If you’ve been riding a bicycle for your health or training for a race, you’ve probably heard die-hard riders talk about a century ride. This is a milestone for every adventurous rider, and it’s no easy feat. But with a little mental preparation, physical training and the right tools to aid your journey, you can be set to join the century club in no time.
You Can Do What You Believe You Can Do
First things first: When you’re starting to work toward a 100-mile-long bike ride, your mindset is crucial to your success. If you go into a challenge like riding a century with a negative mindset, you’re more likely to see challenges as roadblocks and setbacks as reasons to quit. Once you commit to the idea, believe in yourself. It also pays to bolster your confidence with knowledge and the right goals toward which to plan.
Choose a Riding Event
One major step mentally is to have a goal in mind as you train. When you sign up for an event, though, you don’t just get a deadline. You find out about the terrain you’ll be riding, including elevation and scenery. You also learn what time of day you need to prepare to ride. All this information gives you an image in your head of what you want to accomplish. Knowing is half the battle, right? So sign up early and train with the end goal in mind.
Know Your Capacity
Maybe you’ve ridden 60 miles pretty easily and want to move up to the next challenge. Maybe you’re a rookie and adore a challenge. No matter where you are, you can set your training plan more accurately when you know your fitness level as of now. Honor yourself with this assessment. It’s okay to not be in the right shape yet to ride. It’s not okay to dive into such a long ride unprepared.
Train Your Body
Once you have your mindset in check and your goal in mind, it’s time to put some time in the saddle. You’re the only person who knows how much time you need, and no magic formula fits every rider’s needs (and there are tons of free programs online to try). Just remember a century ride takes hours. Plan your training blocks to allow you to grow accustomed to sitting on your bike for extended time periods. If you’re unsure where to find extra time, consider riding your commute or to run errands a few times a week.
Get Off Your Bike
You also need to put in quality time off the bike. Stretching is key to your century success. Cycling for long periods can tighten your hamstrings, calves and back, for example. Take every opportunity to stretch your full body and counteract the effects of saddle time.
Likewise, your muscles need extra attention so you can build the endurance you need to complete your ride. This is especially true if your event is in a scenic locale. If you’re going to be riding in the mountains, for example, you’ll need extra muscle work to build your legs to withstand the hills. Be aware of elevation from a stamina perspective, too. Thinner air requires more stamina. Cross-train to expand your lung capacity, and fuel your body effectively.
Gather the Right Gear as You Go
With all the training you’re doing, you’ll need some essentials to stay safe on the road and keep yourself healthy. Aside from the ID, helmet, bike (of course) and water bottle you know you need, here are a few items to grab for training and the big day.
LED Bike Light
Unless you’re lucky enough to have hours free in the middle of the day, chances are you have to do some training in the morning or take a night ride now and then. If so, a quality LED bike light is critical so you can see and others can see you. A bright light helps you avoid potholes and other road debris while making you visible to the cars with whom you’re sharing the road.
Food for the Road
You’re going to be exerting yourself for hours on end. Carry high-energy snacks on board when you ride and replenish your body’s stores. Look for gels and gummies, if possible. They’re easier to eat as you ride without much mess.
Gloves, No Matter the Weather
Gripping handlebars also takes its toll. Padded gloves lessen vibration, and full-length ones keep you warm in cooler weather. For hot weather, choose a fingerless version.
Tools to Fix Easy Issues
Bring a repair kit, spare tubes and a chain breaker with you on every ride, and learn how to use them. You may want to bring a dollar bill, too. It works as a patch in a pinch when you have a tear in your bike’s sidewall.
With the proper mindset, training plan and equipment, your goal of a century ride can be in reach without stress. Give yourself ample time to prepare, and then enjoy your ride.