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Training For Your First Century Ride

Training For Your First Century Ride

This is Part 3 of our three-part Training For Pelotonia Guide

Wednesday: Which ride should I ride?

Yesterday: Training for the 23- and 43-mile rides.

Today: Training for the 102- and 180-mile rides.


Riding 102 miles

Your first century!

I remember mine well, it was 1995 and I was young and carefree and…

Enough about me, let’s talk about how you can get ready for the greatest day of riding in your life.

As I discussed yesterday for 43-mile riders, I think you should set up a week-by-week training schedule, something realistic, a schedule that builds gradually and includes several long rides the last few weeks – and fits in with your work/life schedule. Be realistic, and stick to your training plan. There’s something very gratifying and motivational about marking down your miles and watching the total grow and grow.

I think 1,500 miles before Pelotonia will have you totally prepared. I know this sounds like a lot, but it isn’t when you consider we have 17 weeks of training before the big day. That’s less than 100 miles a week. You can get by with a total of 1,000 to 1,200 miles – but 1,500 will have you totally and absolutely prepared.

For example:

Week 1: Ride 15 on Tuesday, 15 on Thursday, 20 on Saturday and 25 on Sunday (Total: 75 miles)

This is just one example of how to get your miles in. If you can ride more during the week, but have a lot of chores and family stuff to do on the weekends, adjust accordingly. If you can ride five or even six days a week, but don’t have time for longer rides  – this too will work. Commuting by bike to work is a great way to get in your miles.

Week 5: Ride 15 on Tuesday, 20 on Thursday, 25 on Saturday and 35 on Sunday (Total: 95 miles)

Speed. For the most part, ride at a pace that’s comfortable, whether it’s 11 or 12 miles per hour or 14 or 15 miles per hour (which is a pretty quick pace when you’re riding by yourself). Pelotonia is not a race, yet doing a little speed work during your training will help. The best way to increase your speed is to do interval training, which basically means you sprint – for 30 seconds or up to a minute – a few times during your ride. I like to do it after I slow down to go around a corner, or after I stop at a stop sign or light. I get up, out of my saddle, crank it up to about 20 or 22 miles per hour, sit down and try and hold this speed for 30 seconds to a minute. Do this several times during a ride and your speed will magically increase. Plus, it’s fun to hammer the pedals and sprint. If you have a nice tailwind, this is another great time to crank up the speed – and hold it for a while before slowing down to your normal ride pace.

Week 10: Ride 20 on Tuesday, 25 on Thursday, 30 on Saturday and 40 on Sunday (Total: 115 miles)

Hills. You should try and do some hill work as you train, which can be tough in flat Central Ohio. I have found three or four short climbs, and I’ll just go up and down the hill four or five times, or do a short loop over and over that includes the hill. Practice shifting your gears as you start to go up and it gets harder to pedal, experiment with different gear settings to figure out what’s comfortable for you, find a comfortable pace, practice getting out of your saddle on the hardest parts of the climb.

Week 12: Same as Week 10, except 50 on Sunday. And keep adding 5 miles onto your Sunday ride for the next several weeks.

Week 17: This is your last week … and you want to cut back on your mileage a bit so you’re fresh and ready to go on the big day. Do a long ride the Sunday before Pelotonia – and then a few 20 or 25 mile rides during the week. Rest up and relax … and conquer your first century on August 20.

One thing I’ve noticed on long rides is my butt, back, shoulders and arms (usually in this order) seem to get tired before my legs. So, I try – with so-so success – to get in some core and strength work at the gym or by doing yoga. It really does help.

Riding 180 miles

Training for the 180-mile route is basically the same as training for the 102-mile ride. If you can go 102 miles, you can do another 78 the next day.

I do suggest you do a couple (two or three) long rides, back to back, maybe 50 on Saturday, followed by 50 the next day during your training. This will prepare your body for two tough days in a row. After you get to Athens, you want to stretch, eat well and get a good night’s rest – and you’ll be ready to go the next morning.

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1 Comment

  1. Cathy - April 25, 2011

    Can you share with us some of the hills you ride in flat central Ohio? 🙂

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