The Century Ride: How To Train For A 100 Mile Bike Ride (+Training Plan)

Your first century ride is a big deal and is a common benchmark for many road cyclists.

In fact, the satisfaction of completing a 100-mile bike ride doesn’t really diminish, even if you’ve done it a few times!

However, completing a century ride isn’t just a case of going for a long ride – it’s a challenge that requires preparation.

Your 100-mile bike ride preparation should consist of serious training, learning how to fuel yourself properly, and making sure you have the right equipment.

In this article, we’ll be covering:

  • How To Prepare For A Century Ride
  • Your 100 Mile Bike Ride Training Plan
  • What To Wear
  • How To Fuel Your Body For A Century Ride
  • 4 Top Tips For Taking On A 100 Mile Bike Ride

Ready to smash your first century ride?

Let’s hit the road!

Century Ride: 100-Mile Bike Ride (Title Image)

How To Prepare For A Century Ride

Before you jump on your bike and aim for a 100-mile bike ride, you need to prepare yourself.

Pick A Date

The first thing to do is decide when you are going to do your century ride. You can find an organized event or do it by yourself.

Either way, you should set a date.

If you’re going to do it by yourself, make sure you have enough time to train for it; also, check the long-range weather forecast to pick a day with good weather. A 100-mile bike ride will take you a while, so you don’t want to be doing the whole thing in the rain.

However, you want to avoid attempting your century ride on a scorching day too. Hot weather can make your ride more challenging than if you did it on a cold day. Ideally, choose a day when the temperatures are mild, and there is little wind.

Plan Your Route

The next thing to do is plan your route. One way is to ride 50 miles and head straight back. There’s nothing wrong with this, but there might be more interesting options if you search around.

When it comes to route planning, check out apps like Komoot or Strava. These are excellent tools for finding local loops, and you’ll get a good idea of how difficult they are.

It is also a good idea to stick to as many roads that you know as possible. If you choose a route that consists of many sections you are unfamiliar with, you may end up with a challenging climb when you least want it.

If you have to incorporate unfamiliar roads into your route, it is best to drive them first. Alternatively, you can cross-reference them with Google Maps and see what they look like on Street View. This way, you will know what to expect regarding how busy they are and if they are suitable for cycling. Then you can decide if you need to rethink your route.

Another top tip for planning your first century ride is to plan a stopping place. See if there is a decent cafe located around the 50-60 mile mark so you can take a break, get some food and fill up your bidon.

Photo from behind of a cyclist on a tarmac road.

Your 100 Mile Bike Ride Training Plan

Now you have set a date and planned a route, it’s time to make sure you are fit enough to go for a 100 mile bike ride.

If you already have a reasonable fitness level and are training for your first century ride, you’ll be glad to know that it doesn’t take as much work as you might think.

Ride During The Week

If you can, start commuting to work on your bike. This is a good starting point, as you will incorporate getting some miles under your belt into your daily routine.

Not everyone can commute on their bikes. If this is you, try to get an hour of riding in before or after work every day. You can also set your bike up on a turbo trainer, which will allow you to ride without leaving the house, saving you time.

These daily rides will build a great foundation for your longer weekend rides.

Check out our guide to Zone 2 training for more guidance on building endurance!

Schedule Weekend Rides

You will need to put aside time to ride at the weekends. On your first weekend, schedule a two-hour ride. Ignore the distance for now; this ride is just to see how you feel.

If you feel that two hours was OK, add half an hour to your ride every weekend. It won’t take long before you are pedaling for five hours in relative comfort while edging closer to your 100-mile goal.

Incorporate strength training into your routine to build muscle. You can also take part in a spin class every week to add intensity to your workouts.

A cyclist in an orange jersey rides a tarmac road through a forest.

What To Wear

Every cyclist has their own idea of what to wear on a long ride. It also depends on your local climate and the time of year your want to do your century ride.

But no matter what the weather is like, you may want to take a packable gilet with you and wear a base layer. A packable gilet will fold up small enough to squeeze it into a pocket. You will find that you barely use it, but it’s good to have just in case.

A gilet will keep your body dry in the event of a downpour and act as an extra layer if the temperature drops while protecting you from the wind.

Wearing a base layer will keep you comfortable throughout your ride. The technical fabric will help you regulate your temperature while wicking sweat away from your skin.

We’d also recommend a pair of padded cycling shorts for any long ride to avoid the dreaded saddle sores.

A cyclist rides a coastal road at sunset.

How To Fuel Your Body For A Century Ride

To ensure you have enough energy for your century ride, you need to fuel your body appropriately.

Your fuelling strategy should start the night before your ride. Load up with a carb-based dinner, such as pasta or rice. Then on the morning of your ride, eat slow-burning food like porridge. This will keep your energy levels up throughout the morning.

During the ride, eat small amounts of food often. So, every 45 minutes, snack on carbohydrates, such as energy bars, bananas, or sandwiches. Try to choose food that is easy to eat while riding to limit your stopping time.

It’s good to mix up the types of food you carry with you. You could be riding for seven hours, so a variety will be kinder to your stomach, and you can look forward to your favorite snacks.

Start with savory food and go for the sweet stuff towards the end of your ride. If you take in loads of sugar early on, you may feel sick or suffer from a sugar crash when you least want it.

If you stop off for lunch, go for a sandwich or something else savory. Avoid too much fatty food as you’ll struggle to digest it quickly, leaving you bloated.

Check out our complete guide to a healthy cycling diet here.

A cyclist rides on the hard shoulder in a flat, grassy landscape.

4 Top Tips For Taking On A 100 Mile Bike Ride

#1. Check Your Bike

This goes for any time you go out on your bike, not just a century ride. But, you should check over your bike the night before to make sure it is in full working order. Clean it, ensure the gears and breaks work, and lubricate your chain.

Check out our bike maintenance guides for more information on looking after your bike.

#2. Ensure You Have Sufficient Spares

Get everything ready you may need in advance. Things like inner tubes, tire levers, a multi-tool, and a pump should keep you riding in most eventualities.

#3. Recruit A Partner

Riding with company helps keep you motivated. If you can recruit a friend to join your century ride, you’ll probably end up enjoying the experience more!

You can also take turns drafting each other to reduce wind resistance, making the task more manageable.

#4. Pace Yourself

Finding a comfortable pace is essential for completing your century ride. Your pace should be comfortable enough to maintain throughout the whole ride.

Don’t go too hard too soon, as you will run out of energy early in your ride. On the other hand, take it too slowly and you’ll be riding home in the dark!

A good rule of thumb is to ride at a pace that will allow you to still make conversation with your friend while pedaling. This goes for riding uphill, too; you are going for distance rather than speed.

Two cyclists descend a hairpin bend with a jagged mountain range behind them.

Good Luck On Your Century Ride!

Feeling inspired to take on a century ride for yourself?

Go for it!

Even though a 100-mile bike ride is challenging, you should always remember that you’re riding your bike for fun! Take in the surroundings, stop for photos, and enjoy the experience.

Found this article helpful? Check out more from the BikeTips experts below!

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One of BikeTips' regular content creators, Tom lives in the French Alps. When he isn't writing, he can be found charging downhill on a mountain bike or snowboard. Tom's other passion is fitness, which goes a long way to help him make the most of the Alpine lifestyle.

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