Category Archives: Cycling

Cycling Mementos

Recently, I bought a new car. When cleaning out the old one, I found a small item deep in the glove box that I’d gotten as a give away from the Bay to Bay Ride over 10 years ago. It was a keychain flashlight made of plastic. It blinked fast, or slow, or acted as a steady light depending on how many times you pushed the button. It has the name and date of that event on it, and they probably cost the organizers no more than $1.00 each. In the end, they made money on us, despite giving these items out to the riders and volunteers. It didn’t even have a battery door. It was the sort of thing you hang on to until the battery dies, then throw out. Or you give it to a child, or throw it in a drawer (or your glove compartment) and forget about it. I mentioned that find to my friend Ron. It sparked a few memories.

A keychain light with the event name and date printed on it. Little things like this link us to memories.

Yes, Ron and I rode that century together. When the ride happened, in late June of 2012, we were riding every century ride within driving distance of the DC area, because we wanted to ride 10 centuries a year. Because we had fun (and were generous with our post-ride beer), we had a sizable group of friends who rode with us and we all got along well on and off the bikes. We rode so many miles together that we became skilled at drafting and pace lining. People in our group were riding between 3000 and 5000 miles a year. We all had jobs, but we made time to get together for rides, and if someone wanted to go out and ride a new event, or led a ride in our local cycling club, we all got together in support. That Bay to Bay ride would have had about 6-8 of us riding together.

The Bay to Bay ride runs from Betterton Beach by the Chesapeake Bay to Woodland Beach by the Delaware Bay, crossing from Maryland to Delaware and back. Before getting to the rest stop at Woodland beach, the ride crosses salt marshes, and those marshes are the home to biting flies. They are such universal pests that they put one in the Bay to Bay Century logo. I don’t remember ever riding that event on a bad day, so in 2012 the weather would have been good. I’m sure I got bitten a few times as I rode through the marshes. We all did! I remember the rest stops, and the route. There weren’t many climbs to speak of. I remember how hot it would get by late morning. The scenery was typical of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and I always enjoyed it. After a few years, events like that flowed into each other. We always stopped on the way home for a late lunch and a beer. That’s what we did between about 2010 and 2015. I don’t think I missed that event during those years. My flashlight souvenir found it’s way into the glove compartment, and worked its way to the back and down into the “out of sight, out of mind” part of my life.

The biting flies in the marshes are such a common feature that they were incorporated into the Bay to Bay Ride Logo. This was taken from the shirt given out in 2013, the year after I got the keychain light.

Things eventually had to change. Some of us retired, some moved on, some were injured and slowed down, one tragically passed away. I stopped riding 10 centuries a year after 2015. I went down to 7 centuries a year, then 5. In 2020, no events were held due to the pandemic. This past year, I only rode one century. It’s been 10 years since the event that handed out those souvenirs. The people who rode with me that day in 2012 are older, wiser and driven by other things. I may ride Bay to Bay again, but perhaps I’ll ride the metric century – 63 miles instead of 100. There was a time when we wouldn’t plan a ride less than 40 miles long unless it was in the cold of winter. That has changed. I’ve been on rides planned around a cafe stop. I won’t stop riding my bike until my body breaks, but I’ll always have good memories of those years when I had an unofficial team to ride with, and even as a recreational cyclist, I was very serious.

The usual memento for event rides is a T-shirt, and I have far too many of them. Spring cleaning has often claimed old event shirts. I’ve heard about people making quilts or art out of old event shirts. Sometimes a shirt will spark a conversation. You never know what will inspire a memory. As for the keychain light, I carefully opened it and replaced the batteries. It still works! I suppose that’s a metaphor for me and my cycling. While I still can, I’ll ride. As long as I do, I’ll keep having good memories.

A word about bicycle saddles from a seasoned rider.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In that time, I’ve ridden another century, and I’ve done more riding as the year went on. One change I’ve made is that I’ve changed saddles. I don’t do that often, but saddles wear out or break sometimes, and looking for a new saddle will introduce you to an enormous range of choices.

The Brooks Cambium C15 saddle.

A cyclist rests on bones called the ischium, or “sit bones”. These are bones in your pelvis that support your weight as you sit or ride. These bones vary in width for every individual, which along with other factors make your choice of saddle a very personal decision. Some saddles are straight, some curved, some wide, some narrow, some have a cutout in the center to relieve pressure, and some are padded. I can’t speak to the individual needs of other riders, but I can talk about my choices.

My old saddle was a Selle San Marco Regal. This is a straight saddle with no cutout, and it served me well for 3 years. I’ve also ridden on Fizik Antares and Fizik Arione saddles, some had a channel or cutout to relieve pressure. They were straight rather than curved, and they all varied slightly in comfort. In mid October I got a Brooks Cambium C15 saddle. This one is straight, no cutout, and narrower than the ones I’m used to riding on. At this time, having ridden enough miles to get a good feel for this saddle, all I can say is that I’m impressed. The Cambium is a vulcanized rubber compound that flexes slightly, and it’s narrower than the saddles I’m used to. In many ways, it’s similar to a leather saddle. I’ve had leather saddles before. When I got my first “racing” bike in my early teens, it had a leather saddle by Wrights. This was similar to a Brooks saddle, and from what I’ve read they were purchased by Brooks in the early 1960’s. From that experience I know that leather saddles are extremely comfortable after they’ve been ridden for a while. Once broken in, a leather saddle conforms to you.

Brooks saddles are known for being comfortable. I am very impressed with the quality and comfort of the Brooks Cambium C15 saddle. Their standard is a leather saddle, the B17 model. The C15 is narrower than the B17 and its Cambium counterpart the C17. Many have said that Brooks leather saddles look uncomfortable, but once broken in, they swear by them. I’m learning the truth of this. . The Cambium saddle I’m riding on now is also very comfortable. Now that I’ve got it broken in, I’m very impressed. I’m going to stay with the Brooks Cambium, or if I do change it, I might just go for the Leather equivalent, the Brooks Swift saddle.

I can’t say what saddle would be best for anyone else, but I think at this point a Brooks leather or cambium saddle is very comfortable once you’ve ridden on it for a while. To be clear, as I make this recommendation, I get no money or other considerations from Brooks for saying any of this. I’m only stating an opinion, and I have to say that in my experience, once it conforms to you, such a saddle can be a rider’s best friend, particularly on a long ride.

Riding for the Soul

For the last two days, I’ve rushed out my door after I finished work and rode hard for an hour. Both times I made it back just a few minutes before sundown. Days are getting shorter – Autumn has arrived. At this time of year I’m feeling good, the temperature and humidity have dropped, and the riding feels easy. Sadly, the days are getting shorter and there is less time before sundown to get a ride in. Now is the time for end of season events, enjoying the good weather and good company before shorter days and colder weather start driving me inside. At this writing I have less than 3 weeks before I finish all my events for 2022. When that happens, I ride for the soul. By that I mean that my riding is done for the feeling of freedom, the enjoyment I get from the beauty of my surroundings and the company of those I ride with.

A fall ride from a few years ago with my friend Eric. Rides at this time of year feed the soul.

In years past I had events to ride nearly every weekend in September, but in these post-pandemic days some of those events have not come back, and rides like the Indian Head 100 aren’t on the calendar any more. Some of the people I would have ridden with in past years have moved on too. I recently took a week off to go to Portland Maine for the Lighthouse Ride. As always it was a fabulous event. The weather was perfect and the event was beautiful. I have more lasting memories of Maine to take with me now. I have 2 more rides on my calendar, the Taneytown Twister for my cycling club, and the Seagull Century. I don’t feel the same urgency for events that I once did. I have ridden so many events that I know what to expect and how to adjust to conditions. Finally, I just don’t worry about them as much; I’m less concerned about my performance when I’m riding them now.

My first events were tests; I was concerned about just finishing them. Soon they became routine. I started riding events with friends and events became social. Without the group I once rode with, I have to change the way I ride events again. I still enjoy riding them, but maybe now I’ll be riding events for the soul. After all, I have the experience of having ridden over 100 century rides. It isn’t a matter of finishing, it’s a matter of knowing how to adjust as I ride, and feeling the joy of riding.

With so little time before my events arrive, last minute intense training won’t do anything other than wear me out, so I may do the occasional hard ride, but I build in rest to be sure I’m fresh when the time comes to ride my events. I enjoy riding in the cooler days of September and October. The rides that I’ve done all year have steadily built up my fitness. When the days cool off, somehow my rides feel easier. When I’m done riding events, it’s all for the soul. Every pedal stroke is for the enjoyment of the season. It’s about good times and good company. I can see it coming as the days grow shorter. I’m looking forward to cool days and soulful rides.

A different kind of experience at a familiar event

Recently I rode the Covered Bridges Classic in Lancaster Pennsylvania in support of a friend. We were riding the short route, 35 miles. The Covered Bridges Classic is a rolling ride through Amish farm country. I’ve ridden this event many times over the years. Normally I would have ridden the metric century at this event, but this time I was with a friend who was new to cycling events, so I rode in support to add my experience and my company to his day. I went with the flow. It changed my focus a little. I noticed little things at the roadsides. I stopped for pictures at the bridges, and I found that the time slipped smoothly by.

Ken (on the right) and I before starting out on the Covered Bridges Classic.

Ken is a co-worker and good friend. I’ve been talking to him about cycling and events for years. He took up cycling himself, and chose the Covered Bridges Classic as a goal. He’s learned a good deal about cycling, and while the ride would be his longest ride distance of the year, he was ready to test himself. We had a good day for it. I have to admit that I felt good on the climbs, and there were times when I chased a few riders up the hills. On the back side of one particularly long and grinding climb we were rewarded with a steep descent that got our top speeds for the day up to 40 mph. We rode it safely and it was a memorable roller coaster moment. I was impressed by Ken’s focus and determination. We finished feeling good, and I don’t think I could have enjoyed it any more than I did.

I saw it all through the eyes of my friend, and we were so pleased afterward that my girlfriend, who had been studying at a local cafe, is now determined to join us on the ride next year. When we returned to work, we showed photographs and shared our stories of the event with our co-workers, and that was also a part of the experience. A different perspective on an event can be refreshing!

Ken in front of a covered bridge, with an Amish wagon coming through in the background. Photos like this are just another reason to come to Lancaster, PA to enjoy the Covered Bridges Classic!

A New Event!

The Chesapeake Cycling Club’s C3 Tri-County Classic

Waiting for the Ferry in Oxford, Maryland during the Tri-County Classic.

I enjoy riding events. I’ve literally ridden hundreds of them, and they’re good for motivation, fitness, training and simple cycling enjoyment. This year I registered for a newly created event called the Tri-County Classic. 65 miles on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, which included an area I didn’t know well, and even had some short climbs. The Eastern Shore isn’t known for climbing, and while you can find them on some rides in the area, it’s mostly a place known for flat rides and headwinds. Yes, headwinds. The dreaded weather condition that a good friend calls the “Eastern Shore Mountains”. Conditions on this ride turned out to be a challenge, even without high winds, but on the whole, it was a good experience.

The ride started in Easton, a town bisected by Route 50, the major artery from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the ocean beaches of Maryland and Delaware. As a result it’s a place that people will often drive past but not experience. The ride included a choice of two courses, a 30 mile course and a 65 mile course. The short course looped around the river inlets to Oxford, taking a Ferry across the Tred Avon river, and then heading back to the start. The long course headed west into more rolling country before coming back to Easton and joining the other course to the ferry, then back to the start. The ferry ride alone makes this a fairly unique event.

The weather was a concern. A storm was moving up the coast, and the concern was getting caught in it. The ride was sold out, but I believe that many riders stayed home for fear of the weather. My colleague Ron and I had no such problem. I’ve always said that I don’t mind riding in the rain, but I won’t START riding in the rain. It’s a fine distinction, but it works for me. Since the rain was going to hold off until late morning, I brought a change of clothing for after the ride and headed for Easton. We were on the road by 8:00.

I stuffed a rain jacket in my jersey pocket and we set out, leaving Easton and entering the countryside. The roads were good and the scenery was pleasant. The rest stops were good. We were still dry upon leaving the second rest stop, but on the road into Oxford, the rain began. After a quick stop to put the jacket on, and a stop at the Highland Creamery in Oxford for a little time out of the rain. The organizers provided a ticket for a free ice cream, so we took advantage. We went to the ferry, standing under a tree while we waited. The ferry ride was fun, and the remainder of the ride was wet, as expected. It was still a good course, and had the day been dry, I’m sure more riders would have come and enjoyed the experience. This was a well planned event. I’m glad I was there for the first edition of it, and I plan to ride it again next year.

We stayed briefly to check out the post ride atmosphere, but we wanted to get a meal, so we reluctantly left for home with a stop at a favorite seafood restaurant along the way. After you get home from a ride in the rain it’s important to clean the bike and wheels thoroughly and re-lubricate the chain before you ride again, but I’m good about bike maintenance and I thought it was worth doing in any case. I had a satisfying ride, and it turned out to be the longest ride I’ve done so far this year. There will be other, longer rides for me, but this was a good event to start the year.

Taking advantage of a brief winter thaw

This morning I awoke to a light snowfall. It won’t amount to much. Mostly it’s a pleasant looking inconvenience. The strange thing is that yesterday the temperature was in the 60s (16 Celsius), and I got my bike out on the roads for the first time in 2022. I didn’t go very far, and I wasn’t too fast, but it felt good. Riding outdoors is nothing like riding a trainer. My legs are feeling the difference. I only count outdoor miles in my yearly totals. I know some people count trainer time, but I’m on a simple trainer, and frankly if I’m not going anywhere, it doesn’t feel right to include it in my totals.

It’s been a colder than average winter here, but like any other winter, occasionally a brief thaw happens. Those days are valuable. Whenever I have enough warm clothing to ride comfortably on the roads, I get out and ride. It may be rare, but by this time I’m usually dreaming of getting outdoors, and I take every opportunity. The days have begun getting longer, but I’m still a month away from Daylight Savings Time. I look forward to DST because by mid-March the temperatures are trending warm enough to ride comfortably in my warm cycling clothes. I can also start riding short rides after work before the sun sets after DST, and it’s exciting to start regular outdoor workouts. Though brief warm spells like the one I took advantage of yesterday are too good to miss. I rode through Rock Creek Park in Maryland with my friends Ron & Rita. Much of our route was closed to traffic, and the route is a local classic – very popular with riders, walkers and skaters. Something about moving through the landscape and breathing in the outdoor scents makes me feel good. As I look out the window at the snow flurries, I’m reminded that while it’s still cold, spring is on the way.

Late last week, I purchased an Insta360 Go 2 action camera. I don’t know when it will arrive with the supply chain problems that we’ve all had, but hopefully I’ll be able to add video to these posts at a later date. I’m hoping that it will help me tell these stories more effectively. I’m also planning my events for the 2022 season, but I’ll write more about that later!

2022 – Starting again, with a mix of old and new.

I’m looking forward to some familiar events and adventures in 2022. Another trip to Maine in the fall, to see sights such as the Portland Head Lighthouse will certainly motivate me.

Every new year comes in with a sense of optimism. My 2021 was an improvement over 2020, but 2020 was so dismal that it didn’t take much to improve on it. Despite my advancing age, I don’t want to slow down too much. My 2021 will be about trying new things and improving on the old.

For 2022 I want to improve my cycling mileage a bit. It doesn’t have to be a big improvement, just more miles. While I rode more miles last year than I did in 2020, 2020 was such a miserable year that it represented a big drop in miles and it was easy to improve on. I want to improve on 2021. I’m looking into a couple of century rides, a couple of new events, and some longer weekend rides, and perhaps I will ride some of those longer rides at an easier pace.

I’d like to do a few other activities… perhaps some fishing, and other outdoor activities that keep me moving and occupy my mind in a different way. I’ve been very focused on cycling since 2005, and I won’t just set aside something I’ve enjoyed seriously for 17 years. But over the years things have changed. I’m never giving up on what I’ve done all those years. It’s just that I need to find a new way to enjoy it, and just maybe I’ll diversify my interests. That will keep me feeling refreshed. That might be the secret to staying happy in 2022.

Returning to the Seagull Century in 2021

The Seagull is a familiar event with many happy memories. But was I ready?

At the Seagull Century rest stop on Assateague Island, 10/9/2021. My bike got a lot of compliments!

I had been looking forward to riding the Seagull Century again since 2019, because the 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid-19. Since Covid remains a consideration, changes were promised for 2021 to make the event safer. For me, no virtual substitute could stand in for actually going there and riding with all the other riders. I have ridden the event for so many years that I wanted to ride it in person again regardless of the changes. There were quite a few differences, both obvious and subtle, not the least of which was a registration limit of 4000 riders. None of the changes concerned me, and even if it wasn’t exactly the same as I remembered, I felt good about riding it again. I was worried about how I would do. I was not sure that my training was good enough. I decided that my goal would be to ride faster than my slowest Seagull – which I thought would be easy enough.

The ride itself was very familiar. While Seagull is a flat century, and a very busy century, the Delmarva peninsula autumn scenery is part of the charm, as is going to Assateague Island. I started at a good pace, using a steady cadence and fighting against the wind as I headed east. Every familiar turn made me smile. I wasn’t sure that I could hold my pace this year – my training wasn’t as good as previous years, and the wind was challenging. However, I got to the first rest stop without feeling too tired. After fueling up and refilling my bottles I set out again, hoping that the winds wouldn’t wear me out too quickly, but they were pushing against me. When I got to the water stop in Newark, I immediately found a good spot to park my bike, and I did my best to make the stop as brief and effective as I could. The next leg to Assateague was very windy, and I had to power through stretches of it, but the familiar landmarks kept me focused, and my legs were still holding that strong cadence.

My anticipation grew as I approached the island. Over halfway done! Finally the bridge to Assateague came into view – and the only real climbing that day started. I had relatively little reason to shift gears before the bridge, but that climb was welcome! Over 60 miles done! Despite the mob scene at the stop, I did my best to get food and water quickly. I was satisfied with my pace. I was going much faster than I’d hoped. This stop is always a highlight on the Seagull Century. I did my best to savor the moment, and then I started back.

Now the wind was helping me, or at least not hindering me, and I got into a rhythm and started passing other riders. I wanted to finish strong and hold the pace I’d optimistically set at the start of the ride. I passed a lot of riders. I got through the town of Berlin at 70 miles hoping that I wouldn’t have to slow down too much. Every familiar turn raised my spirits and called up memories, and when I got to the final rest stop it wasn’t crowded. I took some time to rest and eat, thinking about the final leg. With less than 20 miles to go, I set out for Salisbury determined to finish strong. The day was getting brighter, and so was my mood. This old man was still riding strong! I didn’t let up until I reached the tunnel at the campus. I emerged to the wonderful sound of cheering from spectators and friends. I had ridden slightly faster than I had in 2019, averaging 17.5 mph. The beer garden was fabulous. Beer and friendship flowed as we cheered for the incoming riders. It felt wonderful, just as it had when I finished my first century at the Seagull in 2006. I haven’t missed a Seagull since.

A few final notes to share here: if I had a dollar for everyone who complimented my bike, it would have paid for the entire trip! It was nice to hear praise for my lugged steel bike. After the ride, the hotel hot tub felt like a little piece of heaven. Maybe I still have another Seagull or two left in me!

The good times were rolling!

I am beginning to feel the excitement of autumn returning. There are events for me to ride – in Portland Maine this September and in Salisbury Maryland in October. Today I found myself riding a club event that I wasn’t expecting.

Relaxing after the Taneytown Twister. This was a time to get some good miles in with friends.

The Taneytown (MD) Twister is a club ride that took the place of the Potomac Pedalers usual Backroads Century. It was planned by some of my friends in the club. Events are usually planned in the spring, but this year was uncertain and many of my favorite local events were cancelled. That included our club century. However, some of the Potomac Pedalers best minds thought that they could put a new event together, and they did. They organized the starting place, rest stops and courses on a tight budget. My preparation for my centuries is going well, and there are times when you just have to get on the bike and ride. I rode 63 miles today at the Twister, and it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t a very large event, but it gathered over 150 riders. The ride had a starting place and a single rest stop with 25 miles between them. From the rest stop, loops were available to cover various distances. Depending on where you started, you could ride 25, 38, 50, 63, 75 or 100 miles.

It was a rolling ride, and a lot of fun. I wanted to put in some miles, and I had a lot of fun seeing old friends and riding the hills. A metric century was the perfect training ride for me, and despite the humidity, it turned out to be a good time. At the end, my habit of handing out post ride beer earned me a brew from a friend who had accepted some from me in the past. Good Karma never goes to waste. I’m not sure if there will be another Twister next year. I know the club would like to hold their annual Backroads Century as usual, but maybe an event like the Twister has a place on the club calendar too. Having more cycling events to ride will be a good thing.

Century Day – Preparation and Strategy

Get the most from your upcoming cycling event.

I recently had a careful look at my cycling clothes. It’s been a while since I replaced any of my bike shorts, and as it happens, I needed replace a couple of them. I ordered replacements. I’ve been collecting these items for years, and it got me thinking about all the things that I take for granted as I prepare for events, because what you wear is a part of the process. That process starts with training, but it also includes what to do just before you go and how to manage your ride once you get started.

With friends at a rest stop on a local century ride. I’ve ridden a lot of them, and I’ve learned a lot about preparation over the years.

I’ve ridden events held from May to October, but for me, the best time for event rides is in the autumn, and this year I’m riding centuries in both September and October. These are warm months where I live, but not usually hot. Ideal conditions for a long bike ride. 2020 locked riders out of events, and a lot of people have been looking for events to return to in 2021. Some haven’t ridden a century before and want to test themselves. Some riders may be enjoying their “pandemic bike” and want to see what an event is like. There are a lot of things to think about apart from training. Preparation and strategy can make your event a success. Lack of them can cost you. Here are a few tips that may be the difference between a great event and a difficult one.

The first thing to prepare for is the expected weather. What you wear can make or break your ride. The key is to bring the right clothing to keep you comfortable. The events I’m riding this year come in places where the daytime high during the event will be in the upper 60’s to upper 70’s, though early in the morning, when these centuries start, the temperature can be in the 50’s. That can create some problems. Know what weather to expect.

  • Dress for mile 5, not for mile 0. I have seen people who wore a warm jacket at the start of a century, only to find it too hot once they warmed up. Then they found themselves carrying it with them for over 90 miles. That initial comfort was offset by the need to carry the jacket. Be prudent about what you take with you.
  • Arm and leg warmers are great accessories, and they pack small for your pockets. They’re great for that extra bit of comfort as you set out. If you can get away with taking less, you’ll be more comfortable in the long run if the weather will warm up during the ride. Centuries take hours, so take the temperature changes into account.
  • Century day is no time to break in new clothing. You should know what your shorts and jersey and shoes are like before you set out on a century ride. It’s a good idea to break them in beforehand so you know you won’t be uncomfortable or chafe.
  • Speaking of chafing, chamois cream is a good idea. 100 miles is a long painful distance if your shorts are chafing you!
  • Think about post-ride. Can you change out of your cycling clothes? Bring a bag to put your cycling gear in. I like to use 2.5 gallon size plastic storage bags to put my cycling laundry in when the ride is done.

Another thing to think about is your bike. Before the event, here are a few things to consider. Remember that you may have to get your bike into the shop a few weeks before the event.

  • Make sure your bike is tuned up. It should shift smoothly and run quietly without squeaking or rubbing anywhere. Nothing can ruin a ride quite like a bike that needs maintenance.
  • Wheels should be trued. Wheels that aren’t true can cause brake rubbing and wear your tires quickly.
  • Lubricate your chain. It seems obvious, but a clean and well lubricated chain is easier on your gears.
  • Check your tires. Replace them if they’re worn out. Nothing will interrupt a good ride like a flat tire. Anything you can do to prevent one will pay off on event day.
  • Charge all your electronics. Computers, lights and if you have electronic shifting, charge that.

Some preparation for your ride begins the week before ride day. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Last minute training will only wear you down. Ride easy the week before your event and come in fresh. Your training should be complete a week before the event. Harder rides just before the event won’t help you. Rest will.
  • Most people aren’t fully hydrated day to day. The week before your event, drink an extra glass or two of water per day. Also, be careful with alcohol. I’m not saying abstain, but be careful to moderate! Going in well hydrated means you’ll get a good start. Those two extra glasses of water every day can help, particularly if your event is on a hot day.
  • Try and get good sleep. This makes sense, but often the best night to get good sleep is the night prior to the night before your event. Sometimes you can be too excited or worried the night before to sleep well, and good sleep leading up to your event can mitigate that somewhat.
  • Make a complete list of things to take, and check them all off before you leave! Even things you may think are trivial. Forgetting an item you need can be a nightmare on event day. It may seem paranoid, but better safe than sorry. Worry is best handled well in advance.

Finally, what can you do on Event day to make your ride a success?

  • Go in with a plan. Think about packet (number) pickup, where you’ll park, when you’ll start, and have an idea of when you’ll finish. Know where your keys, phone and ID are.
  • Remember to ride at the pace you’re trained for. Too many riders get excited and draft faster riders on event day. That means you’re burning too much energy. You don’t want to burn out in the second half of your event. If you want to stay out of the wind a little, find riders who are riding at your training pace and ride with them.
  • If you can, use the buddy system! Riding with a friend is social. It helps to share the experience. You’ll have a partner to draft with, and the company can come in handy in many ways. Riding partners motivate each other.
  • Eat when you can. Over 100 miles, you’ll need extra calories to get you through. If you have rest stops that offer food, take advantage. Don’t gorge, just eat when food is available. Take an energy gel or two with you in your pockets. Take one if you’re feeling drained. I have a friend who describes gels as “instant will to go on”. It’s good to have one for yourself or a friend in need.
  • As a guideline, you should drink one bottle of water or electrolytes per hour. I like to take a drink every time I see someone else drink. Remind yourself often. I like to keep electrolytes in the bottle on my down tube and water in the bottle on the seat tube. If you’re hot, the bottle of water can also be used to spray your head and neck to cool down on a hot day. Many events use powdered drink mix to create their electrolyte drinks. That commonly means they’re mixed “strong”. Often I find them too sweet, so I fill the electrolyte bottle half full and then dilute it by filling up the rest of the bottle with water. You can’t get the benefit if you’re not willing to drink! Drink smart on event day.
  • A typical century will have 4 rest stops. They may vary in the distance between them, but when you’re out on the course, it can help to think of a century as 5 separate 20 mile rides strung together. Breaking the ride into segments helps make a very long ride manageable.

After many years and a lot of experience with riding centuries and other events, I’ve come to see the points above as second nature. Still, you have to start somewhere, and even if you’re experienced, you can still learn more. I know that I’m still learning myself. I hope that reading this will prove useful for your next cycling challenge.