Taking on a century ride—especially your first one—is an enormous task.
You have to find the right event that fits your schedule. You have to train, get your nutrition in order, get your gear in order and make travel plans in some cases. It seems so easy for something crucial to get overlooked.
John Hughes has seen hundreds of cyclists through the process, and he notices the same issues pop up time and time again. A longtime cycling coach and author of Distance Cycling: Your Complete Guide to Long-Distance Rides, Hughes took some time to lay out a dozen mistakes that cyclists frequently make when preparing to tackle a 100-mile ride:
Cycling Events Near You
"A century is an endurance event, and a successful and fun event requires miles in the bank," Hughes said. He recommends building up to a long ride of 70 or 75 miles over similar terrain.
Ramping Up Too Fast
How do you make your way up to 75 miles, though? Hughes notices that many cyclists try to jump to the top of the stairs, so to speak, instead of climbing up them one at a time.
- Increasing week-to-week volume by 10-20 percent.
- Increasing weekly long ride length by 10-20 percent.
- Increasing month-to-month volume by 15-25 percent.
Training at the Same Intensity
Make sure you don't get too comfortable with your routine. Mix up your workouts.
"Effective training includes endurance riding, some hard intensity rides and also easy recovery rides," Hughes said.
Training Too Hard
On the flip side, don't push the intensity too hard, particularly on your long rides or recovery rides.
"Most rides should be done at an easy, conversational pace," Hughes said.
Not Testing and Perfecting
This is across the board. Use your training period to nail down your nutrition, your clothing, your bike—everything, really.
"Nothing new," Hughes says, "during the event."