Autumn century rides are fantastic events, meeting the needs of several different rider types.
For example, these rides offer a great goal for late-summer-blooming riders. If the spring held your cycling calendar hostage and there weren't many riding miles until mid- to late-summer, enjoying that fitness while taking in the fall colors is a perfect way to celebrate warm days and cool nights.
Riders that enjoyed a full summer of riding or racing can use a late-season century to enjoy what is left of high fitness from a long season. While some riders are ending long seasons, others are just beginning. Athletes with races or events in February or March might use a fall century as part of an early season preparation plan.
More: 10 Fall Century Rides
No matter what your motivation is for riding a fall century, these ten tips will help make that ride more comfortable and safe.
Remember to Hydrate
In hot weather it is easy to remember to hydrate. Sweat rolling down your face and arms is a visual and tactile reminder that you are losing fluids. You may not sweat as much as you do in mid-summer heat, so you may need to consume less fluid. Or, you may not notice sweat due to extra layers of clothing.
Adjust your fluid intake according to your ride intensity, the ambient temperature and your sweat rate. A good place to start is to consume 4 to 8 oz of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. If you are off the bike in the port-a-john every 30 minutes, back off the fluids a bit. If your eyes or mouth feel dry or you start to feel cramps, bump up the fluid rate.
Work Together, but Ask FirstIt is usually pretty easy to find someone that rides the same speed as you do. It is also relatively easy to find someone that rides slightly faster than you do and it is very tempting to draft that person (If you are inexperienced at drafting, this is not the time to learn).
Before you lock yourself on the wheel in front of you, ask the person if it is okay for you to draft them. You can offer to take a pull as well, offering to work together. This can be a saving grace in heavy head winds.
Chose Your Wheels Wisely
If you decide to ride with another person or a group of people, there is some risk involved. Watch the people you are riding with and take some mental notes. If they are weaving and unable to hold a straight line; speeding up and grabbing brakes; pulling off without looking over their shoulder first; or pulling into the lane of traffic with no regard for automobiles—consider bidding that person or group farewell. One dicey rider in a group can take several people down.