AVOID BONKING ON A CENTURY
What to eat, how to prepare, and crucial tricks for crushing a hundred-miler.
Carry Extra Food
Fast century riders and early birds have a secret they're keeping from the rest of the century-riding crowd: The first people to the rest stops get the best food. Despite organizers' best intentions, by the time the back-of-the-packers arrive, the rest stops are likely to be picked clean of the best choices. Shoving a few more snacks into your pockets at the start or at an early rest stop means carrying a bit more weight, but it'll be well worth it a few hours later when you pull into a rest stop at mile 80 that has only pretzels and orange slices left. Carry cash as well, in case the route passes a convenience store.
Late starters and riders heading for eight-hour-plus finishing times need to be prepared to ride the majority of their century in the heat of the day. That means consuming more fluids--aim for two-and-a-half to three bottles an hour instead of two-- and plenty of foods rich in electrolytes to avoid dehydration. Sports drinks, bars and gels are good ways to ensure you're getting enough sodium; try to have sports drink in one out of every two or three bottles you drink. A later finish also means more sunscreen, which breaks down in intense sun and needs to be reapplied every two hours.
Riding into the afternoon also increases your chances of encountering stronger winds or storms. In many parts of New Mexico and Colorado, for instance, calm mornings typically give way to windy afternoons, with thunderstorms sometime between 1 and 3 p.m. Check weather patterns in the days prior to your event, and ask the locals how the weather normally works this time of year. If a shower rolls in most afternoons, stuff a rain jacket into your pocket--even if there's not a cloud in the sky when you start.
Skip the Early Rest Stop
The first few rest stops on many century rides quickly become overcrowded. If you're a mid-packer, late-starter, or simply don't like crowds, begin the ride with plenty of food and fluid so you can bypass the early rest stop. You shouldn't need to refill bottles for at least 20 miles, and you won't need to stop for calories in the first 30 to 40 miles of the ride. Skipping the first stop can save time and give you a jump on a lot of other riders, which means better food choices and smaller crowds when you pull into the later stops.