I think I may try to ride a century this fall — a hundred miles in one ride. In a more typical year, I would have ridden a century last Sunday and would be planning to ride another one or two in the next month. These are organized rides that run on the same weekend every year and that have lots of support — a marked course, food and water along the way, mechanical support, lots of other riders, and usually a t-shirt and other free stuff. I usually spend July and early August doing progressively longer rides to get ready.
But this year my health got in the way, and the typical season got disrupted. So instead I thought I might try to do one on my own, probably in late October or early November. My riding has gotten steadily better over the last month, so that now I feel like I’m back to normal, just about — I’m not in race shape, by any means, but I can ride as well as or better than I could last January or February before I got in race shape.
And I need something to work toward, some sort of goal. I don’t need to be training for races right now, as those don’t start up again until March, but I don’t want to just ride either — I’d feel too purposeless. So working toward a century should do the trick. As to whether I can actually complete one, that will depend on my health and my free time and the weather.
A good number of riders I know have enough endurance to just ride a century, without elaborate preparation, but not me. I’m perfectly comfortable up to about 50 miles, and after that I get tired fast if I don’t train. The training I do for races doesn’t help at all, because most of my races are usually relatively short — 20-25 miles or so for the ones I’m best at. I spend most of the training season working on intensity, not endurance.
So I’ll try to do a series of long rides on the weekends in September and October; the longest I’ve done since I got sick was about 38 miles, so I’ll do a couple of 50-mile rides, a couple of 60-mile rides, maybe a 70-mile one and hopefully an 80-mile one, and then I’ll be more than ready. I’m lucky to have a marked century route that begins and ends practically at my front door, as I can be bad at making up my own routes — this route heads south for a bit before circling back to my town, and then follows a northern loop for the rest of the ride. There are plenty of convenience stores and delis to get food and water, so I won’t miss the food stops of an organized century.
We’ll see how I do!