Savvy Cycling: My First Century

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On Saturday,  Dan and I rode our bikes over 103 miles for the Ithaca AIDS Ride for Life.

We left the house at 5:30 a.m., bikes and gear stashed in the back of our car, bagels and water in hand. Stewart Park, the starting point, is barely 2 miles from our house, so we considered just riding to the start, but I’m glad we drove. It enabled us to drop extra layers of warm clothing (necessary during line-up time, but not needed on the bike) in the car, and to have non-bike shoes and shorts for after the ride. Plus, there’s no way I would have wanted to ride another 2 miles after that century!

In order to fit both bikes in the back of the car, we had to take my front tire off. It was a bit of a challenge to get it back on in the pitch-black 6 a.m.-ness, but we were able to fix it once we got to the starting line and some light. We pinned on our numbers, stretched out, and then it was time to line up for the opening ceremony.  I knew that one of the biggest climbs of the ride would be coming up in the first mile, and decided last-minute that it was too warm for my jacket.  We stuffed it into Dan’s bike bag as the organizers welcomed us to the ride.

Two volunteers silently wheeled a riderless bike through the crowd, in memory of all those who had lost their lives to AIDS, and with a read statement from the mayor of Ithaca, we were off.  They staggered the starts a bit, and since I’m not a fast climber, Dan and I lined up near the back.

Almost immediately after leaving Stewart Park, we started to climb. Usually when we ride out of town in this direction, Dan and I take a different street – one that is much less-trafficked, but also much steeper and taller, so I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the hill felt.  It was much more gradual and steady than I was used to, though much longer than I had anticipated.  All the riders were still in one big pack this early in the ride, as the hill evened out and we made the steep drop into Lansing.  The next hill, I knew, would be the hardest one of the ride.

My training paid off, and I felt encouraged by all the other people pushing up that hill alongside me, so though I am still a slow climber (always have been, always will be, I suspect, thanks to my short legs), I felt strong at the top.  By then, only 10 miles in, we were done with the biggest, most difficult hills of the ride.  Well, the hardest hills from an elevation standpoint.  Turns out, they weren’t the most difficult hills from a mental and physical standpoint…


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Savvy Cycling: Century Training Update, Take 2

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My century is less than two weeks away…eep!  Here’s how things are going:

Long Rides

The last time I gave an update, my longest training ride thus far was 36 miles.  That was four weeks ago. Fast forward to Saturday, when we rode 72.5 miles (we misplanned our 75 mile route a bit!).  

My longest ride ever before this round of training was just over 57 miles, for the Tyranena Oktoberfest Ride in 2009, so I was pretty excited to complete my 64 and 72.5 mile rides.


I haven’t been doing as well on the cross-training front. Since I’ve been getting plenty of saddle time in, I’m shifting my focus to weight lifting, Pilates and walking/using the elliptical in the days between long rides. I think working on my strength and conditioning will help with some of the post-ride soreness.


Things that are working:

A toasted bagel with peanut butter + honey OR Nutella before the ride.

Lots and lots of water. I’ve been going through 2 full Camelbaks + a bottle of Gatorade, at least, on my 50+ mile rides.

Eating every 12-15 miles. This is about how far apart the rest stops will be during the actual century, so I’ve been practicing accordingly.  Eating something small at one stop, then something bigger at the next, and continuing to alternate like that, seems to work the best.

Eating a combination of Clif bars + gummi bears + nuts + Goldfish crackers. With at least one actual meal during any rides that are over 40 miles. What the meal actually is depends on where we stop, but it usually involves a sandwich.

Things that are not working:

The biking with a head cold + not eating enough combo.   During last week’s 64 mile ride, I definitely didn’t eat enough in the first 30 miles of the ride, and ended up all shaky and weak.  And even though I drank over 190 ounces of fluid, I still got dehydrated (I blame the cold for that part).  After eating and downing an extra bottle of Gatorade, I continued to feel wobbly, and barely made it all the way home.  I’m determined not to repeat that feeling again, and am being much more conscious of eating early and often.


My new gloves are so much better.  They are much more padded than my old pair, and they don’t have huge holes in them.

I’m not entirely decided on which pair of bike shorts I’m going to wear during the century. I’m getting a little anxious, because I only have one more long ride to test + make a decision!

We only have 12 days left.  Wish me luck!

Dan and I have five more days of fundraising. If you’d like to contribute to our fundraising for AIDS research, here is the link.