Ever dreamt of cycling 100 miles?
These handy tips will get you on your way to conquering your first Century ride.
1. Set a date - simple really, but setting a date for when you want to ride 100 miles will help motivate you to train, plan and work towards it. Tell people about it - this will help make it feel real and you'll now be accountable to others. Choose a date that will allow you to have the right preparation, training and lead up (including a taper / rest the week beforehand).
2. Build yourself a training plan - list out the rides that you will do to build up the distance to your 100 miles. We suggest to start from the base (distance) that you currently ride at and build up 10% each week from there. Include a 'consolidate/rest' week every 4-5 weeks, which should be at a lower total mileage so your body and muscles can adapt and recover. This will help to prevent injury.
3. Find a friend - riding with a buddy and setting the goal with someone else will help motivate you. When you're having a down-day and don't feel like training your friend (should) be there to cheer you on. Alternatively, find a friend that has already ridden 100 miles and get them to support you with achieving your goal.
4. Fuel your ride - any form of exercise over 1 hour will deplete a large portion of your glycogen stores (this is the energy stored in your muscles). You need to take on board energy during your training rides and on the day of the 100 miles. Snacking and drinking regularly (we recommend every hour) on the bike will help to maintain your energy levels and avoid you bonking. We like to make our own flapjacks and natural snacks, however there are many bars and gels out there that will work just as well to fuel your ride. Test out some different foods during your training rides to see what works best for you and your stomach!
5. Pace yourself - your first 100 miles might not be the best time to see how fast you can ride it! Start at a pace that is easy to maintain, breathing should be regular and not difficult. You should be able to hold a conversation (or sing to yourself if you're alone!) Keep in mind that you will be excited and nervous, so your heart rate in the beginning is likely to be elevated, pay attention if you can to your breathing rather than your heart rate.
6. Finishing is mental - endurance cycling is 90% mental and the other half physical ;-) If you feel tired or discouraged at any point, ask yourself if you are eating and drinking enough. Low blood sugar (or bonking as we call it) is the most likely cause of fatigue or a bad mood.
7. Break it down - cycling 100 miles is a big task and can seem daunting, so don't think of it as 100 miles. Break it down into smaller, achievable sections, like cycling to the top of a hill, or hitting 20 mile sections or the next aid station. Set yourself a little reward once you conquer each part of the journey to help keep you motivated.
8. Be prepared for the things that can go wrong - something may and will go wrong during your 100 mile ride. Whether that be a puncture, rain, strong headwinds, you take a wrong turn when navigating or you drop a nutrition bar! When this happens, take a few deep breaths and try to relax. Just ask yourself how bad is it really? Is it something in your control? Will it all be gone tomorrow (whether that is the pain from a sore butt or stomach?) Keep riding if you can, most things will be gone tomorrow and focus on the feeling of having achieved your goal at the end.
9. Commemorate your ride - you've trained and worked hard to get to this point! You should take some pictures along the way and document it. Maybe write a journal before and after the ride too, documenting how you felt, your nerves, the ride itself, how your body responded and recovers afterwards. All of these will be building your strength and knowledge of how your body copes with such endurance events.
And remember to give yourself a HUGE pat on the back when you clock those 100 miles in one ride. It's an awesome achievement!!!
10. JUST HAVE FUN - because that is what riding is meant to be about!