Training for a Century Ride: Part 3

Welcome back to the virtual coaching sessions with Sage Rountree advising Kathleen Burke Jensen as she prepares to attempt a personal first — a 100 mile bike ride as a member of Team Fatty ( in the LiveStrong Challenge on July 12th in San Jose, California.

In Part 1 and Part 2 of their email conversation Sage coached Kathleen on a training plan as well as clothing, nutrition, stretching suggestions and all the assorted parts of preparing for a century bike ride.

Let’s catch up on Part 3 of their ongoing discussion…

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KATHLEEN: It’s the final week and I’m feeling strong and prepared to tackle this 100-mile bike ride. A few final questions:

Carbo-loading. Should I do it? If so, how often, how much and what foods do you suggest? In general, are there good rules of thumb to follow regarding preparing my body for 8+ hours on a bike?

SAGE: The thinking on carbo-loading keeps changing. Just eat as you normally do during the week, trying to get plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Stay hydrated, but also keep up your blood salts. (The typical American diet doesn’t need extra salt, but if you’re cooking at home, you might add another dash.) The night before the ride, you’ll want to avoid eating too much fiber, fat, or spicy foods, or your stomach might bring you trouble in the morning.

You’ll probably be excited the night before the ride, and especially since you’ll be in a hotel, you might find it hard to sleep. That’s normal. Focus on good sleep this week—especially on Friday, two nights before your event—and you’ll be fine.

KATHLEEN: I’m in full taper mode now after getting my mileage up to 72 miles and time in the saddle over 6 hours. I’ve been feeling really hungry and a little sluggish since I started stepping down my training. Is that normal? Will my body be ready to go on Sunday?

SAGE: One of the primary features of the taper is the fear that you’re losing fitness and will be unprepared for the event. This is normal! So is a range of other wacky emotions, impulses, and sleep patterns. Don’t get hung up on these. They’re part of the process as your mind and body prepare for a big undertaking. One of my athletes, Robyn, is thirty-eight weeks pregnant, and she’s having the same taper madness as her due date approaches. She calls it “my big taper for the year.”

KATHLEEN: My biggest breakthrough in the last couple of weeks was to add a Bento Box to my bike and expand my food choices and intake. For me, 200 calories an hour really helps keep my energy up and I find that eating a little bit every 15 minutes is ideal. I’ve added Clif Shot Blocks to the menu and find the gummy bear consistency super yummy after munching on granola-like bars. Like a burst of fruit flavor in my mouth. Lara Bars are nice because they are so compact and light, yet they carry up to 200 calories! And I love the simplicity of their ingredients.

SAGE: The Bento Box, which sticks to the top tube of the bike, is a great tool for keeping food at hand. Many folks do better snacking, as you are, which helps keep blood sugar up. At the intensity you’re riding, you’re burning the greatest proportion of your calories from fat, which is great. But you still need carbohydrates to access those calories. Seems like you’ve figured it out!

KATHLEEN: My new Enduring Edge Oakley sunglasses from Athleta and my arm coolers for sun protection are key additions to my wardrobe. Now that I have all the gear I could use a few tips for getting me through the actual day.


SAGE: Stay calm, efficient, and happy. Easier said than done, I know.

The crowd at the start of the ride will be thick and unpredictable. Stay cool and get up to your chosen speed—ideally in the company of your teammates—once the pack thins. Pacelining will save you energy. You’ve practiced this a little in training. Make no sudden speed changes, especially when it’s your turn to pull at the front. Look ahead, not at your leader’s rear wheel (or fanny!). Use your equestrian skills to stay steady and balanced, and you’ll be fine.

You will probably not need to stop at the first aid station; roll on through. When you do stop, don’t linger, as nice as it might be to have a real toilet, food, and friendly volunteers. Make a potty stop, refill your bottle, smile and thank the volunteers (they got up very early to stand in the sun serving you!), and then get rolling again.

If you start to feel negative, be sure you are eating enough. A jolt of sugar—sometimes with caffeine—will usually help in such scenarios. Throughout the day, but especially when you are feeling tired, focus on form and breath. Pedal in smooth circles with a relaxed upper body. Notice where you are holding unnecessary tension, and let it go. Cycling is about your legs and your lungs, not about your shoulders, fingers, jaw, or forehead! All along, take the fullest, deepest breaths you can given your work intensity.

Finally, remember your reasons for doing this event. You could even go so far as to jot them down and carry them with you. Checking in with your original intention can be very powerful.

Have fun, Kathleen: it’s going to be a good day in the company of happy people. You’ll feel great watching your odometer click to triple digits. Enjoy it!

Company of Teammates

KATHLEEN: Thanks Sage! I feel completely prepared thanks to all of your suggestions and encouragement. Can’t wait to let you know how it goes!

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SAGE ROUNTREE is author of The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga, The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga, a contributor to Runner’s World, and a member of PowerBar Team Elite. She loves competing in triathlon and running races of all distances. Through her business, Sage Endurance, she teaches yoga to athletes and coaches clients in running, ultrarunning, triathlon, and duathlon… {more»}

KATHLEEN BURKE JENSEN loves to write, ride her beautiful horse, and train for exciting new physical challenges. She’s constantly looking for ways to do all three things; if not simultaneously, then at least back to back throughout the day. For more on her adventures, visit her blog Forging Ahead »

BERT VALENTIN JENSEN hopes that viewers of his photos feel something special for the familiar. Like sitting down with a good friend whose stories make life larger and curiously connected. And if his work resonates with them like a great big bell, well that’s good too. Maybe the bell tolls for thee at »


July 09, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Negative splits are key. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of starting and go out too fast.

Don’t stop eating and eat more than you think you need to, especially if the temperature is cool.

Be prepared for rain.


July 10, 2009 at 5:22 am

Good luck, Kathleen! I’m doing my first century in late September and I’ll be incorporating into my training and ‘big day’ some of the tips that you and Sage have suggested. Have fun and be safe out there on Sunday!


July 10, 2009 at 9:01 am

Have a great time Kathleen!! Great tips!

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