Salem Peach of a Century

7 Things I Learned Training for a Century

7 Things I Learned Training for a Century 

Things didn’t necessarily go as planned this summer. Despite that, I am happy to say I did my first Metric Century, the Salem Peach of a Century ride, and I’m happy I was able to end the summer with a biking event. I learned a lot of things this summer and wanted to share them with you.

1. Sign up for the event as soon as possible.

The last year or so I’ve been wishy-washy about my goals. I wanted to do the Hood River bike ride last spring and drug my feet until it was too late to sign up. I wanted to swim across the Columbia River in the Roy Webster Channel Swim and I’ve worked myself up into a panic over open-water swimming to the point where I don’t want to do it anymore and I have anxiety about doing a sprint-tri. This year, Michael and I planned on doing the Covered Bridges Century ride and I procrastinated signing up for it all summer long. This did NOT help my motivation for training.

Having a specific date on the calendar, paid for, registered for, and planning for has helped me train for so many events. I realized I NEED THAT. I need it written in stone otherwise I flake out. The fire I need to fuel my training is “I’ve signed up for this and I need to be ready by this date.”

2. Life WILL get in the way.

The weather, summer plans, busy schedules, equipment malfunctions…life will always get in the way of training. The trick is to figure out how to get around the crap life hands you. This summer was fraught with jam packed weekends, family events, and flat tires. It also seemed that the weather would not cooperate with my riding schedule early in the summer. Too many rainy days discouraged me from getting out there. As a result, my mileage was not great.

If you want it badly enough, you’ll find the time to fit in training.

3. It WILL be hard.

Training for a Century ride is a difficult thing because it’s easy to talk yourself out of it, or psych yourself out. It’s the same reason that I vowed to lose 50 pounds instead of 100 when I first started my journey. 100 pounds was really overwhelming, yet 50 seemed doable. The same goes for mileage. Start planning for 50, 60, 70, and stop getting freaked out about the number 100!!

4. You need to know how to change a flat tire.

I wish I could say that I can successfully do this. I’ve only done it once and it was in my kitchen after I took a class on bike maintenance–where there was no pressure or stress. I’ve had many, many flat tires and it’s so frustrating, especially when you feel incompetent. Note to self:  take another hands-on class and practice, practice, practice.

5. Food and Rest make a difference.

I can tell when I didn’t eat the right food the night before I ride my bike into work, or when I haven’t given my body enough rest. My body lets me know on those hills I have to bike up to get to work. My heart will be pounding, my legs will feel like they are on fire and I will feel like I won’t make it up that hill.

Like with anything (weight loss, running, etc), exercise is only one part of the equation. The food part is probably even more important. Eating shitty junk food will not get me to my goal.

6. The clothes make the (wo)man.

Having good gear makes a huge difference. If you are planning on riding your bike more than 20 miles at any time in your life, invest in some bike shorts or bib shorts. Seriously. Your butt will thank you. Cycling clothes may be unflattering spandex, but they also serve a purpose. They are skintight to prevent drag and they are made of material to wick moisture from your body and keep you comfortable and cool.

Speaking of gear, take your bike to a professional to get a once-over and make sure you are properly fitted. It makes a world of difference when it’s adjusted correctly and will prevent injuries.

7. The challenge is so worth the sweat, tears, pain, suffering, sore muscles and fatigue.

Seriously–it’s so worth it. Doing things like Reach the Beach, Hood to Coast and the Portland Century have made me a stronger, healthier person and I’ve never regretted challenging myself.

Challenging myself to fitness goals makes me happy. There will always be set-backs, things will rarely go as planned, but that won’t keep me from trying.

QUESTION: What have you learned from training for big fitness events?

A Peach of a Century, Part 1

The first words out of Michael’s mouth the morning of our metric century ride was: “Why did we sign up for this again?” Getting up at 6am on a Sunday is never something one looks forward to…especially when you tossed and turned the night before. But I hopped (crawled slowly) out of bed and got ready for our end-of-summer-adventure.

We had a breakfast of pancakes (I had a piece of bacon and 2 Italian plums as well) and geared up with our spandex, bikes and some coffee, we drove down to Salem for the Peach of a Century ride. I’ll be honest: one of the biggest challenges was our clothing choices. It was barely 50 degrees Sunday morning and as we drove through the valley, a heavy mist hung over everything. It was a cold morning.

We arrived at the check-in spot at about 8:15 and were faced with a decision. Be cold now but happy later when it’s hot? Or warm now and miserable later when it’s hot? I chose to wear my tights, my cold weather gloves and my arm warmers instead of a jacket. Michael went with a long sleeved jersey. This proved to be a poor choice later.

We got our packets and got ready to go. We started out around 8:30 a.m. and I was feeling excited about our day.

The first eight miles or so were  pretty flat as we rode through the valley. The roads were marked really well and we never had any issues knowing what direction to take. There was spray painted markings on the road saying to go straight, left, or right.

We pulled over at around mile 13 because I was really hot. I took of my arm warmers and switched my gloves to my summer gloves. That helped a lot. It was still a little cool out, especially in the shade, but I felt warm enough with my exercise.

We hit the first decent sized hill and while my legs were feeling a bit lethargic, I made it up the hill pretty easily and felt really good about myself. The 62 mile route was supposed to be fairly “easy”, meaning it didn’t have the crazy elevation that the 100 mile route had, but we still encountered a lot of hard hills. HILLS! Look at that one!

We rode through the rolling hills of the valley, speeding by the farms and barns, the Christmas tree farms and the nurseries. It was a beautiful, scenic area to ride in and there was very low traffic, too.


Then there were more hills. One right after another. And these weren’t sissy little hills, these were challenging. I just looked down, pedaled the best I could and refused to give up. I was not going to walk up any of those hills!

Once I got to the top of both of them, I rested for a few moments and let my heart rate get back to the non-exploding bpm! Luckily, it was downhill on the other side of the hill! Michael was waiting for me at the top.

After the last big hill it was a nice downhill descent. Coasting! YAY! Once we got to the bottom of the hill, we were at the first rest stop at mile 22.5 in Jefferson, Oregon. The spread was fantastic! I was really impressed with the excellent support for the event. It was hosted by the Salem Bicycle Club and they just did an awesome job.

The first rest stop was perfect timing, too, because I was famished! I’d been snacking on dried apricots but that just wasn’t enough. The spread was great! They had roasted red potatoes, lots and lots of muffins, cookies, biscuits, bread for sandwiches, peanut butter, a ton of fruit, bagels and trail mix. I was really impressed with the food at this event. It was the best out of all the events I’ve done so far.

YUM! FEED ME. I had 1/4 of a bagel with cream cheese, a few potatoes with ranch dressing, 1/4 of a banana and a bunch of trail mix. It was perfect. It really hit the spot and got me through the next part of the ride.

 

Check out my new cycling jersey! It was great. The only thing I didn’t like was the pockets. They were a bit small. It was finally too warm for cycling tights so I took those off and ended up wrapping the pant legs around my waist like a jacket because the tights just didn’t fit in my jersey. I felt so much better shedding layers. It had warmed up nicely and felt like a hot summer day. Poor Michael only had his long-sleeved jersey. 🙁

We refilled our water bottles and set out for the second leg of our journey. The hardest part of the ride. To be concluded shortly!

 

QUESTION: What are your favorite “fuel” foods on long rides or runs? What works best for you?