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What makes for a great century ride?(14 posts)

What makes for a great century ride?ridgerider
Apr 2, 2002 5:41 PM
I enjoyed reading the bandit thread...especially the part about the century rest stop with milk, stale doughnuts and Doritos! (Sounds like a recipe for digestive disaster!) I'm wondering what makes for a great century? What do you like to eat and drink at rest stops? What touches separate the mediocre rides from the great ones? Don't be afraid to name names...the great rides deserve the credit. I also have an ulterior motive; our local club will be staging its annual ride soon and I hope to use your responses to help us improve our ride.
From an organizational side..Lone Gunman
Apr 2, 2002 7:38 PM
IMHO the lunch break is key. I have done much ballyhooed century rides in the midwest (Hancock 100, Hilly 100) and was not impressed with a baloney sandwich or PBJ, bag of chips and powdered gatorade mix(based on the cost of doing the ride) for lunch. One ride I do, NEOC (North Eastern Ohio Century, Youngtown, OH) is in the fall. It almost always is a cool crisp day, so you have a tendancy to go out fast to warm up, burn alot of calories and get real hungry. Lunch is always a surprise, this past year it was riggatoni and meatballs (hot food), fresh italian bread and hot soup. This century is also known as the cookie ride as each rest stop has homemade cookies plus fruit and water and gatorade. Also having adequate facilities is good. Century ride organization is sort of like sales...It is not just enough to have the ride and everyone goes home safe. You got to have a reason for them to mark the calendar to come back next year. That is how a ride like NEOC has been around for 20+ years.

From a rider standpoint, well marked easy to understand route, that keeps you out of heavy traffic and is challenging is all a cyclist can ask for. Well SAGed and patrolled.

Most recent example of a poorly planned century: 2001 Cycle North Carolina Century option route. 2 other guys and myself head out on the route which was an extra 30 miles off the marked 65 mile course and started right after a rest stop on the 65 course. The loop to do the century was poorly marked, there were no rest stops on this loop, no water stops and little to no food at this stop the first time through. Had to stop at a Hardees and eat or I would have bonked completely as I had already started to get the shakes and it was starting to get hot out. Never saw a support vehicle on this 30 mile loop. We finish the 30 mile loop and stop at this rest area the second time and all the riders that came in after we left the first time cleaned out the food water and gatorade. So we got boned twice and had to limp on in to the finish with little to no food.
Amen ...bianchi boy
Apr 2, 2002 8:38 PM
You know, I also did the century loop on the CNC ride and I managed to grab the VERY LAST peanut butter and jelly sandwich at that rest stop. It was pitiful. They had practically no food left over for the century riders, and as you said, nothing along the century loop.

That said, the best century rides have well marked routes on lightly traveled roads, food and water stops about every 20 miles, good food (bananas and home-made cookies) and drinks (gatorade not too strong). The best one in my area is the Bike Fest put on by the Carolina Tarwheels in August each year. It leaves from Hillsborough, NC, and goes through scenic rolling countryside. Lots of homemade cookies, brownies, etc at rest stops. Plenty of stops. I did my best time ever for a metric century on that ride and it felt easy because I was having such a good time. In contrast, the century sponsored by my bike club (which shall remain anonymous) last spring only had 2 rest stops --at mile points 20 and about 50. For some dumb reason, they put the third rest stop on the double metric route (which only 2 people rode), so it was of virtually no use to anyone. Everyone nearly bonked until finding a lone country store about the 80 mile point. Not the way to plan a century.
re: What makes for a great century ride?Elefantino
Apr 2, 2002 8:14 PM
A well-marked course, first. I've been on centuries where I've gotten to intersections before course workers did ... very confusing. (That actually happened two years ago in the otherwise well-run Historic Savannah Century, which caused a lot of people to bail on it last year.)

Second, freebies. I mean lots of freebies. I'm being crassly commercial, just pragmatic. What makes people happy, other than the ride? Stuff. Lots of stuff. Not just a t-shirt and a water bottle. You've got to have giveaways. Get Clif or PowerBar to show up. They always have boxes of stuff to give away, both out on the course (nothing like a Mocha Mocha Double Caffeine Clif Snot to wake you up when you run out of Mrs. Butterworths) and afterward.

Third, make the post-race gathering a party. Good food, music, some shade (PLEASE!) and plenty of free water and/or other beverages.

Fourth, and most important, free massage!

re: What makes for a great century ride?yummy
Apr 3, 2002 4:14 AM
If you want a well supported century, take a look at the Mad River Glen Century in Vermont. Dinner the night before, great SAG, every rest stop was loaded with terrific food: sandwiches, bagels, fruits, juices, cookies, sports drinks etc. And when you finish, a fantastic all you can eat outdoor BBQ buffet w/ a Ben and Jerry's stand giving away ice cream to boot. All this with a bit of Long Trail Ale. Sounds dreamy...don't it?

After this century, all the others seemed to pale in comparison.

Have fun...summer is finally here.
re: What makes for a great century ride?moots
Apr 3, 2002 5:39 AM
Do you know when this is? I'd love to ride VT. Sounds like you'd be climbing a lot. How were the climbs?
re: What makes for a great century ride?Dobione
Apr 3, 2002 8:33 AM
How about this?Gregory Taylor
Apr 3, 2002 6:07 AM

Tongue was only slightly planted in cheek in describing this event. It's not challenging, but is IS fun....and well-organized.
letting others organize it, then riding it without paying!!!SteveO
Apr 3, 2002 6:34 AM
calm down, i was only kidding.
re: What makes for a great century ride?CFBlue
Apr 3, 2002 6:47 AM
I've only ridden two organized centuries, I did the metric on both, and one solo ride around the county for a full hundred miles.

The Holstein Hundred was everthing their promo promised, great food and plenty of it, well marked course with an intellegently done route sheet. Beautiful Sonoma County scenery away from the maddening crowds of Wine Country. The rest stops were well spaced and had plenty of shade available and clean pit toilets when plumbing wasn't available.

Then at the start/stop point was a school. Indoor facilities, including showers, but I don't know if anyone used those. A good dinner and music (provided by me) for the finale.

Just wondering... after riding through cattle country for 65+ miles on a ride named after cows, does anyone else think its odd that the main course was chicken? I thought it was pretty funny myself, and kidded the staff about it. There is a town in Sonoma County known for raising chickens. If the powers that be in that town put on a century, whould they serve beef at the end?
personal preferencesTig
Apr 3, 2002 7:28 AM
I'm with everyone who said a well marked course with plenty of traffic control at intersections. That is a must with a large number of riders. I'll speak up for the women and demand clean "Women Only" porta-cans. Being married has taught me the importance of THAT!

Plenty of COLD bottled water and sports drinks, as well as goddies like cookies and fruit. I only stop at around the 40 and 80 mile stops for refueling, water, and bathroom breaks.

I personally would never ever eat a big lunch in the middle of a century. That would do me in unless I wanted to ride the rest of the distance very slowly.

I always bring a few of my own energy sources as a backup. I don't want to depend on a stop to keep from bonking, especially if I need food 10 miles before the next one. I'm not a huge fan of Power Bars, but they sure are nice when you really need them.
Scenery, terrainmr_spin
Apr 3, 2002 8:56 AM
Take me to cool places and throw in some challenges. That's basically all I am interested in. I can ride 100 miles from home, so you have to give me a reason to travel somewhere and do your ride.

I don't care too much about the food. All I usually eat on centuries are bananas and a cookie or two for sugar. I bring my own bars. That's how I train--why would I change it now? For a tough ride like the Death Ride, I will make a sandwich for lunch.

I do care about the drinks. I'd rather have something most people can drink, which generally means Gatorade. It may seem ideal, but I feel a century is no time to forceably promote products. Solvang has this Spiz stuff which is disgusting. Thankfully they had plenty of water, and I knew enough to carry a baggy of Cytomax! The Chico Wildflower had some Knudsen's juice drink which no one wanted. There was a line for water, but no waiting for the Knudsens.
Fat Tire Classic (okay not a road ride)js5280
Apr 3, 2002 4:33 PM
2 day Mt. Bike in the Winter Park CO area for the American Red Cross. Best organized ride I've been on although last year was a disappointment from the previous year. I think the budget got cut and/or they overdid the year before. Anyways, free hot breakfast and lunch Sat. and Sun., energetic volunteers, theme rest stops (e.g. Marti Gras, 70's, Toga) that compete against each other, theme teams which also compete, dinner Sat. including free Fat Tire beer and live music, lots of options of trails to ride, all well marked, and a volunteer there to answer questions, free bike tune up/maintaince, a massage tent, it's fun weekend and pretty reasonable for what you get.

I would probably go again this year but I hope to be in Sweden for Midsummer drinking double and seeing triples of tall blonde Swedish women. Skol!
Tall blonde Norwegian Women for me!sodade
Apr 3, 2002 6:10 PM
(well - actually, two short ones - my two year old twins)
I'll be spending midsummer in Oslo! We are gonna have a 40hr/week nanny and I'm bringing my new Merlin. I just hope I am in good enough shape to ride with my new brother-in-law euro-racing-dude...