When cyclists catch the century bug, they often rush to sign up for as many of the 100-mile rides as they can fit into the season. But how many centuries can you realistically prepare for in a season, and how much time do you need to take between each one?
Well, that depends on your fitness level, experience and the amount of time you can devote to century training, but there are some guidelines you can use to lay out a challenging, yet enjoyable and fulfilling season of long rides.
Find Your Century Identity
The beauty of centuries is that 4,000 people can push off from the starting line with goals ranging from finishing 100 miles for the first time, to breaking their previous best time, to racing to finish in fewer than five hours.
More experienced cyclists and those who normally ride more weekly hours or miles can handle more centuries per year, with less recovery time between each, than novice riders. To figure out where you fit in, check out the table below.
|# of 100-mile rides in previous year||Weekly training hrs||Avg speed on endurance rides|
|Charity Rider||1-2||4-8||14-15 mph|
|Century Regular||3-5||8-10||15-17 mph|
|Group-ride Groupie||6-10||10-12||16-18 mph|
Still unsure of where you fit in? Use the guidelines below:
- Rookie: You're preparing for your first century, and while you might not be completely new to the sport of cycling, riding 100 miles in one day is going to be your biggest cycling challenge to date.
- Charity Rider: You have one or two big events each year, like a Livestrong Ride or Ride for the Cure, and you spend the rest of the year riding recreationally.
- Century Regular: You're on a first-name basis with the organizers of all the centuries within driving distance from your hometown. Centuries are your thing, and you find them much more appealing than racing.
- Group-ride Groupie: You're a devoted cyclist and a constant presence at your local group rides and training races. You participate in a handful of organized centuries each year, and you and your buddies get together for another handful of 100-mile rides on summer weekends.
- Racer: Racing is your primary reason for being a cyclist, but if you participate in an organized century, you're there to finish in the front group and push the pace all the way. You regularly ride 85-plus miles in long training rides and complete several 100-plus mile rides each year as part of your normal training.
Some people don't fit neatly into one of the categories. You might, for instance, ride only one century a year (Charity Rider), but train eight to 10 hours a week (Century Regular) with a cruising speed of 17 mph (Group-ride Groupie). If this is the case, weekly hours (volume) carry the most weight, followed by the number of long rides in the past year (experience), and speed matters the least. Our sample case, therefore, would best fit into the Century Regular group.