No one is going to be impressed if you tell them, “Today I rode my bicycle.”
Unless you are a child who has never ridden a bike, or just got off of training wheels, there is nothing remarkable about that. Any average adult could’ve done the same thing with little effort and no planning.
But it if you tell someone, “Today I rode my bike 100 miles.” Then you are more likely to get a different response. Some people will be impressed, some will think you are crazy as an outhouse rat. But most everyone is curious about things that require something more than marginal effort. It is that extra effort-work, planning, dedication, etc.-that stands out to people.
Riding 100 miles on a bicycle sounds like a nearly impossible task for some people. But it is really quite simple. It’s just takes hard work and some planning. To a cyclist (I guess I am an official gel eating, ride in the rain cyclist) riding 100 miles, or a Century, is a right of passage. As ridiculous as it may sound, it is something that cyclists work their way toward achieving.
I am not saying that it is not possible to get on a bike without any training and ride 100 miles without a plan. But I am saying that it will be difficult to ride the day after you do that. In fact it will be difficult to do anything the day after. I also can’t promise that you won’t injure yourself.
I’m sure there is someone more qualified to tell you how to go about riding 100 miles, but if you are a regular reader we both know that cycling is not really what we’re actually talking about here. At any rate, this is what I would recommend if this is something you really want to do.
Commit to Cycling.
Unless you commit to cycling and go out and purchase a bicycle, riding a century is going to be like anything else that you would just like to do. There is a commitment beyond simply purchasing the bike: riding the bike. Every day. Something will hurt every day that you ride. You will be out of breath and have to do the walk of shame on some of the hills, pushing your bike up as you wonder if you’ll ever get to a point where this won’t hurt. It won’t quit being hard, you’ll just go faster.
Eventually, there will come a point when that one hill doesn’t whip you any more. This only happens to the people that don’t quit.
Set Small Goals First.
There will come a time when you will have to set a distance goal that is beyond what you are capable of doing in your early morning ride. You won’t be quite sure how hard it will be to ride x miles, but you have a rough idea of how much time it will take because you ride n miles every morning and n•5=x. You’ll be confident you can ride that far because you have done it every week for a few weeks, but you’re not certain that you can do a week’s worth of riding in one day.
This is when you have to saddle up one morning and not get off until you have completed your goal.
Fortunately for you, you have me to tell you to pack plenty of food because you stand to burn about 2,000 calories for a 50 mile ride. If you don’t eat and drink enough you will run out of energy and it will take a while for you to feel better.
If you think you don’t need those padded underwear you will change your mind after that first Half Century.
Plan a Route.
The first time I rode 50 miles I had to psych myself up for it. If I am honest I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself to finish. So I purposefully mapped a route. It is hard to give up when you are 25 miles from the house.
Mapping out a route is even more important when doing a Century. Nothing kills motivation like not having a plan.
Where there is no vision, the people perish…Proverbs 29:18
You don’t want to have to spend the last 15 miles of a Century mapping out a route. You won’t be in the right frame of mind.
Follow the Plan.
I believe in following the plan. You made the plan when you were thinking straight. At mile 80 you won’t be thinking straight. If you planned to do 100 miles, then all you have to do is follow the plan.
For your first Century I would avoid any roads with “mountain” in the name.
Once you ride 100 miles in a single day, any distance below 100 miles doesn’t seem that far. It is a psychological barrier that must be broken. Once it is broken there is also the danger of not riding shorter rides any more because they aren’t 100 miles. I feel pretty strongly that these simple daily rides are just as important if not more important than any Century ride.
Light gains, heavy purses.-Poor Richard’s Almanac
Anything in life worth doing is probably going to be hard. Easy things hardly ever stand out as great things. The paradox is that great things are generally simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy.
You may have great things that you would like to do but haven’t done yet. I believe that you can do them. It is amazing what you can do with a little commitment and planning.