Couch to 5K for bikes?
September 25, 2008 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Is there a bicycling version of Couch-to-5k / 100 push ups? I'd like to do a century ride. I like goals and metrics set out for me in advance. Please lead me.
posted by one_bean to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Basically, ride lots. The biggest thing is to get used to being in the saddle for 8-10 hours, with breaks. I googled "Century training plans".
posted by TDIpod at 12:56 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know offhand what's online, but it seems like most books about fitness cycling, and every issue of Bicycling I've ever read, has a section along these lines. Or, if you're determined to find something online, the search phrase 'first century bicycling training' seems to be a good start.
posted by box at 1:07 PM on September 25, 2008

Yes, Bicycling seems to run 'your first century' pretty regularly, like every other month. Eat lots, keep drinking, don't stand around rest stops too long. Have fun.
posted by fixedgear at 1:28 PM on September 25, 2008

You don't have to train up to being in the saddle for 8-10 hours before your first century though. My first was accidental. I had done a lot of 30 and 40 mile weekend rides, and one or two 50 mile rides. So I was in pretty good shape, but hadn't come close to 100 miles. Then I entered a multi-distance organized ride planning to do the 62-mile route. At the split for the century, my husband took off that way.

He had the car keys, so I did my first century. And it was for the most part fun and painless.
posted by bwanabetty at 1:30 PM on September 25, 2008

I would say that rigid training-plans are less essential for riding a century than doing X # of pushups (where you have to develop a threshold of strength) or running X distance (where it's very easy to injure yourself due to it being an impact sport).

Basically, just ride lots. Ride more and more. Biking is actually pretty easy on the legs -- it's the butt and neck that suffer for newbies, and again you just have to ride lots to overcome that.

Now, how to ride a century FAST, that's a different question. Look up "interval training".
posted by randomstriker at 1:38 PM on September 25, 2008

If your goal is to complete a century, just start riding _everywhere_ and pushing yourself further and further. There's no reason to make it all that much more complicated than that. :)

Make riding your lifestyle. Ride everywhere and as much as possible. Once you've built up to being able to do 50 or 60 miles "comfortably", which is totally doable over the course of a summer if you're not starting out REALLY out of shape, you should be able to do a slow century as long as you keep yourself fed and hydrated.

If you're a 9-5er like me, a doable weekday schedule is to ride at a fast-but-maintainable pace for half an hour to an hour every other day, and then go longer slower rides on the weekend, gradually building up the length of those weekend rides and the speed of the weekday rides. Give your body time to rest between rides (or do a different type of exercise). Don't slack off completely in the winter. :)

Once the muscles are there, it's just learning to live with a moderate amount of pain. Honestly, it's almost harder to stay hydrated, fed and in a riding position for that long than it is to spin the pedals at a nice steady churn.

If you're not a cyclist already, get someone who knows about these things to make sure the bike fits you well and get comfortable cycling clothes. More than anything, make sure you're using clipless pedals (a weird name, since they're the type you clip into like a ski binding) and have a good saddle.

Of course, if your goal is to do it fast, you'll need to train differently than if your goal is to complete it without passing out.
posted by paanta at 1:48 PM on September 25, 2008

Riding a century isn't too difficult - really! Advice to "ride lots" is pretty accurate. Conventional training wisdom says, increase your mileage only 10% per week. "Training" doesn't have to be strenuous - in fact, in building your endurance, it's best if you avoid hard efforts. Just ride at a comfortable pace and keep riding.

Secondly, make sure you're comfortable on your bike. If riding 30 miles gives you discomfort - saddle region, hands and forearms, neck and back, knees, any of it - imagine what 50 miles will do. And then imagine you're only halfway through. A comfortable saddle is always worth the money.

How much are you riding now?
posted by entropone at 1:49 PM on September 25, 2008

This is on my "list". Well add camping to it and it is.

I commute daily by bike, a small 7 mile round trip. I wonder if century training is like training for a foot race, no more than 10% increase in mileage each week, but you know, with a different percentage.
posted by collocation at 2:25 PM on September 25, 2008

Buy the book from Buycycling Mag. Its worth a dozen bucks. If you have never had any joint, tendon or soft tissue issues then skip it, but 100 miles, while nowhere near a marathon, can be a pretty big deal to someone not well trained. If you are at least a few years under 30 and have no soft tissue issues then you are probably fine just winging it. Even then the book will get you there faster. The whole idea of a coordinated training schedule is to maximize training and minimize injury etc.
posted by caddis at 5:51 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hi one_bean, I owe you an email. But to not answer your question in the meantime, let me mention that the Delta Century is nice and flat.
posted by salvia at 9:33 PM on September 25, 2008

Yes, the pain will most likely be in the behind, arms and/or neck. Make sure that your bike is well setup for you, stretch out your arms, back and neck at each rest stop and eat and drink lots during the day. To reduce neck strain think "look with your eyes, not with your neck". Apply sunscreen liberally just above your kneecaps. Never, ever, never look at how many miles you have left on your cyclocomputer.

Oddly enough I thought I had a comfortable saddle until I switched to a minimalistic, racy model. After a few weeks of getting accustomed to it, I've been loving it.
posted by turbodog at 10:54 PM on September 26, 2008

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