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Any advice for a beginner attempting their first century?

bruceleebrucelee Posts: 19
edited January 2014 in Road beginners
Riding 100 miles is a daunting task. Do you guys have any tips for tackling this distance?



  • maringirlmaringirl Posts: 194
    Depends upon what point you are starting from - you say beginner - can you ride a bike, if yes then what's current mileage etc.
  • BozmanBozman Posts: 2,570
    For me, I make sure that I'm not playing catch up from the day before with fluids and food. I'll have a good breakfast and make sure that I'm well hydrated, then it's off at a comfortable pace, food and fluids - little and often because I don't stop unless I need a pi55.
  • Eat, drink and find a saddle that fits yours bum.
    Taken gently it is no harder than thirty miles, it just takes longer.
  • markmodmarkmod Posts: 501
    Last September I did a charity bike ride from Leicester to Amsterdam and back in five days. The last day from Hull to Leicester was 112 miles. This distance appeared daunting, when viewed as a cyclist who's biggest mileage was possibly 60 miles tops at that point in time...

    But with regular training, increasing weekend distances, that eventually topped out at 95 miles a ride (I kept under the magical 100 to keep it special for my big ride), I had little fear of the 112 miles, even coming at the end of a week cycling. And that is the point, regular training and riding into fitness, my legs were great at the end of five days of riding. Many think just jump on the bike and they will be fine to do the century... Many have found this is not a good idea!

    The key factors to remember, if you are riding in a group, make use of your fair share of being 'on the wheel'. Don't drop back, keep close and enjoy the tow. This reduces your overall effort greatly. Infact at some points I was able to just free wheel and rest. Enjoy the ride, try to talk to others, this helps the miles whizz past too. You will have to do your bit too, but remember ride at a level you can sustain all day, important you don't push like crazy too soon... Towards the end if you can give more do so, but pace yourself at the start.

    Prepare the night before... Big bowl of pasta... Food of champions... Is the fuel you will burn the next day, remember you can burn thousands of calories over 100+ miles.

    Good, regular hydration and food intake (little and often) as said above is a must. I hit the red bull in my bidons, but probably not the best idea as I was buzzing (infact a little light headed at one point - probably best give this one a miss!) a good strong coffee, full fat coke when your feeling a little weary does the trick too.

    Saddle comfort can be make or break over 100 miles (even over 50 miles too!) I used a cut out saddle with a central hole. After much numbness in the past this was a revelation. No numb nuts! The gentlemans accesories felt fine at the end of the day even after the rough roads for 112 miles.

    An early night the night before, good sleep sets you up for the days ride too.

    But most of all relax and savour the ride, you will remember your first century forever.
  • If you are a fit person, then building up to 100 miles might not take too long.
    Being comfortable on the bike is most important. It doesn't matter how fit you are if the bike is not comfortable, spending 6hrs+ on a bike will find any sore points!
    As above posters say, sensible nutrition the day before and make sure that you take plenty of fluids and food. Regarding stopping, unless I am trying to do it as quickly as possible I am happy to stop for a sandwich/cake, coffee etc. If I am racing it, then it is gels/bars and energy drinks without stopping. Sometimes in the summer, it is nice to get up, head out at sunrise and get back as the sun sets. Could be 100 miles, could be 150.
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Ride your bike lots

    Get an understanding of your fuelling requirements.

    Set a pace that is sustainable.

    Build gradually until you know what is involved.

    Time in the saddle is the only way.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    smidsy wrote:
    Ride your bike lots

    Get an understanding of your fuelling requirements.

    Set a pace that is sustainable.

    Build gradually until you know what is involved.

    Time in the saddle is the only way.

    That really is about all there is to it. The above applies for distances from 10 to 1000+ miles. Should be a sticky.
  • smidsy wrote:
    Ride your bike lots

    Get an understanding of your fuelling requirements.

    Set a pace that is sustainable.

    Build gradually until you know what is involved.

    Time in the saddle is the only way.

    Only thing I'd add is maybe think about bike set up - for rides over 100 miles I raise my handlebars slightly as my back can get stiff after 4 hrs or so if I don't. As well as a good saddle (mentioned above) a good pair of bib shorts with a thicker pad made a huge difference for me.

    Also when are you doing this and have you thought about clothing? My first century was at the end of Autumn and it rained constantly, I was in kit that was fine for 3-4 hrs but not 6-7 hrs (it was a hilly course) and my hands especially got far too cold; at the end I was having to visually check that my hands were on the brake levers as I couldn't feel them, not good on a 15-20% downhill!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Train up to about 80 miles
    Make sure you are hydrated properly (it takes a few days to do that)
    Get some really good bib shorts
    Clip in
    If its a sportive, do a shorter (60 mile) sportive in training so that you know what to expect on the day.
    Get used to riding in groups.
    Decent breakfast
    Don't try any new gels on the big day
    Eat before you get hungry and drink before you get thirsty
    Make sure your bike and kit are ready..........
    ................ Stay on the left of the road............unless it is RLS100 2014 :P
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,685
    Use the KISS principle.

    Ride your bike - it doesn't have to be lots, but regularly will help. Wear padded shorts. Check everything on your bike is in good working order.

    Eat normally the night before. I don't endorse carb loading and I'd not recommend large quantities of pasta. In the morning I'd have a bowl of porridge or cereal with dried fruit, easy to digest and no big helpings.

    During the ride eat little and often. Take snacks you like, that are easy to eat (least faff) and easy to digest. Jelly babies, dried fruit, banana, malt loaf, whatever. I'd not eat any meat or pies/pastry, neither is good IMHO.

    Hydration just means drinking adequately. I aim to drink up to 500ml of water/hour. On long rides I carry 1 bottle with water and the other with weak squash or dilute fruit juice for a bit of flavour later on. If towards the end you fancy a can of coke or a Mars bar then stop and buy one. It's not a crime.

    Memorise the route if you can. Break the ride into sections, focus on the section you're on.

    Most importantly, don't think of it as being difficult. It's just a few hours of riding, not climbing Everest. People can ride long distances on very little 'practice', as many sportive / audax / charity ride participants will attest. A lot of it is in your head. And you don't need a fancy bike.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • maringirl wrote:
    Depends upon what point you are starting from - you say beginner - can you ride a bike, if yes then what's current mileage etc.

    I am fairly new to cycling yes but I can ride a bike. I ride about 3 days a week, usually 20-25 miles on weekdays and 40-ish on the weekends.

    Thank you guys for the great advice! I am hoping to tackle this distance later this year.
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    It's all about nutrition and not bonking. The better your bike and kit the easier it gets. - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • Chris87Chris87 Posts: 224
    As everyone is saying, the main thing is nutrition nutrition nutrition!

    if you don't keep fuelling as you go you will bonk, regardless of your level of fitness.

    I usually go for alternating between torq bars and and gels for a bit of variety on the stomach and then Nectar in one bidon and depending on the weather plain water or an electrolyte tab in the other.

    Its a good idea to try out a few different fuelling options on shorter rides to see what works best for you. I can't go near high5 or SIS, they both do BAD things to me. Muel bars are great but not the easiest to eat while on the move, hence going for torq bars.

    You may also prefer going for the home made approach, flapjacks, fruit juice and a packet of sweets.

    As I said, experiment on shorter rides and see what works best.
  • nevmannevman Posts: 1,611
    Think of it as three 33 mile rides and adapt accordingly.
    Whats the solution? Just pedal faster you baby.

    Summer B,man Team Carbon LE#222
    Winter Alan Top Cross
    All rounder Spec. Allez.
  • The best advice I can give is stick to a plan about how much you're going to eat and don't deviate from it. Doing a 100 miler is not a time to be worrying about your waistline. I've done two 100 mile rides and both times, I've managed to suffer a sugar crash (bonking) towards the end of the ride. Both times I had gels / food in my back pocket so only had myself to blame. Don't do what I did and wait until you need the gels - it's too late by then!
  • PS Torq gels and Mule bars are my weapons of choice
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