Helping You Ride Stronger, Look Better, and Feel Great!

Ask Levi: How Much Mileage Do I Need Before a Century?

I get these questions all the time, so it’s time to answer them all:

“I ride X miles, X times per week. I’m doing a big X mile ride in X weeks. Will I be alright?”

The answer is always the same: It depends.

You might see quite a few “10 weeks to the perfect century” plans in the pages of bicycling magazines, but that’s really just giving you a starting point. Unfortunately, there’s no set formula that works for everyone, all the time.

Let’s say you go out and do a 50 mile ride every weekend and feel pretty good afterward. You might be able to finish a century (100 mile ride.)

On the other hand, if you can complete 50 or 60 miles, but you fall over gasping when you finish, you might not be ready for a century.

(The general rule of thumb is to be able to do a training ride 75% of the event distance. So if you can do a 75 mile ride two weeks before your planned century, you’re doing alright. Just taper off and rest up for the century!)

Scaling back, let’s say you’re doing a few 10-12 mile rides each week. It’s entirely possible you can do a 25-40 mile ride next weekend.

But then again, you might not get past 15 miles before cramping up and calling it a day. I just can’t give you a better answer without knowing your entire riding history (i.e. analyzing all your training journals and riding with you in person.)

Continuing that thought, no one knows your body better than you do. If you feel like you are ready for a big ride, you probably are. If you feel weak while riding and are scared at the prospect of a slightly longer ride, you might want to take some more time to build up your fitness.

The only way to know if you’re ready is to do it and see how it goes!

Important Factors (Other Than Mileage)

Here are a few things to keep in mind when comparing your current training rides with your prospective century or bigger ride:

Terrain.

60 mile rides in Florida aren’t the best way to prepare for a 100 miler in Vermont.

Altitude.

Along the same lines, a 60 mile ride at sea level is way different than something in Colorado at high elevation.

Speed and pace.

Remember to pace yourself. If you enter a race or something where the distance is a little long, don’t start too fast, even if everyone else does.

A good rule of thumb is to do the first half of the ride at a slightly easier pace than you can handle. That way, you have energy saved for the second half. And if you have enough energy, you can ride the second half faster and get a good finishing time.

Fueling.

Remember that if you’ll be riding longer than usual, you will probably take in more food and water than usual. And you want to space that out, so don’t wait until after 60 miles to start fueling.

(See my before and after, and during ride fueling articles for more info.)

Follow those tips and listen to your body and you’ll know whether you can take on that big ride!

More articles you will probably enjoy:
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone

Leave a Reply

coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

usa cycling certified coach


pn1 certified coach
Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
Coach Levi's Mom
Hometown, PA