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Lessons learned from my first two centuries

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I very much enjoyed my first two century rides … and I’m learning a lot from them.  Here are a few key points.

General

  • My long ride mantra has become keep pedaling. It sounds obvious, but when you really start to think about it, all the major obstacles can be addressed with this simple phrase.
    “How do you handle the hills?” Keep pedaling.
    “How do you deal with the heat?” Keep pedaling.
    “How can you ride that far?” Keep pedaling.

    It’s also an easy way to encourage yourself, when you’re struggling. Just keep pedaling.

  • Organized centuries are a great way to start out. You don’t have to worry about planning a route, or trying to find water/food/bathroom stops. And because you don’t have to plan the route yourself,  you can comfortably ride outside of your usual riding area.
  • It’s important to pace yourself. Try to settle into an easy but steady pace.

A few things specific to me

  • I am lucky to have two bicycles that both work well for centuries: the Long Haul Trucker, and the Bianchi. They are quite different, but I have ridden one century on each now, and both worked well.
  • I thought I would have problems with the plastic saddle on the Bianchi, and was going to get a leather one to replace it. But I had no problems with it during the century I rode on it, so I’m going to stick with the saddle I have, at least for now. It’s a Selle Italia X2 Trans Am.
  • I had a killer headache the day after the hilly, 90-degree century ride. I hate to admit it, but I think I need something to help manage electrolytes. I really like eating normal food, so something like Endurolytes might help. More salty snacks would probably help as well.
  • I only really had one one major comfort issue, and that was with the Bianchi. My little fingers went numb around mile 85, especially the one on my right hand. I chalk this up to the compact handlebars. I made some adjustments to the bar angle and brake lever setup, and those changes helped a little, but by now it’s becoming clear that the compact bars are not for me. I will likely replace them with Nitto Noodle bars, like I have on the Trucker.

3 Responses to “Lessons learned from my first two centuries”

  1. Redbike Says:

    My biggest tip would be to keep eating and drinking. Pedalling helps though.

  2. Chris Says:

    Back in my “training and fitness” days, my objective to centuries was to see how fast I could complete them. Since my training rides were typically shorter, I’d become quite fatigued around mile 80-85, and the last miles were not pleasant. Now that my riding involves a more “cyclotourist” approach, I’d like to try century rides again to see if I could focus on enjoying the ride.

  3. Apertome Says:

    Chris: I think that thing that saved us on our hot century the ride the other day was our willingness to take our time. I also think we got a lot of enjoyment out of it that way. We had time to take lots of photos, and rode at a conversational pace basically the entire time.

    So, I definitely think there’s something to be said for the cyclotourist approach. If back off the intensity a bit, you can ride all day.

    In fact, one thing that I was a little worried about before riding my first century was that I wouldn’t be able to take as much time to enjoy the scenery, or take photos. I guess that would be true if I was concerned about finishing time, but so far it seems like I can both ride longer distances AND still enjoy the sights along the way.

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