On the Santa Fe (Century) Trail

How I survived training for an early spring century ride.

winston photo by matthew jonas

Winston loves to say hello, and he loves treats!  photo:Matthew Jonas/timescall.com 

Bike season came early this year. It collided with ski season in mid-March (which was completely exhausting), and by April Fool’s Day, the stinking mound of Lycra in my laundry hamper was evidence that bike season had begun in earnest.

Why the abrupt transition? My friends and I decided we needed a challenge, so one brisk March morning, while out for a hike, we made the crazy decision to ride the May 20th Santa Fe Century. Not that our decision to ride a century was crazy; we’ve all done that before. The crazy part is that May 20 is awfully early to actually be in shape to ride 100 miles! Especially when you live in Colorado.

And so we started training. Over the many miles logged during our aggressive spring training campaign, I learned a few things that helped me stay focused, engaged, and positive. Maybe they will help you in your training efforts.

How to train for a spring century ride

  1. Make every ride an adventure. Keeping rides fresh and exciting isn’t too difficult when you live in a cycling mecca like Boulder, however, it is easy to get in a rut and repeat the same go-to rides over and over again. Half the fun of training for the Century was planning our rides, and our collective creativity helped us design routes that were new, different, exciting, and challenging.
  2. Use Strava as a training buddy. To ensure I’d be Century-ready, I set a personal training goal of riding 800 miles before the big event. Strava made it easy to track my total miles and check my progress. Strava also helped with ride planning. It was helpful to see how long different rides had taken in the past, so we could pick rides based on the amount of time we had.
  3. Don’t mind the weather. I quickly learned that 26 degrees and sunny can be much more pleasant than 41 degrees and overcast. And 7:00 AM start times in April can be downright chilly. Never-the-less, we bundled up and braved the elements, and we were often surprised at just how nice our morning rides were, especially after we started generating body heat. Added bonus: we could be smug all day since we had gotten up, gotten out, and gotten it done.
  4. It’s more fun with friends. It’s been fun to have a common goal and a reason to get out. Peer pressure can be a powerful training tool. Knowing that I had friends waiting got me up and out the door on mornings that I wanted to sleep in! It was also fun to anticipate our long rides together. Riding with friends meant slogging up the canyons and flying through the farmlands never got tedious. It also meant we had moral support to keep us moving forward, even when ferocious headwinds were blowing us backward.
  5. Keep it fun. Even when we were tired and sore, we made it a point to keep things fun. On one long ride, we marked our progress by clicking off landmarks rather than roads. Our route went something like this: rooster sculpture, the Merc, bison, Clydesdales, Winston the pig, and home. If you live in Boulder, maybe you know the ride? Another day, we called our ride the “Tour de Bladder” because of the many stops we made along the way!

The Santa Fe Century is next week, and I am happy to say I exceeded my training goal. I’m feeling strong and ready to embrace the push to the finish line. It’s been an enjoyable journey preparing for the event; maybe even more fun than the actual ride will be.

As for my friends – we’re already talking about next year. Who knows? Maybe this will become an annual event

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