intervals" - in other words have some bursts of high-intensity-until-you-die in the ride. At the start of my training I might just about manage 3-4 of these intervals and last about 30-60s each. By the time I'm match fit, I might do 5-6 of them and each lasts 1-3 minutes. I do them both on the flat and up short hills.

By doing intervals you can keep the mid-week rides to 20 miles. The weekend rides should be done entirely at an aerobic pace (i.e. what you can normally maintain), increasing in distance as the training schedule goes on.

As the distance increases any newbie to long distance rides will realise that they're not taking on enough water/food. Increase it a bit and you'll start to learn what you need (because you'll feel better, too much and you'll feel worse). In many ways learning to eat/drink the right amount and learning to predict when you need more before you bonk, is the best thing you'll get out of your training.

Real food is way better than gels for normal people. My favourites are jaffa cakes for a quick burst and high-calorie high-quality cereal bars like Carmen's or Eat Natural - I keep them in a top-tube mounted bag. On a century ride I stop for proper lunch if possible, I'm not in a race so why not? Especially as my big rides are usually on the continent where I find hotel breakfasts provide inadequate cycling fodder. Over the years I've learnt what's good for lunch and what's bad; spag bol is good, cheesy-chips are bad!

If you can do 75% of the distance comfortably, then you can normally blag the rest. Though ideally you'd be fit enough to not have to. Anyone should be able to get themselves fit enough to do 100 miles, but normally they don't give themselves enough time. Every year on our charity ride we get people that haven't done enough training (some have done virtually none), it's never pretty!

Hope that helps!
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Comments

  • goonz
    goonz Posts: 3,106
    I keep them in a top-tube mounted bag.

    I stopped reading when I got to here :mrgreen:
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  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    goonz wrote:
    I stopped reading when I got to here :mrgreen:

    :) You'd hate the bag I have on all-day rides then! Normally I ride with a small wedge saddle bag, but for all-day rides I have a whopping seatpost mounted affair, especially if I think the weather is going to be a bit variable. Great place to stash arm-warmers, leg warmers etc.
  • BigTK
    BigTK Posts: 47
    Thanks mate.
  • goonz wrote:
    I keep them in a top-tube mounted bag.

    I stopped reading when I got to here :mrgreen:

    I've got one of those. Maybe not to the approval of Real Cyclists, but it's a cheap alternative to buying a winter jacket with pockets accessible at the back. Reduces the risk of falling off whilst eating during a club run. This may only be applicable to people as inept at bike-handling as me, though. :)

    I thought the OP's guidance was very sensible, particularly stopping for a proper lunch!
  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    Thanks for the comments. I really really don't like things in my jersey pockets, and I know a lot of people who've lost things out of them (worst was this guys blood-pressure tablets, a short way in to a 200 mile event). I don't care if a top-tube/tri bag or a large saddlebag "spoils the lines" of my bike. I'm riding it, not looking at it.
  • elderone
    elderone Posts: 1,410
    Thanks for the write up,and a good bit of info.
    cheers.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • bahzob
    bahzob Posts: 2,195
    Another thumbs up for the top tube mounted bag. I have two of them fitted and use for all of my rides. I can get enough food in there to keep me going for most of the day.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • Wacky Racer
    Wacky Racer Posts: 638
    forgotrafe wrote:
    I don't care if a top-tube/tri bag or a large saddlebag "spoils the lines" of my bike. I'm riding it, not looking at it.

    Well said.

    Some sound uncomplicated advice in your post, I prefer the simple approach too.
    Ridley Orion
  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    Some sound uncomplicated advice in your post, I prefer the simple approach too.

    Thanks, especially for agreeing that preferring practicality over looks isn't stupid :) It also doesn't matter what bike you have, what label is on your clothing, what tyres you have, how you inflated them or how you lubed the chain.

    I also got a couple of PMs saying they liked what I said because it was simple, they followed it and that makes it useful. One person said they were put off by most training guides because they went on about heart rate zones, BBM and cadence, and he doesn't even own (and can't afford) a heart rate monitor let alone understand any of it.

    Am pleased I posted it now, was doubtful because I'm in no way an expert. I wanted to show that you can get fit enough to do a big ride, in your own time, without getting overly complicated, without becoming a fitness freak/expert and without having to invest in a heart rate monitor. Seems I've done that and hopefully it'll convince someone to train and do a big ride, rather than think it's beyond them (or worse, just attempt one).
  • Sprool
    Sprool Posts: 1,022
    Some good common sense here, I'm especially encouraged by Jaffa cakes finally gaining their deserved recognition as Real Food :)
  • mrfpb
    mrfpb Posts: 4,569
    forgotrafe wrote:
    I don't care if a top-tube/tri bag or a large saddlebag "spoils the lines" of my bike. I'm riding it, not looking at it.
    Agree - I'm worse in that I took a rack bag on my sponsored ride last year (and will do the same this year) I take the approach that anything on the back that's narrower than my backside is aerodynamic. I do use gels and tried a few out to see what tastes nice and what is easy to open while moving. I like torq and the SIS isotonics.

    I'm doing 100km London to Brighton overnight this July, so all your advice is helpful (previous longest is 45 miles). If I get on ok then I'll try 100 miles for my next big event.
  • marcusww
    marcusww Posts: 202
    To the OP

    Hi I have just this minute signed up to do a 100 mile charity ride in Somerset on 19th May. We will be breaking no records - just want to complete the milestone!

    My best is that I have ridden 3 off 50 milers and 1 x 60 mile in the WET New Forest sportive on the weekend. These were all over consequtive weekends.

    I am doing the ride with a relation. During the 60 mile we did go at a good pace but found how regular eating had a great effect. Mainly cereal bars and a gel or two for luck! - I dont think the gels are that helpful either. At the end of the 60 mile me the legs were in good shape. I too put this down to regular and correct food and drink.

    I intend to do another 50 - 60 mile rides before the 100. My training is generally on hilly ground over the South Downs - the 100 is not hilly.

    Do you think with a low pace and 3 food stops every 25 miles that it can be done without doing any more milages than 60 ish in training?
  • pollys_bott
    pollys_bott Posts: 1,012
    When I started riding longer distances I found the biggest issue was getting my butt used to being in the saddle for the extra hours rather than my legs / lungs trained to turn the pedals. How long did it take you to do the 60 miler at the weekend? You say you 'did go at a good pace' which tbh could be anything from 12-20mph avg depending on your fitness but for argument's sake say you went at 15-ish mph and you were riding for approx four hours. If you do your charity ride at the same pace you're looking at around seven hours in the saddle - be honest, how does that prospect sound? Personally I'd be looking at doing a couple of 5-6hr rides before you do the 100 miler, just to get your butt a bit more ready and also to ensure that you keep getting the food and drink down you regularly... and of course seeing if your legs and lungs feel like they'll survive!

    Good luck...
  • supermurph09
    supermurph09 Posts: 2,471
    I did my longest ride at the weekend, 79 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/48759317 , the Igloo Sportive in what can only be described as "Gale Force Conditions". It was brutal, the climbing was always going to be tough but throw in a constant 20mph in your face and gusts up to 40mph it was extra tough.

    In terms of fuel, I ate an energy bar at least every hour, +another 2, 1/2 banana at 3 food stops and would say I drank about 4 litres of water with the tablets in. And about 20 haribo type jellies. Despite the ride being tough, I did feel that was about right, my legs were naturally tired but I was able to pedal hard to the finish. That might give some indication for a 100 miler, which I plan to do in the next 3-4 weeks.
  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    Marcusww - You seem to have a sensible idea about pace and eating, and those are really important. Also, you say that you weren't dead on your feet after 60 miles. I think you'll be more than okay to push it out from 60 to 100.

    That said, 19th May is still a way off so I'd want to be keeping up the training and ideally do at least another long ride (50-75 miles) on the bank holiday weekend (two weeks prior to event) and the weekend before the event.

    Loads of stuff spoken about leading up to an event - carb loading, tapering etc. Am sure it makes sense to Wiggo, but in the spirit of my original post, at your (our) level, you just need to keep it simple and sensible. In my world that'd be a couple of short easy (spinny, no intervals) rides during the week before the event and a few days off before the event. As for food, I eat normally on those days off, avoiding foods that make me feel bloated or potentially upset my stomach and drink plenty of water.

    As I originally said, I'm just a normal person. A bit overweight, not uber fit and with a life outside of cycling. But with a love of long distance rides.

    Good luck! Enjoy it. And if you can stop for lunch on your ride, do it :)
  • I am doing a Coast to Coast ride at the end of May from Weston-Super-Mare to Southend over a Saturday and Sunday. It works out at around 200 miles. I now commute every day (30 flat miles round trip) but have only re-started this at the start of this month due to injury and weather. It therefore means my legs are in no shape to be putting down the long miles of a weekend.
    I am really concerned that come the end of May I really am going to struggle with this ride. I'm open to suggestions as I have raised a tidy amount for Great Ormond Street and don't want to be letting anyone down.

    Thanks in advance...
  • Bustacapp
    Bustacapp Posts: 971
    Why do you still have a 'belly' if you do so many miles?
  • Bustacapp
    Bustacapp Posts: 971
    forgotrafe wrote:
    Bustacapp wrote:
    Why do you still have a 'belly' if you do so many miles?

    :)

    I'm being serious! No offence by the way.

    Losing weight is why a lot of people do this so your belly retention with so much mileage may be worrying to some.
  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    I know enough about nutrition to know the simple answer must be that I eat too much!

    I don't do that many miles, less than 2000 a year (though I do a lot on the mountain bike which doesn't increase the mileage by much, recently it took me as long to do 30 miles on the mountain bike as would to do 100 miles on the road bike). Hmm.... wonder how many miles I'd do if I was just a roadie? probably somewhere between 3000 and 4000 miles I guess.

    That said, I don't think my diet is shockingly bad and I'm surrounded by people that pack away a lot more food, and a lot worse food, than I do yet are slim. One of my work colleagues, who is busy losing weight, said the other day that he can't work out how I am still a bit overweight given the miles I do. So I find the whole thing slightly bemusing.

    I'm also heavy - to get down to "normal" BMI would involve me getting to a weight I was when I was pretty ill via stress & I'm not going there again

    I don't think that answers your question and has left me pondering myself.
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    I personally think people make too much of getting ready to do a proper 100 i.e. miles not KMs. I'm by no means a fittie and often don't get out on the bike some weeks. I'm over 50 and carrying a tad more weight than ideal and suffer with muscular skeletal injuries. But, I find that just by going out at a weekend for 50 miles thereabouts, I can cope with a 100 unduly and at a reasonable rate. The biggest hurdle for most riders is in their head. Get around that and it should be within most peoples ability. It will just take longer the less prepared for it you are.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • pinkteapot
    pinkteapot Posts: 367
    Bustacapp wrote:
    Why do you still have a 'belly' if you do so many miles?

    Weight loss = consume less calories than you burn.

    You can burn 2000 calories doing a long ride but if you're eating Dominos every night you'll probably still gain weight. Exercise as much as you want - it doesn't give you free rein to eat whatever you fancy.

    I love MyFitnessPal for tracking food and exercise - makes you really aware of how much you're eating. I lost a couple of stone and have maintained my new weight for a few years now using the same system. :D But if I stop tracking my food (recording it all) I start eating too much again.
  • I'm going from no exercise at all to 100 miles in August. Doing over 60 miles at the weekends now so should be no problem.

    When I started out I was looking at training guides. The trouble with all of them is they make the assumption that you can do three 2 hour rides in the week, or similar, often recommending that you do some in the mornings. Who has time to do that? I can get out for an hour or so in the evening a couple of times a week, at most.
  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    The whole point of my post was to present a training guide that people like you Slo Mo Jones could relate to, and realistically do (though obviously you don't need it now). It'd been easier to point friends at a guide that already existed but, as you say, they all seem OTT for the normal bloke. Too complicated to understand, require too much commitment and/or are focused on doing it fast - net result is people won't do them and that might mean they don't do any training.

    philthy3 is also right, but he possibly forgets some people are starting from nothing, never been on a bike, so need something to point them in the right direction to start with.

    Anyway, I've put it on my website now (link below) and had some good feedback. Hopefully it'll help some people.
  • junglist_matty
    junglist_matty Posts: 1,731
    forgotrafe wrote:
    I know enough about nutrition to know the simple answer must be that I eat too much!

    I don't do that many miles, less than 2000 a year (though I do a lot on the mountain bike which doesn't increase the mileage by much, recently it took me as long to do 30 miles on the mountain bike as would to do 100 miles on the road bike). Hmm.... wonder how many miles I'd do if I was just a roadie? probably somewhere between 3000 and 4000 miles I guess.

    That said, I don't think my diet is shockingly bad and I'm surrounded by people that pack away a lot more food, and a lot worse food, than I do yet are slim. One of my work colleagues, who is busy losing weight, said the other day that he can't work out how I am still a bit overweight given the miles I do. So I find the whole thing slightly bemusing.

    I'm also heavy - to get down to "normal" BMI would involve me getting to a weight I was when I was pretty ill via stress & I'm not going there again

    I don't think that answers your question and has left me pondering myself.

    I ride about 6000 miles (road bike) per year, my weight is not super slim, I have a belly and love handles, the rest of me is very lean, very fit and healthy.... I like food too much and at the weekends I like the occasional beer, life is for living and enjoying, it's not always a strict regime just to keep a body like a model ;)
  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    I ride about 6000 miles (road bike) per year, my weight is not super slim, I have a belly and love handles, the rest of me is very lean, very fit and healthy.... I like food too much and at the weekends I like the occasional beer, life is for living and enjoying, it's not always a strict regime just to keep a body like a model ;)

    :) I'm not that fussed about my weight actually. What I am really concerned about, and why I got back on a bike 6 years ago, is my basic fitness (which is very good). A visitor at work yesterday got out breath unpacking his laptop and setting it up - that's very bad.
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    forgotrafe wrote:
    philthy3 is also right, but he possibly forgets some people are starting from nothing, never been on a bike, so need something to point them in the right direction to start with.

    Anyway, I've put it on my website now (link below) and had some good feedback. Hopefully it'll help some people.

    Actually no. I don't get to cycle much at all, but I made a point of riding for endurance from the start. I built from 5, 10, 15, 25, 30, 40 to 50 mile rides at a weekend having no time to ride during the week. As soon as I was able to do a 50 mile ride most weekends I went for the 100 and to be honest felt fresher afterwards than I did doing 50s and no stops either, not even for a pee break. No aches or pains the next day and the backside never caused me a problem. Had a quicker pace too oddly enough.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • philthy3 wrote:
    forgotrafe wrote:
    philthy3 is also right, but he possibly forgets some people are starting from nothing, never been on a bike, so need something to point them in the right direction to start with.

    Anyway, I've put it on my website now (link below) and had some good feedback. Hopefully it'll help some people.

    Actually no. I don't get to cycle much at all, but I made a point of riding for endurance from the start. I built from 5, 10, 15, 25, 30, 40 to 50 mile rides at a weekend having no time to ride during the week. As soon as I was able to do a 50 mile ride most weekends I went for the 100 and to be honest felt fresher afterwards than I did doing 50s and no stops either, not even for a pee break. No aches or pains the next day and the backside never caused me a problem. Had a quicker pace too oddly enough.

    yeah, I made my own training plan. It consisted of weekend rides starting at 15km and increasing by 5km per week. Whatever I do in the week is a bonus. Seems to be working ok. Hoping I don't struggle more to get from 110km to 150km than I did from 60km to 100km, but can't see why that would be the case. It's not rocket science.
  • secretsam
    secretsam Posts: 5,098
    Thanks for the infinitely sensible advice, as someone who's been shocked at the state of his fitness - this time last year I could do 75 miles, now I'm hard pushed to do 35 - this is sound advice.

    One thing that I really miss which I think helped a lot was my commute - I'm now self-employed and work from home - I used to do 10 miles per day (ish) of city riding to the station and at the other end to the office, often in stop start traffic where banging away from the lights was important. Clearly this was a form of "interval" training - so it's refreshing to see a guide that isn't all science and "ride 200 miles a week, hey, you don't really need any other life, do you?". Not much use for those of us with such inconveniences as kids, jobs, mortgages to pay, etc.

    Anyway, my aim as ever is to do a full-fat ton - ie 100 miles not Km. I did 30 miles today and it nearly killed me - time to get out the turbo trainer!

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • forgotrafe
    forgotrafe Posts: 637
    You're welcome. I know how much riding home from work (20 miles) twice a week helps my fitness so I'm sure 10 miles a day would lay down a good base fitness.

    Working from home is a mixed blessing. In theory it's easy to nip out and do a quick hour on the bike during the day, in practice it's much much harder. But you should try and make time to do it once or twice a week.

    If anyone feels they've not got time, they should read my mate John's blog over at http://www.johns-cycling-diary.co.uk/ He drives something like 30,000 miles a year to/from work, and still manages to cycle around 11,000 miles! I've no idea where he finds the time!