Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Century Goal

It's not at all unusual for cyclists to want to ride a century. It seems like a marker in ones riding that is significant, and because (generally, at least) it's not something a rider embarks upon without some training, it also requires a lot of time in the saddle before the actual 100 mile ride. For me, at least for quite awhile, I never imagined wanting to ride this sort of distance. Knowing that I have to stop frequently, it just doesn't seem like a plausible distance to complete in a day (for me). Why even put myself through that sort of torture? Of course, things change and the last couple of summers have found me pondering how/when I could complete 100 miles. "Some day," I would repeat each time the idea came up. I mean, come on, I don't even call myself a "cyclist." I like to ride, but really I prefer short stints around town, and perhaps an occasional longer ride for fun, but what would possess a person to want to ride that sort of distance?
Image found here
Last summer, the longest ride I completed was shy of even a metric century. I rode 58(ish) miles in a single day and lived to tell about it. Not only did I live to tell the tale, but I actually enjoyed it. I thought that certainly I could get a century in before winter weather hit our area, but it just didn't happen. I got lazy, I had no definite plan, and I felt as though it was a "good enough" goal to have taken on a ride I wasn't sure I could complete. One goal at a time, right?

This year, it started early. In January, I was jonesing to get on the bike for more than a few miles, and I was already thinking about riding that hundred miles. I kept telling myself I had time to make plans, that the weather was still crappy (and got worse, actually), and riding more than a few miles just wasn't going to happen. Now, here we are - almost to summer, but certainly well into spring - and I have no official plan.

That ends today.

I pondered wimping out and saying I'd do a metric century this year and plan the century next year, but, who am I kidding? I'll continue to put it off if I don't have some way to force myself into it. I can't seem to find a supported century that I want to ride or can get to somewhat conveniently, so I'm saying, "screw it" and doing my own. I don't mind riding by myself and I won't have to worry about anyone closing down aid stations. I just have to plan a route that has a way for me to refill water and get snacks as needed. It can be done, and more importantly, it will be done. This summer. It's happening. Really. <-- Just trying to reassure myself of this fact.
Even though I was already mulling over the century idea, I really got pumped on it after achieving my first QOM (Queen of the Mountain) on Strava, and while the distance I want to go has nothing to do with my (in)ability to climb a short distance in the fastest reported Strava time (and, the reality is that only one other female has recorded the climb to date - so, it's not really as great as it seems on the surface), I think it motivated me to see what else I can achieve. After all, if the one who hates to climb somehow managed a small victory on a hill she truly avoids at all costs, what else is she capable of doing?

I'm working on a route I'd like to travel... preferably, I'd choose something that 1) isn't into the mountains (as we all know G.E. hates to climb anymore than necessary); 2) isn't going to be a mass of never-ending, barren land and/or dead weeds by the time I ride it (which actually excludes a lot of the typically ridden areas); and 3) has some stops for water/food as needed.  Doesn't sound too complicated, but I also know that I can get that portion (the planning) done fairly easily.  The difficult part is the training. Maybe not so much difficult, as it is time consuming. When one (one being me) rides slow, it's even more time consuming, but I'm not using it as an excuse to let another season go by without going after this goal. The excuses could go on infinitely, but this will happen.

The plan is to do the ride no later than the week of August 17-24. I'm giving myself an approximate week window in case of some sort of catastrophe or weather unpredictability - and knowing me, I'll put the ride off until the very last moment. That gives me a maximum time to get my act together and train of just shy of 3 months. There's endless info on the web about training for such an event, but I'm not even concerned about the how as much as actually - well, honestly the why some days - and perhaps more importantly, getting time on the bike and completing it. I'm not great when it comes to planning things out for some future time, but this is one of those instances that probably will require me to buckle down a bit to have success.

I'm on this though, and I appreciate having a space to make myself accountable to someone other than Sam... who will certainly encourage and push me, but will also definitely let me woos out if I whine enough. :O) Poor guy has to live with me, so I don't blame him at all.

Anyone else making plans for a new-to-you ride or other goal this summer? Feel free to share your tips/tricks/ideas/thoughts.


  1. Wow!! Very exciting! I'm impressed that you're willing to do an unsupported Century. I've done both, and agree not having to worry about getting the course closed on you is pretty nice. I did a pretty flat century with Buzz a couple of years ago and it was actually a really nice route. I'll see if I can find it and send it to you....just for an idea.

    Now that I can ride outside (after the broken ankle) we should plan to ride together soon!!

    Good luck to you and I'm looking forward to hearing more about your progress!!

    1. Thanks, Joey! I'm sure I can figure out a route of some kind. I've even pondered doing a 25-mile loop, 4 times, but we'll. see what happens. It will probably depend when I do it because if Sam's not around, it would probably be easier to know something is around close by.

      I'm glad you're able to ride outside again, and while the season is still young. Yay! That would be great to plan a ride together - or not plan, and just do. :O) Let me know when you have a bit of free time.

  2. Go! Go! Go!

    You can do it!

    When I started reading the post I was going to suggest skipping the organized ride and just doing it yourself. The big thing to remember is that if you go at your own pace and allow yourself an entire day you don't have to go fast and you can take nice long rests and eat when you need to.

    Don't be afraid to throw on a pannier and take all the food you'll need and some extra water, just be cognizant of not putting on too much extra weight. If you're going to do it totally solo at least have a backup SAG person (Sam!) who can bail you out in an emergency. Think of it as one day bike touring. A lot of cycle tourists ride big mileages with a fully loaded bike, they just take their time (all day) and go as far as they can manage. Approach it that way, with less weight and the goal of riding a full century, and you'll do fine.

    1. Chris, I think doing it on my own is definitely going to help me do it at my own pace, rather than trying to keep up with someone else, so I think it's a great suggestion. Thanks for all your thoughts and ideas. I definitely am planning on an all-day adventure. :O)

  3. Pshht, you got this... I'll do the SAG, car or bike, just build up a bit, and then nail it.

    1. Yes, probably the most important part is time to train. When I get on something I want to do it right now but I know that's not the wisest move in this case.


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