How to ride a Century........
Well, after helping out with a few Century rides this past year - as a ride director, volunteer, registration guru, sag support driver, clean-up crew, etc. - I have a few suggestions too! Just some things to keep in the back of your mind when contemplating your next Century ride - or your very first Century ride! Just a few helpful hints.
Okay - here goes:
1. Know where the Century is located. For instance, if the Century starts and finishes in Sacramento, it would make sense to go to Sacramento to ride this particular Century - not San Francisco or Santa Rosa or San Jose. It helps if you know where the Century starts and finishes - then plan accordingly. I find that using www.mapquest.com can help with this at times. So, if the start and finish is in Sacramento - go to Sacramento for this Century.
2. Don't make the Century your first bicycle ride in 6 months - or even better - a year. It's best if you've ridden a bit more in the 6 months leading up TO the Century........rather than making the Century ride your first ride back in 6 months.........or a year. And don't make the Century bike ride your very first bike ride......unless you like to suffer.....in which case, this might be a great idea to have as your first ride ever!
3. Sag support - if there is any - shouldn't be expected(even though there will most likely be sag support).........and if it is expected, don't expect a limo to pick you up and bring you directly to your car. Many sag vehicles will have you riding in the back of an open air pick-up truck with your bike thrown in - and if you're lucky, it'll be in the back storage area of a crowded U-Haul truck with hardly a place to put your bike or your body. And this might usually be after a wait of an hour or two.....or three.
4. If you are registering for your event on the day of the ride, bring something to use for money - like........money. You know - cash or check or credit card......or something to barter with, etc. I find this is always very helpful.
5. For those riders who have ridden in multiple Century rides - especially in the same general area - it may help to know which Century you are riding. For instance, if you are riding in the Party Pardee Century(a VERY popular northern California Century ride), well that means that you are NOT riding in The Death Ride or the Mt. Shasta Summit Century that day. It means you are riding Party Pardee that day. And, to help you further, ask the nice folks at the registration/check-in desk to verify which Century you just entered.
6. And, of course, all the great and useful magazine, web and book articles on riding a Century: Don't make the Century ride your first ride on a new bike, using new equipment, new clothing, new shoes, etc. Always try this new stuff out first in training/riding. Have your bike in good working order PRIOR to showing up to the Century. Ride your bike - you know, like, ride - it helps to ride your bike before entering a 100-mile bike ride. Don't overestimate your ability - or underestimate the course. Be prepared. Look at a map of the ride - study it a bit, and keep one with you on the ride just in case. Don't start late - so, if starting time for a 100-mile ride is 7:00am......don't start the ride at 9:30am - you may miss all the goodies at the rest stops.......not to mention, you might not get back before it gets dark(and miss sag support to boot!). Expect ALL weather conditions - from wind to rain to snow to heat to humidity and on and on - check the weather report(www.weather.com), and bring appropriate clothing. Riding in the wind is mental, just as much as physical - bear down, ride steady, and set your own pace - the wind plays with everyone out there.......so, play with it! Ride the right kind of bike - like.....This One.......not That One. And, of course, all the other great and useful tips on riding a Century bike ride.
I'll tell you the one big secret though that separates the.......uh......."good" Century riders from the.......uh........"others". And here it is - Ride Your Bike. I can't tell you how big of a factor this is in Century riding. The riders who actually ride their bikes on a regular and consistently solid basis leading up to the Century usually end up experiencing all of the joys, the fun challenges, the epic scenery, the awesome rest stops and cool volunteers and on and on. They take it all in, riding this hard and sometimes unforgiving bike ride - and leave with a huge sense of accomplishment and well-being. And they're ready to do it again next time. They just ride. So - go Ride Your Bike!!!