El Tour De Tucson century ride is just around the corner. Many riders preparing for the event are happy to "just finish" and want to enjoy the ride, without bonking or feeling sluggish. For any level of rider 100 miles is a long way and we all need pay attention to our preparation. Here are some pointers to help you prepare for El Tour De Tucson.
Dial in your Equipment
I recently had a teammate who rode a very long ride/race from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, WY (LOTOJA). It's USA Cycling's longest one day event; 206 miles completed in one day! He was very meticulous in his preparation. He wore a heart rate monitor, did necessary training mileage, raced some through the season and ensured his equipment was also ready. He also purchased and mounted new tubular tires, updated a few components, tried out different food and gel options and purchased new cycling shoes. It appeared like he was dialed in and ready to roll. But, properly adjusting new shoes (which was also a different brand) required more trial and error than just a few days of riding. In the end, he had everything dialed in, except for his shoe and cleat position. My teammate ended up riding the whole 200 miles with knee pain, where a simple cleat adjustment would have made all the difference and eliminated the pain.
The point of this story is that dialing equipment, training and nutrition is the required, but avoid any drastic changes from here on out. Ensure your equipment is ready, with any adjustments made well in advance. Don't wait until the last minute.
Proper nutrition is pivotal for every endurance athlete. It's said that we only have carbohydrates in our system to last us about 90 minutes. That means that we have to replenish our carbohydrate stores during our ride. If you haven't already found gels and bars that work for you, now is a good time to start. I've always been a proponent of real food. Check out The FeedZone Cookbook for some great food ideas. These days, I only ride with rice cakes in my back pocket and a couple of caffeinated gels during long rides. Here are my nutritional recommendations:
1. Practice in advance the food and gels to dial in your nutrition
2. During your century ride eat something every 20 minutes. That could be a gel or a couple bites of food
3. Drink every 15-20 minutes
rice, strawberries, blueberries, brown sugar, a bit of salt & lime juice
While 100 miles is a long way, most riders, even weekend warriors can adequately prepare and accomplish a century with enough training. The number one rule to training and getting into shape is consistency. That's the secret! Consistency! Sometimes life gets in the way and consistency is not always going to happen. When preparing for a century, I would recommend training 5-6 days a week for 4 weeks straight. Here are some training tips:
1. Be consistent with your training
2. If you can ride 65-75 miles during one ride, you can absolutely accomplish 100 miles. Go out for at least two to three 60+ mile rides three weeks before Tour de Tucson
3. Mixing your rides with mileage and intensity will enhance your preparation
4. Try to become proficient with drafting. Drafting offers around 30% of energy savings, which is a HUGE amount of energy savings over a 100 mile span.