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7 Tips for Doing Century Rides & April's Good Rides!

In California, the rains have stopped and the season for century riding is in full swing. April's event calendar is huge and the riding is beautiful. Make sure you're ready to ride with the following seven tips. Then, check out the different rides that follow this list!

Disclaimer: Some of the rides mentioned buy advertising in our publication, Cycle California! Magazine, although they don't support this blog directly.

Be in Shape

Number one and most important: This means bike riding shape, not I-work-out-in-a-gym shape. While machines in a gym can mimic a bike ride, there is no substitute for feeling the wind in your face and the asphalt under your tires as you put in the miles on your bike.

So, start short and work your way up to long -- in terms of miles and hours in the saddle. On the day of your ride, you’ll finish with poise, comfort and confidence.

 

Photo DSCN0598 Having fun on Alpine County's Death Ride
Not the first rodeo for these Death Riders -- they started with easier rides

Pick an appropriate Century

You will be spending money and time on this project, so you want to get the most enjoyment from your day in the saddle that you can. Choose your century ride wisely.

Think about what floats your boat. Do you just love riding next to the ocean hearing the rhythmic crash of waves on the beach? Can rolling green hills encrusted with the first wildflowers of spring energize you for 100 miles?

Does being a part of a tribe bring you fond thoughts of rides to share with others?

Does giving back to a charity or contributing to a cause amp up your workouts? These all can be good reasons for choosing one century ride over another.

Also, consider how much you've been able to train. You wouldn't (or shouldn't) decide you will do the Death Ride after a mere month of training. Find a ride with mileage within your capability. Pushing yourself beyond what you are used to might not be the best when you're starting your bike riding season.

Although, with that being said, nothing says you can't push yourself a little.

Equipment

First and foremost, have a bike that is comfortable for you. You can ride a century on almost any type of bike, but some might be more comfortable for you than others. If you already have the perfect best bike for you, be sure it's tuned up and ready to take on long training rides and centuries.

Remember, if you think you're going to buy a new bike today and ride it 100 miles tomorrow, think again. Riding a new bike is like breaking in new hiking boots -- best done slowly, over time.

Generally, a good bike for centuries or long-distance training will have gears, slick tires for smooth rolling over pavement, and drop handlebars. This type of handlebars are helpful for changing hand positions while you’re on your 100 mile ride.

Bike add-ons

Think safety: Front and rear blinking lights, particularly if the century you choose rides through the urban jungle. Being seen by car drivers is important, even during the day.

Be sure you're equipped with a tire irons, tire pump, patch kit, and maybe a spare tube: Nothing puts a damper on a day of riding like a flat tire. Get the tire irons and learn how to use them to take the tire off the rim. Keep all this equipment in a bag on your bike so that you always have them -- there are small bags that fit under the seat as well as handlebar bags, or alternatively keep them in a backpack or a messenger bag that you take with you.

Nutrition

Stock your bike bag with food to fuel you when you feel your energy flagging: energy bars, bananas, something to pick you up at mile 73 of your 100 mile century.

Water

Just as important as something to nosh on, water is the best way to stay hydrated while riding a century. Carry as much as you can and train yourself to drink regularly, even if you’re not thirsty.

Bikes are built to carry water bottles, but I personally like the small water backpacks. There are several on the market and they hold more liquid than a water bottle. Most centuries offer water stations and rest stops stocked with water, so you can refill whatever method you use for carrying water.

Final Tip

Enjoy the day! Century riding offers you a world you can enjoy from the saddle of your bike, the chance to get out and get fit, the opportunity to make new friends or help support a cause. Once you think you are ready, check out some of these rides taking place this Spring.

April's Rides

Here are some suggestions for rides that are coming up during the month of April in California. Find a century, train for it, and go out and have a blast!

 

Photo IMG_3279 Some centuries take off through urban streets
Leaving the urban jungle before heading out to the beautiful California countryside

Girls just wanna have fun!

The month swings into action with the Cinderella Classic & Challenge on April 8. From the start site in Pleasanton women and girls roll away for distances of 65 and 85 miles.The shorter course is a relatively flat one through the Amador, Livermore, Diablo and San Ramon Valleys.

For women and girls who want to test themselves, the Challenge throws down the gauntlet by adding in addition to the extra 20 miles, about 2,000 feet of elevation gain as riders climb Patterson and Altamont Passes.

After the ride and after the ladies receive their post-ride meal served by handsome princes, they can stroll along the extensive expo filled with all kinds of bike togs to tempt the most discriminating princess.

Soaring with Hawks

That same day in Redding on the Sacramento River, the Red Hawk Ride and Run takes off for a 10K run or 10K ride, and 25, 50, 100 mile rides. These courses are mostly flat; since it’s early in the season, consider the Red Hawk Ride a spring tune up event. For your registration fee you get a gift bag, water bottle, breakfast, as well as the opportunity to participate in a drawing for prizes. This event is a fundraiser to raise awareness and money for scholarships for students of Simpson University.

Ride like the Italians!

In San Diego on April 9, experience springtime riding in San Diego during the Campagnolo GranFondo San Diego. Riders take off from Little Italy in a mass start, then split apart for the different routes of 20, 34, 56, and 105 miles.

The two longer rides take participants out to the back country east of the city and are chock-full of climbs and descents. The two shorter rides feature flat-to-rolling terrain, more geared toward people who want to feel the gran fondo experience, but don’t want to take on the longer rides.

Expect a fully timed course and King and Queen of the Mountain honors with chip timing, five well-stocked aid stations on the long rides, Campagnolo mechanical support (even if you don't ride with a Campy gruppo), and finisher's medals. This event benefits Challenged Athletes Foundation - Operation Rebound.

Foothill Wine Country Ride

The next weekend, on April 15, the 42nd edition of the Sierra Century starts out from the Amador County Fairgrounds in Plymouth. Experience riding the foothills of the Gold Country through the Amador and El Dorado wine country and historic towns with evocative names such as Ione, Sutter Creek, Volcano, and Fiddletown.

Do you like hills? This one is for you with five routes that promise elevation gain. The 41er Tour has 3,200 feet in 41 miles distance, the metric century is 65 miles with 4,500 feet; the 69er Challenge is, as its name suggests, 69 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing; the Classic Century offers 102 miles and 7,800 feet of gain. Finally, there's the double metric century with 122 miles and 9,600 feet of elevation gain.

Frogs on Hills

Also on April 15 another ride, Mr. Frog's Wild Ride, has its take on hills as cyclists leave Feeney Park in Murphys. This one has a 50 kilometer Wild Ride and a 100 kilometer Wilder Ride.

With all the rain at the beginning of the year, the wildflowers should be profuse, as cyclists ride in the Sierra foothills. Both routes have climbing, and the Wilder Ride has a view of the New Melones Reservoir. The registration fee includes rest stops, SAG, a barbecue dinner and first glass of beer or wine, massage, live music, time trial, and free camping.

Got more Hills

April 22 offers the chance to experience some of the BIG hills in Southern California, while riding the Alpine Challenge. The start site is at Summers Past Farms, near Alpine in Eastern San Diego County.

From the 25 to the 100 miler, all the rides routes have challenging hills. Participants travel through Eastern San Diego County and experience Harbison Canyon and Dehensa Grade. The two longer rides, the 62 mile Pine Valley Ride and the 100 mile Mounta Laguna Ride, tack on long, long downhills in addition to the steep uphill climbs.

Ride to Eat Gourmet

April 28-30 offers foodies who love to ride the CampoVelo Napa Valley, a gourmet and ride event beginning in St. Helena. The shorter route is a 25 mile Foodie Ride to Calistoga and back. If that’s not enough riding before eating, there is a 50 mile Fitness Ride that includes Lake Hennessey and Ink Grade, as you head north to Calistoga and back. The longest ride is an 80 mile Fuel Burner Ride that takes in Lake Hennessey, Lake Berryessa, and Ink Grade in addition to Calistoga.

Reaping an Early Harvest

Although it’s not harvest time, spring is a lovely time to enjoy riding Sonoma County. April 29 the Healdsburg Harvest Century takes riders through this rolling magical county on routes of 20, 35, and 60 miles.

The long route is a moderately challenging one through the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. Both the 35 and the 60 mile rides have a few moderate climbs while the 20 mile ride is mostly flat.

June Sierra Tour

And, finally, it's never too early to think about riding for five days in the mighty Sierra! June 16-20 Cycle the Sierra, a fully supported, five-day tour, takes riders on a 300-mile loop in the Lake Tahoe area.

The ride features beautiful mountain scenery, live music each night, delicious catered food, a beer and wine garden, massage and much more. Obviously, you have to be a fit rider to take on a five day tour riding at altitude, but what an experience!

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