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Riding a 100 Mile Century on My Bicycle
I like long distance bicycle events for the fun and challenge
I love to ride my bike. These days I tackle 100 mile bike ride events, also called century bike rides. Most are challenging as they involve numerous hills, surprising weather and varying terrain.
I have two favorite century bike rides: 3 State 3 Mountain, starting and ending in Chattanooga, and 6 Gap, in the North Georgia mountains. Both are among the most popular and favorite event rides in the south. They are challenging and have some of the best volunteer support that you will come across in these type of events.
3 State is a challenge that tackles three mountains in three different states. Riders climb Stamp Creek Mountain right outside Chattanooga Tennessee, Sand Mountain in Alabama and then the grueling Lookout Mountain in Georgia. Of all the bike rides I have done and all the roads I have ridden Burkhalter Gap up Lookout Mountain is the most grueling. Particularly given that the climb starts after you have already ridden close to 85 miles. It is 2.5 miles of up to 20 percent leg crushing grade. Painful, but you feel great when you beat it.
Six Gap is a grueling event through the steep mountains of North Georgia. Riders climb over six mountains including Neels Gap, Jacks Gap, Unicoi Gap, Hogpen Gap, Wolfpen Gap and Woody's Gap. The total elevation climbed is a Tour de France worthy 11,200 vertical feet.
I also do other century rides in the area including the Cherohala Challenge in east TN, H.O.T. 100 in Murfreesboro and the Harpeth River Ride. I typically do 3 State and H.O.T. 100 every year and add the others when I feel like doing something different.
Training for the rides can be difficult. Work, weather and family obligations can make getting ready for these rides a challenge as well. 3 State is particularly tough as it is in early May so that puts one on the bike in February or March to get ready. That can be cold and rainy. Sometimes you have to spend time on the indoor trainer just to get your miles in.
Riding a century is a great time. I love the bike and it's fun to be with other like-minded people and within the safety that is provided by the event.
Photo Credit: Chris Morris
CycleOps Fluid 2 Indoor Bicycle Trainer
This is the exact trainer I use during the winter to keep in shape when it is just too miserable to ride. I have to get started riding around February to get ready for early season century rides. The CycleOps Fluid 2 makes it very easy to simply hop on my bike and train. It is very smooth and easy to use. I use it in the garage and place a CycleOps Stackable Climbing Block under my front wheel to add to the workout. I usually ride in the garage and can work up a nice sweat while watching a DVD movie to pass the time.
I Have Always Loved to Ride My Bike
People sometimes ask me what "cmcyclist" means. It is the initials of my name plus the word "cyclist". As long as I can remember I have loved to ride a bike. My first real bike was a so-called English racer. All my friends were riding 3 or 10-speed bikes. Unfortunately my parents didn't have enough money for one of those fancy machines so I got a bike that looked like a racing bike but without the gears. I thought it was great.
When I turned 13, my dad and I made a deal: He would pay half for a new bike. I knew exactly what I wanted to buy. It was a Schwinn Le Tour III. $200 back in the late 70's. I can still remember the day we went into the bike shop, we had to drive an hour to Birmingham, and the shop owner pulled the bike out for me to test ride in the back parking lot. I was in heaven and could not wait to get that bike home.
I lived in a small southern town during a time when people were used to seeing kids riding around on their bikes. Over the next few years I would ride from one end of the town to the other. I was free. I mounted a clip on the front fork for my fishing pole or tennis racket. It was delightful.
As I got older I was able to upgrade my bikes. The next bike I got was a nicer racing bike, Scwhinn Tempo. It got me through college and through my first couple of jobs after graduation. I was an early adaptor to the Internet and used to troll around the cycling newsgroups before the Web was anything to get excited about. I found a Trek 5500 that a Cat 1 racer was selling. We negotiated a sale and I went to pick it up. This was a great bike. The same basic model that Lance Armstrong used during his first couple of Tour de France wins. That was in 1997. In 2005 the frame cracked and Trek replaced it with a 2005 frame. The same bike I ride today! It has been upgraded with new components and wheels and still rides great.
Anyway, I still love to ride my bike. These days I tackle 100 mile bike rides and have a great time on the road.
5 Reasons to Ride a Century
- Training for, and riding, a century is a great way to get fit. Nothing like cycling develops and tones your legs muscles better.
- You meet the best people at a century bike ride. From the wonderful volunteers to all the different people you will meet riding the course. Even the people that are watching you ride by their house will give a little wave.
- You see an area differently than you would if you were traveling the route by car. You can take time to actually see the terrain you ride through. You notice the beauty, or ugliness, of an area much more clearly than when you drive through it.
- Even if you don't want to do 100 miles you can do a 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, which is a so-called metric century. People come to century bike rides for various reasons. Not everyone has goal of 100 miles. Some prefer the 20 to 40-mile options.
- If you like a challenge there are few things better to cross of your list than a century bike ride.
3 State 3 Mountain 2009 - Part 1
My ride diary for 2009 3 State 3 Mountain. This was my first time riding in this century. It was cold and rainy. I use a little handheld Flip to record some footage along the way.
3 State 3 Mountain Challenge 2009 Part 2
I would have loved to have gotten footage of my suffer-fest up Burkhalter Gap but it was all I could do to keep the bike rolling forward.