I’ve told the story in here about my first hike to Camp Muir, at the 10000 foot mark of Mt. Rainier. I was trudging along a very steep path when this little old lady (who late I found was in her 70s) passed me like I was standing still! As she went by I heard her say, “Slow and steady dearie, you’ll make it!”
This story came to mind again today as I was talking with one of the ladies training for the Seattle-to-Portland. She was telling me that her friend is very worried about how slow she is and whether she’d be able to finish “in time!”
I started thinking about the rides I have done. Of all of them only 2 had real time limits in my mind. The finish line for the STP closed at 9PM on the first day. My personal goal was to get there (206) by that time (16 hours and 15 minutes). If I was later, I would’ve still finished in “one day” but that was my personal goal. The other was the High Pass Challenge. That one had a true time limit, 10 hours or no medal. My goal was just to completed the course. That is until I was under 15 miles to the finish and just under an hour to get there! MADE it and have the medal!
Adding a time limit increases stress for new riders. I sometime “Race the Sun” trying to get home, before sundown, but to me it adds to the fun.
For new riders, getting ready for the first century ride, adding time concerns can cause them to give up before they even start. So here is a trick I used. Assume you will average 10 miles an hour. (I would bet most people doing a century are faster than this, but I still use 10 cuz I like easy math!) If it’s a true century, 100 miles, it will take 10 hours at 10 MPH. So if the start of the ride is at 7, you will be done around 5. Now, if you ride faster than 10 MPH on average, then you will know you will be done sooner!
The two ladies I am referring to, have no set shut down date on day one, they can take as long as they want. This means they can take their time and enjoy the ride, visit the food stops, hit the honey buckets, and not stress in the least. She is worrying about something that doesn’t matter.
My kids used to ask “Are you going to win the race tomorrow?” Nope not a race guys, it’s a ride. It’s not about how fast you get there. It’s about getting there. I found that if I didn’t wear the watch, suddenly I’d be crossing the finish line, and wondering where the rest of the ride went. Then when I checked the time, I find I was MUCH faster than I thought! It’s hard to give your best performance when you are stressing about things that “just don’t matter!”
There is plenty of time later for rides with time limits (RAMROD for me this year) if you are looking at your first century ride do these few things:
- Cross the starting line when it first opens, maximize your time
- Don’t try to keep up with the “real bikers” you’ll burn yourself out
- Eat and Drink the whole time
- Have Fun!
- Brag about it when you are done!
biking 100 miles in a day is a true accomplishment. Look around you, how many people do you know or work with who have done it? Screw the time, just handle the miles!