Century Ride and HR Zone

I’ve got a goal of a 5-hour century total time. This is pretty fast for me but the target date is still months away. However, have not been riding long enough, my 2nd year, to have a feel for the size of the task.

The question is, how much effort should this take? Is this possible in a Zone 3 HR or should the training be strong enough that the effort stays within Zone 2?

First of all, are we talking 100K or 100 miles? Second, what kind of terrain? Third, what kind of pace are you currently averaging? Will this be a solo event or a group ride?

Since you’ll be riding for 5 hours, and assuming 100 miles, you’ll need to be riding at a tempo pace for both power and HR with an RPE of 6 or 7 and HR squarely in zone 3.

See http://bikecalculator.com/ to calculate the watts you’ll need to be able to hold.

this might be a useful piece for you and answer a few questions:


IDK. For the heck of it it I looked at my Strava data and saw I last did a 5hr 100 mile ride 10 years ago at the age of 60. I averaged 140bpm for the ride and my absolute max back then was ~182.

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Having done many 100 mile rides @Sir_Brian_M asked the questions that would be helpful for me to opine. The one I would add is, will you be drafting with other riders?

One of my early centuries I was fortunate enough to meet a few other riders at the expo before the ride. Not sure they do those any more. There was a group of five of us that all had that same goal of five hours. We met up at the start and rode the whole ride together. Not only did we make 5 hours, that included stopping three times at rest stops for several minutes.

To help you figure it out though, how far can you ride now at 20 MPH (or 20 KPH) pace? Pick a set schedule to ride a long ride at that pace and see how it goes. For mine I would do a 60-80 mile training ride every Sunday for a few months heading in to the century. I would try to choose routes that were similar to the hardest part of the event ride. Then see what speed I was maintaining. If I wasn’t at 20 MPH, I would look at the speeds across the ride and see which sections I could make the time up. Then repeat that exact ride and focus on cutting the time out at the identified sections.

Good luck!

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If you are the analytic type, and you have some idea of your power numbers, you can use Best Bike Split to plan out your route.

Thanks guys, you gave me what was needed. To fill in some of the blanks, its 100 miles and the time is a good hour plus quicker than my last 100 miles. I’m planning to find partners, a flat course, and a day with the wind always to my back. This will make it a bit wimpy but its still a big reach for me. One goal/step at a time.

@104smurf with the conditions you laid out, this should be very doable. If your last one was in 6 hours, that is 16.67 MPH. You need a 20% bump in speed over that to hit the 20 MPH target.

If you are riding a flat course, in a draft group, with the wind to your back, that should get you a lot of the way to closing that gap. Assuming you have improved your power and endurance some over your previous rides, you got this.

That said however, don’t rely on external factors. Put in the work so if one or two of those factors don’t happen (I am assuming the flat terrain won’t change), then it’s all on you and you are up to the task. At the end of the day, you want to know that YOU made it happen.

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I’m locked in for about 5 different 100-mile centuries this summer and for most, I’ve been able to find a prior year’s route on ridewithgps.com.

YMMV but I have those on my ELEMNT and have been using that for indoor training rides. I’m out in California so none are flat. I’m looking at 6-7 hours for most.

Critmark, thanks for the encouragement.
My main concern is maintaining a Zone 3 HR for an extended period. Believe I will need to this to meet the time goal. I’m not a spring chicken and the target is 5-hrs total time and not moving time.

@yodakramer I’m guessing you have done the Primavera century in Fremont? I plan to ride that for the first time in April. From the route description, they talk about the 12% gradient Calaveras Wall for the main climb - so any tips on that would be appreciated. My friends are only planning the 100km, though I will be trying to talk them into the 100mi version. Any other California centuries you highly recommend?

Look for a ride/race that offers a pace group. They are costly. You get advantage of team car. The one I was going to do offers lots. The will hold all the waters and food. They have about 5 guys that always do it. All you have to do is sit in and ride. I know that not as fun, but to get the time you want it helps. They offer you a training plan, kit, all sorts of junk. It will be well worth it for me. My club has done a sub 5 hour. They are working on sub 4:30-4:00.

Good luck you got this.

I’m not doing the Fremont one but I do know I can do a 12% grade for 5km. It’s just a matter of pedaling :slight_smile:

But seriously, a lot of my recent workouts have been things like:

  • sweet spot (5x8’ @ 90-98% FTP).
  • slow frequency reps (6x5’ @ 90% FTP / low cadence 55rpm)
  • big gear / low cadence / long time (1 hr @ 90% FTP / 80rpm)

Sounds like you’re in the area - here’s what I’ve got on the calendar:


@robyork and @yodakramer I am down in Morgan Hill. I have done the Silicon Valley Tour de Cure many times (looks like gone forever). Solvang was my first century, done that a few times. Palm Desert has one in the spring and one in the fall, although I think the fall one may be gone forever.

Tierra Bella which is right in my backyard has just never fit in to the schedule. Mostly due to conflicts with my triathlons. Never heard of Tour de Fuzz but it looks interesting.

Nice to know there are a few others here.

Great list - I was not aware of so many so close to home (Saratoga). The Sequoia 101mi + 10,020 feet looks quite intriguing.

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Coach, thank you for the link. This gave some guidance that had not found.