The Hotter-N-Hell 100 (HH100) 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 Hotter-N-Hell 100.
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, rode the necessary mileage, raced some through the season, and ensured his equipment was ready for a long day. He purchased and mounted new tubular tires, replaced a few components, experimented with different food and gel options, and purchased new cycling shoes.
It appeared like he was dialed-in and ready to roll. However, properly adjusting new shoes (especially an entirely different brand) required more trial and error than just a few days of riding.
In the end, it appeared that he was ready to roll....except for his right shoe and cleat position. My teammate ended up riding the whole 200 miles with knee pain. 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 necessary, however, we should avoid any drastic/major changes before big events. Even if the idea sounds good.
Ensure your equipment is ready, with any adjustments made well in advance. Don't wait until the last minute.
Here are a few equipment recommendations:
1. New tires. Freshly mounted tires feel great and can hedge against flats. You could also inject tire sealant to protect against common thorns and road debris.
2. Get a proper bike fit. A bike fit can ensure that you are comfortable and maximizing power output.
3. Tune-up your bike with a new chain and install new shoe cleats (well in advance)
Proper nutrition is pivotal for every endurance athlete, especially during hot summer Hotter-N-Hell days.
We're taught that we only have carbohydrates in our system to last us about 90 minutes. That means that we have to replenish our carbohydrate (glycogen) 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 during training rides. Make sure your nutrition agrees with your stomach
2. During your HH100, eat something every 20 minutes. That could be a gel or a couple of bites of food
3. It will be hot, plan on taking a drink every 15-20 minutes
4. Keep a well-rounded diet, focus your daily meals with real food
5. Continue with your chosen vitamin and supplements. Endurance360 and Beetroot Pro are also recommended 3-4 weeks in advance. These formulas are designed for endurance athletes and work very well to protect against muscle cramps.
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 for getting into shape is consistency. That's the secret! Consistency! Sometimes life gets in the way and consistency is not always possible.
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 accomplish 100 miles. Go out for at least two to three 60+ mile rides three weeks in advance.
3. Mixing your rides with mileage and intensity will enhance your preparation
4. Try to become drafting proficient. Drafting offers approx. 30% energy savings, which is a HUGE amount of energy savings over a 100-mile span.
5. Try different foods and sports drinks. Everyone has slightly different preferences.
6. Lastly, if you tend to sweat a lot, be sure to include salty types of sports drinks and food.
Cycling is a beautiful sport that can take you along beautiful roads and gorgeous scenery. We can meet lifelong friends and gain incredible fitness.
Take it all in while you are training for HH100. Be sure to hone your equipment to ensure a smooth and comfortable ride. Dial-in your nutrition to keep your energy stores up and build up to tackle Hotter-N-Hell. Good luck!