Looking to go for a long bike ride, need suggestions.

  • Lunastar

    Posts: 328

    Jun 14, 2012 4:22 AM GMT
    Hey everyone,

    So I'm wondering how I should approach this goal of mine. I'm looking to bike to a location and would take a path that's listed as just above 100 miles. Most of it is on a trail along the Delaware river and seems to be quite flat. I've only done 26 miles maximum before but I'm quite confident I could do more as I didn't feel too tired after the mileage.

    Now obviously I shouldn't go from 26 to 100 but how should I approach this otherwise. I know hydrate myself completely beforehand and to take protein bars for the ride though not sure how many, the bike ride is estimated to be 9 hours.

    Would love to here people's thoughts, thanks!
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    Jun 14, 2012 7:47 AM GMT
    I've done several centuries in the last four years. My advice--train up to 100 miles, don't just jump to it if the longest ride you've done is 26 miles.

    You haven't learned how to pace yourself, you won't know your body's signals as well so it's more likely you'll bonk, and finally--your back and butt isn't ready for a 9 hour bike ride even if you think your legs are.

    If you start on a training program to work up to 100 miles, you'll get incrementally better each week and adjust to distance riding. You could do it in 3 months.

    Here's the plan I followed for my first century. I didn't follow the mid-week training religiously, but I did hit all the Saturday milestones. This one is a bit longer than 3 months. I'd say when you hit 75 miles, you could do a century.

    FreeTrainingPlan_Trek_2010.jpg

    If you ignore my advice to train up to a century, please follow this--bring carbs on the ride, not protein. Your body is going to be burning a lot of carbs and you want that slow-burn fuel for a long ride like that, not protein. It's okay to take some in, but don't rely on that as your primary source of fuel for an endurance ride. Also, bring enough sports drink powder in sandwich bags to fill up several bottles during the ride. You are going to be sweating a lot and you'll need to replenish your electrolytes or you'll cramp hard and the carbs will keep you from bonking. Your training rides are also good opportunities to figure out what sports drink your body likes best. The day of the century is not the day to find out that Gatorade is shit.
  • bobdobbs

    Posts: 20

    Jun 14, 2012 2:01 PM GMT
    You can also get good advice on bikeforums.net

    The most important thing about training for a long ride is to spend time on the bike. Not the distance you cover.

    I ride a fully loaded touring bike 35-100 miles a day. Im in central mexico now and it's hot. I don't waste my money on sports drinks and I don't think you should either. Of course, it's your $.

    Do take carbs. You will need them. Search for "calories burned calculator" and use one to get an idea how many calories you will need for a given ride.
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    Jun 14, 2012 2:06 PM GMT
    I've done numerous centuries. If you are in good shape and have a great bike you can do one with hardly any training. That said, if you are not in "good shape" and do not have a great bike, you'd better train and train hard.

    Also really depends on the roads. I did a century in Nebraska on mostly flat roads and then road one in Wenatchee WA and almost died, almost all hills and mountains (finished it in 5+ hours though).

    Just ride hard.
  • gwuinsf

    Posts: 525

    Jun 15, 2012 5:50 PM GMT
    There is an enormous difference between sitting in the bike for 2 hours and 8 hours. For me the main challenge of long distance riding isn't the pedaling, but it's the sitting in the bike for that length of time. I've just gotten back from AIDS/LifeCycle where I sat on a bike for 7 days. If your route is completely flat, than that's going to be your biggest challenge.

    First, make sure your bike has been professionally fit. If the slightest thing is off (pedal alignment, saddle height, reach of your bars), than that discomfort will compound over time. You might feel ok for 26 miles, but at 50 you might develop a twinge in your knee and at mile 90 that could become extremely uncomfortable or painful. If you have any discomfort while riding almost always it can be rectified with a proper bike fit. That being said, your ass is going to hurt no matter what, and if you aren't used to riding that long in the saddle, it's really going to hurt. Another reason to ease into your first century.

    Next, you need to make sure you have proper hydration and nutrition while riding. Again, big change between 2 hours and 8 hours. If you are going 8 hours, you should be going through more than 2 water bottles so you need to make sure you have ways to refill. If the day is especially hot, you'll go through your water very quickly and then you'll be in trouble. The rule is generally if you are hungry or thirsty on the bike, then you are not eating or drinking enough. Hydrating beforehand is important but it's more important to stay hydrated throughout your ride.

    Also, water alone is not going to cut it. You are going to need a source of electrolytes. I generally keep one water bottle as my electrolyte drink and one as water. The electrolyte tablets are great because they are portable, and if you are going to be an an area where you can't get an electrolyte drink, then you should carry these in your kit.

    Good luck!
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    Jun 16, 2012 5:55 AM GMT
    gwuinsf said
    First, make sure your bike has been professionally fit. If the slightest thing is off (pedal alignment, saddle height, reach of your bars), than that discomfort will compound over time. You might feel ok for 26 miles, but at 50 you might develop a twinge in your knee and at mile 90 that could become extremely uncomfortable or painful. If you have any discomfort while riding almost always it can be rectified with a proper bike fit. That being said, your ass is going to hurt no matter what, and if you aren't used to riding that long in the saddle, it's really going to hurt. Another reason to ease into your first century.


    I absolutely agree. When I was training up to my first century, I found out all sorts of things about the fit of my bike when I got up to 70 miles that I never noticed in my 30-50 mile rides I had been doing. Knee pain, crotch numbness, chaffing, foot numbness and back pain all occurred. I made some adjustments in my fit and a saddle change and I was good to go by the time I did the century. If I hadn't trained up to it and discovered the problems with my fit, I probably could have done some serious damage to my body.

    I also agree with your comments on nutrition and hydration. I also do one bottle of water and one of electrolyte drink, plus I know what foods work for me at what time depending on my effort because I have experience riding long distances. It took hours in the saddle to learn how to listen to my body, though to nail it down.
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    Jun 17, 2012 4:26 PM GMT
    I just came across a couple links that also provide some sound advice:
    http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/How-to-Successfully-Complete-a-Century.htm?page=2

    http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/4-Ways-to-Speed-Up-Your-Century-Ride.htm
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    Jun 17, 2012 5:42 PM GMT
    Lunastar saidWould love to here people's thoughts, thanks!

    First, you're getting excellent advice in this thread, from guys who are obviously very experienced. I've also done century rides recently, despite some very severe physical limitations. So that on the one hand 100 miles is not limited to world-class bicyclists alone, but on the other you still need to maximize every advantage in terms of equipment, nutrition, training, and riding strategies.

    But a few things are not clear to me in your OP. You mention path & trail. Is this paved or dirt surface? I used to attend boys summer camp in that very area, and I don't recall the terrain being all that flat, but perhaps at the edge of the Delaware it is.

    What kind of bike do you propose to ride? A light road bike on hard surface can easily handle a century. A heavier, knobby-tired mountain bike on mixed surfaces would be quite a different story.

    And what is your destination? Will you be camping, or need to bring any kind of equipment with you? Are there adequate food stops along the way, or will you be totally self-sufficient? Energy bars alone may not meet your needs.

    bobdobbs mentions his touring bike, which can carry lots of gear, and that's been my favorite kind of bike for 30 years (and my current ride). I ride for sightseeing and have often stayed overnight on the road, so I carry lots of stuff but go slower. Must your ride be made in a single day? No overnight options?

    100 miles in 9 hours can be easy for a steady rider, but if you will be taking numerous rest breaks, and dealing with inclines and curves, it raises the average speed you must maintain, meaning the easy straight stretches must be ridden quite fast. And what if these trails are full of hikers and other riders?

    So your training should partly be used to establish your speed and ideal pedaling cadence, either using a multi-function electronic speedometer (preferred) or at least using known road distances against a watch. To see if 100 miles in 1 day is reasonable and within your reach on this particular course.
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    Jun 26, 2012 10:25 AM GMT
    Wow that's a pretty big jump in riding time. I personally think you need to work towards it over a sustained period of time to avoid potential injury. If it were me, I'd also make sure my bike shorts (or if you prefer bib) have an excellent quality, antibacterial chamois (chamois = butt padding). Most bike saddles can cause plenty of grief over long rides, so comfortable bike wear is really important.

    Good luck with it all!
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    Jun 26, 2012 1:10 PM GMT
    When endurance riding, you can NEVER have too much Chamois Butt'r.

    CB8ozLowres.jpg
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    Jun 27, 2012 5:04 AM GMT
    I use Chamois Butt'r whenever I'm doing a ride over 75 miles, but I'd take exception with "you can never have too much..." I learned to apply it sparingly, especially around the crotch, or else everything slides around too much down there if you know what I mean. I know some people apply it during a ride, but I've never had to do that.

    I also find that you have less need for chamois cream with higher end shorts that are well constructed or fit well. If everything is fitting right and the seams are flat and in the right place, not as much is rubbing against something it shouldn't be or causing irritation.