Horrible Hundred

Planning Before Pedaling

Some unnamed philosopher (or bike rider) once said, "A goal without a plan is just a wish."
Most competitive long-distance cyclists start their events with a plan to do well, not merely a wish to
do well.
Kim Freitas, a veteran of Paris-Brest-Paris, recommends thinking through three scenarios:
---the ride you expect to do
---the ride you hope to do
---the ride you fear
You don't need to be facing the rigors of a 1,200-km (745-mile) randonnee like PBP to use her advice. It works just as well for century rides or any distance that's a challenge for you.
Some riders actually prepare spreadsheets detailing time splits, average speeds and off-bike breaks, broken down over an event's distance. Others make it a mental exercise, judging pace by feel and experience. Either way, says endurance cycling coach John Hughes, thinking through the possibilities will help you make smart adjustments during the event.  Another veteran long-distance cyclist, Russ Loomis, wrote about ride planning in a recent newsletter published by the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association. Here's our paraphrase of Russ's advice, which works for all of us interested in riding long distances better. 

---Set a realistic performance goal. It should be obtainable but still challenging.

---Evaluate your progress. If you're riding within your schedule, stick to it. Remember, "If it ain't broke
don't fix it." But, "If it ain't workin' try something else."

---Save some energy. Just because you're meeting your goal is no reason to get greedy. Stick with your plan. There is always a chance something could go wrong and require extra energy. If the wind turns against you or the hills are tougher than expected, your reserves will help you stay on track.

---Trust your plan. You spent time figuring out how to do your best ride. When other people are
pulling ahead it's not easy to watch them ride off. If they are stronger, you won't be able to stay with
them for long but you'll waste energy trying. If they are not stronger, you will catch them down the
road. And you will be feeling much better than they for keeping to your plan.
 

Note: Loomis stuck to his plan in the 1,200-km Boston-Montreal-Boston randonnee last month and
finished in 64 hours, 40 minutes. His goal was to break 65 hours.

 

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