How to do Centuries NOT
Pictured: Not doing a century in Alaska with winter riding expert Simon Rakower of All Weather Sports
I DON'T do centuries. I find lotsa miles boring. I generally do the middling option - 50-60. Even on PACTOUR events (but for that, I am always working in some capacity so can usually wag out and save face).
My technique for a) getting fit and b) meeting almost everyone at some point and c) getting back early enough to still have most of the day at my disposal - is to only do the 50-60 option.
The drill: leave earlyish but not real early. Hammer with the fast guys as they catch you, hanging on for long enough to impress (but BEFORE you start slipping back). Bid them adieu, drop back, take a rest, mingle and chat with different groups bringing up the rear. Wait for the next fast group. Repeat until you've worked yourself all the way to the back. By this time you've finished early enough, you've had several good hard sprints, which are better than one long middling slog (according to Fred Matheny of www.roadbikerider.com), you've said hi to most of the riders and here's the crazy part - they all think you're fast! I had several guys pass me after a 36 mph stretch saying 'hey, you're doing GREAT!'.
Because you're actually 'speeding up' to meet fast riders, rather than expecting them to slow down to meet you, you don't frustrate the well-meaning kind who might feel obliged to hang with you. In my case, as a Bike Friday Customer Evangelist, it does much to dispel the notion that small wheels are show, judging from the attention I got at the rest stops and at the finish. After hanging in the draft until a rest stop I'm still amazed to get the question, "so, are those bikes slower than real bikes?"
- The Gal
My First Race