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I've volunteered myself to chair a century ride that my local club is sponsoring this coming September. I was hoping I could get some input from you all about what your likes/dislikes are about attending these sorts of things. What kinds of snacks & goodies do you like to see at the rest stops? What else do you like to have available to you at these events?

I'm hoping to do a good job on my first year on this ride, so any input you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Rob G.
Rapid Wheelmen
Grand Rapids, MI
 

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I've been involved with food stops in a charity Century for 5 years. We aim to have some consistent items at each stop eg bananas, flapjacks fruitcakes etc, then include more chocolate coated goodies nearer the end of the ride. Of course you need a water source to top up bottles and this being England, we aim to have a tea urn available at the afternoon stops. We ask for volunteer cake makers who usually provide exquisite cakes which really go down a treat and become a talking point during and after the ride. With many novice riders participating, it is important to lift spirits with delicious goodies (if you can get them). And some people prefer savouries so bear that in mind. Good luck with your event
The Flying Bean
 

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You can design your century in two ways.

The first is to run a no frills event.

The second is to have all kinds of extra food and support.


If you have the basics at three rest stops located 25 miles apart you should be ok. A couple of SAG vehicles are also needed. A basic list of items at a rest stop are water, energy drink, cookies, breakfast bars, pretzels, and maybe sandwiches.

Remember to check with your state and get an event permit, you will most likely need insurance if you charge for the event and you will also need to coordinate permissions for your starting/ending point as well as the rest stop locations. The paperwork often is as time consuming as the ride day.

Make sure you have FLAWLESS cue sheets and FLAWLESS course markings.
 

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Be honest about the level of support

If someone can supply me with water every 25 or 30 miles, I can supply the rest IF I KNOW IN ADVANCE. I enjoy centuries with good food at rest stops (for me that is bagels, bannanas, some kind on non-peanut butter sandwiches on the middle stop, and junk food like coca-cola and potato chips near the end). But, I can make do with nothing other than water if I have warning. Last year I did one organized century that had great PR in advance, but did not deliver -- I had to do a detour around the 75 mile mark to find a convenience store for food. Be honest about your level of support and deliver on your promises.

The one luxury that I really like on organized centuries is one that is hard to come by -- real bathrooms. I have a very strong aversion to portable toilets. One of my favorite centuries has rest stops at volunteer fire stations along the route where one can use the bathrooms, if necessary (I usually take care of No. 1 on the roadside).
 

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Bananas, oatmeal/raisin cookies, Gatorade.
 

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Mr. Versatile said:
Bananas, oatmeal/raisin cookies, Gatorade.
Don't forget something salty for the distance riders. - TF
 

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Pretty hard to beat PB&J sandwiches for cost effeciency and the protein/carb combo. Those plus bananas gets you 75% of the way there, seems to me.

I LOVE IT when aid stations have gels and/or energy bars, but that's high $$ stuff which you can probably only provide if you can get a retailer or manufacturer to donate it.

Have both water AND sport drink available at EVERY aid station.
 

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Call A Registered Dietician!

Find a Registered Dietician (RD) around your area. You're looking not just for a Sports Nutrition person, but a person that has the RD title, but you might find this type of person doing sports nutrition. What you're looking for here is a person that can give you the straight talk on nutrition, not the magic.

You already know about water and electrolyte replenishment on long rides. But, how to stack the snacking throughout the day to keep everyone and peak levels and from bonking? This is the question that you are trying to answer. The question after that is what kind of "fun" stuff can you put out to make the ride memorable that fits the nutrition equation?

What you want is a progression: slow burn fuels in the morning like bagels, muffins, and the like will help to fuel up for the remainder of the day. At the end of the day, bring out the candy, chips, and soft drinks. Complex carbohydrates to simple carbohydrates. Don't have a clue what you would do for lunch -- Some sort of veggie wrap thing in a tortilla w/mayo (carbs, texture, fat, easy to digest). Maybe a hunk or two of sandwich meat.

An RD will help you to select the foods to keep the fires stoked in everyone. Maybe go to a local hospital and beg for some pro-bono work for the community for your ride. Take it from a scientific standpoint, then find all the goodies that fit into that. Next, get the supermarkets to kick in a few cases of Fig Newtons, a few dozen bagels, and put up a sign: provided through the generosity of ABC Grocery. Or, maybe they give you a big 'ol discount (especially if you are non profit).

Just some thoughts
 

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Don't forget the dogs

Did a century last october on a really rainy day. Food provided consisted of bananas, oranges, water, energy drink and a wide assortment of Cliff bars. A light meal was also provided at the restaraunt where the ride started and ended. This was just fine with me.

The part that I didn't like was the wide assortment of free ranging dogs that gave chase during the ride. In one 5 mile section it seemed like every house I went by had an unleashed dog or two. Given that it was a crummy day to ride a bike, the turnout was pretty low, so I rode nearly the entire ride solo. There was a group of 2 riders ahead of me in this section, and they drew the dogs out to the road, so they were waiting for me when I approached. Try to outrun a husky that is waiting in the ditch for you, and who has the angle on you, after you've ridden 65 miles! It's a adrenaline rush to say the least. I can't image what would have happened if there would have been alot of inexperienced riders trying to deal with this problem.

Please take the time to ride the course and modify it if you find any dog infested areas.
 

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Lots to remember

I've chaired a charity metric century for the past three years and frankly there's more tell you about than I have time to type here. For that reason, I'll give this one ultra-important tip about rest stops: DON'T OVERESTIMATE YOUR ABILITY TO STAFF AND STOCK REST STOPS. In other words, don't bite off more than you can chew with rest stops. The single hardest part of staging the event is getting the food, volunteers and necessary equipment (i.e, tables, tents, etc.) out to the rest stops on the day of the event.

There's only so much of that you can do in advance and there's lots of work to get everything set up by whatever ungodly hour your ride starts at. So, go conservative on the number of stops. We had five stops on our initial ride and that was way too much. We pared down to two stops on the metric century and one stop (overlap) on the half-metric ride. In addition, I think we found that people would rather have a few well-stocked rest stops than more stops that are sparsely stocked.

Good luck. Now that you have rest stop issue under control, that only leaves you with a few hundred more details to worry about! :D
 

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presumably people are riding for their health so why stock rest stops with a bunch of junk food that some people can't resist wolfing down? bananas, bagels, hammer heed, and water. that't it. save lives, don't feed the animals.
 

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the flying bean said:
And some people prefer savouries so bear that in mind. Good luck with your event
The Flying Bean
Savouries . . . I think that means salty snacks, "crisps" (potato chips), nuts, pretzels, that sort of stuff.

I think it was H.L. Menken who noted: "The US and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language."

:D :D :D
 

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Kewl . . . We're a small, non-profit group here (Astoria OR) and rides usually attract about ten participants. But an organized century might draw riders from Portland down to the coast. (Portland just got tapped "Number One US Cycling City.")

Contagious enthusiasm here . . . Some summer week-end a group century with support and publicity, advanced entry fee so we'd know the level of participation, would be nice.

I agree that food along the route needs to be "real" . . . not snack treats. An RD would be nice, but there seems ample resources available about nutrition, and "real food" is not all that complicated.

Fire stations and city halls, Chamber of Commerce HQ might be sources for rest rooms. Our local Chambers provide restrooms because we're at the beach and a "tourist destination" -- all set up for the RV's etc.

One thing I want at a rest room spot is security for the bike. I've actually rolled the bike into a rest room or two here . . . Not entirely practical, but beats having it stolen.
 

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good map, well-marked course

Can't be stressed enuff: good map, well-marked course. Keep in mind there will be other random markings along the way that can look like your markings. So make them distinct if possible. Maybe a special shape, as well as color on a sign.

I am not a big fan of the spraypaint-on-the-pavement style markers.

Also, if rest stop can be positioned just before turns, or before the point where the 60-miler splits off, this gives more opportunity to give correct directions.

Try not to have courses cross (like a plus sign: the 60-miler going one way, and the 100-miler crossing them).

The BEST thing I have seen is to have local motorcycle organizations help guide things. The gas-powered cyclists are always cool.
 

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PB&J

At the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Ride for the Roses, the last stop, 12 mikes from the end, produces huge quantities of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Done by cancer survivors and they produce massive quanities. One piece of bread, PB&J applied and folded over. A reason to keep going when the going gets tough.
 

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ok, from my experience of doing many centuries:

I see mostly bananas / peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
Bananas are good, peanut-butter thingies are disgusting.

It would be very nice to see fruits like ORANGES, GRAPEFRUIT, even LEMONS. Easy to carry and keeps well, and gives plenty of energy.
It would be really nice as well to have real food like BREAD, HAM. Something salty like POTATO CHIPS.

If you have SOMETHING HOT AT THE LAST STOP, LIKE CUP NOODLES, people are going to be really happy. Here they serve this at the end of double centuries, this is junk food but feels really good.

I've had fancy stuff like baklava or chili in the past, it was much appreciated, although I don't expect people to plan things like that.

And if you are sponsored, gels are great - unfortunately only few events manage to get some.

Pierre
 

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Medical and Technical Support

I haven't seen anything posted on these two critical areas.
Getting bike shops to support the ride start and the rest stops requires some coordination. At worst, remind your rest stop volunteers to bring a floor pump and a bike stand.
Medical prep is also important. Last year, the EMS in the local arwea ended up on site for the last 3-4 hours of our event, about 1500 riders. They volunteered to man the ride start this year. Rest stop supplies should include some basic first aid.
Communication is another issue. Is there cellular coverage on the roads you are traveling? We had a ham radio club support our ride last year and they were a critical resource. They rode in the SAG vehicles and were dispatched from the ride start.
 

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RGerwig said:
I've volunteered myself to chair a century ride that my local club is sponsoring this coming September. I was hoping I could get some input from you all about what your likes/dislikes are about attending these sorts of things. What kinds of snacks & goodies do you like to see at the rest stops? What else do you like to have available to you at these events?

I'm hoping to do a good job on my first year on this ride, so any input you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Rob G.
Rapid Wheelmen
Grand Rapids, MI

My advice is to make sure the rest stops are very well stocked. I rode a 3/4 Century this past fall and that was my only complaint. There were 3 rest stops planned. The second was suppose to have bannanas, snack cakes, cookies, gatorade, and water available. When we my pack reached it only snack cakes and a few bottles of gatorade and water were left. We were riding mid pack so I'm sure the riders further back got nothing. The last station had some pretzels, and gatorade. For someone like me that is bad news since I have to water gatorade down.
 

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Fear the Turtle said:
I We had a ham radio club support our ride last year and they were a critical resource. They rode in the SAG vehicles and were dispatched from the ride start.

Ham Radio operators are literally sitting around waiting to get to do events like this and will do a great job for your communications. Your local police or sheriff can give you the local operators names.

Snacks...RICE CRISPY TREATS plz.
 
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