If you overindulge, you'll suffer the consequences when you get back in the saddle. There's nothing like a stomach full of brownie ice cream and homemade tamales to make the last hilly 50 miles of a century ride a total GI disaster.
Find out how many stops are on the course and pick one or two to stop at. Plan only to eat one snack and taste one or two other items. Make sure you're eating similar food that you fueled with during your training rides. Use the other rest areas as a place to use the bathroom, take a stretch and top off your fluids.
Bring a Buddy
There's something to be said for solitude. Long, solo rides are some of the best ways to build up the mental fortitude you'll need to make it through a century or other long distance race.
But to make the miles pass by a little faster on your first century ride, convince a buddy to ride with you. It'll also let you chat your way through the boring flat sections of the ride, and give you more motivation to push one another up steep climbs. Another bonus of bringing a buddy is that even though you listened to tip #2 and are packing plenty of spare tubes, if you do get a flat you'll have twice the help changing it.
If you can, choose a buddy that's slightly faster. It might help you cross the finish line in less time than you originally planned.
Set Realistic Goals
Even if your only goal is to finish, write it down. Think hard about what it is you're looking to accomplish. Consider your fitness level, your cycling ability and the course.
Decide on a finish time that makes sense for you, and then start working toward that goal. Be careful not to give yourself a goal that brings you anxiety or unhappiness. Find a goal that makes you excited about the adventure and the journey of training for such a challenging, but rewarding event.
Maybe your goal isn't time focused at all. Perhaps you'd rather have your kids see you finish with a smile, or you'd like to climb those gnarly hills you typically avoid with ease.
Whatever it is, just make it yours, stick to your training plan, pack the essential items, bring a friend—and have a great time on two wheels.
Ready to go? Sign up for a century ride.