A century?

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!


Filed under Cycling

15 responses to “A century?

  1. Sounds like a great goal, Dorothy. I am really pleased to hear that you are on the mend.


  2. Good luck with your century Dorothy!


  3. If you think you’ll be in shape by then, you should come down to the city for the NYCC’s Escape from New York. It starts and ends right up the road from me, and has some excellent food stops. Oct. 13. I’d do it with you, if that’s motivation.


  4. Good luck with your training! Goals are always good to have 🙂


  5. Thank you everyone! I do appreciate your encouragement. I’m looking forward to all those long rides — beginning tomorrow!

    Fendergal — Thank you! What a great idea; that would be awesome. I don’t know for sure, but I’m awfully tempted, and if I’m able to do it, Hobgoblin has agreed to ride with me. Are you up for riding at my slowish pace?


  6. SFP

    Sounds like a great plan. I’m so glad that you’re feeling better these days.


  7. After my last race, in three weeks, I will be in “if the legs don’t hurt, it must be fine” mode.


  8. 100 miles is pretty impressive! Glad to hear you are finally getting back to where you were before your health problems came up. How long does it normally take for one of these century rides? If the weather is nice and the scenery good, it sounds like it would be a lot of fun.


  9. Thank you Susan!

    Fendergal — cool. I’m almost sure I’ll be able to do the century with you, barring health disasters, or other kinds of disasters.

    Danielle — thank you! For me, a century takes about 6 1/2 hours, although my best one was just under 6. I’m not terribly fast; long distances are fun, but they aren’t really my strong point. Part of the problem with centuries and speed is that I usually ride them alone, and so don’t have other people to motivate me, and to draft on.


  10. I’ve never been further than 50 miles on one trip! Like you I train for criteriums mostly (that I don’t do anymore 🙂 ) I am not sure I could make a century – not for lack of endurance – but saddle soreness. Anyway I came upon this quote and thought it was good advice:

    “When you are on the starting line of your first century, it’s not wise to sit there and think, ‘I’ve got to ride one hundred miles.’ I remember my first one, and my thought was to get to the first rest stop. I made each succeeding rest stop my goal. When they’re about twenty-five miles apart, you don’t get intimidated by what seems an impossible distance. All you need to do is ride twenty-five miles four times.”

    Seana Hogan


  11. hepzibah

    You will do great dorothy! I look forward to hearing about your race reports! I think setting goals is the first step towards accomplishing them.


  12. That’s so true BettyBetty, thanks for the quotation. Breaking it into smaller chunks is so much more manageable — and more fun. And having other people to ride with helps too.

    Hepzibah — thank you! It’s nice to have a goal, even if I don’t end up reaching it.


  13. I’m sure you can do it, and then, when you’re done and feeling great, you can thumb your nose at your doctor, who thought she knew best but who didn’t know your body at all. Good luck with the training.


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