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"It's only just begun..."
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Well lads,

Entered for my first century (167km) this coming Sunday. Lot of climbing involved, including an early killer hairpin hill (only 1.4km, but 36% gradient at one point!), followed by several long drags and two very tough climbs along dead mountain roads, before a 10km downhill finish (if I get that far!).

Basically I don't know if I can do it. I'm 37, started cycling 14 months ago, and this time last year I did the 100km version of this tour and it went fairly well - though I started off too quickly (never again!). Since then I've done a few 100km rides, mostly 30-70km spins, and managed a 125km solo ride (in 5hrs) about 5 weeks ago along much of this century route, after which I reckon I could have done another 20k (max).

However, over the last 4 weeks I've struggled for form and motivation, which seems strange what with the big century day looming. A little bit of that is connected to a concern about an old knee injury (ACL reconstruction in 2003, tweaked it playing my first soccer match in 13 years three weeks ago and it's paining me a bit but not too bad).

In saying that, I think it's more a mental thing. I'm not a member of a cycling club and most of my spins are solo or with one other person at most. A month back I joined in with a fast group to see what it would be like and got burned off after only 10k. My confidence really took a nosedive that day and I've found it hard to stick at it, wondering what the hell am I doing even riding a bike?!

Sunday's century is regarded as a definite toughie, but achievable. My plan was to start off slow, maybe ride for spells alongside a few small mid-paced groups to break the boredom (there'll be c.1500 on the route), take 4 proper food/water stops and hope my knee (and the weather!) holds.

Any advice from someone who has rode centuries solo about how to handle the psychological side of things (or any other tips - the obvious often escapes me!) would be greatly appreciated.:mad2:
 

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Try to talk to the other riders for fun, it will help pass the time. Don't overdo it or push yourself to keep up with other people, set your own pace and stick to it.


My last piece of advice is to drink lots of water (take constant sips rather than one or two gulps), and eat lots of food that is high in carbs, and has some protein (I brought pork chops and cliff bars on my first century). You want to avoid bonking at all costs.

Other than that, you should be fine. If you don't feel too stressed by pushing to keep up with other riders, try to draft. It will cut down on the energy used by about 30-40%.
 

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You're going to do fine. Visualize yourself doing the ride, enjoying every minute, finishing tired but still strong. If you did the metric last year, you can certainly do the full century this year.

Start easy and don't push too much in the first half of the ride. It's always hard to hold back during the early miles but reserve your strength for the second half of the ride. Control is the key to succeeding in a challenging ride.
 

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Formosan Cyclocross
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I ride centuries and more... almost exclusively solo (5 centuries in 14 days, 500 miles in 4 rides, copying tour stage distances... etc. Ok! Enough showboating.

Seriously I prefer solo rides. I have no pressure to keep any certain pace but my own. You can let your mind wander. I use a little ipod shuffle but it is generally the background music to my inner monologue.

1. Be physically prepared: Ride longer distances leading up to your century and try to emulate the conditions (hills, flats, estimated wind direction...). If you know the route and you now the landmarks then you know where you are in relation to your goal. It helps rein in a defeatist imagination that seems to want to imagine you are further back.

2. Make sure your equipment is in good working order. The last thing you need are mechanical problems on a long ride. This goes with shoes and clothing. Can you imagine finding out your chamois rubs or you get hot spots in your shoes at 50 miles? Once you start to think about any article of discomfort, you will think about it all day. Be sure your bike is fit well and is comfortable with properly inflated tires. Every imperfection is magnified the longer you sit on a bike. Overinflated tired might not be noticed on shorter rides, but an beat you up on the long rides. One century ride I got a flat and filled with CO2. I usually inflate to 100psi, but I bet I was around 130 and it just beat the crap out of me.

3. Start eating for your century a week before. You want to make sure you have plenty of glycogen stored in your muscles. Start really packing in the fruits, veggies and carbs mid week. If your body is ready it helps ease the mind.

4. Eat during your century. Maybe one thing every hour if you are not conditioned for regular centuries. Eat before you are hungry.

5. Drink during your century. Drink before you are thirsty.

6. Start stretching more the week before your century.

7. Read for pleasure. It gives you something to think about.

8. Don't worry so much. You put down a few mils and take them one at a time. Next thing you know you have put together a string of 'em and they make 100.
 

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36%?? Where in the heck is that?

One thing I do before a big century is sleep well the few nights before the ride. Odds are the night before you will be nervous and unable to sleep well. If you are well rested, that one night of minmal sleep will not take too much out of you.

I did a century on 3 hours sleep a few years back, my best time on the timed event only because I was well rested the nights leading up to the event.
 

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Also remember you are doing this for fun. It isn't a race. Take your time and finish. DOn't worry so much about the time. There will be plenty of folks riding your pace, and many likely riding behind you. Just find a place and fit in. Sounds like you might be bordering on burn out if the motivation isn't there right before an event. Take a day and clean your bike and go for a short spin instead of a training ride. Like someone said earlier...drink a lot of water this week, and get a lot more sleep than you normally do.
 

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You will do fine, meet lots of great people and have a fun day.
 

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What has helped me is knowing that there are lots of people who will be riding with me who are just as nervous, worried and inexperienced as I am or worse. I tend to go on rides of comparable distance before an event, so I tend to be less worried, but it is always there.

Once the ride starts, I start talking with other riders, encouraging them, laughing with them, sharing their fears and victories. By helping others, I don't have time to dwell on my own fears and weakness. Usually I am suprised when the end of the ride comes around, and eager to sign up for another one on the spot.

The moral of the story: ride a comparable distance on similar terrain, which you have done, and socialize on your ride. By helping others, you will help yourself. And you might make a few friends and have fun by doing so, instead of stressing or mentally defeating yourself by too much introspection.
 

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BittenByTheBug said:
Basically I don't know if I can do it.
So? Is the a firing squad set up for people who can't finish? It's not a race and presumably you signed up to have fun so may as well do so. Don't worry about it, it won't help anything. If you can't do it you can't do it. There are no consequences to that so no point in worrrying about them if they don't exist.
 

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You'll do fine. Just eat and drink a lot and dial back your pace. Don't linger too long at the rest stops. Don't overdo it the week riding the week before the century.

Seriously, I have ridden centuries and weeklong tours that have been completed by children, teenagers, elderly and very overweight people. They all survived. The key is to ride at a pace that you can sustain.
 

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One last HUGE tip. Bring your own toilet paper. The porta potties will be out, and your nervous stomach will require it before the ride starts...guarunteed.
 

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spookyload said:
One last HUGE tip. Bring your own toilet paper. The porta potties will be out, and your nervous stomach will require it before the ride starts...guarunteed.
OK maybe TMI, but I have never pooped on a long ride. I use the GU and it seems to keep me constepated and then later on that night I will drop a log.
 

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I have done a number of solo centuries and although I may not prefer solo, it's certainly got it's up sides. Your own pace, not waiting on others or feel like you are being stretched too far. The one thing that is really important to me on all endurance events is to not let yourself plan on failing. Set your mind that you are going to do it no matter how slowly. I find my body is capable of going double the distance where my mind say's my body is cooked. When I do that, it's an amazing feeling of satisfaction. Pay attention to nutrition.
 

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Just look at it as a social outing. It's not a race, and nobody cares how long it takes you. If there are 1500 people riding it, that's 1500 people to talk to, or pace with. There have to be at least a few others who want to do it at your speed.

I've only done one century myself. I'm mainly a mountain biker, so I'll usually hit trails on days that I have that kind of time. Mostly, though, when I decided to crank out 100 miles, it was a matter of staying on the bike and riding until I rolled my odometer over 100. I actually ended up riding back and forth on my street for the last mile and a half or so - round numbers can be pretty powerful. :p Talking about doing another in October with a friend of mine who wants to collect her first, and maybe some other people if we can talk them into it.

I haven't had to have my knee operated on, but it's a bit flaky too. If you don't already have the widest-range cassette your drivetrain can support, get one. Having the option of one or two more shifts can be really nice. There are some other things I'd suggest with your equipment too, but I think doing any major equipment changes before a big ride is a bad idea IMO.
 

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what's the worse thing that can happen if you don't finish? so what.......... try but don't kill yourself. there's no harm in SAGing back. HAVE FUN, that's the priority, enjoy the crowd, find the common amongst the suffering.....
 

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Relax! You will do fine. You have trained. You have ridden 2/3 of the course. (a big advantage) You are getting great advice from the forum. Now it is time to have some fun.

This past weekend, I rode with a friend on his first century. A fairly tough hilly one here in Colorado. He finished. He did well. He was elated, but really tired afterwards. Riding a century is one of those cycling pinnacles that are great to achieve. Not everyone has the confidence, desire or mentality to do so. You are going to complete one after only a year of road riding. Awesome! My friend and I have been riding mtb together for over 25yrs. It just took him a while to actually sign up for a century.

He made some mistakes (because he didn't take my advice, of course) but finished. The mental aspect can not be overlooked. Keep yourself under control, ride efficiently (pacelines are great, but riding solo is satisfying too), ride your own pace, drink and eat to keep your energy up. When it gets tough, and it will, keep going. At the very worse you step off and walk for a while. (he did) There is no shame in that. The goal is to complete the distance.

To clarify my "he didn't listen to me" comment. He lives a couple of hours from me and we had never ridden road bikes together. He lives in a flat to rolling hill area. He did not do significant road hills in his training. Also, he rides a late 80's Italian frame he resurrected. His gearing was ridiculous! More suited for a crit than a mountain ride. On a couple of the climbs, I had to laugh at him as only a friend of 30yrs. can. He was crawling along with about a 10-20rpm spin. Just grinding it out with several miles of climbing left to go on that peak. He finished though. I have to give him credit. I would have destroyed my knees if I had attempted to ride those gears. Sorry for the long response.

Good luck. Have fun!
Tim
 

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Tommy Walker said:
OK maybe TMI, but I have never pooped on a long ride. I use the GU and it seems to keep me constepated and then later on that night I will drop a log.
I was talking about before the ride starts.:thumbsup:
 

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spookyload said:
I was talking about before the ride starts.:thumbsup:
Good, cause I wasn't feeling carrying a roll on the route with you. It won't fit in your saddle bag, so i guess you slide it on you drops (drop bars that is):rolleyes:
 
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