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Century Rides: A dreadful necessity

September 12, 2011

If you are an avid cyclist or a long distance triathlete you know the term “Century rides” all too well. I did my fair share of them last year when I was training for IM Louisville and after the race vowed to stop riding them for a while. I think every IM’er has wanted to (at some point or another) throw away their bike or give it away while training for a long distance race. I know I didn’t want to look at my bike for days after my race.

Recently, I have been riding 60-80 miles rides once a week and enjoying them and the group I ride with. Well about a week ago, one of my friends who is training for IMAZ in November asked if I wanted to ride the “Endless Summer Watermelon Ride”. Since the race started about 5 miles from my house I couldn’t say no. They had a 30,70 and 105 miles ride. (http://www.nfbc.us/Rides/Events/tabid/58/Default.aspx) The ride started at 7:30 am so I met my friend outside of her house and we rode the 5 miles to the start.

Getting ready to ride a century without having a race to look forward to or a specific purpose takes a different mental toll on you than on race day. Race day you can focus on your goals while in contrast going for a 115 mile “joy” ride is completely different. Motivation might be a little lower and getting up at 5 am your body might be saying “seriously? Doesn’t bed feel much better”. The morning was nice, started off about 80 degrees and was hoping cloud cover would stay throughout the day, but that only lasted until about 9:00 am. Then the heat and humidity came and touched the high 90’s -draining your energy very quickly.

The biggest thing to be prepared for on these long rides (especially when it is hot) is to make sure you stay hydrated and fueled. I try to drink at least a bottle and a half of liquid each hour and try and consume about 400 calories. I started the morning with a bagel and peanut butter, 20 oz chocolate milk, cup off coffee and and a myoplex protein bar. I brought about 1500 calories with me for the ride (3 bags of powerbar energy blasts, two honey stinger waffles, two purefit protein bars – these are great because they do not melt). I brought three bottles with me, two filled with Gatorade and one with water. They had rest stops about every 20 miles so I knew that I could refill at each station.

We started the ride at a nice easy pace (19-20) while some groups blew past us doing 24-25+. It was hard for me to let them fly by without wanting to latch on to their group, but I knew we would be picking up many of their causalities along the way. I knew there was no chance that everyone in those groups would last the entire distance at that pace. We continued on and at about mile 40 our small group had added about 8 more riders which grew another 5 or 6 about mile 60. We had some first time century riders with us and as most learn on their first if you don’t eat or drink enough you bonk. We tried to keep the group together and stopped at each rest stop for the individuals needing the additional food. Just for good measure the final 10 miles or so we had the wind in our face.

Overall, the ride was great, little hot but I live in FL, it is always hot. It was good to have my first century of the year under my belt. It was nice to have ridden the IM distance on the bike and know that I felt like I could have ran after – not sure about 26.2 just yet. These rides are great for training and can help you push yourself in those final 20 miles or so when your body is telling you it wants to get off the bike and when you need a break you can tuck in behind some people and draft off them.

I got home and had a 320z chocolate milk waiting for me, along with water and Gatorade. I laid on my floor for a while, stretched out the legs, watched some football and then indulged in some pizza. I know once the beginning of the year comes I will be logging more of these rides, but today was good to just be out there remembering what 115 feels like and knowing that I do not need to do another for quite some time!

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