A 100-mile bike ride, also known as the century ride, is a feat that hardcore cyclists feel the need to clear at some point in their life. However, completing this challenge takes a lot of guts and sustained effort to achieve. Let’s take a look at how to train for a 100 mile bike ride.
We’ll cover what you need to consider for clearing that special number, including matters regarding riding strategy and nutrition. There’s also a century ride training plan along with important points such as answers to questions like “how long does it take to bike 100 miles?”.
Table of Contents
Step-by-step Guide to Train for a 100-mile Bike Ride
A century ride is a physically demanding biking activity that requires sufficient training and preparation. When drawing up a training plan intermediate riders are recommended to use a 3-month training plan, with the last 2 weeks ramping up to the actual 100-mile ride.
Here we have 4 main steps to get you ready for hundred mile cycling. Below is a sample training schedule for reference.
12-week training plan for 100 mile bike ride
|1-2||High-intensity cycling split into sets. Increase sets as weeks go by.
Target 2 sets in the first few weeks. Ramp up to four 10-minute sets by week 11.
|12-minute sets of low to high-intensity cycling.
2 sets in the first few weeks. Gradually increase to 4 sets by week 11.
|2-hour ride on one day, track your distance covered|
|3-4||35 to 45-mile ride on one day.
Recovery ride for the other.
|5-8||55-mile ride for a day
Recovery ride for the next
|9-10||65-mile ride on one day.
Recovery for the other
|11||Trial run of at least 75 miles
Recovery ride the next day
|12||Free Ride||Rest||Free Ride||Rest||Century ride|
- All Mondays are rest days
- Always take a day to recover after a long ride; 1 hour of low-intensity bicycling will do
- Schedule long rides weekly
Step 1: Plan your ride
The first thing you need to do to prepare for a 100 mile bike ride is to plan for it. It can be a problem for beginners to try such a long ride only to collapse from exhaustion. For this reason, it is recommended to participate in a less intense cycling event first.
Some cyclists choose to participate in events like races for a number of benefits; there are stations where there are food and drinks, medical staff on standby, and the road will be clear. This level of preparation will not be something you can match, and it is something that you should make use of if you can.
You’ll also need to consider the kind of ride you want to make for your first time riding 100 miles on a bike. A track with mostly flats will be easier for beginners than a mountain bike ride, but what is important is to match your training with the terrain you’re taking on.
Step 2: Make a training schedule
Now you need to start training for a 100 mile bike ride. The idea is to get your body to a level where it can handle riding the whole distance. You can do this by gradually ramping up the intensity through training until you get to a point where it can handle 100 miles.
It’s also important to engage in long rides. Start off by aiming for 35 to 45 miles within the first month and slowly increase the cycling distance until you can hit 75 miles by week 11. This will give you a good chance of clearing 100 miles for the cycling event itself.
Here are a few pointers for formulating a cycling training program and schedule of your own. Refer to the sample training schedule above.
- Try to incorporate commuting by bicycle to add to your training
- Warm up and cool down for 10 minutes on high-intensity training days. When doing so, your heart rate should reach 50-59% of its maximum speed.
- Utilize Zone 2 or endurance training along with strength training on weekdays
- Target being able to sustain Zone 2 rides (meaning your heart rate should be within 60-69% of its maximum speed during the entire ride)
- Schedule long rides once a week while increasing the distance covered
- Set a rest day every week
Step 3: Formulate your strategy
While you are undertaking your 100 mile bicycle training plan, it is also important to strategize and come up with how you’ll tackle the entire distance. You will need strategies when it comes to managing the different aspects of the ride, from managing your performance to your fuelling strategy.
It’s important to come up with a pace that you can be comfortable with, you will need to avoid overexerting yourself to last longer. You’ll also need to decide on what to eat before and during the ride, along with how to distribute them throughout the ride.
- Before your ride, you should eat a slow-burning meal, such as apples, oatmeal, eggs, etc., to energize yourself.
- Energy bars and bananas are great as snacks during your ride. Bring enough so you can have some every 45 minutes.
It’s best to go for savory food during most of your rides—anything too sweet will cause a sugar crash that can get your heart beat irregularly. Save these treats for last.
- Liquid intake is another important consideration. For a 100-mile ride, you’ll need 2 gallons of water. Bring 2 small bottles with you so you can restock whenever possible.
Once you’ve formulated what to eat and drink, try out your diet on your long weekend rides. This will help you determine if the plan works for you.
Step 4: Prepare for the big day
The last long ride on the 100 mile cycling training plan will be your dry run for the big day, so make sure that you already have your game plan. What comes after should only be fine-tuning for the actual ride. This last long ride should be about 75 miles long.
After the dry run, you will need to rest your body well. Go on a recovery ride to keep your body exercising without overexerting it. On the day before the event, only ride the bike to ensure that everything is in proper working condition.
Instead of last-minute training, your time will be better spent on checking your gear and supplies. Ensure that everything is accounted for and in order.
Other Tips for Training for a 100-mile Ride
Make sure to pack your essentials well. It helps to make a list of the items you’ll need for the ride. Followings are some of the most important things to prepare.
- Tools for bike repair (multi-tool, CO2 inflator, hand pump)
- Water bottle and food
- Helmet, shoes, gloves, sunglasses
- Spare clothes
Planning your food and liquid intake is an important part of the ride. Here are a few notes to keep your body going while riding.
- Bring “real” food such as dessert bars and savory food to eat earlier in the ride
- Consume energy packs and gels in the latter half of the ride
- Eat in small amounts before you get hungry, around every 30 to 45 minutes
- Hydrate regularly – take a sip every 10–15 minutes.
- Consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. Do not overeat.
Below are a few other tips that can be useful, especially for first-time riders of a 100-mile course.
- Find friends to ride with
- Study the course in advance
- In the beginning, don’t push too hard to avoid burning out
- Wear breathable and moisture-wicking clothes
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to train for a 100-mile ride?
A 12-week training period can give you ample time to prepare your body and work toward finishing a century ride. However, this also includes time for preparing for the event itself. 10 weeks is considered the minimum for a healthy adult.
For the sake of comparison, a multi-day ride usually takes a 16 week training period to prepare for.
What is a good 100-mile ride time?
The 100 mile bike ride average time is around 6 hours and 27 minutes, but this is an average for everyone, and the results may vary across different ages and genders. Finishing in 6 hours is expected of intermediate-level cyclists in their teens to their early 40s, but this time is considered an advanced level result for older bicyclists.
What are training zones?
These refer to the intensity of cycling that you apply. Zone 1 is ideal for warming up and for cooling down, while Zone 2 is ideal for sustained exertion.
Intensity is measured using the Functional Threshold Power or FTP, which is the power a person can sustain for an hour. Below is a short description of each Zone measured by a percentage of a person’s maximum heart rate.
- Zone 1 – 50 to 59%
- Zone 2 – 60 to 69%
- Zone 3 – 70 – 79%
- Zone 4 – 80 – 89%
- Zone 5 – 90 – 100%
Now you know how to train for a 100 mile bike ride, including how to plan for a training program and the necessary preparations leading up to the century ride itself. Even experienced bikers may not be able to do well for their first 100-mile event in 4 weeks, but 3 months should work very well.
Have you ever tried finishing a 100-mile bicycle ride? Tell us about your experiences and what you did to prepare for it in the comments section below.
Always ride safely.
“I ride my bike to work for years, but is that enough? Our carelessness towards our surroundings has taken a toll on the environment. And now, everyone is responsible for changes; even the most minor contribution is counted. With this hope and spirit, I started with my partner to establish Biketoworkday to help more individuals commute to their work sites on their bikes.”