Last Minute Preparations Before Your Next Century Ride

By Shelley Marenka | 08/21/12
Last Minute Preparations Before Your Next Century Ride

Photo © Michael Fiorini

We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

The following tip was authored by Shelley Marenka, USA Elite Cycling Coach and owner of CycleFit Biking Adventures, Coaching Camps and Tours.

Here are some tips to help your next century ride go smoother. Happy pedaling! Ride On, Ride strong, Ride Safe

1. One to Two Weeks Before - Drop your bike off at your local bike shop for them to give it a quick run thru…Don’t wait till the last minute…they get really busy; especially if the ride is in your town.

2. 12 Hours Before - Lay out all your gear—Sunscreen, shorts, jersey, gloves, socks, shoes, helmet, glasses--the night before the ride. Fill one water bottle with a hydration beverage (click hereto see Shelley’s hydration beverages) and fill one with plain pure water. Put them in the refrigerator. Get a few gels and bars and put them next to your clothes with a note that says, “get water bottles!” If you'll be putting everything in your pack, wait until the morning to do that--packing it in gives you one last chance to check for everything. Be sure you have a spare tube, CO2 cartridge, and Advil (just in case).

3. 2 Hours Before - Eat 400-800 calories for breakfast. My “Foods for Fuel” handout follows this article.

Make sure your morning meal contains carbs and protein (no fiber or fat) for a combination of fast- and slow-burning energy.

4. 1 Hour Before -Track the 

If it's going to rain, or be chilly or unpredictable, prep with layers and accessories rather than thick, heavy armor. Peeling arm warmers, booties or a light jacket that easily stuffs into your pocket is better than riding the last 50 miles suffocating in a heavy jersey. Apply sunscreen on face, neck, arms and legs.

5. At the Start- Establish a meeting place to meet up with your friends. You want to make sure that if you’ve made arrangements to ride together, that you all ride a similar pace and have similar goals for the century. Sometimes you can start out with your group and as the miles pass, let the natural regrouping occur. You’ll find others riding at your pace and you just “hop” in line. You can always regroup with your friends at rest stops or lunch. If the pack you latch onto feels too fast, it is. Let them go and find another group. If you burn too many matches at the onset it will be a long ride. Better to be safe than sorry. Any extra energy can be used at the end of the ride.

6. 20 Miles In - Stop at rest stops when you want to. The first rest stop is usually busy, so if you don’t need to stop and the next one isn’t too far away, pass the first one up. IF YOU DIDN’T EAT YET, DO NOT pass the first one up. You don’t have to stop at them all. Keep your breaks to 10-15 minutes; any longer, and your muscles may get stiff. Eat light at each break (always familiar foods) and stretch your legs any other tight muscles, visit the bathroom.

7. 25 Miles In - Divide the ride into segments in your head; 25-miles at a time. Breaking the ride up into smaller segments makes it seem more realistic. Focus on the small leap ahead, no more.

8. 50 Miles In - This is usually where lunch is served. Avoid eating too much food. Large amounts of food divert blood from your working muscles. Better to graze; take a handful of fruit, and a half of sandwich, a banana, p-nut butter and bagel or whatever else looks good. I suggest you limit the “sweets” cookies, sugary stuff etc. Grab a few items to put in your jersey pockets. You can continue eating as you ride. Re-apply sunscreen :) You'll be glad you did!!

9. 70 Miles In - If you have properly trained for the century and you have fueled smart along the way you’ll probably be feeling pretty good. Your legs might be a bit fatigued, and your mind may be wandering and asking, “why did I sign up for this again”? Here’s a great place to revisit the goal you set for this day. You know you can finish this ride, and finish strong, so get on with it. Keep riding!

(At this point you might want to begin consuming a protein/carb beverage to help assist your muscles.)

10. 90 Miles In - You’re almost there! If you are tired, try and find someone’s wheel to drag on. Find someone to talk to and ride in at a moderate to slow pace…. You have made it this far, what’s another 10 miles?

100-Miles -Congratulations! You made it! As soon as you can, consume a recovery drink. (best bet is within 30-45 minutes for best results) If you don’t have one, click here for Physique Workout Maximizer. This works every time! I’m never sore from a ride when I drink this and my recovery is awesome. I am ready to get back on my bike the next day. No artificial nothing in this drink. I like that.

Post RideDrink your recovery drink again. It’s best if you take a recovery ride the next day. Easy spin for up to an hour…EASY, I said. Rest the next day and the third day, get back on your bike for a moderate training ride, about an hour or two is good. Ride according to how your legs feel.

Shelley Marenka, Certified USA Cycling Elite Coach

Owner of Get On Your MARK and CycleFit Biking Adventures
Offering Coaching, Cycling Camps & Retreats

Foods for Fuel

By Shelley Marenka, USA Cycling Coach

Make eating an integral part of your training plan vs. an afterthought. By practicing to fuel your body during training, you will know what works best for you when it comes to race time.  Pre-event foods, energy snacks during your event and post-exercise are all considerations.   Here are some ideas for you to try.

2-4 Hours before morning workout

Oatmeal, orange juice, banana, soy protein smoothie drink, grape nuts, pancakes, granola, bagels with p-nut butter, hearty breads, bean/egg burritos, yogurts. Drink about 16 ounces of pre-hydration drink.

During the workout

For workouts longer than 90 minutes it’s important to fuel your body with the appropriate amount of carbs to maintain your energy sources.  Foods such as muffins, bagels, gels, sports drinks, fruits, energy bars, juices, p-nut butter and jelly sandwiches, raw nuts and seeds, pretzels. Use an electrolyte replacement drink with an opticarb formula for optimum glycogen replacement, such as Shaklee Performance.

Post workout meal/snacks

Most importantly, eat these foods within your recovery window of 45 minutes post exercise.
Pasta, rice, potatoes, lean proteins, (chicken breast, fish, turkey) salads with olive oil, turkey sub, grilled vegetables, hearty breads, beverages like electrolyte replacement, water, juice, soy or almond milk.

In my own experience, I don’t feel like eating immediately after exercising, so I will drink my recovery shake and then eat about an hour or so later.  This way I get the right “muscle food” ingredients without having to compromise that “Golden window”.  Physique Recovery Shake is the product I use.  I’m never sore when I drink it and it has all the right nutrients and correct ratios for optimum recovery.

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