Professional cyclists Ivan Dominguez and Sean Sullivan of the Toyota-United Cycling Team joined over 5,000 riders for the 25th Annual Solvang Century in Solvang, California. The ride, which benefited the SCOR Cardiac Cycling Club, a non-profit bike club that promotes cycling as a method of rehabilitative therapy for heart-related conditions, took the riders just over than six hours to finish.
Beforehand, Active posed a few questions to Sullivan and Dominguez on their approach to century rides, the experience itself and advice to cyclists doing their own 100-mile event.
Athletically, how do you approach a century ride like this? Does it have a place in your training or is it more of an off-day?
Ivan: For me, it's both. There are a lot of cycling fans who do these rides, so in the beginning, I go slow and talk to people. The ride is 100 miles, which is a long ride, so if I spend the first half taking it a little bit easier and talking to people, I don't mind because I still have 50 miles to ride hard. By then, most people are going at their own pace and are focused on their own ride so I can do my own thing in the last half.
Sean: Definitely a training day. I can't really call a 100-mile ride an "off-day..."
How often do people recognize you? Do you ever have guys try to show off by passing you?
Ivan: I've done a few century rides in California and most people don't really know who I am. In Miami, though, where I used to live, everyone wants to talk to me during the ride and it's nice. Training here in California, people do sometimes try to race you. It's funny.
What type of bike do you ride for events such as this? Do you go for comfort? Do you use a heavier bike for a better workout?
Sean: I like to ride a unicycle! [Laughs] For me, this is a training day so I use my team Fuji-United bike, the same one I use for all of my training and racing.
With two big races coming up, the US Cycling Open and the Tour de Georgia, how are you preparing, both mentally and physically?
Ivan: Mentally, I have to be strong because a lot of good teams are coming. How do I prepare? I just keep doing my usual training. That's also what prepares me mentally because if I'm training well and I'm focused, it puts my head in the right place.
Sean: I just keep training really, focusing on shorter, more intense rides. These are big races and you want be as physically ready as you can be, which also helps mentally.
What advice can you give to a first-time century rider?
Ivan: Stop at every feed zone. Usually these races have three to four feed zones and some people will say, "I'm not hungry right now" when they pass the first feed zone, then the second, and in the end they don't feel so good. They are tired and they have a lot of cramping. This is not a race. People should stop as much as they need to, go at their own pace and not try to follow a faster rider.
Sean: Wear sunscreen. If it's a hot, sunny day you definitely need to protect yourself. In Australia, we are very sun conscious so I'm always aware of it.
Will you be joined by any family or friends for this ride?
Ivan: No, but my wife and dog, Ugo, will be waiting for me at the end.
What can a competitive athlete take from doing a ride without having competition as an aspect of it?
Ivan: For me, I like talking to the fans and seeing so many people out there riding a bike. It's great to see thousands of people doing what I love.
Sean: It's a change of scenery and a chance to train somewhere different. In these types of rides, there are a lot of people riding with you, which makes things a lot more interesting and makes the ride go by a lot faster.
Do you get a kick out of seeing people on tandem bikes?
Sean: I can appreciate it because my parents used to have one. It's good fun to see people out there having a great time.