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Fat, middle aged, beginner training for a century ride in 2 months

CincyStoutCincyStout Posts: 9
edited July 2017 in Road beginners
Good morning, all! I'm new to the forum here. Quick introduction:

I live in Cincinnati, OH. I like beers, especially stouts. I'm also stout myself. (These two facts are likely related.) Anyway, I've never been a cyclist. As a kid, I was the chubby kid that rode his brakes all the way down the steep hills while my friends were building ramps at the bottom of the hill.

As an adult, I successfully avoided any reason to be on a bike until about seven years ago, when I decided to do a canoe/bike/run triathlon. I bought a road bike (GT) and rode it once before the race. After the race (15 miles, if I recall correctly, which I rarely do) the bike was relocated to my garage, where it has rested comfortably without having to support my chunky butt for many years.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My wife has a friend who is battling end stage cancer, and a group was formed to ride a nearby century (Pelatonia in Columbus) in the friend's honor. Given that my sense of duty (and desire to remain married) is larger than my girth, I decided to dust off the bike and prep to ride 100 miles. That's where you all come in. I need guidance.

I have two months to get in shape. I went out on Sunday and rode 25 miles on a bike trail. It was all flat. No hills. I avoided falling over and narrowly avoided running over any children on the path. Aside from my hands and butt both being numb, I felt pretty good.

Now I need a training schedule. I need some guidelines of how quickly I should ramp up my mileage, given that most of my training will be with my bike hooked up to a trainer in the basement. I can probably only get out for a real ride once a week or so. (Full time job, two young kids, excuses, excuses.) I also need to train for some hills, but I'm frankly terrified of riding on the open road just yet. So, I'll need to stop being a baby and suck it up on that front.

Can anyone point me in the direction of some good traning guides? I've tried Google, but I've mostly found stuff that says, "get out and ride as much as you can." Being a fairly obtuse dude, I need a little more guidance than that.

I'd certainly appreciate any help, and look forward to continuing to benefit from the wisdom of you kind (and, I would imagine, extraordinarily attractive) folks on the forum here.



  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Generally speaking
    - more riding will improve the feeling in your hands and butt as they get used to the saddle time
    - are you riding a mountain bike or a road bike? If its a mountain bike, get some slick tyres as this will make life way easier
    - A flat century will take around 6-7hours of riding time, including stops. If there are hills, then it will take more. Seriously get used to spending this amount of time in the saddle. I would say you want to have ridden a 70 mile ride by the end of the first month, if not further. This will give you an idea mentally and physically of what you are up against. That isn't to say it's going to be hellish, it won't, but knowing you can do 70 will mean you KNOW you can do the 100.
    - 25 miles is good. How often can you do that? If you can do that every other day for a week or two, you're on the right path. Add a few more miles after the first week and see how your fitness improves. It should come on quite quickly to start with.
    - if you can't get on the road, then TIME on the trainer is what counts, not miles. Don't kill yourself on it as it will suck the fun out of cycling, but 2-3 hours at a rate to get your heart rate up and a sweat going is great. If you can put it outside, that's good as it can get damn hot. Every now and then (every 20 mins?) up the intensity to a sprint for a minute or two - this will also help build a bit of speed as well as endurance and help replicate hills.
    - Try and watch your diet during your training period - cutting out the stout and censored will help the weight fall off - this will make the hills much much easier. I'm sure a couple of months off won't kill you :). Try to eat lean meats, salads, pastas etc. This will help your muscles recover and also fuel you for your rides. PIzza chips and stout aren't so good at this!

    When I did my first century I just went to my local park which is a 7 mile loop and rode it 3 times every day for a month or two. Nearly killed me but I made it round the 100!
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    You could do worse than hunt down a copy of The Time Crunched Cyclist. Chris Carmichael, one time trainer of a certain Lance Armstrong, although I gather he doesn't mention that as often as he used to. Anyway, if you want a structured training plan, he has one in there for a beginner doing a century. You might need to get hold of a heart rate monitor to do it properly, set up your training zones and gauge your efforts.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    FWIW I returned to road cycling at the age of 50 after a 25 year absence raising a family and putting on 20 pounds I didn't need. Never liked the idea of gyms or cycling indoors so I just got out there and rode the bike as much as life and the weather allowed. Time on the bike is what counts. Anyone who is moderately fit can ride 100 miles as long as they pace themselves, continue to eat and drink, and can remain comfortable on the bike for up to 8 hours.

    The other thing that's helped my cycling is shifting the excess weight by altering my diet. Tried calorie counting many times and just get bored and disillusioned with lack of results. What works for me is the 5:2 eating pattern; normal food & drink 5 days a week, then on 2 non consecutive days just 600 calories. In practice this means that Mon and Thurs I eat nothing till 6:30 pm then just a small meal. Lost 18 pounds in just 3 months, and it's staying off.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 4,036
    edited June 2016
    Welcome to the site!

    Given your unfiltered narrative I'll respond in kind and whatever you lack in fitness is made up in your humour and desire to complete this challenge as those qualities will get you through;-) For that Chapeau sir!

    If you define your preparation by the contents of your enquiry the ride will hurt. A lot so you need to press the reset button.

    I've included a link from the British Cycling website which offers suggestions for preparing to ride a sportive, however it doesn't prescribe a two month plan for a century ride and there's a reason for that!

    My concern is not your overall fitness as most adults could ride 100 miles in a day, slowly, but its largely in the mind rather than the body's inability to perform so its about taking it easy with a leisurely pace. However the greatest concern is your lack of confidence on the road which points to numerous triggers, ability,confidence and your internal qualification of risk of riding on the road. The only way through this is to get on the bike and start the conditioning process. I came to road cycling much later in life due to not wanting to ride in traffic.

    What I would suggest is to mitigate the pain as much as possible. Do you have adequate kit if the weather is adverse? What food/ drinks are you using, bike position are some of the other areas for consideration. How is your maintenance skills, can you change inner tube, repair a puncture/broken chain. Get the bike serviced if not about a week before and ensure you ride the bike to check everything is working as it should.

    If I were in your position I'd break the ride down into 4 bite size chunks of 25 miles each and find someone you can buddy up with and take turns on the front.

    Best Wishes for the ride
    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

    Desmond Tutu
  • surrey_commutersurrey_commuter Posts: 12,613
    You have your wife's support and it is only 2 months - you should go for a ride every other day - first thing or last thing. You need to be the Forrest Gump of cycling but with rest days. This will give you confidence on the road and build fitness.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,551 Lives Here
    Basically, ride lots ;).
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 18,633
    Two things:
    1- ride a lot
    2- REALLY get on top of nutrition. Eat REALLY healthy stuff, ditch the booze. No 'treats' or 'cheat meals' Just for the two months, it's a small sacrifice to make seeing as what you're doing it for and what they're going through. This dedication will make it extra special. It'll be hard. But DO IT.
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    ABCC Cycling Coach
  • Thanks for the great feedback, all! (And for the very respectful approach to encouraging me to not be fat anymore!)

    I will buckle down for the next couple of months and get as much time in the saddle and eating as well as I can. I definitely need to get out on the road, and I'll just have to suck it up. I have moderately adequate health insurance, what's the worst that could happen?

    I also do need to learn how to do the basic maintenance, especially changing the tube. I've watched a YouTube video on it, so I'm almost an expert, but just to be safe, I'll try to actually change one. (I'll probably create and then print off a certificate to prove my expert status after that.)

    A few more questions:

    -Any tips on the things I should be eating for the long rides? I used to be a runner, and I never liked the Goo products.
    -I've heard various things about seats. Any seats that are recommended for big boys?
    -Are there any breath mints that compliment the taste of the numerous bugs I'll accidentally ingest during my rides? (I ate two on my short ride, and felt that the flavor was lacking. I'd ask for wine pairings, but I need to cut back on my drinking for the next two months.)

    Thanks again, all!
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 18,633
    Get yourself a REALLY good pair of shorts. Find an LBS (local bike shop) that sells Assos shorts, try a pair on and buy.
    Such an important thing on a long ride.
    Saddles are very personal, no one can recommend you a saddle as one man's cloud-pillow is another man's censored -hatchet (censored -hatchet?)
    However a lot of bigger guys like the Fizik Aliante.

    As for food, things like flapjack are great. Just take what you like and won't melt/get crushed in a jersey pocket.
    Twitter - @NapD
    Strava - Alex Taylor (
    ABCC Cycling Coach
  • WheelspinnerWheelspinner Posts: 4,987
    May I just add that it's people like you that make cycling such a great sport to participate in.

    Plenty of good advice already given here, but my 2 cents worth: you may not get to "treat" yourself with a beer and pizza night for a couple of months, but one thing you probably *should* do is find and use a good physical therapist to help recover. If you do a big training ride of (say) 50 miles and feel like roadkill the next day, a proper massage and physio will do WONDERS for your ability to get back on the bike a day or two later.

    Possibly the most important person in a pro rider's race team support is the "soigneur". The riders simply couldn't do what they do without one.
    Open O-1.0 Open One+ BMC TE29 Titus Racer X Ti Giant MCM One Cannondale Prophet Lefty Cannondale Super V SL Cove Handjob Cervelo RS
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 18,633
    Yep, instead of a treat meal have a treat massage!
    Twitter - @NapD
    Strava - Alex Taylor (
    ABCC Cycling Coach
  • OnTheRopesOnTheRopes Posts: 460
    OK, so here is my get quick fit method.

    Ditch the beer, maybe have some dry whitr wine at the weekend if you wish.
    Get the wife on the side, yoo need to ride (on the road) 4 times a week, make the time.
    You are not going to be thin in 2 months it takes me 5 to 6 months to gt to race weight if I have had a long lay off. However you can get to a weight where riding will be easier and put you on a path to more weight loss if you wish to achieve it.


    Week1-Ride for 1 hour 4 days in that week, try and keep the intensity at a level where you could (just) hold a conversation if somebody else was with you. This is the best level for quick fitness gain and endurance and your 100 will not need to be any higher than this. This is best done on flat roads, if you can't avoid hills then use the gears to try and keep the intensity the same, going higher intensity for short periods won't do you any harm

    Week 2 - Ride for 1 hour for 3 days and on the 4th day increae the ride to 90 mins all at the same intensity. Flat roads

    Week 3 - Same as week 2

    Week 4 - Ride 1 hour, Ride 90 mins, Ride One hour, Ride 90 mins

    Week 5 - Ride one hour, Ride 2 hours, Ride one hour, Ride 90 mins

    Week 6 - Ride 1 hour, Ride 2 hours, Ride One hour, Ride 90 mins

    Week 7, Ride 1 hour, Ride 1 hour, Ride 1 hour, Ride 3 hours

    Week 8, Ride 1 hour, Ride 90 mins, Ride 1 hour, Ride 3 hours

    Then on the week leading up to the event taper down to 3 1 hour rides so as to be fresh for the big day.

    If you can manage the 3 hour rides then on the day you will be more comfortable doing the 100.
    At the end of the day you really do need to get out on the bike and do this. The above is an idea that will help, there are other ways but there is no easy way.
  • marco67marco67 Posts: 91
    Hi CincyStout

    I don't feel I can add much more than has already been suggested, other than seeing if you can find someone else who is signed up for the ride who will be happy to train with you. Someone experienced will be happy to help you become a more confident rider and share tips for hopefully making the experience more enjoyable - maybe even share a sneaky stout now and again ;-)
    Either way, I wish you all the best for your adventure! And please let us know how your training and the ride goes - i reckon with your "unfiltered narrative" and "humour and desire" if you documented your experiences it would make a most excellent read.
    Good luck!
    Ciao Marco
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,480
    I'll echo that you need to get your wife onside to support your training as the more road time you get the better. Any chance of getting out on family rides? While you need long rides any outings will help. If you can tow one of your children so much the better (look for Trailgators - tow bars for any adult to child bike combo).

    Another tip is to do some running unless there is agoofd health reason not too - I find half an hour of running exercises my Cardio-vascular system as much as two hours cycling - great for getting some workout done in a short space of time.
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Some useful info that can be downloaded here: ... -guide.pdf
  • These are fantastic tips and resources. You guys rock! Also, since it seems many people on this forum hail from the UK, I read all of these posts with a British accent, which automatically makes them sound smarter. (Though it probably freaks out my coworkers, since I read out loud, and makes me seem less intelligent. And just weird.)

    I'll happily keep you all appraised of my journey to 100 miles and and a perfectly calloused butt.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,551 Lives Here
    pair of cycling shorts and some chamois cream won't go amiss either ;).
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,769
    Superb post, great humour, and good on you.

    Most has already been said, but I would echo the mention of the time crunched book, though whether you have the time to digest it and configure the workouts I am not so sure, but for me it has been an amazing training aid.
    I have just embarked on TrainerRoad.

    Oh and also a good 2 or more pairs of shorts (are Pactimo from the US?) as already mentioned, and a decent pair of mitts too.

    Seems like you have the attitude and humour to get through it though, and all I would add, is hopefully this time you will grow to love it, and not banish the poor bike to the garage after the century!
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
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  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,551 Lives Here
    Oh, and you're American, so this kind of thing should speak to you, right?? ;)
  • CincyStout wrote:

    Can anyone point me in the direction of some good traning guides? I've tried Google, but I've mostly found stuff that says, "get out and ride as much as you can." Being a fairly obtuse dude, I need a little more guidance than that.

    Personally, I echo the advice of "just ride your bike lots"! To do a slow century it is only a matter of physically sitting on a bike and turning the peddles for 6-9 hours, and fueling yourself through it. There is very little else to it and most of that skill is built by sitting on a bike for a few hours (on consecutive days if you can manage it)

    The difficult bit is then getting quicker...that's where the sports science comes in.

    I wrote this for my blog and its pretty damn close to what you are asking... ... tury-ride/

    I was in nearly exactly the same place as you are now 4 years ago... and I have just helped 5 other blokes in the same place as you through a thousand mile tour with only a few months of training..... I have no expertise in this apart from making it real simple.... ride lots, lose weight and lift weights to help your core (I personally think weights are useful for beginners - less so for people who are racing).

    Once you have your century in - then start looking at interval training and hill repeats as for me, that's where I have really found the improvements visible. (in the grand scheme of things - I am a very over weight and average cyclist so feel free to ignore me!)
  • ajwcyclistajwcyclist Posts: 12
    Lots of good advice another thing is to have a look at route profile if hilly throw in some Hill repeat efforts another thing is to break the ride into sections or points along the ride to get to. It's much easier to think of riding say 10 mile than 100. It's about breaking the ride into manageable chunks. If there is a social cycle group get some rides in with them and get used to riding in a group. There is no need to do all the work when riding the event let others do some of the work load. Say work in a group of 3 or 4 and share the effort good luck with the event
  • antonyfromozantonyfromoz Posts: 480
    It might be an idea to see if any cycling clubs in the area have beginners groups as these are a great opportunity to pick up some tips from more experienced cyclists and to getting used to riding on the road with other cyclists. It is also motivating to have a fixed time to ride as it promotes riding in all weathers and gets you on the saddle even on days you might not be be feeling like it. Congratulations on taking on the challenge and all the best with your diet and training!
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,662
    To begin with ignore any thoughts of measuring your speed and work on increasing your time in the saddle.

    If you start going "fast" for 30 minutes, then for 35 minutes etc then you won't give your body enough time to adjust to things like sitting on the bike for 4-6 hours, knowing what to eat and drink while riding for this long. Instead, get your time up and then you will see the fitness and speed start to increase almost as a side effect.
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,662
    To do a slow century it is only a matter of physically sitting on a bike and turning the peddles for 6-9 hours

    I'm doing a century in a few weeks time and was aiming for 6 hours - I didn't know that was slow....
  • singleton wrote:
    To do a slow century it is only a matter of physically sitting on a bike and turning the peddles for 6-9 hours

    I'm doing a century in a few weeks time and was aiming for 6 hours - I didn't know that was slow....

    That was a typo! (should have said 8-9 hours). I have only done 2 centuries under 6 hours and that is my absolute limit .... but in the grand scheme of things im not a great cyclist. Having said that I am pretty sure many people on here would regard 6 hours as a slow century ride...really depends on the route, conditions and the company you keep!

    6 hours is definitely not slow for a century in my book - total average of just under 17mph means you are going to have to do some decent stretches of 20mph plus. ...... whats the elevation like?
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,662

    really depends on the route, conditions and the company you keep! ...... whats the elevation like?

    It starts at Broughton Castle and runs through the Cotswolds. I think it's got a few nice hills in it - with more than 7000 ft of climbing.
  • singleton wrote:

    really depends on the route, conditions and the company you keep! ...... whats the elevation like?

    It starts at Broughton Castle and runs through the Cotswolds. I think it's got a few nice hills in it - with more than 7000 ft of climbing.

    Nice - you will enjoy that, my neck of the woods. If you get around that in 7 hours I think you should be well pleased. I did quit a bit of riding in the Cotswold last year when trying to get the hills in for Coast to Cast in a day sportive .... its lumpy!
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,662
    I think 6 hours may be a little optimistic for this one.
    Mostly just hoping for good weather so we can have fun and get round without any issues.

    In under 6 hours..... :-)
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    That's a big ask. 2 months is a very short time to ramp up to a Century, from nothing. It's do-able, but you'll have to knock off the beer, and ride a lot. The toughest thing will be not to over train, but still do enough, to get you through the Century. It will take a lot of effort and dedication, but it would be quite an achievement. Good luck.
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,221
    The OP hasn't posted for three weeks - I wonder how it's going?
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