Tackling Your First Century Ride
By Malia k Harunaga
“You rode 100 miles? On your BICYCLE?! How is that possible?” This might be a common remark you’ll start to hear after telling someone you’ve completed a century ride. If you’re reading this and have never experienced the joy of finishing a 100-mile bike ride, you might be thinking the same thing. How is biking 100 miles possible; surely you must have to be a hardcore cyclist or professional racer to do such a feat?
The answer is that biking 100 miles is totally achievable for almost anyone, with the right amount of preparation and determination! If you are thinking about tackling your first century ride, congratulations – you’ve passed the first hurdle already! Now that you have your eyes on the goal, you can start to put the other parts in motion to get you crossing the 100-mile finish line with a smile on your face!
The Hawaii Bicycling League will be holding the 37th Annual Honolulu Century Ride on September 30th, 2018 (Sunday). This event brings about 2,000 cyclists to the roads of O‘ahu to take part of a gorgeous ride that starts from Kapi‘olani Park and heads out to Swanzy Beach Park and back for an amazing 100-mile journey. The participants are taken well care of with aid stations along the route stocked by friendly volunteers handing out cold refreshments, fruits, snacks, and cheer to keep riders’ energy up.
Having your first 100-mile adventure on a bike is a much more pleasurable experience when you have support, and having other riders out there helping you along makes it a wonderful experience and even more rewarding achievement.
The key to finishing a century ride is being prepared. You must get yourself ready with the right amount of training, good food, and mental determination. It is highly advised to join a group ride to steadily build up your mileage and endurance, and to get more comfortable on your two-wheels. The Hawaii Bicycling League has a full calendar of different group lead rides for cyclists of all abilities ranging from total beginners to local racing teams at www.HBL.org/calendar. One of the groups that will be actively training for the September century ride is the Red Hot Ladies. “The Red Hot Ladies bicycling club was formed by Patricia Johnson & Pattie Dunn with the expressed goal of encouraging women 50+ to get back into bicycling and start enjoying the freedom of being on two wheels. Over the last decade our community of riders has expanded to include younger women as well as men. As Red Hot Ladies we strive to be humble, kind, courteous and inclusive not only as bicycle ambassadors but in our daily lives.” They have multiple no-drop rides each week for you to choose from. Riding with friends is not only more fun but there is also an added layer of safety when bicycling in numbers.
Even before you start building up your cycling stamina and making sure your body is ready for the ride, you’ll want to make sure your equipment is ready to roll as well. Always make sure you have the proper amount of air in your tubes by checking the recommended PSI on your tire sidewalls. Getting a flat is never fun but it shouldn’t mean you have to call it quits on your ride! Learn how to fix a flat (or refresh your flat-fixing skills) by going to a fun hands-on Basic Bike Maintenance workshop offered for free by the Hawaii Bicycling League! Go to www.HBL.org/workshops to see when the next workshop is. The Honolulu Century Ride will offer mechanical assistance to all registered riders if you find yourself needing any help on the course. Another reason this event is the best place for your first century!
Some other tips to get you to the finish line:
- Start small and increase your mileage steadily. Listen to your body when it needs to rest and don’t over do it.
- Know all the rights and responsibilities for bicycle (vehicle) operators biking in Hawai‘i – HBL has free workshops for adults that go over safe cycling practices and make sure everyone leaves feeling more confident on their bikes.
- Train using the equipment you will be biking with for the Century. The day before the ride is not the time to bust out a new pair of cycling shoes or to swap out your wheels.
- Ride ready. Always carry with you basic tools to fix a flat (spare tube or patch kit, tire levers, and hand pump).
- If you are unsure of your bike’s current condition or your own mechanical prowess it would be a good idea to bring in your bike into a local bike store for a basic or full tune-up.
- Bring some form of personal identification with you. Having a mobile phone and spare cash is recommended as well.
- Watch the weather. The heat of the Hawai‘i sun can be draining – protect yourself by wearing UV blocking attire or applying (and reapplying) sunscreen.
- Butt sore after being on the saddle? Padded shorts are a lifesaver. Invest in a pair… or a few!
- Life essentials: Just like water is essential to human life, water is essential to riding and training for a century ride! Make sure you are well-stocked with water or sports drink and set a timer to drink every 20 minutes if you need a friendly re-hydration reminder.
- Nutrition is a necessity! Make sure you eat a hearty (not heavy) balanced meal with fresh vegetables and low glycaemic index carbs before your ride.
- Wear a helmet when you’re biking and be sure to make yourself visible on the road, especially at low-light conditions (got lights?).
You can do it! And even if the thought of a hundred-mile bike ride does not sound like your cup of tea right now, maybe it will become a taste you desire down the road. It’s never too late to get training!
There are 25, 50, 75, and 100 mile options for the Honolulu Century Ride and even 9 and 18 mile options in the family-friendly, all abilities welcome, Aloha Fun Ride (both on September 27th). Find more information on the Honolulu Century Ride and Aloha Fun Ride at www.HBL.org/HCR.