Riding an off-road century

There is something about milestones and distance targets in cycling that resonates with every rider. In off-road circles it’s all about the century – riding 100 miles off-road in a day. In today’s post, we’re going to take you through everything behind this monumental ride and the kit we have that can help you get this notch on your handlebars.

There is something about milestones and distance targets in cycling that resonates with every rider. In off-road circles it’s all about the century – riding 100 miles off-road in a day. In today’s post, we’re going to take you through everything behind this monumental ride and the kit we have that can help you get this notch on your handlebars.

Plan

Planning ahead is very important. Whether you are taking part in an event – like the ever popular South Downs Way 100 – or planning your own off-road century, understanding your route, training and nutrition well ahead of time is crucial. You don’t want to do these on a whim.

Train

Training is particularly important. If you ride a lot off-road you will understand that a ride of a certain length on trails and bridleways can feel like double the distance by the end of it. You’ll want to be training at about 60-70% of your intended distance, making sure you pay attention to your off-road technique, pacing and fuelling.

What should I eat?

There is no right or wrong answer here because food on the go is particular to every rider’s dietary needs. On a century ride though, avoid having too many gels and stick to the general rule of thumb that you should be taking on food (whether that be energy bars, fruit etc.) every 40-60 minutes.

The right tools for the job

It is important to have the right bike for the job and here at the Bicycle Chain we’re sure you’ll be able to find a trusty companion on your first century. Before choosing the bike though, it is important to plan and understand what type of route you will be taking. Cyclocross bikes are great for long rides over rough muddy terrain and are the obvious choice for performance.

Similarly, gravel bikes are a natural choice to get the job done nice and quickly. Best suited to gravel tracks and bridleways, if you’re looking to tackle a summer century, these are ideal. Comfortable geometry, plenty of space for baggage and great over long distances, the burgeoning gravel bike sector has you covered.

If your off-road century is a ride of epic proportions through deep mud, tricky cross-country paths and rough trails, hardtail mountain bikes are an obvious choice. Low gears, robust tyres and comfortable geometry make them the ideal bike if you need to stay in the saddle all day over the roughest terrain.

Does 100 miles sound like a little bit too much to handle on a standard bike but you still want to get the distance in? Well, this is where our electric bikes come in to play. We have a range of electric gravel and mountain bikes on our site and in store, perfect if you want to go further for longer.

Stay hydrated

One of the single most important things on any bike ride is to keep hydrated. Whether it’s hot or not, this is key to your performance as under-fuelling and getting dehydrated will completely ruin your ride. You will need to take on about 500ml every hour or up to a litre if it is particularly warm. This is where a Camelbak can be very useful or if you’re on an event with water stops, a second bottle cage.

Kit and food on the go

There’s no need to stuff your jersey pockets to the absolute maximum with food, coats and gloves, instead get an assortment of small bike bags for your journey. With ample space for all your gear, frame and saddle bags are a must.

Don’t be left deflated

The risk of puncturing on a 100-mile off-road ride is vast. Essentially, plan to puncture because it will happen and that’s totally fine if you have the tools for the job. Don’t be left stranded, take puncture kits, mini pumps and/or air cannisters with you so you aren’t left in the middle of nowhere with two flat tyres.

Here at the Bicycle Chain we have everything you could possibly need to get through an off-road century. Come in to one of our stores to have a closer look at the bikes mentioned, as well as the kit and expertise we can provide to help you on your ride.