How to Cycle a Century - Some Tips

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

We're all glad that 2020 is behind us. Many records were broken, but not all of them were bad. I had a personal PR for the total number of Imperial centuries at 33, some of them solo. If you have never ridden a century but you aspire to do so, here are some things to keep in mind.


Jim Wilson at Heffner Gap Overlook
Jim Wilson Showing Off his SPF

Build up to it gradually. Take the most recent long ride that you did and add 10 or 20% to that. Do that two or three times a month and before you know it you will be up to 100 miles. For example, if the longest ride that you did in the last six weeks was 50 miles then do a 60-mile ride and give yourself a week or 10 days to recover before shooting for 70 miles. Fuel properly. Don't start the ride with an empty tank. Make sure that you


consume a few hundred calories two to three hours before the ride, including complex carbohydrates and protein. Fuel regularly during the ride. At least once an hour take in a few calories. Your goal is not to replace what you burn. You can do that after the ride. You simply want to top off your glycogen stores with a complex carbohydrate. Stay away from sugar, so you don't flash then crash. The vast majority of the energy used to propel you during the ride will be from your f


at stores. Stay hydrated, this means being in tune where are you are at physically. Listen to your body.


Everyone has unique needs and your needs will change based on weather and other factors. It's important to consume a small amount of protein because if you don't after about two and a half hours your body will start to cannibalize muscle tissue as a fuel source. What works for me is Hammer nutrition perpetuem. I drink about a bottle an hour and that meets my needs for complex carbohydrates, protein, and hydration. Dress in layers to accommodate changes in temperature. Remember sunscreen. I have found that arm coolers and kit with an SPF rating 50 or more works better for me than sunscreen. I hav


e had enough mishaps that I know to be prepared with a comprehensive tool kit, at least to spare inner tubes, CO2 inflator with extra cartridges, and a backup mini pump just to be on the safe side. Take ID, your health insurance card, credit card, and some cash. I used a dollar bill as a boot to temporarily deal with a slash in the tire sidewall. Don't think you're safe just because you have a tubeless setup. I recently had a flat caused by a staple in my tubeless tire that was not repai


red by the sealant and I'm so glad I had extra tubes with me because I was 50 miles from my starting point when the tire went flat.


Solo centuries are one of the best ways to clear your mind and enjoy amazing new scenery. Group centuries are wonderful ways to st


rengthen relationships and to meet new friends. Good luck on your next century, especially if it's your first!

-Jim Lehman Wilson

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