Advice for first solo century ride

Hi.

Hoping to get some advice for riding my first 100 mile ride. I am just finishing SSBLVII and then going onto to SPBLV and finally Century. I am planning to ride the route when that completes.

Prior to joining TR, a friend and I rode 64 miles with 4,300 ft of elevation. The last 15 miles were agony. I didn’t pace myself well as my friend was fitter at that time and I also didn’t fuel very well.

Unfortunately, I’m now going to have to ride solo and have the following concerns:

  • How do I pace myself? I’ve tried HR zone 2 in the past but it seems too easy and I end up going faster. I have the funds for a power meter but am not sure whether NP or IF is the correct way to do this.
  • I do need to drink a lot of fluids. Should I use two oversized bottles + camelbak or risk locking an expensive bike outside a shop halfway round?
  • When should I start adding long endurance rides to the training plan?

Any other advice would be really useful.

I’d ride it again.

  • Pace, upper Z2, low Z3 for me. mid-Z4 up the climbs. I try to avoid exceeding threshold early on. Start pacing shorter rides, and gradually increase. No need for a death march.
  • Camelbak, and bottles. Calories too.
  • long endurance rides, since the beginning.

How exciting! I’ve done three 100 mile rides, based on this:

  • You don’t need a power meter for the century ride. Go by HR, and yes, you should go too easy during the first half;
  • If you’re doing an organised century ride, there will normally be free water bottles at feeding stations. If not, I guess it depends on where you live. I’m in Switserland, I have no problem leaving my bike outside a petrol station. But this may be different elsewhere. Alternatively, get a friend to help you out! My sister once played soigneur and took care of food/drinks along the way;
  • My current coach will add long endurance ride in July (the last month before my next 100 miler). Till than, Im focused on building strength and increasing FTP with 3 intense sessions per week. The guy I worked with last year took the opposite approach, :slight_smile: He had me do one increasingly longer endurance ride over a 12 week period.

Enjoy your Century!

1 Like

Eat early, eat often and get your water for mixing carb drink from a store - what you’ve described won’t get you far :slight_smile: You’ll also want to pace on the easier side the first half 65-70% (?). I’d also do a metric or two prior to ‘get your legs under you’…so to speak.

Most importantly…HAVE FUN!

1 Like

How much do you ride outside normally? If not at all, then I’d swap the Sunday rides for outdoor rides. Add a couple of miles every two weeks until your comfortable with 70ish miles, and then doing two hours more won’t be a problem.

That’ll also help with pacing. Personally, I think you don’t need to worry about it, just go at a comfortable pace. As you’ll be on your own, you can go slower if you need to.

Have a break or two. If there are cycling-friendly cafes around, that’s a good spot to stop. Eat some real food.

If you’d rather go to a shop o refuel, ask if they let you take the bike in, or if they mimd keeping an eye on it while you shop. No idea where you are, but around here in the UK you’re generally fine to just leave it outside the shop in a small village without issues.

Thanks for the advice. I’ll try the pacing next time I’m out. I’ve got the calories/carbs worked out on a spreadsheet and already have a 20 year old Camelbak that I can put into service.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time at the weekends for long endurance rides. At a push maybe once a month could work.

Part of me wants to ride it again just because the training has increased my FTP and I want to beat my previous attempt. Another part of me wants to do the distance but with less elevation. Not sure which part will win.

1 Like

Trust that strategy. It feels too easy until it doesn’t. Zone 2 is a good pace for your first century and do your best not to fool yourself into thinking 400 watts up that little hill doesn’t take a toll over time.

As far as water goes, I stop at churches. Churches almost always have an outdoor spigot you can use to fill up with water and no need to worry about losing that bike.

You didn’t mention eating. You need to eat as much as you can in carbs from your pre-ride breakfast including the first hour and every hour after.

2 Likes

It’s not a race right? So breathe in and out through your nose and you are unlikely to burn out.

How much climbing?

Usually every year in the early summer, I build up my rides like that, do a century on the flat, before adding hills.

If you can only do an endurance ride outside once a month, then do that, but I’d start now. Do a progression starting with whatever distance you feel comfortable with, then next time add 15 miles/1 hour more.

These bottles are great. I can do centuries with just these, but you may need to stop to refill.

Make sure to eat early and often. You may feel fine for the first 3/4 of the ride, but that last 25 miles will feel awful if you haven’t been keeping your carb intake up.

2 Likes

I just realised you are likely in Kent!

I’d find two cafes, both 30 miles or so from your house, and 30 miles apart. Ride to the first one, which should take you about 2 hours. Have a coffee and something to eat. Ask them to refill your bottles. Then ride to the next one, and have more food and refill your bottles again, if you need to. Then ride home.

2 Likes

I’d check your route and plan for a refuel stop or 2 somewhere after mile 60. I didn’t see anything about this being an event so if there are no aid stations you’ll have to find one yourself. I did an 80er last year which was my longest unassisted ride to date on a decently warm day. Ended up drinking all my water so i stopped at a liquor store to refill my bottle. Wasn’t preplanned but it happened to work out. Now if I do anything as long or longer I’m going to make sure I have a stop planned somewhere in the last third.

These are handy if you’re worried about leaving your bike for a couple of minutes. They weigh nothing and stop opportunistic theft:

The churchyard tap advice above is excellent- best advice I got before doing a self sufficient tour across France. I’ve found hydration tablets help make the ends of long rides much more pleasurable (along with making sure you fuel well)- I carry a couple for when I refuel my bottles.

Good luck- your first century is a satisfying achievement in discovering what you’re capable of!

I had my first successful century attempt last weekend. Honestly a century is just as much about eating as fitness. I had about 70g of carbs an hour and I had to take some massive headwind pulls at the end because I had a ton left in the tank and my riding partner didn’t. I was constantly eating, drinking mix, and slamming gels and it payed off big time.

I’ve done a number of solo centuries, mostly on a loop near my parents’ home that I love to do. Here’s what I have done:

I’ve filled up 2 750ml bottles with Sis Beta Fuel to provide hydration and liquid carbs. Besides that I have eaten gels but I will eat a clif bar (I personally enjoy gels more, I don’t really like chewing solid food on the bike). And this is for 100 miles, if I’m doing 100km/65 miles, I personally don’t need more than one bottle and not even take on any calories, obviously this is individualized to me and my conditioning, so don’t take that as recommended advice!

Pacing is key. If you get a power meter, just try and stay around 65% ftp, if you have the funds and are willing to invest, it’ll help! Don’t be afraid to go slowly up hills, again I personally don’t try to hammer up climbs and favor a more consistent pacing.

Some people might argue you need to add long endurance rides, and of course they never hurt adding. But last year I did the first of my two solo 100 mile rides on nothing by a max of 2hr duration rides (mainly sweet spot training base and build stuff).

I’m going for 100 miles (hopefully) June 13th, my goal is to make it as close to 5hrs as I can (5:14 was my better time last year). Best of luck to you!

1 Like

I bought a road bike late 2015 and started training with a club for century rides. Did the first one 2 months after buying the bike, no surprise I bonked the last 15 miles from underfueling. From the beginning I was advised to not chase rabbits and sticking with the group of similar riders (after getting a PM that turned out to be ~2.5-3.2 W/kg riders).

My zone2 HR has stayed the same over the years, here are two different zone models:

  • 110-134bpm Coggan recommendations
  • 128-142bpm Friel recommendations

Pretty big difference. I use Friel zones for HR, so 142bpm is top of zone2.

Without a power meter this is what I did back then:

  • the first 3 century rides just rode by feel/RPE and learned about hydration and nutrition
  • then used that data to define a loose all day HR pacing strategy
  • decided that goal was to keep average HR to ~140bpm or less

Here is the data from my century rides (oldest at top):

The one with 124bpm average had bad HR data for first 2 hours, removing bad data the average is 134bpm. Three of those started in the mountains and climbed above 8000’ elevation. The others started near sea level. Wide range of temps.

Had a power meter for 2nd half of that list, started playing the game of pushing for higher average power at end of ride (but still keeping HR average around z2 / ~142bpm). I’m bigger rider and a lot of short punches above threshold can really drive up IF. The IF estimates without HR aren’t too helpful, but calculated by TP and WKO.

I’d look at your average HR from longer rides, and see if you can spot a trend. Look at both Coggan and Friel zone2 HR and pick an upper bound. While riding you will hit steep pitches so don’t worry too much about going over zone2. Just generally try and keep HR average somewhere in zone2.

Hope that helps.

FWIW - I leave my bike unlocked outside coffee shops and gas stations all the time, even in sketchy areas, and have never had a problem. Everyone I know does the same. Spontaneous crimes of opportunity are rarer than you think.

But – a small lock will make you comfortable. You don’t need to defeat a determined thief, or keep someone at bay for 10 minutes, just deter a jokester teenager from heaving it into the back of his pickup in one smooth move. Check out Otto Lock. Easy to carry and strong enough for a gas station stop.

2 Likes

It’s good to hear that I don’t need a power meter, I’m getting a bit data obsessive at the moment.

It’s not organised which is why I was trying to work out the best way of being self-sufficient. The coastal area at the half way point may not be the best place to leave my bike although I could be worrying for no reason. However, meeting up with my family at that point could work!

Long endurance in July does work better for me as I have family and a full time job.

Thanks, hopefully I will enjoy it and not be agony in the last part…

Give yourself loads of time so you don’t need to rush at any point during the ride.
Eat & Drink plenty, don’t wait until you’re hungry or thirsty.
DON’T restrict your carb intake on the day or leading up to the ride.
Have a carb friendly breakfast.
Learn to ride to feel…ask yourself at the beginning of the ride if you can sustain this pace for ‘x’ number of hours. If you have to think twice, then slow down, you’re going too fast. You don’t need gadgets to pace, yes they’re handy but what if they break mid ride. Riding to feel is a skill.

I’m training indoors at the moment as I find that to be easier than outdoors. I’ve been following Amber’s advice for fuelling when training before work and will look to extrapolate out on longer rides. A couple of metrics would be good - get a Strava badge for those :wink:

Having fun would be good but I have a “push harder” mindset which it doesn’t help with pacing…