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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ride Preview: Ride 4 United Way (Century Ride)

This is a 100 mile (160km) ride in the Durham Region of Ontario.

Race website

I did this ride in 2010, although at the time 160km didn't do enough for me so I added an extra 40km to it by riding to the start line -my longest ride at 200km!  That was fun, but pretty bloody tough - especially after one miscue had me miss an important mid-ride aid station.


The Course

It's a nice ride through a lot of the Durham countryside.  But easy, it is not... it's tough.  There is a fair amount of elevation gain, some gradual, some painful.  And there is "Heartbreak Hill", a very steep climb in the back half of the route.  I have made a point of including it on my longer rides this year just to feel better about it, but I think knowing it better has had the reverse effect - I'm dreading it!

Pack Riding

The peloton looks so nice and effortless, but last year for me sticking with the pack was a real challenge.  I'm too used to riding solo and having full discretion over my pacing - when to push, when to conserve, it's all in my control.  In a pack, you're at the mercy of every other rider around you... if they decide to hammer it up a hill, you better hope you can stick with the back end of them, or you're gonzo!

Sometimes they were too slow!  I got frustrated with them on some rollers (hills that go up-down-up-down).  I didn't feel they were doing a very good job carrying speed on the downhills, sitting up and letting all their momentum die... making the uphill so much harder!  This was made worse by the accordion effect, the further back you were, the more you had to slow.  Eventually I bolted past and ended up going pretty far ahead with a much smaller (and faster) group... which I'm sure burned a stupid amount of energy for no reason.

Then... they were too fast!  After a rest stop, I was back in the pack until we hit a pretty serious uphill - and I got dropped.  I burned a lot trying to get back on the back, only to get dropped again on the next pretty serious hill.

Definitely tricky, and hopefully I'm a bit smarter with it this year.  Patience is key, and I think I have a gear I didn't used to have for staying with them... but we'll see!


I blew it a bit last year, just didn't plan this well enough.  I will aim for one gel (100 cal each) and a bottle of Gatorade (about 180 cal) every hour, with the odd gulp of water for the gel and banana/cookie/whatever thrown in to add some solids.  I can tolerate a lot more food on the bike than running, so I go with the "more is more" philosophy.


I hate to say I don't really have one, but I don't really have one.  The pack riding really monkies up the average speeds - they can flatter you by pulling you around.  I've done a century ride at over 30km/h before (Ride for Karen) with a lot of help from the pack, so ideally I'd like to see that again (although this is a tougher route)... but I'm not going to be too picky about it.

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