I recently completed my first ever century ride (the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes), and you know what happened? I somehow managed to fall even more in love with cycling. Even though I live and breath bicycles, even I fall into a rut sometimes. I would be lying if I said there weren’t times in which the “idea” of cycling isn’t more appealing than the actual act of cycling. This past summer was one of those ruts.
Between being pregnant and having a baby, this was the first full year in a while in which I was technically able to ride without restrictions. The catch, however, was that it was also my first full year balancing the art of cycling on a regular basis with being a full-time work from/stay-at-home mom. So as the actual date for my century ride began to get closer and closer, the fear of being horribly unprepared really started to take it’s toll.
With that said, ladies, I made it through to the other side and can honestly say that I did 100 times better than I ever could have expected. Truth be told, at the finish line I sort of stood there in utter disbelief. How the hell did I just ride 100 miles, live to tell the tale, AND not feel like I was about to keel over and die? After I collected myself a bit, called my husband in ecstatic delight, and drank my well earned beer, I started to take note on the things I did right (I’ll talk about what I did wrong another day 😉 )…
5 Ways I Prepared For and Made it through a Century Ride
- I Rode My Bike. This is a given, but I was REALLY nervous about the fact that I hadn’t actually ridden that much, or that far before the big day. But I had been riding, and for whatever that was worth, it clearly was something. I also tried to tackle at least one good hill on every ride, no matter how short the ride itself was.
- Yoga, my friends. Yoga. Yoga is one of those activities that I KNOW improves every aspect of my life. From my mood, to my posture, to how perform on my bicycle. There were several times I had every intention of going out and riding but for whatever the reason, I either didn’t go at all or I didn’t go as far/ hard as I had wanted. For all of those occasions, and all the time in between, I really did make sure to hit my mat several times a week – if even for 15 minutes at a time. I also did yoga every day for the entire week leading up to the ride, including the morning of.
- Hydrate. Hydrate. And Hydrate some more. But don’t go overboard 😉 Staying hydrated is a constant battle for me. Another thing to add to the list of “I know it’s good for me but I’m lazy”. I was REALLY conscious about hydrating leading up to the ride, especially the week before, and even more so, the day before. You want to make sure you are staying consistently hydrated without drinking too much all at once (like making yourself have to pee every 2.5 minutes. No one has time for that, ESPECIALLY out on the road). On ride day, I made sure I was alternating straight water with some sort of electrolyte – a bottle of each was on my bike at all times.
- I Ate a Clean Diet. This means something different to everyone, but for me this basically meant not eating packaged food, pre-made food, fried food, too much sugar, and limited alcohol. I didn’t do anything overly strict, I just tried to be conscious about whether what I was consuming was a whole food, and if I was eating it for fuel or by habit. Having said that, on the actual ride itself, I just ate! I’m not saying I hossed out or anything, but I was to be no hero that day and made sure I had at least something at each rest stop. I was a big fan of pb&j and watermelon – generously supplied at all rest stops.
- I “Found My Tribe”! Ok, this is sort of hit or miss. I had high ambition to ride as much of the route with my friend Colleen as possible. Unfortunately, there was no telling how I was going to feel the day of and ultimately, in order to get through 100 miles in one stretch, I realized I had to listen to your body and ride at MY own pace. Luckily for me, I caught up to a group fairly early on who were traveling around the speed I was shooting for and was able to draft off of them and had them pull me through the rough patches.They were going just a hair faster than I probably would have preferred, but they kept me motivated until I could celebrate with Colleen at the finish line!
- Ok, I know that I said 5 things, but I think this 6th thing may be the most important. I remembered to just have fun. I WAS RIDING MY BIKE! Yes, there were moments where my legs hurt, my butt hurt, my hands hurt, and I wanted to coast instead of making a breakaway. But as someone who finds few activities as wonderful as riding a bicycle, each time I found myself thinking maybe I’d just let my group go ahead, I reminded myself that I was only there to have fun. This wasn’t a race (to me), this was merely something to accomplish, so I took note of the beauty around me, the inspiration of others, and merely took pleasure in the act of riding my bicycle.
Please note, this was simply MY experience and everyone’s experience will be different. I will be going into more detail on preparing for a century ride, as well as more details on most of the topics listed above, so make sure to stay tuned to the blog OR sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop!
If you have any questions or would like to chime in with your tips/thoughts, please comment below!