8 Tips to Prepare For Your First Century
Although you've trained hard and think your ready, you might also feel like a pro racer about to start his first spring classic in Belgium—nervous and not entirely sure you can finish. Here are eight tips that will help you with your final preparations.
Select and Test Your Gear1 of 9
Everything you ride, wear, eat, and drink should have been tested in training—nothing new during the big event.
Check Your Equipment2 of 9
The weekend before the century, check your bike thoroughly. Is the shifting adjusted correctly? Are all the bolts tight? A friend once DNF'd because his cleat came off. Check your bike a week early so that you have time to correct any problems. Be sure to test ride the bike after you pick it up from the bike shop.
Research the Ride3 of 9
Use the event website to check out the route and see where the climbs and other hard parts come so that you aren't surprised during the ride. It's also a good idea to get familiar with the cue sheet. You don't need to memorize every turn, but know where the aid stations are. Try to find out what will be served at the aid stations. If you don't like what they're serving, take your own food and drink. If possible, talk with other riders who have done the event.
Taper4 of 9
In the week before your century, there's nothing you can do to get fitter, and too much training will just tire you out. The weekend prior, go for a 2- to 3-hour ride at your century pace. During race week, do a couple of one-hour rides at the same pace.
Eat Carbs and Drink5 of 9
In an endurance event, your energy comes from a combination of stored glycogen (from carbs) and fat. Even the leanest rider has enough fat for 100 miles, but your glycogen stores are limited to a few hours of hard riding.
Three days before the century increase the carbs you eat, while cutting back a bit on protein and fat to be sure that your glycogen stores are full. Carbs aren't just pasta, potatoes, bread and rice. Vegetables and fruit are also 100-percent carbohydrate. You'll probably gain a few pounds because glycogen is stored with water. Don't worry—you'll need the water for the event.
In the days leading up to the century, drink plenty of primarily clear, unsweetened liquid and avoid alcohol. If you're drinking enough you should urinate with a good clear stream.
Night Before the Ride6 of 9
Eat a carbohydrate-rich dinner of familiar foods. Drink plenty of fluid, but this isn't the time for a beer. The night before is not the time to eat something new either. Pack all of your gear and then double check that it's all there.
The night before the century you may not sleep well. Don't worry–this won't hurt your performance if you've slept enough during the week. The week before the century, go to bed on time every night.
Eat Breakfast Early7 of 9
The morning of the century eat breakfast two hours before the start so that you have time to digest your food. Eat mostly carbs with a bit of protein like yogurt, milk or a poached or boiled egg. Avoid fried foods—they're harder to digest.
Arrive Early8 of 9
The night before the ride figure out how you'll get from your house to the start. Allow plenty of time to get there just in case there's a traffic delay. Once you're there, sign in, unload your bike, get ready to ride and relax by chatting with other riders.