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March 20, 2012 / Angela McCuiston

My First Century Ride

Ok before you get excited, no I haven’t completed a century ride yet, but I AM training for one.  Like I have talked about so many times, one must have goals, and since my love for my bike and riding has only grown, I needed a goal.  I have come close to 50 miles, but that isn’t enough, I wanted a BHAG – or what Jim Collins calls in “Good to Great” A Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  For me, that is to ride a century, or 100 miles in a day.

The challenge that faces me here is that I’m a sprinter.  I’m good at tennis, short distances, weight lifting, all that.  I do short bursts of things.  That’s why running the Army 2 miles is such a challenge for me and why getting over the 50 mile hump on the bike is challenging.  My genetics are geared towards sprinting.  It doesn’t mean that I am limited by them though, and so I have chosen to educate myself.

What  I have learned that I didn’t know I needed to know:

1)Nutrition on the bike is different than in real life

What do I mean by this?  Well, normally, I eat 2-3x’s per day, big meals and I like it that way.  I don’t go carb-heavy, and I focus my eating around my workouts.  Well, that works when I’m not on the bike.  When it comes to bike eating, if you are going longer distances, over an hour (as are most of my rides) you

  1. can’t do it fasted (learned this the hard way)
  2. HAVE to bring food with you (also learned this the hard way)
  3. Need more water and yes, sports/electrolyte drinks (hello I live in FL where it’s hot, but yes, had to find this out the hard way, too)
  4. Need a pre-workout meal that won’t make you crash
  5. Figure out what doesn’t work for you.

So what I”m finding out is that sometimes, a bowl of Special K or Frosted Mini-Wheats and milk is good for me for a shorter ride, but the other day I experimented with a whole wheat bagel with 1 TB peanut butter and sf jelly and lo-and-behold, I wasn’t hungry for a good long while, no crash>  I love prunes and love the potassium they provide, but found out that 1 1/2-2 servings of them on the bike doesn’t make my intestines happy. 🙂

You get the idea.  When it comes to long distance cycling, if you are trying to lose weight, create your deficit off the bike and make sure you fuel for your rides.

2. Get the right equipment!

I’ve been buying mine a little at a time, which is fine, because I only have so much money, but what I’ve found is this:

  1. make sure you get a proper bike fit.
  2. if the bike fits and you hurt, get the right bike shorts
  3. if the bike shorts are fine, get a new saddle – try a bunch of them
  4. yes, you need winter bike clothes because your toes will fall off from cold!
  5. A biking computer is ESSENTIAL. You need to know your speed, your cadence, distance and time if nothing else
  6. Did you wear sunblock?  YOU NEED IT.
  7. Get flat equipment.  You WILL get a flat. So get a bag to put on the back of the bike, get a spare and  C02 and yes, learn how to fix a flat before you go out on the road.
  8. Make sure you have two water bottle cages or a camelback

I could go on and on, but it’s amazing what you don’t know when you first start out.

3. Get a Plan

Just going out and riding longer and longer distances each time 3x’s a week will not cut it to get you to your first century.  I’ve got three books I’m reading right now:

  1. The Time-Crunched Cyclist by Chris Carmichael 

    Cover of "The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Fit,...

    Cover via Amazon

  2. Training Plans for Cyclists by Gale Bernhardt
  3. Bicycling for Women by Gale Bernhardt

I’m reading these books as fast as I can and adapting the training programs to my schedule and

what I’ve found out is that I need more intervals, of different kinds, single leg work and even negative splits.  Stuff I didn’t know existsed.  So, if you want to ride a century, get educated and get a plan and then follow it!


I’m hoping to chronicle some of my training/diet info as I go, so I can keep you updated on my progress. If you’ve completed a century or have tips, feel free to post below!



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