Completing a century cycling event is a huge feat. Why else would these events be called endurance rides? Subsequently, A ride of 100 miles with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees and over 13,000 riders is an even bigger achievement. What are some tips that can help accomplish this achievement and prevent that dreaded DNF? (did not finish)
Tip #1: Get Rest
The day before a big event is a night that you may have trouble sleeping. Plan accordingly and get the average number of hours needed for sleep each day during the week leading up to the event. You should be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each day. If your pre-ride jitters kick in and you cannot sleep, at least you will have been rested the days before your sleepless night. You can use the night before the ride to double check your gear. While you are at it, why not plug in your electronic devices and make sure they are fully charged. An hour or so before you get to bed try to relax by doing some yoga, listening to soft music, drinking some tea, and just taking about 30-45 minutes to calm your jitters. This clears your mind to help get some sleep the night before your big ride.
Tip #2: Hydrate Before and During the Ride
Planning to ride in the heat is a task that takes days before the event to pull off. Make sure you are hydrating the week before the event with more than just water. Your body will need electrolytes in addition to plain water to fuel your ride. Make sure you are drinking the recommended amount of water every day the week prior to the event and add in some electrolytes throughout the day. A good idea is to carry your trusty bike bottle everywhere you go for the week leading to the event and remember to refill it often. Not only will you be telling all your friends about taking part in the biggest bike ride in the nation, but you will have no excuses when it comes to hydrating.
If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, this is your bodies signal that you are already starting to get dehydrated. The first 10 miles you should have already grabbed your water bottle at least twice. If you are the type of person who forgets to drink liquids because you are having too much fun enjoying the scenery and camaraderie of fellow cyclists, find a way to remind yourself to drink your water. Maybe take a drink every time the person in front of you drinks. (so long as they are actually drinking as well). The longer you ride the more apt you are to forget to drink your water. Keep this in mind when you are out there. You can tell you are drinking enough if you need to pee at least once during the ride.
Make sure you are listening to your body and stopping at the rest stops to hydrate. Previous riders have planned to stop at certain mile markers for hydration. A good plan is to stop at mile 20-30, mile 50, mile 70, and mile 90. Rest stops are certainly very plentiful at about every 10 miles. Remember this is an endurance ride. There is no prize for first place. Go out and have fun, mingle, eat some peanut butter and jelly, and for goodness sake rest when you need to rest. Heat is no joke and just a few minutes of rest and a dump of water over your body to cool off could prevent dreaded heat stroke.
Tip #3: Arrive Early and Prepared
After preparing for months for this ride, the worst feeling is to arrive at an event last minute and be hurriedly pumping your bike tires to race to the start line of the ride seconds before the cannon fire. Arrive to the event early to get a good parking spot, familiarize yourself with the layout, and triple check your gear.
Once you have picked up your packet, you will want to make sure your bike is ready to roll. Glance over your bike tires to make sure there are no visible punctures. Air up your bike tires (consider that the heat will make tires expand more, so inflate tires 5 -10 psi lower than usual). Hop on your bike and take it for a quick spin around to make sure everything is shifting properly. Finally, take a minute to quietly stretch and get your nerves in check before you make your way to the sea of cyclists waiting for the start.
Tip #4: Ride Smart
Again, this is an endurance ride not a race. Don’t go out with a group that is faster than you normally ride trying to prove just how awesome you are. Bonking (aka being burnt out) at mile 35 of a 100-mile ride is not optimal for anyone. With over 13,000 riders you are sure to find a few who are close to your pace. Be sure to ask before drafting and if they are open to starting a paceline. Working together with a paceline can prove to be very beneficial for your entire group. Just remember to communicate anytime you are going to move in the paceline. Done with a pull? Tap your hip or flick your elbow then move over. See a huge pothole? Point to it and it yell out “hole” so the folks behind you don’t hit it and get a flat. Need to blow a huge snot rocket? Wait until you are at the back of the pace line and then blow it out. Courtesy goes a long way in your enjoyment and the enjoyment of the event for everyone.
Tip #5: Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
You have worked hard to get to this point. Enjoy the ride. Don’t worry about whether you forgot your bike tool, or how in the world you and your friend got split up among the 13,000 riders. Shake off your cares, enjoy the Texas scenery, wave at the spectators (who cares if you don’t know them from Adam), meet some new people, and enjoy the day. After all cycling is the sole similarity the 13,000 + participants of this ride have in common. Why not meet some new people and learn about when and why they started to ride? You have 100 miles and over 5 hours to enjoy the people and nature surrounding you. Make memories and enjoy the moments.
Lastly, don’t forget to get your post bike ride carbs back in check with the Legal Draft tent at the finish line. Celebrate with a nice cold beer. You deserve it after the Hotter’n Hell Hundred you just rode.
Here’s Cha’s Super Secret Quick Checklist for The Race:
- Bottles (filled with water or hydration mix)
- Heartrate monitor/GPS/whatever you use
- Extra tubes (at least 2), patch kit, emergency bike tool, tire levers
- Nutrition – Gu/Shotblocks/whatever you eat during the ride. Also, bring your base salt if you use it.
- Cell phone in a Ziplock baggie (zip lock protects the cell phone from sweat and the phone is useful in emergencies and taking the cool rest stop selfie)
- A dollar bill (in case you encounter a tire split, you can line the inside of your tire with the dollar to help keep your tube from blowing out)
Don’t forget to cool off and rehydrate with our friends from Arlington’s own Legal Draft Beer Company, at their official Legal Draft Tent for some amazing craft beer made in Texas!