Four Lessons from a Kilometre Century

I've never ridden a Century. 

Here in Ontario the Centurion organization puts together some great events, including the a mile century in Collingwood in September. Giancarlo did that one last year and said it was great, and this year they are also doing a kilometre century north of Barrie, around Horseshoe Valley, in June.
Here's a nice video from Centurion founder Graham Fraser, with all the details.

As a promo for Horseshoe, they did an informal training ride of the course last Saturday.
It's a beautiful ride – there was one section through forest that was lined with more trilliums than I have ever seen. Almost enough to forgive the climb they were on. (Below is video from the 2012 Horseshoe ride.)

Almost like this
The challenge here was riding farther than I had ever ridden before.

What I didn't know was how damned hilly the course was.

So lots of opportunities to put my personal vendetta against hills to the test.

And I learned a few things:

1. Speed is easy, endurance is hard. I can stick with the faster riders – sort of. I was able to hang on to the front-end group for about the first 65-70 km, then they decisively dropped my ass – on a hill. So speed is less of an issue than endurance. And being able to kick it up a notch when necessary.

2. That body-mind thing is no joke. It's remarkable how the physical collapse and the psychological collapse go hand in hand. When shit gets real, and you start to fade a bit, and the group starts to inch away, there's a moment when it feels like your will and your body give in together.
And boom: you're dropped. Like a rock.

3. Don't let the group dictate your climb. When riding in the middle of the pack and approaching a hill, over and over I would let myself get sucked in to trying to ride with the wheel in front of me. I like to gear up and accelerate a bit to get some momentum and have a few gears in reserve to climb with. Inevitably the group would slow at the base of the hill and accordion, and I would get my whole rhythm blown, wrong gears, wrong cadence and struggling to keep my act together. It was doubly dumb because the group always broke up on the hills anyway.

4. Stay fuelled. I'm not sure I totally got this right, but I tried to be consuming calories from the very start, and kept at it steadily throughout. (Thanks to the Powerbar guys for the chews, BTW, they were great.) In the end I was very tired, but not wiped right out. Bearing in mind that on a ride of that length, most people will be burning somewhere between 3500 & 4000 Calories. (My HR monitor watch estimated 4127 cal, but I'm not convinced of its accuracy.) And I think pounding back the protein-laden recovery bar along with all the carbs I could get my hands on as soon as I stopped helped make the next day pretty painless.


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