Century Ride Training: May and June

This is still a running blog. Really! But it’s masquerading as a cycling blog at the moment. Sorry, bear with me! One more cycling post and then I’ll talk running for a bit, I promise.

Because I’m training for my first century ride (the Surf City Aids Ride in September), I though I’d do a month-by-month summary of the training I did and the learnings I’ve made so far, in the hope that it proves useful for someone in a similar situation in the future. So here’s the scoop for May and June.


  • I came at this with a decent level of fitness due to running and a previous history as a cyclist, but my longest ride for five years has only been about 15 miles.
  • I have a road bike (a Trek Lexa) but, at the start of June, had only put about 50 miles on it, mainly earned cycling around with my little boy.
  • At present, I’m still cycling in running shoes.

Training Plan

I did some research online to find a free training plan for a century ride but didn’t find anything really helpful so I wrote my own. It basically included:

  • One weekly spin class
  • One weekly long run, starting at 30 miles and increasing (by September) to 85 miles.
  • One easy bike ride
  • Running 2 or 3 times per week

In true Me style, I wrote this plan and never really stuck to it exactly but it gave me a goal structure to work with.

Cycle Training this month


  • 15th – 31 miles. This taught me that, fitness-wise, I was in pretty good shape for biking. It also taught me that my poor nether regions were not in shape to ride 100 miles. So that was my starting point
  • 25th – 20 miles.
  • 29th – 18 miles. Definitely feeling easier than that first ride.
Cycling with Marjolaine in Atascadero. She crushed me.
Cycling with Marjolaine in Atascadero. She crushed me.



w/c 1st

  • Spin class – cycled 10.1 miles
  • Rode 35 miles at 12.1 mph
  • Rode 5 miles with the family

w/c 8th

  • Spin class – cycled 13.1 miles
  • Rode 3.5 miles with the family

w/c 15th

  • Spin class – cycled 13 miles
  • Rode 39 miles at 12.7 mph
  • Rode 2 miles with the family

w/c 22nd

  • Spin class – rode 15.1 miles
  • Rode 60 miles at 12.7 mph

w/c 29th

  • Spin class – rode c. 15 miles
  • Rode 11 miles with the family
  • (This week, I wasn’t able to get a long ride in)

Overall, I was delighted with the progress I made this month. I was particularly excited about how much further I was able to cycle in spin class within a few sessions and also at how my road-cycling speed and distance increased.


Despite my desire to buy all the cycling clothes in the world, I have tried to curb my spending and only buy the essentials. This month, I have bought the following:

Top – I finally found a decent top that I love. It’s simple, looks like a running top but has these amazing pockets at the back. I got it in my favourite colour, coral. SUPER-happy with it so far.

Look! TWO pockets!!!
Look! TWO pockets!!!


Shoes – I agonized about which shoes to buy but ended up buying these dog-ugly ones  because they were in the sale. I do not like these shoes but people keep telling me they will ‘make such a difference’.

Notably, they are mountain bike shoes and not road shoes. I did some research as to whether or not this makes a practical difference, i.e. can you wear MTB shoes on a road bike, and basically yes you can. It makes NO actual difference. The benefits are that you can walk much more comfortably in MTB shoes than road shoes, which are notoriously difficult to walk in. Being able to walk is important to me. Also, I personally think MTB shoes are slightly less ugly than road shoes, but that’s personal.

New Pedals – Clip-in shoes require fancy pedals. I got pedals that are flat one side and clippy the other side so I can ride in running shoes if clips freak me out.

Bike Computer – Riding using my running Garmin is not ideal so I bought a nice, cheap bike computer. I have yet to install it.

I don’t THINK I shall be needing much more gear. Maybe I’m being naive.

Learnings this month

1) Don’t screw in your own pedals. Or better, learn to screw your pedals in properly, or you may break a crank irrevocably and have to get a taxi home.

2) Spin classes produce giant endorphin rushes and are more fun than I expected. I was also surprised and pleased at how much further I was cycling in a 45 min class than at the start of the month.

3) Your bottom adjusts to cycling pretty quickly.

4) Respect the distance. As I knocked 40 miles off, I was pretty confident about this century malarky. As I finished my 60-miler, I realized that I had underestimated the distance. 100 miles is a long way to ride. I am now more circumspect about the challenge and more focussed on training for it.

My challenges for July

1) Fitting cycling in. My little man is home from school all month, I am still studying and I have several other commitments this month, so it’s going to be a challenge fitting those long rides in. I’ll do my best. My goal is to still be able to ride 60 miles comfortably at the end of July so I can build up over August.

2) Riding clipped in. I don’t want to be one of those wimpy girls who squeal and shriek about it but I am honestly rather nervous about taking the clipped-in plunge. I tried clipping in and out with my bike on the trainer and honestly, felt a bit panicky. Lots of work to do here.

Here’s to July training!



8 Comments Add yours

  1. Nic J says:

    Persevere with the pedal clips! I have the same nervousness but they do help. Couple of tips:
    – practice clipping in and out while stationary and holding on to something. My practice was in the kitchen holding on to the work surface. Fine while the outside leg was supporting me. Not so fine when I then swapped straight over, had no outside supporting leg, and crashed in a heap on the floor. K found me sprawled, attached to my bike and laughing my head off.
    – practice one at a time. The key thing for confidence is knowing you can unclipped when you need to. I’d cycle your estate roads with one clip attached at a time, and keep clipping in and out.
    – practice junctions. You’ll get to know how long it takes you to clip out, so then you need to plan ahead. Get to know how much distance you need to unclipped, and practice that. You’ll soon be gliding, unclipped, to a smooth halt at every junction.
    – practice a swift getaway. I haven’t quite nailed this just yet. I lurch off, trying to clip in, probably looking like an uncoordinated ostrich on a bike, incapable of finding the pedals properly. If you can push off and clip in quickly, you’ll be able to get out of trouble easier
    – master unclipping at slow speeds /uphill. Hard. I struggle with this uphill. But good skill to master.
    Good luck with the training! Xx

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks for all this, lovely.

  2. gracechua31 says:

    Haha thanks for the honesty about the cycling, clipping in, etc! I have a lot of anxiety about road cycling, traffic, and clipping in. In three short course triathlons I think I did about six outdoor training rides and always rode in sneakers. Nurse on the Run had a good account of learning to clip in and ride long when she was training for a 70.3, if you follow her blog.
    I know absolutely nothing about training for cycling. Do people recommend doubles? Long rides? Rides for time vs distance???? For some reason cycling seems to be this secretive brotherhood where training secrets are passed down through generations – unlike running or tri where you can go on the internet and pick up any old plan and something will stick.
    Gear – with investing in if you plan to make cycling a mainstay of your training in the long run!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I’m going to check out her blog, thanks for the recommendation!!!

      I had a look at some plans and am basically going to work on distance, building up gradually. Some doubles might be good, to get my bottom ready.

  3. Jen says:

    Good luck with sorting out the clipping-in business. You’re a better woman than I am! (me = super scared of clipping in and a major reason why I probably will never take up cycling as an endurance sport…)

    1. Cathryn says:

      Dreading it. I need to try this week.

  4. Layla says:

    Looking at your distances and paces is really great: You’re getting faster despite riding further!

    Regarding MTB vs road shoes: I use MTB shoes/pedals, because I can’t turn my heels outward, which is required to unclip on road pedals. I’m still occasionally trying to turn outward because road pedals have a bigger platform (and thus more power), but I have no plans to switch. Kristen has MTBs, and she did the AIDS ride from SF to LA, so how’s that for endorsement? And MTB shoes mean we can walk much faster to the food at aid stations! 🙂

    As for unclipping, I honestly say that if I can learn it, anyone can. I’m the one who gave away my rollerblades because I have such a strong innate fear of falling that they made me miserable. I struggled for so long with clips, and at one point took them off. Then I tried different pedals (I had the egg beater ones), and things improved a lot. Here are a couple tips: 1) Know that you CAN ride with one foot clipped in and the other resting on the pedal until you get it clipped in, or until you get through an intersection so you aren’t stressing out about traffic. 2) Unclip early and often; there’s no harm in it, and it’s good practice. There is nothing wrong with unclipping well before an intersection. 3) Once you figure out which foot you’re unclipping, unclip that same foot every time so that it becomes a routine. Don’t switch, because the goal is for it to become second nature. 4) This leads me to the biggest thing I finally figured out one day when Kristen suggested I try the other foot. I was unclipping with what is usually my dominant foot/side, but it turned out that things are so much better if my dominant side is the foot that’s already clipped in and is propelling me forward. 5) Know that you’ll feel shaky and scared at first, but that everyone has started there. I walked my bike through occasional intersections, turned right rather than coming to a stop, and avoided other cyclists because I was embarrassed at my newbie-ness. But you’re not the only one learning something new — some people are learning how to ride a bike for the first time ever, and some (me) are still trying to figure out how to properly handle a bike with road handlebars. You’ve cycled across Europe, and don’t forget it!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks for all this info, really appreciate it. I know I need to unclip with my right foot (I remember that from my last attempt) but I’m going to be practicing loads on the trainer before I go outside!

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