Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

‘Century’ rides well worth preparation, training time

If it makes you weary just to think about pedaling a bicycle all day, put your feet up and read about thousands of people who do that for fun!

Spring and autumn in Central Missouri challenge many cyclists to try riding a "century" - 100 miles in a day. Colorful foliage, newly paved rural roads, interesting harvesting activities and quiet small towns are all more exciting from a bicycle saddle than from inside a speeding vehicle. Boone County has reliable bike shops where people are eager to help customers improve their skills.

An early long ride was one I just had to do: I was president of the bicycle club, and the group planned, behind my back, a 60-mile ride to celebrate my 60th birthday. It was on July 30, the hottest day of the year, but I couldn’t back out. I had previously ridden 25 miles in three hours and 50 miles in five hours - challenges for newly trained cyclists. Friends from Centralia invited my husband, Chub, and me to have brunch with them in Hallsville, my first rest stop. Refreshed, it was easy to complete the 60 miles. Oh! What joy of accomplishment I experienced! I was hooked on long rides. The club continued the "President’s Ride" for several years.

Chub liked being "sag wagon" driver for long rides. He’d supply riders with water, food, tools, bicycle parts and "know how" for repairs. Then he’d drive several miles to be sure others were moving along smoothly, park the truck in the shade and read his book. Chub almost never was without at least one book! He finally had a bike and enjoyed touring but didn’t savor long rides in the hot sun!

How would you prepare for a "century" ride? Take your bike to a good shop and ask if it’s the right size and type for such a ride. Ask what should be replaced before you attempt a 100-mile ride. A "century" is 10 times as much wear and tear as 10 short rides, and you must not waste riding time with pesky repairs. Ask yourself, "Am I ready?" Ask the bike dealer how to get the most possible help from your gears. Practice what he tells you about riding in an easy gear and pedaling rhythmically.

Ride in the same comfortable clothing - especially socks and shoes - that you’ll wear for the long ride. Ride often, taking a small bag of tools, signal with a horn or bell and practice sipping from your water bottle without stopping. Use sun screen, take a timepiece, a few first aid supplies, toilet paper, coins for machines and candy bars or fruit for boosting energy as you ride. I always carried a bag of "GORP," or grand old raisins and peanuts, with a dash of extra salt.

Before the ride, set the alarm and retire early; allow time for eating a good breakfast.

Listen carefully to the instructions given at the starting point; ask questions. Don’t blast out trying to get ahead of others at the take-off. Instead of coasting a lot, plan a steady, rhythmical pace in an easy gear. Spread yourself out for the full day. Eat and drink as you go, reapply sunscreen and chat briefly with friends at rest stops. Let riders pass you; it’s not a race. It’s just you and your bike, riding a very long way. It might rest you to walk and push your bike up the steepest parts of hills.

Yes, this advice is from an old woman who rode eight century rides - two of them were on consecutive days in Ohio. Go for it!


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