Mental Motivation and Moral: Road to the Century, Part V

Tips from one rider's first time planning and riding a 100-mile route
Staff Writer

Preparing for a century100 miles by bike in a dayis a serious time commitment. Not only can it take weeks to train, but you also log a lot of hours on your bike.

In my case, a recent injury thwarted my goal to do an 80-mile, eight-hour ride before the big day. Ironically, the accident didn't take place on a training day or during one of my Insanity workouts. Instead, it happened during my commute. My tire caught in a tire-shaped hole (don't you love those?), and I was down for the count. Upon first inspection, I thought I was just bruised, but the next day I realized I had injured a muscle in my inner thigh. Although I wasn't sure which muscle it was,  it felt like it was about to pop. 

Although I'm now sidelined for long practice rides, and focused more on core and arm work, I can still pass on a few of the motivational lessons I learned before the fall.

Your Mantra: Train Now to Feel Less like Dying Later: Even though I love to ride, sometimes burning a whole day to train doesn’t seem that appealing. As the weather turned colder in New York, I expressed my hesitation to Jacob.

“You know, you’re young and in good shape,” he said. “You can probably ride 100 miles. It’s really just a question of how easy you want this ride to be.”

The man had a point. Train up to the big event and I would probably finish feeling wobbly, but decent. Try to ride 100 miles without building endurance and strength and I would probably want to die by the last 20 miles. This thought renewed my commitment to my workouts (...and then the injury made them impossible).

The Importance of Ride Entertainment: For the average person, a century ride can take between 6-10 hours. Even if you go with friends, there can be moments of boredom. In this case, music or podcasts can really save the day.

Create three playlists that can help shift your mood or mindset during your ride—one for taking it easy, another for medium tempo and a third for high-energy riding. Alternatively, you can try this app that synchs your music to your heart rate.  

For podcasts, I recommend Radio Lab or Dan Savage’s Savage Love show. Both are highly entertaining and interesting conversation starters. If you want to share music or radio with your fellow riders on a quiet stretch of road, check out this sweet bike mount for portable speakers. 

Avoid loops at all times: I began riding loops in Central Park as a way to avoid solo cycling. In the words of a Brazilian cyclist I met at Bunbury’s Coffee Shop, “Cycling is dangerous!”  If you take a bad spill on a remote road, it can be a long and painful wait for the next cyclist or car.

On these rides, however, I soon realized that riding loops is extremely boring—plus it took a huge amount of will power not to stop every time I passed by a vendor selling sweet, roasted almonds.

My recommended solution: Build up a rolodex of riding buddies. If several people are up for a ride, you have an awesome group. If only one person is available, you can still feel more confident riding more interesting and remote routes.

There are several ways to meet cycling partners. Ask around your friend groups (you’d be surprised how many people have cycling as a hobby), try meetups or join a cycling club. 

Click here for more stories from the Lessons Learned Series.

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