Century Training Plan for WFRT

Signing up for a century ride is a great way to challenge yourself and to raise awareness for cause. The Wrigley Field Road Tour on August 19th benefits World Bike Relief and Cubs Charities, two charities that aim to improve the lives of children and their families, one at the local level and the other at an international level.

Whether you’ve officially registered or you’ve just begun to think about it seriously, you’ve made the first step towards completing a century ride. Congratulations! There is definitely a century in your future. Maybe this is your first century. Or maybe this is the first one where you’ve committed to putting in the training.

We’ve put together this training guide and a few training rides to help you as you prepare for a memorable day.

We will be kicking off our training on Saturday June 9th at 8am at our Wilmette Store for the first Training Ride.  We’ve been riding every Saturday at 7am and the group continues to grow each week.  We encourage all riders to review and follow the training plan below.


100 Miles to Go!

To prepare for a century ride, give yourself 11-12 weeks and plan on riding 4 times per week if you can. At least 3 time.  The following plan is intended for novices. Please consult a physician before engaging in any physical activities.

 Higher Gear will host Training Rides on:

6/9 – 25miles
7/7 – 40/50 miles
8/4 – 60/70  miles

7/29 – Venus de Miles on Sunday: Women’s 60 mile ride in Lake Forest

Rest 8 miles Hills 12 miles Easy Rest 10 miles Moderate 20 miles Easy Rest
Rest 10 miles Hills 12 miles Easy Rest 12 miles Moderate 25 miles Easy Rest
Rest 10 miles Hills 14 miles Easy Rest 12 miles Moderate 30 miles Easy 10 miles Moderate
Rest 12 miles Hills 14 miles Easy Rest 13 miles Moderate 35 miles Easy 12 miles Moderate
Rest 12 miles Hills 16 miles Easy Rest 14 miles Moderate 40 miles Easy 14 miles Moderate
Rest 13 miles Hills 18 miles Easy Rest 15 miles Moderate 40-50 miles Easy 16 miles Moderate
Rest 14 miles Hills 20 miles Easy Rest 16 miles Moderate 50 miles Easy 18 miles Moderate
Rest 15 miles Hills 22 miles Easy Rest 17 miles Moderate 55 miles Easy 20 miles Moderate
Rest 16 miles Hills 24 miles Easy Rest 18 miles Moderate 60 miles Easy 22 miles Moderate
Rest 18 miles Hills 22 miles Easy Rest 20 miles Moderate 60-70 miles Easy 24 miles Moderate
Rest 20 miles Hills 20 miles Easy Rest 22 miles Moderate 70 miles Easy 22 miles Moderate
Rest 20 miles Hills 18 miles Easy Rest 20 miles Moderate Rest or Ride 100 Miles

Easy: Easy pace, can talk while riding.
Moderate: Moderate pace is 65-70% of Max Heart Rate. (Can talk, but not as easily.)
Hills: Hilly route incorporated in ride. Hard to find hills in Chicago. Ride in a higher gear than usual to build power.



Transition lenses like Rudy Project’s ImpactX Photochromic Lenses make adjustments so you don’t have to.

The right equipment for a century allows for comfort. Your bike should fit you well and should be familiar to you. If you aren’t sure about your fit, have a fit-assessment. Don’t plan to ride a new or a borrowed bike on your first century. Have a Tune-Up or Race Check before your ride to make sure your bike is riding safely and efficiently. Carry a flat kit complete with spare tire and patch kit, tools and pump (or CO2) and know how to use them. Other essential equipment includes:

  • A properly fitting helmet
  • Water bottles and cages
  • Cycling clothing, including shoes, shorts, gloves and rain gear
  • Sunglasses – we favor sunglasses with transition lenses


The core of your training should be endurance training. If you start your training at least 12 weeks before the ride, you will have ample time to prepare for the century. If you already ride more than 7 hours a week, you will need far less time to prepare. While most of your rides will be at about 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR), add two days of interval training, where you push hard for several minutes – up to 85% MHR. Hills are a great way to add interval training to your ride. And don’t forget to allow one day per week for recovery. Here are more training tips to make the most out of your century training:

  • Maintain a cadence of 70 to 90 revolutions per minute.
  • Gradually increase your mileage as you get closer to the century, increasing no more than 10% at a time.
  • Plan a 50- or 60-mile ride at least two weeks before the century.
  • Taper your mileage a week before the century. During that week you may even reduce your riding to one or two days of an easy five to ten-mile spin. Also try to get plenty of sleep.



As the ride day approaches, nutrition becomes the critical component for a successful century. Event day hydration and nutrition begins well before event day. Beginning a few days before, cut back or eliminate caffeine and alcohol and drink water frequently. Also begin increasing your percentage of carbohydrates in your diet.

On ride day, eat a breakfast high in both simple and complex carbohydrate foods and drink lots of water. On the ride, drink before you’re thirsty. Aim to consume at least 20-onces of water per hour while using a combination of sports drinks (for the added electrolytes) and water. Sports drinks such as Gatorade serve a dual purpose for the century cyclist: both the hydration and carbohydrate intake keep your body in motion. Eat easily digestible, carbohydrate rich-food such as energy bars, bagels, fruit or granola. Don’t try something new on the ride. You should eat things you know agree with you.

Key: eat and drink early and often. What you drink during hours 2 and 3 will dictate how you perform in hours 4, 5, 6 and beyond. It is much easier to keep the fire going by being attentive to your fuel intake than it is to try to recharge an extinguished flame.


Ease into the ride pace. This isn’t a race, and if it’s your first century, the goal is to finish comfortably. Here are some more tips for an enjoyable ride:

  • Change your position often. Move your hand position, get up off the saddle, stretch your arms, shoulders and neck, arch your back and stretch out. Avoid staying in one position too long.
  • Take short rest breaks off the bike. An organized century ride will offer regular water and food stops. Take advantage of this time to get off the bike and refill your water bottles, stretch, and use the restroom. Keep these stops to 10 minutes or less or you may risk getting stiff.
  • Find a companion or two. The ride will go faster and feel easier with a friend or two. Also, skilled riders can take advantage of drafting and save some energy in the wind.

Attitude is everything. If you have prepared yourself well, there isn’t much more to be done on ride day than to sit back and enjoy the scenery (and maybe plan your next century).


Thank you to http://sweat365.com for the easiest-to-follow training plan that I’ve found.

–  Active.com offers training plans for century rides. Here is a 16 week plan: http://trainer.active.com/plans/active-intermediate-cyclist-training-for-a-century

–  Selene Yeager, Bicycling Magazine’s Fit Chick, in her great book “Every Women’s Guide to Cycling,” offers a very detailed time-based training plan for a century ride. Her plan is 6 days per week of riding. A great resource for the committed novice and a great book about getting into cycling.

Here’s the link to Selene Yeager’s article “How to Successfully Complete a Century” http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/How-to-Successfully-Complete-a-Century.htm

–  Looking for a coach to help you achieve your performance or weight loss goals? We recommend Brian Harris from Harris Training Systems www.harristrainingsystems.com. Brian will design a training program that will take you to the next level of fitness.

– Higher Gear has compiled a Century Ride Checklist, complete with items that will help make your 100 mile ride more enjoyable.

Need Help? Have Questions?

Highland Park | 847-433-2453
Wilmette | 847-256-2330

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