How to Prepare for your first century ride
Guest post by David@biketrainerworld.com
Challenges make life more interesting. As a bike riding enthusiast, aimless cycling gets boring fast and so does biking with your buddies in the neighborhood. A time will come when you will want to go big—like try a century ride.
This is no small ride. You will be cycling a whole 100 miles (160.9 kilometers) in one day. As a first-timer, your main concern is making sure you finish the race. Save the breaking-records agenda for another time.
When getting ready for something as big as this, it is easy to get nervous and confused. This article is like a checklist. It will help you know what and how to prepare.
Draw a Training Plan
Without a plan, anything goes and your training may not be effective. This is crucial and it is something that you should start months before the race. Your body needs to get used to the pressure. The exercises for a ride like this one are brutal and doing them wrongly can be dangerous. Lucky for you, the internet is saturated with training plans created by people who know what they are doing.
The plans are carefully drafted and some even give details of the kind of exercises you will do. When you pick a plan, be sure to stick to it religiously. If there is a resting day, rest. Your body needs to recover. While still on this, avoid overtraining. This is common among eager riders.
Tell Your Loved Ones
Do not wait until the race is a week away. As soon as you are sure you want to do this, let them know. The training process requires a lot of time. Your spouse, family and friends will, therefore, be affected.
Share the plan with them so they can offer support. On days when you have to ride long distances, someone may offer to come with you and keep you company. They will also be your greatest motivators when you want to bail out.
Here is what you need to do.
Buy Proper Gear
Most cyclists have the right gear stashed somewhere. If you haven’t worn any of the pieces in a while, try wearing them during your exercises to see if they still fit. Make sure it is the right gear for cycling too.
Sitting on a saddle for hours can be uncomfortable. Add to that the sweat and fatigue—the last thing you want is a shirt or short that is just awkward. The best gear may be a little costly, but the for comfort that you will enjoy is worth it.
Note: Train in the new clothes before the ride so your body can get used to them.
Learn How to Handle Bike Issues
It is easy to assume that all cyclists can repair bikes but not everyone likes to fix things. For some, taking it to a shop is more convenient.
Take some time to understand the technical parts of the bicycle and what to do if anything breaks down.
Century rides usually have professionals to do this job but it does not hurt to learn a few things. Situations can be unpredictable. It would be unfortunate if a small bike problem kept you from finishing the ride.
Know Your Body
How well do you know your body? Long rides can be difficult. They involve pushing your body, sometimes beyond its limits. If you are not careful, this may result in serious health issues. During the training period, pay close attention to your body. Try to understand how it reacts when you are doing intense activities and riding over great distances. Every small signal counts.
Be especially more careful if you have a medical condition. It is advisable to see your doctor and get cleared. Even though you have never had a problem, just talk to them. Better safe than sorry.
Choose a Century Ride
This is simple. Go on the internet and find century rides near you or somewhere you like. The ride details are usually included so you can pick one that is suitable for you. Since this is your first one, go with an easy one (the difficulty levels are indicated).
After you pick a ride, do some research on the geographical location. Gather information about the terrain as well as the weather. This way, you can simulate the terrain on training apps and buy appropriate clothes for the weather.
Make Use of Your Bike Trainer
The best place to prepare for a century ride is outside, no doubt. However, bike trainers are very resourceful. They are not limited by weather conditions and you can still put in some miles when there is a storm.
Trainers are not what they used to be. Today, you can track your numbers and regulate the exercises perfectly—heart zone training has never been easier. Smart trainers and apps replicate different terrains to give you all the practice you need. The most exciting aspect is being able to join virtual races and see how you would do.
Prepare Your Bike
If you already have a great bike, there is no need to buy another one. All you have to do is make adjustments for your comfort. Many cyclists ride bikes that are not well fitted for them. Bike fitting is something you can do on your own—only if you know what you are doing.
It is wise to go to a shop and have the experts look at it. A comfortable bike should never strain you or leave you sore. You should be able to pedal a smooth pedal stroke without trying too hard.
On the D-Day…
On the day of the ride, make sure you bring the following with you:
- Food and drinks
- Extra clothing
- Insurance card
- Credit card
- Cue sheet
It is okay to be a little scared. But do not lose your confidence. There is always a first time for everything. The best thing you can do is to make sure you are fully prepared. Find a training plan and start the exercises early enough. Inform your family in advance and buy the right gear. If you have not yet learned how to fix your bike, now is the time. On the day of the event, carry all the necessities and get there on time.