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considering this one as my first century. opinions?(28 posts)

considering this one as my first century. opinions?Haiku d'état
Apr 18, 2001 1:26 PM
3 state 3 mountain challenge

i've been riding for a few years, more serious about road riding since last summer, had around 1500 total miles road/mtb/other last year, and for 2001 have about 800 miles in, to date. my longest ride so far has been 62 miles. i'm relatively fit and have dropped 40 pounds since last fall, now weighing in at 195# (6'2"). roads around town are pretty much flat or semi-hilly, no climbs that merit mention. my main ride is now a 105 triple, but nothing in town requires use of the inner ring.

i'm confident i can complete the 100 miles, but not so sure about the 7600 feet of elevation gain across three main climbs, especially considering the doozie at the end (1800 ft climb between the 75 and 90 mile mark).

the next weekend after the century i'm participating in a group road ride in the mountains of another state, 2 days total miles equaling about 80 miles, NOT a hammerfest by any means. i'd like to be able to do both on successive weekends without too much pain and suffering in-between.

what do you folks think? your opinons are very much appreciated!

100 mile route and topo map
You Can Do It!grz mnky
Apr 18, 2001 1:41 PM
Well, you've probably got a decent amount of training in for early season. I have no dobt you could crank out 100 on the flats. However, the hills change everything - what is the maximum sustained % grade? This is really the crux of the whole matter. The good news is that you're running a triple and can gear the bike down with a 12-27 (for 9 speed). You've also lost a significant amount of weight which gives you a double bonus: one you have less to haul up the hill, and two you've hopefully maintained the muscle and stamina from hauling around a larger body. Physically you have most, if not all of the necessary elements - depending on the grade. Up to 9% and you shouldn't worry too much. If you get into the 12% to 15% range then make sure you have the low gearing - remember a century is more along the lines of an endurance event and you're supposed to be enjoying yourself on your day off! As long as you can gear down you'll make it - leave the heroics of stiff gearing for another time/place.

The biggest factor is the mental aspect. Climbing is painful, but believe it or not, people really get into it. With a positive mental attitude you can overcome a lot of hurdles. If you pace yourself and keep slugging away you will complete. The mental boost and feeling of accomplishment is very rewarding and you may find yourself already thinking about your next century. Go for it!

Make sure that fuel and hydrate religously - it makes all the difference in the world. I'm a skinny guy and I bonk hard when my tank runs empty. the problem with bonking is that once you figure out it's happening it's already too late.
re:Haiku d'état
Apr 19, 2001 6:56 AM
i'm not sure about the gradient. can't find any info online so far, and i've got an e-mail out to the ride organizer/contact for more info, so we'll see. grz, thanks for the good words. i'll carry them with me up the mountains.
Yeah Baby!grz mnky
Apr 19, 2001 8:53 AM
Sounds like you're going to ignore the skeptics and do it - good for you! What's a little pain and suffering amoung friends.....

BTW - my first ever century had 10,000' of climbing and some steep grades - I thought I was going to die. I couldn't believe how pumped I was on the final 20 miles when the climbing was over and I knew the ride was in the bag.

You are also likely to meet some interesting people. The worst thing that could happen, assuming you don't crash, is that you take the sag wagon home.
re: bay-bayHaiku d'état
Apr 19, 2001 9:47 AM
i'll have to drive 5 hours home after the ride, so i'm not going to take the stance i would adopt locally: i'll ride til my legs fall off or i pass out. but...that will be my attitude for the local MS-150 and the annual local century later in the year, provided i'm not still in treatment as a result of this (fun) ride.

seems like, the longer rides i make, then after taking a few days off, the stronger and faster i come back the next week/ride. strange...but true. after last weekend's 62, which was at 16-17 mph for the first 15 (to the group), 14-18 mph for the middle 30 (with the group), and 16-17 mph for the last 15 (back home), i felt good at the end (ready for 40 more), and last night i did hill repeats at around 17 mph, which is fast for my big butt.

so, we'll see what we'll see. i have that TDF 2000 commercial running through my head with the cyclist in the hospital bed in traction and a full body cast and the yellow jersey folded across the guest chair. hmmm...
gradient...Haiku d'état
Apr 20, 2001 12:19 PM
(you experienced folks on this one, correct me if i'm wrong)

looks like 8% or less on the first climb, 8-12% on the second climb, 8-12% on the last climb, plus a 15% bit at the summit of the last one.
Have courage ...Humma Hah
Apr 20, 2001 2:25 PM
8% I can handle nearly continuously in a reasonable road gear. 12%, a little. 15% I can climb for about 120 feet if fresh, otherwise it'll stop me cold.

Have courage, and gears. Those are pretty steep climbs. Think of the accomplishment you'll feel when you finish!
re: considering this one as my first century. opinions?MrCelloBoy
Apr 18, 2001 1:42 PM
Dear Jeffrey,
IMHO That looks like a pretty challenging first Century. If it were me I'd do the metric option rather than risk being totally worn out or disappointed ob the 100 miler. Do a flatter century for your first 100 miler, then you can build on that with longer or hillier subsequent rides.
Start slow and taper offCory
Apr 18, 2001 1:58 PM
Man, that looks like a hard century. My first one was the Plumas Sierra in California, I think about 6000 feet of climbing, and it whupped my @ss, as they say in Chatanooga.
Nearly everyone I've talked with (every normal person, anyway) agrees that the first 80 miles of a century is only half of it. That's certainly been my experience--you do the first 80 on conditioning, and the last 20 on will. I'm a lousy climber, and the hills just grind me down. Much as you want to do the full 100, I sort of tend to agree that maybe the metric would be a better choice for you. On the other hand, if you don't do it, you won't do it, and I still remember that Plumas (all 7+ hours of it) with a lot of pride 10 years later.
My last one the last 15 miles were the easiest ...Humma Hah
Apr 18, 2001 2:10 PM
... we fought a headwind in the first half, climbed The Hill peaking around 80 miles, and finished with a brisk tailwind and downhill, even my cruiser was averaging close to 22 mph for the last 10 miles or so.

That's the smart way to end a century -- lay it out so the rider finishes feeling great!
If I can climb 1200 ft at 8% on my bike, you certainly can ...Humma Hah
Apr 18, 2001 2:07 PM
... climb those hills. It takes some determination and maybe some gel.

For attacking long hills, I have several recommendations.

Hydrate well and take some gel or other calories at least 5 minutes before starting the climb to get ahead of demand a little.

Watch your speedometer on your computer. I know about how fast I can do a sustained climb, but if not watching the speedo I tend to let my speed creep up to a pace I can't sustain. By the time it affects my breathing and heartrate I'm already in the hole. I hold a constant speed for a few minutes and see how my breathing and HR are doing, then maybe make a small adjustment..

Don't look very far ahead. Look up the road far enough for safety, maybe 20 yards or so. You will not be going fast and you can stop easily. If you look too far ahead it looks daunting. If you don't look, the top comes soon enough.

Otherwise, make lots of small goals. Forget about the finish, just make every mile, every 5-miles, every hill, every SAG stop a little goal you can easily reach and congratulate yourself for. String together all the little goals and a century is easily finished.
HH, when i first started riding, my bike "sponsor" told me...Haiku d'état
Apr 19, 2001 7:03 AM
..."just put your head down and keep pedaling." this has gotten me through some long days and 40 pounds, and a rough time kicking a serious cigarette habit, and i suspect it will carry me through this event.

i'll take all of your advice (and experience) to heart, apply it along the way, and hunt you down with a vengeance if it doesn't work (stalker alert!). just kidding.

i'll put the image of you climbing 1200 at 8% on that ss cruiser in my head at the bottom of those climbs. might have to add that abe lincoln beard and a stovepipe hat nearing the summits.

any particular talisman that's worked for you in in the past?
My favorite trick is to ...Humma Hah
Apr 19, 2001 12:03 PM
... drop in behind some girl who's about my speed. No way I'm gonna let her see me give up!
ahh, another old trick i learned from a runner friend of mineHaiku d'état
Apr 20, 2001 5:13 AM
when i was running 5 & 10k events the last couple years; not for negative motivation, but like a carrot on a stick. you know? he'd call it "inspriation". ok, i must discontinue this line of discussion, as i'm feeling more and more sexist by the minute, and i'm a liberated new-millineum kinda guy. >;-)
My dopey brother sucked some poor girl's wheel for miles onbill
Apr 20, 2001 6:50 AM
a century. I went ahead to pull for her, if she wanted, but I guess she never found the same inspiration in me that my brother was finding in her. I must add that she never seemed to want to shake him, either. I left them alone, and I and another guy went on ahead.
Well, she definitely got my brother through it. I had thought that they had forged some kind of connection, but, when we got to the finish, she would barely talk to us -- him or me.
I don't know what the moral of the story is. It was just a weird thing.
Pulling the girl works even better ...Humma Hah
Apr 20, 2001 2:21 PM
... if you only wheelsuck you might believe she won't notice if you drop off. If you're pulling, you KNOW she'll notice.

At Solvang, I met up with DAS and a friend of his (DAS has been in here but mostly hangs out in the MTBR singlespeed forum). We rode together for close to 20 miles, mostly with me getting a nice pull and setting a pace I'm not accustomed to. A girl joined up with the group, quickly lost interest in me (I proudly wear my wedding ring and brag about my wife to every girl I meet), and pulled up to chat with DAS's friend, DAS dropped back and chatted with me. At the next SAG, DAS and friend took off early, the girl and I rode together for about 10 miles, but it was about then my IT band started screaming. I had to stop at a convenience store for some Advils, and told her to ride on ahead -- one of the most discouraging moments of riding in the last few years.
Only if she "pulls" you back ;-) (nm)grz mnkyk
Apr 20, 2001 3:35 PM
That ride is a killer!look271
Apr 18, 2001 2:16 PM
I personally have not done it, but a few of my friends have and I've heard their stories! You sound like you're in a good position to do it, however. Having the 800 miles is a plus and having the triple is a bigger plus. My one friend did that sucker with a 39-23 combo (he's insane). You might want to look for some hills to train on in the next few weeks or if you don't have hills, ride into the wind as much as possible. I think that you'll be OK. Good luck! (Look for a guy on a red & white De Rosa cranking up the hills in a big gear-that would be Dave!)
No Problem12x23
Apr 18, 2001 4:05 PM
I ride this every year. I only have about 900 miles or so of training because of work/daylight this early in the year. Now to 3 State 3 Mt.....Suck Creek and Sand Mountain are great climbs. I wish I could ride them daily. I am 150lbs today and ride this century with a 39x25. I spend most of the time in the 17-19-21 here. At Bryant, Al, at this point I'm closer to my home than my car...guess what I'm thinking on a bad day?, you will follow the brow of Sand Mt with a great view of Chattanooga and the river. Enjoy the view and 'save up' for Burkhalter Gap. This one hurts a little. I make sure my bottles are empty...what the heck, it makes me think I'm lighter. This climb looks less severe than it is. Hang on, there is a sag at the top. From here you are only 10 miles or so from a really fun descent and a rip through downtown Chattanooga to the finish. YOU CAN DO IT! Good luck and look for the skinny 45 yr old guy complaining about 'having' to ride the Cheaha Challenge (7,000ft more climbing) on Sunday. I really wish these two were a week apart.
what do you ride, 12x23?Haiku d'état
Apr 19, 2001 7:35 AM i'll know you when you pass. >;-)

can't seem to get this stinkin' image link to work, so in case it doesn't, here's what'll be complaining between the road and me (hit the link below). now you can recognize me and be friendly when i ask to tie a lifeline to your seatpost when i get tired.

(geocities can be moody, so if the link through doesn't work, copy and paste it into your address/URL field).
Trek 590012x23
Apr 19, 2001 2:50 PM
It won't make me any faster, I'll just weigh less going slow.
Stepping over that linetommyb
Apr 18, 2001 4:37 PM
You need to know your limitations, and every so often, step beyond them. If you are absolutely certain you can finish a ride like this comfortably, what's the point of doing it? I love the feeling of doubt at the beginning of a challenge, and the deep satisfaction at the end. The only way you'll be satisfied is if you go for it. Now, there are times when I've stepped too far over that line, and suffered for it greatly. But, the suffering is temporary, and the lessons learned last at least until the next time you step over that line.

Good luck and have fun!
thanks! you guys RULE!Haiku d'état
Apr 19, 2001 6:47 AM
i'm totally in agreement with the logic behind either riding a shorter version of this route, or riding a flatter century as my first. i'm a pretty logical computer-nerd type. but, i feel i've been corrupted by the likes of HH. darned forum. stupid internet. "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny... consume you it will."

i've decided to take the 100-mile route head on, 7600 feet of climbing and all, and pray for rain. i may regret it if i do, but i'm certainly going to regret it if i don't.

riding a hilly metric the week prior, then i'll taper and eat and rest before the saturday 3mtn/3state century. will carry everything i foresee needing (power food & bev/powder, camelback, tool and spares, pump, etc.), and look for whatever i might have forgotten or need at the SAGs.

any other hints before i venture over the precipice? i'd like HH to deliver my eulogy.

your insight, advice and inspiration are more than appreciated. expect a full report post-ride.

The Dark Side Awaits! (nm)grz mnky
Apr 19, 2001 8:56 AM
Yeah, one very, very important piece of advice.12x23
Apr 19, 2001 2:43 PM
You absolutely must eat at Provino's Friday night. You can't ride over mountains on a celeste velo and eat anywhere else. It's a rule. ;-)
have to drive 330 miles to get there after work friday, so...Haiku d'état
Apr 20, 2001 5:24 AM
probably won't make it into town 'til 10:00 PM or later. i'm going to try to stay outside of town to minimize hotel costs, so i'll be either packing pasta on ice, or something (?), but won't want to stay up late enough for a journey into town and to find the place. have to get my beauty sleep so i look graceful when dropped.

maybe i can swing by there on ride morning en route and rub my gloves/shoes/helmet against the restaurant for good luck. think that'll help?
Nah, I just thought a couple of bowls of their12x23
Apr 20, 2001 5:11 PM
excellent garlic rolls would get you a ticket to draft all day. ;)
A newbie's Century AdviceMeDotOrg
Apr 20, 2001 3:03 PM
Having just completed my first Century last month in Solvang, I now know just enough to be ignorant, but here goes:

Start off slower than you normally would. Don't indulge the whim to dig down deep on a hill. Conserve, conserve, conserve.

Don't even think about how you feel until you're halfway through.

Stop at each rest stop, but only for a few minutes. Get something to eat and relax, but don't stay long enough to tighen up. Don't wait until you start to bonk to eat: You're expending energy constantly, so nibble and sip constantly.

DON'T OVERPACK! This was my biggest sin. I carried enough junk to restart civilization after a nuclear holocaust. If the ride is well-sponsored, there should be food at each stop. You might carry some Endurox or Cytomax, Hammer Gel, or Whatever muscle-recovery-anti-bonk formula(s) you favor, but don't carry food. If they have a rest stop every 20 miles, you really only need one water bottle!

Relax. Have fun. Look at the scenery.

Leave something in your tank for the last hill.

Have a great time!