I Signed Up For A Sub-5 Hour Century
Hot on he heels of this upcoming weekends Dairyland Dare 200 km bike ride I signed up for a 100 mile Sub-5 hour century in early September. It’s properly named The Sub-5 Century Challenge and benefits The Paul Ruby Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
ASIDE: If you’re interested in supporting me on this ride you can donate to my ride goal of $200.
Yes, you read that right, 100 miles of cycling in under 5 hours!
In case you’re math challenged like I am in the morning (or on most days) that’s an average speed of at least 20 miles per hour for 5 hours straight. No 30 minute breaks to enjoy BBQ like at my last fully supported century ride, this is 5 hours of fast paced, leg burning, lactic acid induced cycling at it’s best.
Factor in bathroom breaks and possibly having to stop at a few intersections to wait on traffic, it’s not a closed course, and I have to average over 20 mph, more like 22.5 mph or so. So how am I going to do it?
Lest I mislead you into thinking I’m going to do this alone, I’m not! I’ll be a member in a 12-16 person cycling team and we’ll be using double pace lines, echelons, and other drafting techniques to make the 5 hour time cut. Here’s a good link to the Team 459 Express riding strategies if you’re really interested. There’s everything from feeding, pacing, hills, communication, to pit stops … it’s a long read but certainly interesting to see how much strategy is involved in this ride.
Here’s a look at the high level pace strategy from that page:
|Lap / Distance||Time @ Speed||Total Time||Total Avg (mph)||1st Hour||Back Half|
|1 / 33.6 mi||1:36 @ 21.0 mph||1:36||21.0||21.5||20.0|
|2 / 33.6 mi||1:38 @ 20.6 mph||3:18||20.4||21.0||19.8|
|3 / 32.8 mi||1:38 @ 20.1 mph||4:59||20.07||20.7||19.0|
As you can see we get a grand total of 7 minutes off the bike to make bathroom breaks, refill water bottles, and grab some food over the course of the 5 hours. It’s going to be integral to our success to stay properly fueled and work together as a team.
Some of the things I know I need to work before and during this ride include:
- Managing pace — I have a habit of pushing the pace when I get to the front of the pace line, that’ll result in disaster over the course of 5 hours. We need constant pace lines with little to no acceleration to allow people to conserve energy and not introduce gaps in the line.
- Keeping a tight pace line distance — While I have a lot of confidence in most of the people I ride with there are a few people who I have trouble trusting. Because of this I tend to maintain a very conservative distance from the rider in front of me which often results in more drag and variability in acceleration thus causing too much energy loss on myself and those behind me. I need to work on maintaining a tighter pacing distance to the rider in front of me.
- Fueling and hydrating — While I’m pretty good at feeding and hydrating for distances around 50 miles (HIM and weekend rides) I have no experience doing it for 100 miles without some extended rest period of at least 15 minutes. I need to work on fueling for longer periods and make sure I eat more than I might want or think I need to. During the HIM it worked well to eat & drink at least every time my bike computer lapped, which was 5 miles and generally was every 15 minutes. I’d usually eat a few Shot Bloks or a Gu’s eat lap and this led to pretty consistent energy levels.
- Comfort — I won’t lie to you, sitting for that long without much time to stretch isn’t always comfortable. I need to work on stretching and moving while riding to make sure I don’t tighten up and cause my muscles to seize up. And yes, you can be certain I’ll be using chamois cream again to make my ars comfortable.
I’m excited to add another challenging event to the year and to continue pushing myself in my cycling. I’m getting stronger every time I get on the bike and really starting to feel comfortable riding. Who knows what kind of cool goals I can set in the coming years, it’s awesome to day dream about.
How’s your fall fitness event schedule shaping up?