A milestone in the life of any cyclist is riding a century, or 100 miles, in one day. While riding 100 miles in a day may sound extreme to a non-cyclist, it is not unthinkable. Almost any casual cyclist can complete a century if they follow a comprehensive training routine.
There are several things to consider in order to have a trouble-free century. They include:
The right equipment means comfort. Your bike should fit you well and should be familiar. If you aren’t sure, have your local bike professional provide a fit assessment. Don’t plan to ride a new or a borrowed bike on your first century. Consider having a tune-up before the ride, and carry a spare tire and patch kit, tools, a pump and knowledge of how to use them. Other essential equipment includes:
The core of your training should be endurance training. If you start your training at least 12 weeks before the ride, you will have ample time to prepare for the century. If you already ride more than 7 hours a week, you will need far less time to prepare.
While most of your rides will be at about 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR), add two days of interval training, where you push hard for several minutes — up to 85% MHR. Hills are a great way to add interval training to your ride. And don’t forget to allow one day per week for recovery. A sample training schedule may look like this:
As the ride day approaches, food becomes the critical component for a successful century. A few days prior to the ride you should start hydrating. Drink water frequently, cut back or eliminate caffeine and alcohol, and add carbohydrates to your diet.
On ride day, eat a light breakfast of high-carbohydrate foods and drink lots of water. On the ride drink before you're thirsty. Water or a sports drink should be your first choice. Eat easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich food such as energy bars, bagels, fruit or granola. Don’t try something new on the ride. You should eat things you know agree with you.
Ease into the ride pace. This isn’t a race, and if it’s your first century, the goal is to finish comfortably. Here are some more tips for an enjoyable ride:
Attitude is everything. If you have prepared yourself well, there isn’t much more to be done on ride day than sit back and enjoy the scenery (and maybe plan your next century).