“I Did My First 100K Bike Ride.”

What’s involved in training? How did I mentally prepare to cycle long distances? Here’s everything I learned for my first 100K ride.

my first 100k ride

Training for 100K was the hardest challenge I’ve done yet

My attitude toward fitness and sports is more “try-athlete.” I’ll pretty much try any type of fitness challenge or sport. And when Ride For Karen asked me if I would do the 100K route for their 2017 cycling event, I had to say yes. Here’s how I trained for it.

My 100K ride #BHmoment.

One-hundred kilometres do sound daunting. And for the first four or so weeks of my training, I just ignored the distance. I’ll worry about that on event day, I’d think to myself. And even with cardio training twice a week and longer rides on weekends, doing the actual 100K is special. There’s a drive you get when wearing that jersey, climbing those hills, sailing down them, and crossing the finish line.

It’s also very humbling. Even though I finished, and within a good time, I really felt I pushed myself. All the cyclists I met that day said it’s a challenging course, but that’s why they do it.  It was damn hard, and I was a bit down because I didn’t end feeling fresh, energized or proud. I told my husband as he put my bike into our truck, that there’s no way I could be an “athlete” in the true sense of the word, pushing my body beyond its limits. He then told me that I was a quote-unquote athlete because that’s exactly what I just did.

Why I did it

It’s funny, when I said I was doing this, friends and family asked me why I would train for this. And I only had one answer, because if I don’t do it, I’ll never know if I could have done it.

My 100K ride training

Six weeks out from the Ride For Karen, I met with Steve Neal and Andrew Randall of The Cycling Gym in Toronto. They taught me something that no spin or HIIT class could ever teach me, and that was to exercise to last, not to exhaustion. For the first time, I really had to listen to my body and learn the sweet spot that is working out hard without taking everything out of me. It is about being smart with my energy.

These two acclaimed coaches and cyclists also taught me how to get out of that head game of counting. With so many other physical activities, I would countdown until the end, even with running (Lisa, you can handle it, there are only so many Ks left). But I couldn’t do that with cycling because the distance was so long and going, oh, only 68K left isn’t exactly comforting. The views helped.


MY 100K learnings

Hills are hard! I affectionately named each one after a swear word.

Aside from that, if I were to have a do-over I would make my weekend long rides even longer than I did.

I would have also tried to find a riding group for the day of the event. Although I started with a group of four or so riders within a cadence group at the start line, we all broke up. I did notice that some stuck together (likely because they’re friends and train together).

For the first half I was pretty much alone. Then with about 30K left (I wasn’t counting, I just checked the map), a man named Jamie found me. I learned about his sister’s battle with cancer and how her legacy is seen in the Lazy-Boy chairs she fundraised for in a hospital waiting room for cancer patients.  I helped push him over some hills and he kept my energy up as we approached the finish line.

If I could go back, I would post on the Ride For Karen Facebook page, asking if any other lone riders would like to cycle the course together.

If you take anything from reading this, know that…

Training is so important. I didn’t ever feel that I couldn’t physically finish – sure I was exhausted by giving up wasn’t an option. It’s not like run-walk event where you could just sign up and show up.

Another big tip, this one came from Andrew, learn to cycle and drink water at the same time. Some people forget all about this, and discover on event day that they have to stop every time they need a drink.

Bring travel-size sunscreen. You will need to reapply. I have “farmer tan” lines to prove it.

Also, study the map. I went off route for about 10K. So, actually this was my first 110K ride!

photo credit: Stephen Morley