So you’ve signed up for the Prudential RideLondon century (or another cycling century race). 100 Miles on the bike lies in front of you. You’ve trained yourself up (or at least got a couple of decent rides in) and now you’re thinking about the logistics of the race itself. Well – hopefully I can help. I’ve done this race and many other centuries and I know a few things that can go wrong and how to prevent them.
This is aimed at the beginner who has not done a long distance bike race before.
Things to take
- Your bike: This doesn’t have to be a really expensive carbon bike, but it should be something decent that you know can take 100 miles on the road. Think about the condition of your tires, breaks, gears and consider a service before you race. If you’re buying a bike then make sure you get a road bike, not a mountain bike!
- Padded cycling shorts such as these. Don’t even try 100 miles without them!
- A proper cycling top – this is a must have. You can get cheap but good quality tops like this, or you can spend more and get something branded like this. Select for the weather and make sure whatever you choose has rear pockets.
- Cycling shoes that clip into your pedals. I could not do 100 miles with flat pedals comfortably! You don’t have to spend a fortune on these, at the time of writing here are some good shoes for 38 quid! You may also need the pedals themselves, something like this. Note the type needs to match the shoe – SPD / SPD-SL.
- Lube for inside your shorts (really). This type is my personal favourite.
- A small pump like this one or CO2 cartridge and valve like this, I currently use this C02 system and I love it.
- A bank note of the smallest denomination possible (more on this later).
- Spare inner tubes (I normally pack 2 for a century, but used 3 on my last one because I split my tire).
- Water – you can use a camelbak style backpack or water bottles. Either is fine, it’s just what you’re comfortable with. I find a camelbak with 2.5 litres of water gets me around 100 miles unless it’s really hot and it’s very easy to drink from, other people don’t like the weight and would rather fill up water bottles part way around.
- Food – I’m a big eater and whilst I’m on a nice flat section at about 30 and 60 miles I like to have a cheese and tomato pitta bread. Don’t ask me why, it just seems to get me through! You might prefer energy gels (don’t take unless you’ve tried them in training), sweets like jelly babies, or something else…but you will get hungry.
So, you’ve got everything ready. On the morning of the race get into your cycling shorts and cycling top and pull on some good quality socks. Next, grab a handful of your lube and rub it into the inside of your shorts – all over the places you’re likely to ‘rub’… Seriously, this makes a big difference.
Put your food, pump (or C02 cartridege and valve) and spare inner tube(s) into the back pockets of your cycle top. Hopefully these are elasticated and won’t let anything fall out.
Put your water bottles on your bike and make sure you have the saddle adjusted correctly – see this guide for details.
Now, finally, what do you do with your bank note? Well, it’s handy to keep some cash on you just in case you need it, but I always pack a note because if you split your bike tire you can place a note under the tire on the split and pump up the inner tube and it will normally hold together…at least for a few miles which could be enough to get you to some support.
Eat a good breakfast and get out there to enjoy it. It’s a wonderful ride.