Gear to Get You through Your Century Ride
A century ride can be one of the most rewarding accomplishments you partake in the saddle. Although it’s a long day on the bike, with appropriate training and attention to proper gear selection, every mile can be enjoyable.
Don’t underestimate the effect gloves can have on making a long ride much more comfortable. A quality pair of gloves (Such as the Pearl Izumi Gel Vent Pro glove) with a padded palm can dramatically reduce the vibration from the road resulting in less upper body fatigue and joint pain.
A stiff-soled cycling shoe with clip-in pedals will improve power transfer and help you ride faster and use less energy than you would with tennis shoes and platform pedals. It’s definitely worth some time in the days leading up to your ride to visit your local bike shop and find some comfortable, cycling-specific shoes (Roadcycling.com recommends Pearl Izumi and Nike cycling shoes). If you don’t have clip-in pedals already, though, don’t get them right before your century, as they take some practice to get used to. Many bike shoes will work with regular pedals, but be sure to check with the bike shop to ensure compatibility with your pedals.
Wear comfortable socks. Wool socks are great options, as they breathe well and will keep your feet warm even when they’re wet. You can get thin wool socks which work great in warm weather. There are also a wide variety of socks made from Coolmax and other high-tech fabrics, including models from DeFeet, that are very breathable and wick moisture away from your feet.
Of course you already have a helmet that fits snugly but comfortably. If you’ve crashed with that helmet or it’s experienced a significant impact, replace it. Even if it looks okay from the outside, the integrity of the helmet could be compromised. Giro helmets are the ones Lance, Carmichael Training Systems, and Roadcycling.com trust for protection and ventilation, and they have a huge selection to choose from. The Giro Eclipse, for instance, is a good option at about $90, while Lance Armstrong's choice, the Atmos, will cost you about $190.
If the weather is going to be cool, keep a headband or skull cap handy to keep your ears and head warm under the helmet. They’re small enough that you can tuck one into your jersey pocket in case you need it.
You don’t have to be an expert mechanic, but a small tool kit and knowledge of basic repairs can mean the difference between finishing your century and watching it from the sag vehicle. Essentials include, but aren’t limited to: allen wrenches, tire levers, a spare tube, a patch kit, and a pump. A bike-specific multitool is particularly handy because of its compact size and many uses. Don’t overlook the usefulness of non-traditional items for short term repairs; a little duct tape can keep a loose part attached until you get to an aid station, and an energy bar wrapper works as a great patch for a slice in your tire’s sidewall.
The decision to ride 100 miles is no small undertaking; however, with the proper preparation and attention to gear detail in the days and hours before the ride, you can cross the finish line with a smile on your face -