All the top tips and tricks needed for cycling 100 miles for the first time
Words: Joe Robinson
Riding a century is a huge deal in the world of road cycling. Arguably it is the main thing, the benchmark distance to which we all strive to hit at least once in our riding lives. Even the most experienced riders cannot hide the satisfaction of ticking off 100 miles in the saddle.
But, unfortunately, riding a century is not quite as easy as just riding a bike. Hitting that mercurial 100-mile mark involves plenty of off-the-bike preparation as well as some prior training and nutrition knowledge.
So if you are relatively new to cycling and thinking of riding your first century this spring or summer, we have compiled these essential tips and tricks on how to ride your first 100 miles.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
So you’ve decided to ride your first century but before you even consider swinging a leg over the bike, there is some prep work that you need to do before leaving home.
First things first, you need to choose a time and date to ride that century.
One way of doing this is by riding a specific sportive or gran fondo, something like the RideLondon Sportive (which unfortunately isn’t taking place this year) or the Dragon Ride in Wales. This method will help solve plenty of logistical issues such as route planning, while also giving you a concrete day in the diary to aim for.
Alternatively, you may want to forgo an organised event in place of a ride you have full control over.
If that’s the case, we suggest getting yourself online and having a look at a long-range forecast with the aim of plucking for a good weather day.
You don’t want to be tackling six or seven hours in the saddle for the first time when it is pouring with rain, howling with wind or even icy. On the flip side, you also want to avoid extreme heat because that’s just as tough as riding in the cold. Mild and still is always the best bet.
Next on your preparation tick list is route planning. You could just head out on the bike and ride 50 miles in one direction, turn around and then ride back home, but not only will you be making life harder, but you’ll also probably find that an extremely mundane experience.
What we recommend is using an app like Komoot, Strava or RideWithGPS to pre-plan your century ride in order for you to follow it on the big day.
With that, try and design a route which you know you will be capable of riding. Hills are fun but ultimately hard and while going up and down all day may sound like a laugh now, it’s nowhere near as easy as riding 100 miles on the flatter stuff.