Half of my family are runners (hubby and two of my kids). They are naturally good at it and make it look easy, and I admit I’ve been a little jealous of their enthusiasm for running. I used to be a runner — sprints, primarily, in high school — but not so much long distance. Don’t get me wrong, I have TRIED to become a distance runner. I have tried many different running schedules and training plans, and even kept it up for 6 months before I’d either get injured or came down with influenza. But my biggest problem was that running never felt good. I always feel like CRAP when I’m running mile after mile. I feel like crap after I’m done with a run, too. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am just not made for that. I have to let it go. All of those really neat, fun looking 5k’s I see advertised ALL THE TIME? Not for me. And I’m now okay with that.
I’m not sure what sparked the idea of getting on my bike and riding regularly. I guess I got curious about commuting to work and headed out on my bike for a 10 mile round trip just to see if I could do it. Well, I did it and rather impressed myself. It wasn’t a fast ride and I didn’t set any records, but I survived it. And, amazingly, I didn’t feel like crap!! I mean, sure, I was tired out and my thighs felt like balloons, but I didn’t feel like I was going to die. Suddenly, I looked at my bike with a new curiosity and fondness. How far could I go, really?
I had been using the MapMyRun app on my phone for a while during the many times I attempted to be a long distance runner, so I was aware that there was also a MapMyRide version of the app. I switched over to that and found out they have training programs. Cool! I did have to get a paid subscription to access the training plans (only about $20 for a whole year — I used a coupon). I saw that one of the training plans was for a century ride. “What is THAT?” I thought. I had to Google it. A century ride is 100 miles. My next thought was, “All in one day???” Yup. Hmmm…….could I do that???
I signed up for the “Beginner Century Ride” training plan — I think half out of curiosity and half out of being naive (and maybe a little nuts). I’m going to give it a shot and see how far I can get. Sure, my goal is 100 miles at the end of the 12 week program, but if I end up only being able to do half of that before my body tells me to stop, I’m happy with that. I don’t know what my limit is, but I’m going to find out, and I’m going to have fun while I’m at it.
I have just completed Week 2 of the training plan, and my longest ride so far has been 16 miles. I live near a couple of access points to bike trails, which are very scenic — many interesting things to see! I am already learning a lot about cycling, too. Here is a quick list of important things I’ve learned either by accident or by late-night reading:
1. No matter what kind of bike seat you have, your butt will be sore for the first week. Then it’ll be fine. Mostly.
2. Cell phone holders for your bike are overpriced, but not overrated. Make your own. Seriously, all you need is plastic canvas and pipe cleaners. Voila.
3. Always bring a plastic baggie with you in case it rains. Your phone will thank you.
4. For Pete’s sake, bring some food! If you are riding for more than 45 minutes, you need fuel. Water alone won’t cut it. Having your blood sugar take a dive when you still have 3-4 miles to go is not fun. Electrolytes are pretty handy to have with you, too.
5. An expensive bike isn’t necessary, but a functional/efficient one is. I have an 18 year old, cheap K-mart mountain bike. I got a better seat and better tires for it, and I’m good to go.
6. The kind of shorts you wear matters.
7. Don’t cheap out on a headlight/taillight set. Get a good one. It’s a safety thing, and you’re worth it.
8. Don’t assume everybody knows bike trail traffic etiquette. They are all over the place. Especially on sunny Sunday afternoons.
9. Most people can not hear you coming from behind.
10. Say, “Good morning!” (or just hello) to everyone you pass by and most of them will smile and wish you the same. I love that!
11. Make note of all the available restrooms and port-a-potties along your riding routes. You will thank yourself.
I think that’s about it for now. If you have trained for a century ride, tell me about it! If you are an experienced rider and have some tips or advice, tell me….please! I’m a little nervous about this new adventure, but definitely excited. Follow my posts each week to see how far I’ve gone. I’ll try to post some pictures of the scenery, too!