Inexperienced cyclists often sign up for their first century ride and become a little overwhelmed at what they've committed to.
The first century is a learning experience, no doubt, and not just on event day. Training the right way for a century is tough to nail down on your own.
Steve Matson, a Category 3 road racer who runs Matson Cycle Coaching, has helped many cyclists train for century rides. Over the years, he's noticed a few training mistakes that consistently pop up, yet aren't exposed until the day of the event when it's too late to correct.
Don't fall in those traps yourself. Here are a few tips from Matson that will help with the basic framework of your century ride training calendar:
Give Yourself Enough Time
Matson notices that a lot of century riders, particularly first-timers, don't start training soon enough. The actual time a rider needs to train for 100 miles varies, but 3-4 months is a general timeframe Matson recommends.
He cites an example of a century newbie who rides regularly, has good equipment and goes on 15-30 mile rides.
"I think it takes 3-4 months for them to extend their volume and extend their distance so that not only do they survive, but they feel good," Matson said.
Mix Long and Short Days
Training 4-6 days a week is ideal, and it's more than just riding a lot of miles. Matson suggests one or two days a week for long rides, where you increase the distance and creep toward that 100-mile goal.
The other days, he says, "perform bike-structured intervals that improve pedaling mechanics, build muscle, expand aerobic capacity, and even, at later stages, work the higher end of VO2 max abilities."