Get Ready For Your Next Century Ride

Bike riders on century ride in Utah
Century rides are held on some of the nicest roads in the state and provide
an opportunity to ride with a great group of people. This is from the 2014
Tour de Cure, a ride that needs to be on your list. Photo by Dave Iltis

By Cameron Hoffman

Century rides and events are just around the corner! This time of year is exciting with warm weather, more daylight hours and enthusiasm among clubs and teams. It’s also time to get ready for your century specifically your equipment, nutrition and training.

Dial in your Equipment

I recently had a teammate who rode a very long ride/race from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming (LOTOJA). He was very meticulous in his preparation. He wore a heart rate monitor, did necessary training, competed in local races and ensured his equipment was ready. He also purchased and mounted new tubular tires, updated a few components, tried out different food and gel options and purchased new cycling shoes. It appeared like he was dialed in and ready to roll. But, properly adjusting new shoes (which were also a different brand) required more trial and error than just a few days of riding. In the end, he had everything set, except for his shoe and cleat position. My teammate ended up riding LOTOJA entirely with knee pain, where a simple cleat adjustment would have made all the difference and eliminated the pain.

The point of this story is that fine-tuning equipment, training and nutrition is required, but avoid any drastic changes within a month before your event. Ensure your equipment is ready, with any adjustments made well in advance. Don't wait until the last minute.

Here are a few equipment recommendations:

1. Be sure to have newer tires to hedge against flats. You can also inject tire sealant to protect against common thorns and some sharp road debris.

2. Get a proper bike fit. A bike fit can ensure that you are comfortable and maximizing power output.

3. Tune up your bike with a new chain and install new shoe cleats

Nutrition is Key

Proper nutrition is pivotal for every endurance athlete. It's said that we only have enough carbohydrates in our system to last us about 90 minutes. That means that we have to replenish our carbohydrate stores during our ride. If you haven't already found gels and bars that work for you, now is a good time to start. I've always been a proponent of real food. Check out The FeedZone Cookbook for some great on the road pocket food ideas. These days, I only ride with rice cakes in my back pocket and a couple of caffeinated gels during long rides. Here are my nutritional recommendations:

1. Practice in advance with different food and gels to dial in your nutrition.

2. During your century ride eat something every 20-30 minutes such as a gel or a couple bites of food.

3. Drink every 15-20 minutes.

4. Keep a well-rounded diet – focus your daily meals with real food. Continue with your chosen vitamin and supplements.

Training Your Way to 100

While 100 miles is a long way, most riders, even weekend warriors can adequately prepare and accomplish a century with enough training. The number one rule to training and getting into shape is consistency. That's the secret! Consistency! Sometimes life gets in the way and consistency is not always going to happen. When preparing for a century, I would recommend training 3-4 days a week for 4 weeks straight. Here is a training outline you can follow:

Week 1

During week one you are building on the fitness you’ve gained during later winter and early spring training rides. You may be feeling behind on your training, however there’s plenty of hope with consistent training for the next 4 weeks.

1. Train on mostly flat and rolling terrain for 20-30 miles per ride. Try to bump it up to 40 miles on your longer weekend ride.

2. The goal is to keep the legs moving at a tempo pace you are comfortable with. There’s no need to push yourself very hard, but hard enough you can complete 20-30 miles. Then shoot for a 40-mile day on the weekend.

3. Remember to focus on recovery after each workout. Eat something within 30 minutes after completing your ride. Drink fluids to rehydrate

Week 2

During week two, we are going to build on week one. By now you should be feeling better when you ride and adapting to the extra miles.

1. Train on rolling terrain with a few 5-10 minute climbs per ride. Shoot for 20-35 miles per ride, with a 50 miles ride on the weekend.

2. The goal is to build strength and increase your endurance. Pushing yourself to accomplishing 50 miles will feel incredible. You are well on your way to 100!

3. Stay consistent with a great diet hydration and quality sleep.

Week 3

Week three you may feel a bit tired from the previous two weeks. That’s okay, it means your body is adapting and will take you to the next fitness level.

1. Train on rolling terrain with a few 5-10 minute climbs per ride. It’s okay to push yourself up these climbs. Intensity, believe it or not, is an important part of building endurance. Increase daily mileage to 25-35 miles with a 60-mile ride on the weekend. If you can comfortably accomplish 60 miles, you can definitely make it to 100! Constant nutrition will be the key to going the distance.

2. On your longer rides (anything more than 90 minutes), eat something every 20-30 minutes. This will ensure you have food burning in your stomach the entire duration and adequate calories for your training ride.

3. The goal is to continue the momentum with added hill climbing intensity.

4. Make sure your diet is complete with real food which will only help you feel vibrant and strong.

Week 4

The week of your Century! This is the toughest week. Do you rest or train? The truth is that you must do both. If you rest too much you’ll feel stale and lack energy. If you train too much, you risk lacking enough recovery to accomplish your goal of 100 miles.

1. Train on flat to rolling terrain. It’s okay to throw in a few minutes of intensity if you’d like. We’ll scale back your daily mileage to 15-25 miles.

2. The day before your century ride, be sure to do about 15 miles at a tempo pace.

3. Ride your century! Remember to eat something every 20-30 minutes, even if it’s only a few bites of a sports bar or half a banana. Drink something in the same interval of every 20-30 minutes.

Here are a few training tips:

1. Be consistent with your training

2. If you can ride 60+ miles during one ride, you can absolutely accomplish 100 miles.

3. Mixing your rides with mileage and intensity will enhance your preparation

4. Try to become proficient with drafting. Drafting offers approximately 30% energy savings, which is a HUGE amount of energy savings over a 100-mile span.

5. Try different foods and sports drinks. Everyone has slightly different preferences.

6. If you tend to sweat a lot, be sure to include salty types of sports drinks and food.

Cycling is a beautiful sport that can take you along beautiful roads and gorgeous scenery. We can meet life long friends and gain incredible fitness. Take it all in while you are training for your next century. Be sure to hone in your equipment to ensure a smooth and comfortable ride. Dial in your nutrition to keep your energy stores up and build up to tackle that 100-mile ride. Like most things in life, consistency is the key to success. Ride consistently and make this year’s century ride your best yet.

Cameron Hoffman is a Cat 1 racer who grew up racing in Northern California before moving to Utah in 2001. A former US National Team member, he's well known as an all arounder, currently racing for Team Endurance360 (www.endurance360.com). He can be contacted at [email protected]

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