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A Ride of the Century


If your workouts are in the doldrums, set one of Colorado’s big September rides as a goal. There’s still time and it could be the boost you need. Call this the 7-minute abs of cycling.

The plan entails a four-week block of riding commitment with a century ride in the fifth week. Here’s how to start: Inform your mate, kids and dog that you’d like to train for a century. Tell them this isn’t the usual 12-week plan. Choose a century. Follow the plan of exercise physiologist, coach and owner of Davanti Cycling, Luisa Sullivan. A few of the keys to success, Sullivan says, are making “volume a priority over intensity” and to “simulate the terrain” of the century in your training. Here’s the rest of her plan:

Prereqs: You’ve ridden between 5–8 hours per week this summer. If you haven’t ridden this year but aren’t starting from fitness scratch you can still prepare for a shorter ride like a metric or half century using percentages of the century schedule as a guide. So your fourth week Sunday ride would be 50 miles (80 percent) assuming a 62-mile goal.

The Route: How many climbs? How long? How steep? You’ll want to progressively increase your climbing until you can almost simulate the profile of the course. For ride distances and grades check out mapmyride.com.

Your Gear: If you’re shorts are translucent with wear, splurge on a quality pair with a good chamois. Don’t forget the chamois cream. This combination will pay huge comfort dividends. Wrap your bars with gel bar tape—another contact point that will cushion your ride. Make sure you have plenty of gearing for the hardest climbs.

The Plan (training plan above): The Tuesday tempo section is between a moderate pace and your threshold—a pace where you focus more on your breathing than on talking to your partner. The climbing on Sundays is the percentage of the total for the century. Threshold is where your legs are burning and your breathing is heavy. Switch up these days to accommodate your schedule.

Below is a sample training schedule for a climbing-intensive century like the Good Sam Bike Jam.

The Week of the Century: If the ride is Saturday, ride 1.5 hours Tuesday with 40 percent climbing; Wednesday and Friday ride one-hour moderate. Three days before eat meals that are 75 percent carbohydrates. Drink lots of water. The morning of the ride eat a bagel and banana, not a burrito. More water!

The Century: Eat something every 30-45 minutes. Drink at least a bottle an hour, alternating between water and an electrolyte mix. Ride at your pace, not the pace of others. Don’t spend more than 10 minutes at any aid station. Change your hand positions often and stretch your neck, back and arms often.

[training plan]
+ Week 1: Mon off; Tue 1 hr. w/20 min. tempo; Wed 1 hr. moderate; Thur 1 hr. w/10% in climbing; Fri off; Sat 30 miles, flat/rolling; Sun 40 miles w/20% of goal climbs; 5 min. at threshold.

+ Week 2: Mon off; Tue 1 hr. w/20 min. tempo; Wed 1 hr. moderate; Thur 1 hr. w/20% in climbing; Fri off; Sat 40 miles, flat/rolling; Sun 55 miles w/40% of goal climbs; 10 min. at threshold.

+ Week 3: Mon off; Tue 1 hr. w/20 min. tempo; Wed 1 hr. moderate; Thur 1 hr. w/30% in climbing; Fri off; Sat. 50 miles, flat/rolling; Sun 65 miles w/60% of goal climbs; 15 min. at threshold.

+ Week 4: Mon off; Tue 1 hr. w/20 min. tempo; Wed 1 hr. moderate; Thur 1.5 hr. w/40% in climbing; Fri off; Sat 50 miles, flat/rolling; Sun 80 miles w/80% of goal climbs; 20 min. at threshold.

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