How to Train for a Century Bike Race

If you have found that cycling has become more than a work commute and just pottering about at weekends on your bike, you may realize that you are ready to take the next step up and try a century bike ride. A century ride or race consists of riding one hundred miles within half a day, that is to say twelve hours. Many cycling clubs arrange century events to raise money for either charity or the club and this is a great way to get into the event.

The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling states that if you are able to ride thirty miles every other day, then you are probably ready to ride a century race. In this blog we look at the steps you must take to prepare for your first century ride.

Build Up Your Base

To ride a century race, you must build up to it, this is done by gradually increasing your time in the saddle and putting more miles on the clock. By doing this your body will accept small steps in endurance and build up the muscles and stamina to cope. There is a rule of thumb to the amount of increase per week and that is around five percent. For instance, if your normal ride is ten miles, then an extra half mile the first week, etc.

Increase Your Intensity

It is not enough to just put the miles in the tank, you must also gradually increase the speed and intensity that you are putting into your bike riding. The best way to do this is by adding extra speed sessions and perhaps take in an extra hill or two. The reason this will help is that it stops your body from getting lazy and just used to long slow speeds, give it intensity to think about and challenge it.

Recovery Rides

As well as adding intensity to your sessions you will have to balance this out with recovery rides. These recovery sessions should be carried out roughly at sixty percent of your maximum heart rate. There is a calculation to work out your own heart rate, subtract your age from two hundred and twenty. So, if you are thirty your maximum heart rate should be one hundred and ninety beats per minute. Multiply 190 by 0.6 and you can calculate that 60% of a man’s maximum heart beat is 114, and that should be your heart rate during your recovery sessions.

Plenty of Rest and the Correct Nourishment

During your training you will need to have plenty of rest too, so that your body can recover; and don’t forget to eat the correct foods to nourish and clean the body. It is highly important that you are hydrated when you race and train, as a rule of thumb you should drink at the same rate as you sweat, plenty of water and electrolyte-enhancing drinks are the order of the day.

Finally train at your own pace, build up to your very first century ride and do not race until you are fully prepared, otherwise you may fail badly, and this could put you off of century racing for good.

Endurance Cycling Strategies

Riding endurance races does not need just stamina and really good health, it also is critical to have a good strategy during the entire race. In this blog we look at the strategies you must focus on not during the race itself, but as a way to prepare for the big day.

We take for granted that you have already studied the course and have been training specifically for the event. Also, that you have developed the correct muscle groups and stored enough energy in the tank to endure the physical challenge that is coming your way. Following are other key elements that you must address to have a chance of winning.


Like a marathon in running, an endurance cycle race will demand the utmost from your body, it is vital therefore that you cram as many nutrients in your body as possible. An endurance racer can easily burn up seven thousand calories just in one day, plus 9 grams of carbs per kilo.

Most of the calories that you will consume while racing will be from the carbohydrates, that way energy levels can be kept consistent during the race. You will have to eat whilst you are riding so the choice of foods must be kept in mind.

Keep Hydrated

Keeping enough fluids in the body is quite difficult for an endurance rider, and it takes a bit of practice to do so. The hydration process must take place at least a couple of hours before the race, drink half a liter of fluids that are high in carbs and sodium.

Work out what you will need whilst riding the course, roughly you will consume a thousand milliliters of sodium and carbohydrate fluid every hour and this need replacing. You must stay properly hydrated so you do not suffer body fluid loss. This prevents heat exhaustion and will help to keep plasma at the correct levels.

Prepare Your Bike

Looking after yourself is not the only necessary task, you must prepare your bike as well. Your bike must be adjusted for the race and fit you perfectly. The position you take on your bike is critical for the transferal of your energy as you ride.

Fitting the bike to your body is crucial, everything should be in balance; height, weight, reach and flexibility. Most riders learn how to do this themselves but it is worth consulting a professional as a second pair of eyes can catch something you may have missed and is stopping you performing at your very best.


Finally, you must consider the after-race and the condition of your body, having undertaken such an ordeal. If you do not make sure your body is properly hydrated and rested after training and races, you will suffer in the long term. The advice is to weigh yourself before and after a race, calculate how many pounds in weight you have lost and replace them with two cups of water per pound.

These tips will help you prepare, race and recover as you enjoy your bike endurance racing and pastime. For nutrition, hydration, and sleep it is best to get into a routine during training and races, and don’t forget an important part and that is to take sufficient breaks from all this activity.

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