So, you already know that Le Peug and I survived the metric century—now I’m going to talk a little more about HOW we did it.
First, here are some things I thought I might need for a ride like this that I did not, in fact, need:
- clipless pedals
- toe cages/straps
- drop bars
- 100 energy bars (I went a little crazy at Target!)
Here are some things I added to my bike that I was actually quite grateful for:
- Ergon grips (discovered through Simply Bike)
- water bottle cage
- Brooks saddle (I was so happy to have an excuse to buy this!)
I wore an Adidas clima-cool shirt that I got on clearance at TJ Maxx a few years back, Merrell shoes (also TJ Maxx clearance), and my Terry cycling skort, which was very cool and definitely delivered on the moisture-wicking. I’m not sure the padding helped all that much for my upright riding position—it was placed more for someone riding a road bike—but I figure it didn’t hurt.
The night before the ride, we carbo-loaded with pizza at Black Horse Pub (somehow, I managed to restrict myself to sharing a beer sampler rather than ordering a full beer). I was in bed and asleep by 10:30. The morning of the ride, I got up a little before six and went down to breakfast right away. I drank a couple of cups of coffee, ate an English muffin as well as some fruit and a little bit of oatmeal before taking a shower and getting dressed. We left for the site at about 7:15, and got there a good 30 minutes before the 8 am start.
I was definitely the only person on a 10-speed, and one of very few people not to use clipless pedals. I got passed a lot, but the other riders almost always made friendly comments about my bike or style—and we got a few questions about our Po Campo bags.
Le Peug got hit on hard at the second rest stop by the bike mechanic, who was very nice but rather hilariously started telling me about my own bike. (Guy: “This is a 70s or 80s French bike.” Me: “Yes, it’s a U-18 from the early 1970s.” Guy, not appearing to hear me: “The grips are new, the fenders are original; that saddle is new.” Me: “Actually, I put those fenders on; they’re from Velo-Orange.” Etc.)
As I mentioned in my earlier post, my strategy was to keep a steady, reasonable pace. I didn’t always stick to that, as the 14-15 mph at the beginning attested. But my average pace was about 10.5 mph—since that was calculated including the time spent at rest stops, I’d say it ended up being more like a 11-12 mph average.
We stopped at every rest stop. During the ride, I refilled my 16-oz water bottle twice, drank most of a large coconut water (before it got hot and became totally disgusting—do not recommend!) and a small bottle of gatorade. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and three energy bars, plus a spaghetti lunch after the ride.
I did take off my lights, just to clear the cockpit a little bit and make sure they didn’t accidentally fall off along the way, but I didn’t bother removing anything else. My rack and fenders are so light that I don’t think taking them off would have helped me significantly—and I would have had to carry my bag cross-body, which would have been a total drag.
The one thing I did sort of wish for, especially in the last few miles, was a different handlebar position. But I was actually able to lean forward and hold onto the handlebars right near the stem at a few points when I really needed to change position, so I’m on the fence about whether I would change this in the future. Whitney added bar ends to her bike’s straight handlebars and was very pleased with them, so maybe if I do another ride I’ll give that a shot.
So the moral of the story is, if you train for a ride on your 10-speed, you can complete a ride on your 10-speed—without making any real sporty modifications. So if you’ve been thinking about doing a long ride but are worried about not having the “right” bicycle—just do it. And choose the Clarksville Century ride because the route is super easy. As long as you have a high heat tolerance, that is!
A lot of people, online and off, have asked me whether I intend to keep riding centuries. The answer is that I’m not really sure! I did enjoy the sense of accomplishment I got from this ride. If I continue to take long rides on weekends (which I might; most of the time I enjoyed that too) and am able to maintain the increased endurance I developed during this training, I could be talked into doing another one. It might take a while to get me convinced to jump up to 100 miles, though.