This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
You may already be ready to ride 100 miles or you may have a long way
to go. First you should look at your weekly mileage. Do you even know
how much you ride each week. Keeping a log or a riding diary can be
invaluable. I use monthly calendars and write in each days total. I
can then keep a tally for the week and month. There are special
training diaries available if you want to keep track of more info,
like route, speed, temperature, moods, heart rate, etc. Looking back
at logs over the years can also help you to gauge improvements or
If you are riding less than 100 miles per week, increase that mileage
gradually to at least this level in the weeks prior to the event,
riding at least 30 during the week, and 70 on the weekend. Of course,
if you can do more, then do more!
There are many people who beleive that you can ride far less than this
and still complete the ride. Riders who can't find time during the
week can do moderate length rides on weekends and still have hopes of
completing a century. I have certainly had my share of times when I
only could ride on weekends and did just fine. But ideally one should
try to get out a couple of times during the week to keep the muscles
loose and in shape. The more you ride before the century, the less
pain you are likely to experience during and after the ride. TIME in
the saddle is an important consideration. Getting used to spending the
day with the bike will help!
It is entirely possible to go out and *ride* a century with next to no
miles in your legs, if you are determined enough. I have a mailbox
full of testemonials to prove it. But you may want to give your bike
away at the end of the ride :)
Try to increase the length of your longest ride toward the century
mark gradually. Don't increase your longest ride from 25 miles to
70 in one week. But do try to do at least a 70 mile ride prior to
doing the century. Your pace on the 70 mile ride should be a good
indication of your pace on the century.
Find hills and ride them, especially if you hate hills and don't think
you are very good at them. Even if you are doing a *Flatter than a
Pancake Century*, riding hills will make you stronger. For tips on
getter stronger on hills, see the FAQ. (Maybe one of you good climbers
can write this section)
Get your friends involved. It is always more fun to ride with others,
so try to find people to ride with. Make plans to ride with others
and stick to it. It's much harder to NOT go riding if someone is
expecting you. The ride will go faster if you have someone to talk
to AND you can help each other by drafting when it's windy.
If you don't have a friend who is interested, or even if you do, check
out the local recreational clubs. Ask about these at the local bike
shops, or look in the paper. Many clubs have organized rides of
varying lengths, for various abilities, at various paces. Call an
officer or ride leader to try to find a ride that best suits you. You
do not have to join the club to ride with them, but you probably will
want to join eventually.
A club is a valuable resource. You will meet many like-minded people.
It can also serve as a great source of information about routes,
shops, equipment, fit, etc. And if your single, it's a great way to
meet other singles :) You'll also meet veterans of centuries, who are
full of advice (and other things :)
Riding with a club will also prepare a rider for riding in crowds. If
you normally ride alone, it can be rather unnerving to be passed by a
large peloton doing 30+ mph, or finding yourself in a pack of riders
pointing out potholes and glass and such.