Bike Computer Setup for Century Ride

I’m doing my first century ride in a couple of weeks and am wondering what fields I should consider having on my bike computer. Right now I am thinking of:

Av. Speed
Heart rate
Some sort of power metric

My primary goal is to finish without blowing up, so I will probably pace mostly off of my heart rate as I have a pretty good sense of how to use that to pace longer efforts (I have been riding with heart rate data for a lot longer than I have with power data). My secondary goal is to finish in under 7 hours.

Two questions: 1) What power metric(s) should I use? 2) Any other fields folks would suggest?

3 or 5” average power and IF. If you know what your all-day IF pace is, then you can track it on your computer.

If you are going by HR, maybe add average HR as well.


Are you on your own, or riding with others?

I’d usually say, just ride, ignore the metrics, but if you feel like you might be going too hard, watch power and HR.

Regarding what screen to use - I’d put it on the map!


I have done one long ride with power data in preparation for the century and TR says my IF for that ride was .74. So that seems like a decent metric to use.

It’s an organized ride – Grand Fondo in San Diego. I’m mostly worried about getting excited at the beginning and going out too hard.

I haven’t found much use for avg. speed. Current speed doesn’t really mean much, either, but I still tend to have it as my first data field out of habit. HR is my most useful data. For me…

Power (3 sec)
Time of day

I also set an automatic reminder on my Wahoo to “EAT!” every 30 minutes. For me, this is either a gel or (at a minimum) a big swig off the high-carb mix in my bottles.

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This is a pretty typical issue, and an easy trap to fall into. Knowing yourself, and sticking to HR/power limits in the first couple of hours is a wise approach.

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Whether it be riding a very long climb or riding an event, it’s very satisfying to reel in a load of people who were unable to control themselves and set off much too fast, couldn’t maintain their pace, and ideally blew up!

HR and power-based metrics can help you be more disciplined in those earlier miles, when adrenaline & enthusiasm can be running high, so you’re the one doing the reeling in.

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Depending on how you want to ride, i would add elapsed time since start (especially for Audax riders), normalized power and or IF as mentionned before.
Best factor to take into account is to have fun, and usually this one you can’t put a metric on your screen for it (and probably datas screens are quite un productive here…)
Enjoy your ride !

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Is this a trick question? The same fields I use while training!

Which bike computer?


This plus time of day and maybe an alarm to tell you to suck down a gel every hour.
You want to average around 15 mph
Don’t spend a lot of time at rest stops.
Like mentioned try not to go out too fast. I find this almost impossible.


Ha! My computer setup for training has the TR suggested fields, some of which won’t be useful in a long ride. I’ve got an Elmnt Bolt.

On the Garmin x40 head units, you can look at Potential-Stamina as a rough guide to what’s in the tank and if you have the route downloaded you can set up a Power Guide to help pace.

As Wahoo Roam user, screen estate is expensive, I keep minimum on map page:

  • top left: 5sec power,
  • top right: remaining interval duration,
  • left side LEDs: HR zone (blue - Z1, green - Z2, yellow - Z3, etc),
  • and map itself

As long distance rider, current/average speed, IF, etc means little – environment (hills, wind direction, temperature) is what it is, you just have to roll with it, no point stressing yourself about how slow you are. Of course, I still have workout/ride pages with all the details but I rarely switch to those pages.

When preparing for ride, I create with custom steady workout with expected duration and IF (a la 6h at 75%) and sync it to computer. This way map page shows how near I am currently to pre-determined IF and how much time is left until expected finish. Plus LEDs show if I am over-extending myself.

This page setup works reasonably well for interval workouts as well. YMMV.

I don’t always load it, but here is an example:

99% of the time I’m training outside, and have 2 screens on my Garmin 840. One for workouts, and one without a workout loaded.

Without a workout loaded it has this info:

  • cadence
  • lap NP
  • real-time power graph with average and max
  • real-time HR graph
  • speed, in case I’m in a group and take pulls
  • TSS

the real-time graphs are color coded so it makes for a quick visual check on internal/external strain.

While riding it is incredibly easy to swap out fields while riding, takes maybe 10 seconds. For a gran fondo I’d replace the TSS with something else, usually “distance to next turn” or “time to next turn.” Maps appear ahead of turns, and I almost never look at a map.

With a workout loaded the screen is similar:

  • interval time remaining
  • power target range and lap average power
  • real-time power graph
  • cadence target
  • heart rate
  • speed, in case I’m in a group and take pulls

One right swipe over for the first workout-not-loaded page, and one left swipe for another page with power/HR real-time graph, speed in case I’m taking a pull, and some summary info: IF, temperature, and time of day.

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What power metric(s) are you currently using? What’s wrong with it?

If you’re watching or worrying about food intake, maybe add KJ. Add IF and NP If that will help you keep an eye on pacing.

Most of the time, I switch between my two generic screens (can’t remember but a combination of 3s power, cadence, IF, distance, zone, slope, duration, and time), a map screen with 3s power and cadence, and an elevation screen with slope and 3s power. I dumped HR after getting a power meter. Do you have a good feel for your HR drift/decoupling? If not, it may be a hindrance toward the end of the ride.

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I’m using 3s, 5s and raw power depending on the screen I’m on. I was doubting the usefulness of those power metrics for a long ride. I think I’ll get some value out of adding IF to my screen like a few folks have suggested and so I will probably do that.

Maybe this is because I’ve done at least 98% of my rides over the past 5 years with a powermeter, but 3s power is what I live and die by. That combined with time and (most importantly) RPE.

For me, things like IF or NP might be useful too. But things like Avg speed, avg power, KJ, etc could all be so skewed by the course or be so general that they are of little use in the moment.

If I was doing a fondo where not blowing up is more important to me than trying to win, it might go something like:

  • At the start I find myself in a fast group
  • I think I might be going too hard
  • So I look down at my 3s power
  • If it says I’m going 120% FTP and that matches my overall RPE feeling
  • I drop myself from the group and settle into a power that feels better until the next (hopefully more tame) group comes by and I join that
  • repeat

NP could also help since the zeros don’t drag it down too much and it will accentuate any power spikes. But avg power would be so heavily influenced by moments of zero power that it wouldn’t help much. Same with Avg speed, if you start the ride on a climb then you might go too hard trying to bring it back up.

Also, don’t forget to eat, eat, eat. If you don’t have much experience with rides this long, it’s amazing how many calories you burn. Depending on your avg power, you could be burning 300-800 kcal/hr as well as riding through lunch. So having a nutrition plan is as important as a pacing plan.


For most rides, including tons, I have my computers (Edge 130+ and 1030) set up like this:

For TTs on the 130+ to keep things visible I drop the time of the day for power and shift average speed down to replace it. But for general riding its not visible and most metrics are just for info and I ride on feel. If I am wanting to do something in a certain time I prefer the average speed. Eg if I maintain x mph I’ll get there in time.

I think 3s (or 5 if that’s more familiar) should still be the top field, especially if you have a Bolt V2 and can choose the colorized version of that rolling average power. I find I can process and respond to the color far easier than I can to the number, so the more real estate I can make it occupy on my screen the better. I find this especially helpful in a group where I have even less available focus for the head unit.

Colorized HR is my second priority for all the same reasons, but I guess I treat it more like 15-60s average power.

LED colors are good for this too but I can’t usually see them very well in the daylight. Yellow, orange, and red are pretty clear on the screen though!

Maybe on an unmarked course I’d switch to the map screen for the bulk of the ride once things thin out, but I’d definitely want that main workout screen in front of me for the start.

3s power is also still what I’d use to decide whether the group I’m in is too fast (or slow) for me. It’s still how I’d pace even a relatively short climb. And occasionally it has also helped me identify when I’ve fallen behind in my fuelling if my RPE in z2 starts to significantly exceed what I think it should be at that point in the ride (though that’s usually more at ultra-endurance durations than centuries really).

NP/IF is a good one for further down the screen IMO but it changes so slowly that I don’t give it high priority. I prefer NP because of the extra granularity but they’re really the same thing for this purpose.

I like having kJs but don’t mind them being at the bottom where I need to zoom out to deliberately check them. I probably pay more attention to time than kJs in terms of my fuelling.

Distance completed (or remaining) can be good motivators for me but don’t ultimately mean much. This also makes average speed worthwhile IMO - predicted finish time not just for morale but also for fuelling, deciding how much to pick up at a feed station, etc.

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