The Rider

July 2, 2010

The Big Day: Riding Your First Century (Part 2)

Filed under: Safety, Training and Riding — The Blog @ 6:01 AM


Yesterday was all about preparing for your first century ride. Today is all about the big day.

It’s Saturday, August 21 – time for Pelotonia and your first century ride. Here are some tips to make the day more enjoyable.

Savor the moment

The first tip to make the day more enjoyable … is to enjoy the day. It’s really that simple. This is a ride, not a race, so go in ready to have some fun, meet and chat with people, stay hydrated and ride at a comfortable pace and savor your first century.

Proper nutrition is the key to doing your first century ride

The most important meal

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, especially when you’re going to be riding all day. Ideally, you want to chow down on a big breakfast loaded with carbs (pancakes, yogurt, fruit). Breakfast will be served before the ride, so eat up. The only problem, at least for me, is that the ride starts so darn early and I don’t have much of an appetite when it’s still dark out. So, I’ll down an Ensure Plus (lots of calories and carbs) and a banana at home before I leave … and then try to eat a little more at the Pelotonia buffet.

Wear it well

Don’t forget to slather on the sun block before you leave. It may be dark out while you’re getting ready, but the sun is coming! Bring an extra little tube and some lip balm with you. Be safe, not sorry later.

Fill up

Fill up your water bottles with sports drink before you head out. Unlike water, they have carbs and electrolytes, including sodium. And bring along a few snacks. Lately, I’ve been eating pretzels on rides. I put a bunch in a little sandwich bag, tuck them in my back pocket and munch away. They have carbs – and salt. Fig newtons, gel packs and sport jelly beans are other options.

Slow down

The start of Pelotonia is a total adrenaline rush. It will be emotional and exciting – but try and take it easy, speed wise, the first hour. You don’t want to expand too much energy too soon. We have a long day ahead of us.

Stop at every rest stop - and eat and drink, and then eat and drink some more. Even your bike will enjoy a few minutes of relaxation and hydration

Rest stops

The key to riding a century is drinking and eating enough. If you don’t your body will turn on you … and bonk. If you take in enough, you’ll be amazed at how far you can ride comfortably. So stop at each and every rest stop, which are 12 to 15 miles apart. Stretch, relax, have something to eat and drink, fill up your water bottles with Gatorade and grab a snack or two for the road. Think carbs, they’re what power your body.

Every three miles

My theory is you should drink at least an ounce of liquid for every mile you ride, and even more if it’s a really hot day. That’s well over 100 ounces and taking in this much is tough and requires constant diligence. One trick I use is to keep an eye on my bike computer – and take a nice, big drink every three miles. And eat a little something every five. Another problem I have after three or four hours on a hot day is the Gatorade starts to taste too darn sweet and sticky and makes my stomach bloated and unhappy. Water is much easier to get down, but water alone doesn’t have enough carbs. So, I eventually switch to a 50-50 mixture of water and Gatorade – and make sure to drink a little bit extra while I’m stopped at the rest stop. As the day wears on, your stomach will feel full – but you need to keep eating and drinking.

Talk it up

It’s amazing how much faster the miles seem to go when you ride with someone and chat away. Everyone riding in Pelotonia is part of the same team and more than happy to talk with you. Make some friends.

Beat the bonk

There will probably be a point, maybe two, where you will start to feel tired and listless. This happens, even to experienced riders. This is your body telling you: I need more fluids and carbs. So, eat and drink what you have with you, and at the next rest stop, take a longer break and really drink and eat a lot. Try and find some shade and cool off for a few minutes.

Capture the moment

Bring a camera, or use your cell phone, and take some pictures. You can even send one or two to your family, friends and donors during the course of the race. It’s fun, a great way to remember the day – and the time you spend stopped, taking pictures, is an extra bit of rest.

When you get to Athens, make sure to have someone take your picture under the Pelotonia banner. It's a Kodak (or Facebook) moment you'll want to remember. Email the photos to your donors as a thank you for their generosity.

You did it

It will be an amazing feeling to roll into Athens. You did it, your first century – and you helped raise money to beat cancer. Now it’s time to celebrate with the Pelotonia community. A feast is waiting, so eat as if you’d just spent the entire day exercising, which you have. Have a celebratory glass of wine or beer with your family and friends. And then eat some more and hydrate up. Especially if you’re going to be riding the next day!

I hope this helps … if anyone has any other suggestions, click on the comments icon and fire away.

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1 Comment »

  1. I didn’t see anything on the website about the ride in terms of climbing. Is the 180 mile route hilly?

    Comment by Kim — August 6, 2010 @ 2:48 PM


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