By Brian Diaz
People are drawn to cycling for many different reasons. Perhaps they want to commute to work, maybe they love to participate in triathlons, some may have had injuries that limit their weight-bearing activity, and others use road cycling to gain fitness for mountain biking. I was drawn to cycling because it allows me to see so much more of the local landscape. A beautiful sunrise over a rural country road, a rolling farm where cows actually roam and eat from the land, mountain roads that seem to snake endlessly into the sky … these are the reasons I mount my bike on the weekends and why I continue to add mileage and distance.
Group rides such as the cycle-to-farm and charity events have begun sprouting up all over the country. Most have several different levels of distances and abilities, but many have what is known as the “metric century” (100k, or 62 miles) as their most popular draw.
My friend Jennifer McFarland completed her first metric century this past weekend, only weeks after a bike accident and having never completed more than 50 miles in a given ride. When she sent me a text, her glowing smile resonated with me, and I too felt a sense of accomplishment with her and her riding partners. I want more people to enjoy cycling as much as we do. I want more people to ride safely and see the beautiful country and roads we have. So what exactly would it take to tackle a metric century? Less than you might think.
First of all, most of us, including Jennifer and myself, are limited in time due to other demands and priorities that take preference. During the week it is tough to get out and get a solid ride in for any length of time, so I strongly suggest finding a great instructor or cycling class that uses cycling as the basis.
These may be difficult to find. There are fitness-based cycling classes all over the community – some that focus on the music, some that blend push-ups, light dumbbells and “jumps” throughout the session. While these may be a start, try to find an instructor who teaches a class geared toward cyclists. They use heart rate, cadence, power and performance metrics to help you achieve your goals. They do single-leg drills, intervals, and discuss positioning, form and cycle stroke. If you can find one of these, try and get in two times during the week separated by at least one day. The good instructors will take care of the variation in the class and this will be all you need during the week.
If you don’t have the luxury of attending such a class, I have come up with a simple three-day-a-week routine that you should do for eight weeks before tackling a metric century. The third day in the routine will be the only addition to those who are doing the group classes during the week.