This past weekend, I was able to participate in a locally organized century ride. I know most people hear that word and think, there’s NO WAY I could do that. A century ride is 100 miles! It’s an intimidating word but don’t be fooled, an organized century is a great way to get the whole family involved in a fun fitness goal now that the weather is cooling off! A few things to know:
- Although all century rides have a 100 mile option, most have shorter ones as well. The last several that I’ve participated in have had a 100, 78, 66, 43, 27 and 16 mile option (I’ve even been to a few with a 10 mile option). Check the organizer’s website to find out the options. i’ve seen many families on the course where one parent did a longer ride while the kids did a shorter one with another parent.
- Riding in a century doesn’t mean you have to have a fancy bike. As long as you have a bike with good brakes and a few gears you’ll be fine, especially if you’re doing the shorter distances. I was repeatedly passed last weekend by people on tandem bikes!
- Century rides are pretty laid back. Typically the course stays open between 7-8 hours and they have organized rest stops every 20 or so miles with food, drinks and bathrooms! Of course, you will find the serious bikers at the ride who are out for time but these races have no prize for winners (other than bragging rights). Most people take their time and enjoy the day. The courses are well-marked and there are support vehicles on the course in case you have a flat tire or get in a situation where you need a ride back to your car.
- The rides typically benefit a good cause. Usually organized by local communities, these rides often raise money for to benefit a non-profit or family in the community.
- There’s a big party at the end! Usually you get free samples, food, drinks and sometimes there will even be a entertainment. It’s a fun environment for sure!
So, have you decided you’re in? Here are 5 tips for a successful ride:
- Pre-register online. That way you don’t have to fill out forms when you get there!
- Arrive early to get your registration packet, visit the restrooms, pump your bike tires and get a good starting position.
- Check out the course. I live in Georgia and some of the rides I’ve participated in have been HILLY. Make sure you know what you’re getting into! There’s usually an elevation chart on the race website.
- Be prepared and dress appropriately. A good bike helmet is a must. You’ll probably want a sturdy pair of sunglasses and make sure you put on plenty of sunscreen. Your bike should have a minimum of one water bottle cage but more if it’s going to be a hot day. You can refill at the water stops but you need to stay hydrated. And check out your clothing to make sure it’ll be comfortable for the duration of the ride. You don’t need to have all the biking gear, but choose clothing that rides well.
- A steady pace makes it to the finish line! Many people get caught up in the excitement of a group ride and push out too fast at the beginning. If you’re doing a longer distance, it’s especially important to pace yourself at the start so you have some energy left for the finish!
So grab the kids, dust off the bike and find yourself an organized ride! You’ll make healthy and fun family memories along the way!