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How to ride a strong century

How to get through that 160-km ride you've been hoping to do without bonking.

SRAM Red eTap ride

SRAM Red eTap ride

You’re a regular club rider. You don’t suffer on group rides, around the 100-km range. But you want to ride a century (160 km). Your goal isn’t to win it. You just want to have a good ride. You want to be able to contribute at the front, follow surges, get over the rolling hills and finish strongly. So, what do you need to do to prepare?

Riders who want to have a strong century ride, even those who want to win one, should improve their tempo ability. With a strong tempo ability, 80–83 per cent of your maximum heart rate, you will find that you have more gas in the tank to crest hills without slowing down and to finish the ride strongly. The stronger your tempo ability, measured as a percentage of your maximal effort, the more manageable your efforts will become. To achieve this goal, your training focus each week should include two days of longer rides, incorporating some tempo, with the remaining days focusing on VO2 work or recovery and rest.

The second area to focus on is nutrition, particularly on the bike. You want to be sure you are fuelling properly during your effort. Most riders don’t eat enough while they are riding. You don’t want to wait until the rest stop to eat. You should be eating and drinking consistently throughout the ride, aiming to take in 250–300 calories/ hour. It is important to practise your fueling during your training sessions. This practice allows you to tailor what you will use to fuel your ride, and make sure that your body is used to taking in the nutrition. If you wait until the day of the ride to start cramming in the calories suddenly, your body may not react very well. We recommend taking in a high-calorie drink mix to simplify your fuelling.