Double-Century-Prep 'M' Ride Advice
<dma at abriz dot net>
Last updated 2012-01-05
For several years (2004-2009),
I organized an informal series of GPC double-century prep rides
which took place each January, February, and March.
Although this series is no longer happening as such,
much of the advice written about those rides is still useful.
Indeed, the comments below apply to most M-pace 100+ mile rides
on the GPC ride calendar,
no matter how they are billed or what month of the year.
See the main double-prep page for the
current state of GPC double-century-prep rides.
The remainder of this page is adapted from my double-prep writeup of past years.
It describes how I led M-pace prep rides and the advice I gave for them.
Other ride leaders may take a different approach,
and other double century riders may well have different advice.
Audience and Goal
Expectations and Style
What to Carry
More Gear and Clothing Pointers
Links and References
Ride Reports, 2006
Ride Reports, 2005
Audience and Goal
These rides are for strong, experienced, self-sufficient riders.
Having ridden doubles or fast centuries previously is helpful.
Attitude and good old determination are essential.
To properly prepare to ride a fast double-century; in particular,
the three doubles of the
California Triple Crown Stage Race.
Dates for the this year's Stage Race doubles are noted on our our
main double-prep page
- Ride pace: As measured by the
GPC pace scale:
medium M in January, faster M in February, and (with luck)
MB by March.
Slower riders, including TM riders, will be on their own.
They are welcome to band together,
but ride leader is not responsible for this.
In recent years, we have often managed to have separate
TM, M, and MB paced rides.
Sometimes, we are able to find separate pace group leaders for
the same ride; and that's when it works best.
- Distance: Start at about 95 miles and work up.
- Hilliness: You bet! You were planning to prepare for the DMD on flats?
- Rides will be Saturdays: Every Saturday, except for rain,
except for the second Saturday each month when we ride the
Second Saturday Presto Ride instead,
and except if a similar GPC ride is scheduled close-by on a Saturday.
In recent years the SSR has had explicit double-prep presto
contingents for the months Jan - Feb - Mar.
Also, when the ITT is on the first Saturday of March and April,
the double-prep ride is moved to Sunday to allow the ITT intensity.
See below, re intensity.
- Rides will be in the East Bay,
mostly starting from North Berkeley Bart or Rockridge Bart.
Possible out-of-area ride in March.
Expectations and Style
The goals noted above are ambitious.
To meet them, these will be ambitious rides.
I have the following expectations of riders:
- You too have definite goals.
It can be something other than riding doubles, but it should be
something that drives you.
If you're just coming along for the
ride, it would be better to find a different ride.
- Rides will start promptly.
Please get to the ride start on time, and with your bike fully prepared.
Pump your tires and repair any problems the day before.
- Rides will move promptly.
Delays should be minimal.
Pacelines on flat level ground (no wind) should move 20mph or faster.
- Lunch stop??
Some rides will have a longer sit-down lunch stop.
Some will not, and will instead use mainly on-the-bike refueling.
Check the ride listing, or ask the ride leader if any questions.
- Rest stops will be short (other than a possible lunch)
and infrequent (approx 25-30 miles between them).
We will not stop just because you brought only one bottle and
it's empty —
nor will we stop just because your phone rings!
- I will try to keep the group together — but each rider needs to help
What to Carry
Carry the same items you would for an actual double, including:
- Minimum two extra tubes. Three is better.
- Two water bottles (or similar water capacity) on any day
70 degrees or warmer.
- Tools: anything you might need for a field repair.
You must be self-sufficient
- Lights: taillight and emergency headlight, or better.
We may often be pushing against dusk.
- Energy food, where you can reach it while pedaling.
Bring at least two "bars" (or equivalent),
and plan to have at least extra one "bar", or similar,
available at all times for emergency anti-bonk.
For some rides — check the listing —
you may need to carry your entire day's worth of fuel.
- Fenders, kickstand, touring racks, heavyweight commuting bike,
fixie, singlespeed, searchlights with 10-hour
batteries . . .
leave them all at home unless you are really strong.
Did I mention we climb hills? Lots of hills?
More Gear and Clothing Pointers
It's important to regulate your body temperature — especially on all-day
rides when air temperatures can vary by 40 degrees or more (e.g. 50's to 90's).
But it's just as important not to hold up the group while doing so.
- Arm-warmers and leg-warmers are encouraged. They are easy
to roll up and down while pedaling and the group keeps moving —
no delay to anyone.
- On days which are not cool enough to require leg-warmers,
knee-warmers are even faster to deal with.
- For cold days: a second pair of arm-warmers over the first
can work well, and is just as fast to adjust
(choose fabrics which don't bind to each other).
- For cold days: skull caps, neck gaiters,
and toe-booties all go on and off fairly quickly.
- Long tights are slow on and off. Save them for the coldest days when
you're sure they won't need to come off.
- Long-sleeve jackets and Camelbaks are discouraged.
They require much more time and fussing to adjust and/or remove.
A Camelbak together with a long-sleeve jacket is particularly
Too often I have seen a group leave behind a rider who is still
fumbling with this combination.
Exceptions: (1) Certain small bike frames do not allow two full-size
bottles, so a Camelbak may be needed.
(2) Very hot rides may benefit from a Camelbak.
In either case, practice so you are fast with it!
- Riding in rain is a waste of time.
There are not many rain skills to learn,
and for your troubles you will spend nearly as much off-bike time
cleaning and ultimately replacing your gear
(drivetrain, bearings, rims, etc)
as you spend actually riding.
- Rain, or probability 10% or greater, will cancel, shorten,
or postpone a ride, depending on weather specifics.
For example, if it's raining in the morning but dry in the afternoon,
we'll ride in the afternoon.
- If forecast is doubtful, contact the leader
before 9:45pm the night before,
or between 7:15-8:00am the day of the ride.
- With rides scheduled every Saturday, we won't suffer for lack of
miles . . .
we'll get occasional Saturdays off, as ruled by nature.
General Advice (!)
I have been asked for recommendations for the rest of the week:
Number of days to ride? Which days? Mileage?
For an answer, I would not presume to prescribe a detailed regimen.
All sorts of coaches and coaching programs are available both locally and
over the internet to do exactly that.
If you don't want to pay a coach,
the links and references given below
contain great advice, including many specifics.
That said, here is my advice on the essentials for preparing to
ride a fast double.
Every one of the points below will help:
- At least once a week, starting in Jan or Feb, ride hard.
Do intervals, sprints,
fast group rides,
hard hill climbs,
practice time trials, or the like.
These should be so hard that your legs are drained well before
covering your normal weekend distance.
Unfortunately, GPC does not offer this type of ride,
with the exception of
the Tuesday Evening Rides and
the Monthly ITT.
But those don't start until the spring, so until then you're
on your own.
- Enough miles to bring your weekly average over the course of
a month up to roughly 150 in Jan-Feb, roughly 180 in Mar-Apr.
More can help (and I personally aim for a bit more)
but smarter — and intensity —
is more important than more.
- Practice your bike handling skills.
Cornering, descending, pedal stroke, bike posture, drafting,
pacelines . . . all that good stuff.
Good form, an efficient stroke, and strategic wheel-sucking
will all help you go faster and last longer.
Do not do the same type of ride all the time.
- Some rest days each week.
Perhaps once a month, a lighter-than-usual week.
- Which days of the week? If you're planning on the Saturday double-prep
rides, ride short and easy on Thu and Fri so you're well-rested for Sat.
Except if you are really strong, in which case please show up
on Sat all tired out from the day before! Unless you need practice
riding in the rain (and cleaning your brakes and drivetrain,
and picking glass out of your tires), ride on days it is not raining.
- Off the bike, regularly do upper-body workouts and stretches.
Your back, abs, arms, and shoulders are all darn important for long
- Get your bike, your nutrition, your clothing choices, and your other
gear all well dialed-in.
- If it's not fun, you're doing something wrong!
I started riding double centuries in 2000;
as of this writing (end of 2011)
I have completed 69.
61 of these are Cal Triple Crown finishes;
The rest were self-supported or some other form of 200+ mile ride.
9 were ridden on a tandem.
I've also had a few near-misses and DNF's —
each with its own cause —
so I've seen it from both sides.
The Terrible Two was my first double century
(not sure I would recommend that!)
I have completed it every year since 2000 . . .
some years with more success than others.
Over those years I've formed some definite views on
riding doubles and preparing for them.
Notice I never say training for a double,
because to me that is simply the wrong word —
it flatly fails to convey all that is needed.
You can train soldiers. You can train seals.
You can toilet-train small children.
Some people can train submissive mates!
And, I'm told, in the Bay Area people train a lot more submissives than that.
But, as a bicyclist, I prefer to prepare.
Successfully riding a double, especially a reasonably fast one,
has three aspects: mental, physical, and logistical.
Shortchanging any one of them is asking for problems.
Proper preparation of all three requires more than mere training.
That's why these are 'prep' rides.
Any further commentary is for when I see you on the road!
Links and References
California Triple Crown web site:
the central site for California doubles:
- Chris Kostman (Adventure Corps)
are good, though you may need to excuse his attitude at times.
- John Hughes essays:
Cycling Performance Tips (CPtips.com), by Richard Rafoth MD,
gastroenterologist and doubles rider.
A wealth of info, structured as an on-line book. Samples:
includes material from Fred Matheny, Ed Pavelka, and many more.
Planet Ultra Training pages
(and yet again).
- Paul Pedriana (Diablo Cyclists):
Five Ways to Get Faster.
- Almaden Cycle Touring Club
and Franz Kelsch of
Sports Med Web, by Mark A Jenkins MD,
internal medicine specialist, team physician, and ironman triathlete.
Medical issues for endurance sports. For example:
Ultracycling.com. In particular:
- Various books, such as:
- Mail me your suggested link or reference.