There’s nothing worse than attempting a 100 mile or even a 100 kilometer challenge with an under trained body. It’s not much fun or particularly rewarding. Far better to be well prepared and enjoy the experience to the full.
Believe it or not it’s possible to ride a 100 after only ten weeks of dedicated training. The key is to build your endurance slowly and methodically.
The schedule is for cyclists attempting their first 100 mile ride and is aimed at riders who average 50 miles or less a week.
On the chart; ‘easy’ means a gentle ride; ‘pace’ – riding at the speed you want to maintain for the 100 miler; and ‘brisk’ – riding faster than your 100 mile pace.
You will need to find time to train during the week. It might be worth considering commuting by bike if you don’t already. Don’t be frightened to ride up the hills – ideally you need to do some of these training rides on the sort of terrain you will encounter on the day.
This is merely a guide, a starting point, so feel free to tweak the schedules to suit your personal time-frame. Don’t worry if you miss a day but don’t miss out the long weekend ride; it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday.
You can even replace some road rides with mountain bike rides. I reckon that 60 miles, primarily off-road, on a mountain bike is harder than 100 miles on a road bike. So if you work on the theory of 60% of the required road distance. Mountain biking will also build strength in your legs but it’s important to put the road miles in as you need to get used to spinning those legs. Effective road riding is very different to mountain biking.
Don’t be tempted to drastically boost the mileage as the schedule works on a gradual increase per week. This slowly improves your fitness whilst guarding against over-training and fatigue. If you miss a day just add that mileage onto another ride later in the week. Also be sure to follow a high mileage ride with an ‘easy’ day.
During training you obviously need to eat a good balanced diet, if you don’t already! In the last 3-6 days preceding the event, eat at least 75% carbohydrate. This ensures that you ‘carbo load’, packing as much energy into your body as possible.
Don’t get carried away and eat a huge breakfast on the morning of the event as your body will waste a lot of effort trying to digest it. Make sure you eat in plenty of time before your start time. Porridge is a very good slow-burn fuel but does take quite a bit of digesting. Try out your various breakfast options on training days so that you can find what works best for you.
One of the major factors to you completing a 100 mile ride is nutrition and particularly during the ride itself. If you don’t consume enough calories you will ‘bonk’. During the ride you should try to eat every 20 miles. My preferred choice is malt loaf and fig rolls as they are high in carbohydrate and not too messy. Some people prefer bananas and energy bars; the choice is yours but make sure you try them out during training.
Don’t pig out at the rest stops; it’s better to ‘graze’ than ‘stuff’. Your body will divert blood away from your working muscles to your stomach to cope with digesting large amounts of food and this may make you feel sick.
Fluid intake is also very important. Make sure that you are well hydrated before the ride by drinking lots of water and even some energy drink. Energy drinks are a very good way of getting extra carbohydrates to fuel your body and also electrolytes too, particularly if you are prone to cramping. Again, be careful to try out your energy drinks during training rides as some may not agree with your metabolism, plus you need to experiment with the strength of the mix.
I did an off-road event using a Camelbak filled with energy drink and ended up feeling quite ill two-thirds into the ride, the problem was that I didn’t have any water to switch to. Personally I find may energy drinks to sweet and sickly, it may be better to make up your own (recipe coming soon). Having learned from this experience (and talking to Ken Middlemiss) I now carry an extra strong mix of energy drink in one bottle and a week mix of apple juice in another. I then take sips between the two.
In the fray of the event it’s very easy to forget to drink but ideally you should be drinking every 15 minutes. Remember; eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty.
It’s important to be organised on the big day, make sure that you have all your clothes ready. Check the weather forecast so that you have some idea of what to expect. It’s usually a good plan to carry at least a light waterproof, particularly if you’re riding across Dartmoor. When you’re a long way from home you can quickly become cold or even hypothermic.
A couple of weeks before the big ride make sure that you service your bicycle, after all you want it to be running perfectly, that’s one less thing to worry about. Be sure to carry a pump, two spare inner-tubes, a patch kit, 2 tyre-levers and a small chain-tool. If you get a puncture 20 miles into a 100 mile ride then 80 miles with no spare seems an awful long way! Likewise, breaking a chain is very rare but if you have no chain-tool, you are stuffed!
Stretch before you ride, and also once you’re on the bike. Every 30 minutes or when you’re climbing stand on the pedals, arch your back and stretch your legs. Whist you are riding along occasionally move your hands to a different position on the handlebars. At rest stop I wouldn’t recommend stopping for more than 10 minutes, as any more and you become stiff.
Divide the ride into segments; I usually break the ride into four 25 mile sections but don’t spend you whole time watching the miles slowly tick over on your computer. It’s like watching, waiting for a kettle to boil. You’d probably be better off watching your average speed and trying to maintain it. On the Dartmoor Classic last year, I didn’t even look at my mileage until I’d completed 60 miles; it was just a case of wanting to get on with it. If you get tired, don’t think about how many miles remain, think about your form, eating and drinking. I tend to think about getting back and having a cold Pepsi, a warm cup of tea and a hot shower.
Be careful not to ride beyond yourself, it’s easy to get carried away by riding at someone else’s pace. Stick to the pace you’re confident that you can maintain, having said this, there’s no harm in jumping on the back of a train and getting dragged along if you’re comfortable.
I hope that these tips will be helpful in achieving your goal of riding 100 miles – good luck and let me know how you got on.