Disaster vs Century

Is there anybody who’s recently done both Disaster and a Century? Its been 30 years since I rode a century but I was thinking about a couple this spring. I was just curious how you’d would compare the two based on overall intensity/physiological effort-toll/or whatever other comparative you’d choose. Is Disaster more or less than a Century?

You can do a century at recovery pace the whole way or try and go sub 4 hours with a handful of guys. Just depends on how you want to ride it.

For me a century was much easier to recover from. Disaster put me DEEP into a hole.

As said above, a century can be done at whatever pace you like, whereas Disaster leaves you no place to hide. I did the Tour of Flanders 175km fondo this year and Disaster twice and can say without a doubt Disaster was harder. I beat my target for Flanders easily, and rarely jumped above zone 3. Felt tired but not terribly sore at the end, but Disaster left me pretty shattered.


Cool. Thanks.
Disaster was hard, but it didn’t really leave me in a hole. Two days of recover spin and I’m feeling good. Just did Gieger at 100% without much strain. Guess I’ll sign up for the centuries.

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You can do them well. It is more about the route, your own pacing and whether you are working with/against others.

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One reason TSS was created was to make it easier to compare different rides/workouts. TSS incorporates both the duration and intensity (and normalized to your FTP, to allow comparison with other riders).

Disaster has TSS of 264. My 100 mile centuries have TSS ranging from 375 - 475 depending on how hard I rode. My 200 mile double century had a TSS of 579, more than twice Disaster.

Disaster is no joke, but overall training stress (TSS) is probably lower than a century unless you are really riding slow.

Another way to look at it is intensity factor, where 100% is riding max effort for 1-hour. So this is about how hard you rode it, relative to your max effort. Disaster is 79%, which is pretty high effort to maintain for 4.25 hours. My highest intensity on a century is 87% with over 6 hours hard riding and burned almost 2x the calories of Disaster.

Wanted to toss out those comparisons as food for thought. Haven’t personally done Disaster yet but am looking to schedule it in 2020.


Thanks BBarrera. That’s really great take.
I’m looking at 2 one that’s flat, one with hills. I’ll probably do the flat one with the wife, which will mean going slow, riding out of a group, and pulling the whole time (she wont pull thru…she keeps blabbing something about “giving birth” :wink: ). Then I can do the hilly one solo. There’s also the Davis Double and the Death Ride out there, but those are totally different animals.

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I did this on Disaster Sunday. Right at 4 hours with 292 TSS.



Forgot you are nearby. What centuries are you looking at? The double I mentioned was the Davis Double, that hard century was Napa / Pope Valley / Calistoga. I didn’t have a power meter when doing the DeathRide. Here is a local flat ride I’ve done solo at almost the same TSS and time as Disaster:

My disaster put me at around 86 miles on the tick tock route of zwift. I dont think the tss for a century indoors at an easy pace would have been much more than disaster. Now indoor tss always seems lower than my outdoor as a solid 60 miler outside would probably be more than disaster.

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Its been awhile for me, but Zwift flat course miles seem fairly close to steady-state outside miles. Outside I have more anaerobic and vo2 efforts during the 15-20 getting out of town (and coming back), and so I’ve also found indoor workout TSS to be lower than similar outside rides.

I was looking at Tour of the Buttes and Tour De Lincoln.

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Nice, I like the roads on Tour De Lincoln metric century. Our club is doing a February 29th century from Folsom to Camp Far West, using a lot of the same roads as Tour De Lincoln (opposite direction) with two late ride climbs up Mt Vernon Rd and Indian Hill Rd before skipping the upper part of Auburn Folsom Rd (and its 50mph screaming descent) by detouring on Shirland Tract.

I think your overall comparative analysis is good. And similarly, I have done lots of 10kft centuries as well as D-2 and D. There are a couple of key things to add:

  1. Many did Disaster with little to no rest period. I suspect that most of us ride centuries with plenty of break time (competitive GFs are the exception).
  2. The “Fireworks” portion about 3 1/2 hours into D is really hard (85% FTP with 10x 200% accelerations). 95% of users rated it 4 or 5 out of 5. Try it for yourself. Go out and do a really long, hard ride, then jump on your trainer and do Fireworks.
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Yep, fireworks is where I died.

Excellent point about the rest periods, between the rest stops and descents you can usually rack up quite a bit of no pedaling time in a century.


This is kinda pointless “my ride is harder that your ride” type of talk, but here goes… my highest 5 second power of all time was 4.5 hours into a “flat” club century ride. The last 90 minutes of that ride had 16% anaerobic power, and 30% at threshold and above. The intensity factor for the entire ride was 0.88. Yes we stopped to refuel twice. Yes we stopped once to help someone fix a flat. A lot of people bonked and got dropped. I know what it’s like to do a lot of hard work at the end of a long ride.

I’m sorry if it came across that way . . .that wasn’t my point at all. The points were simply that the comparison between a hard century and Disaster is actually pretty broad, beyond TSS and IF. Both can be/are really hard for different reasons.

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I’ve done many, many century rides (imperial, not metric). I’ve done them on gravel. I’ve done them on pavement. I’ve done them solo & in a group. I’ve done sub 5 hour solo centuries & once a 17 hour 210 mile ride. I’ll go out and ride a century any old time.

I’m not sure I could complete Disaster! Ha!


Yes you could! :slight_smile: