What’s the most common newbie mistake?

I was at the Veloway the other morning. Lots of casual bikers use the Veloway, because they don’t have to contend with traffic. As I was taking a breather on a hot, hot morning, I noticed a woman get her two sons on their bikes and moving, then she set about getting her bike ready for the ride.

She made a mistake I’ve seen quite a bit by new riders. I won’t say what it was, because I’d like to indulge in a reader participation post here.

What is the most common mistake you see new bikers make?

Do not comment on this post. Please email me your nomination. Once I’ve collected enough to qualify for the top 5, or maybe even the top 10, I’ll do a follow-up with the results.

What to eat during a ride?

This might be the week that the B ride at our club hit its tipping point. We had eight riders out for the Sunday ride, double what we’ve been getting lately. We kept the┬áride deliberately short because of our ridiculously hot temperatures. It wound up at 30 miles round trip at about a 15 mph average. Nothing earth shattering, but the consensus was that this was the right ride to do on a day like today.

We stopped in downtown (I use the word loosely) Buda, Texas, a block short of where we usually make our turnaround. That’s at a stoplight at the town’s main intersection. But today, the shade of a big live oak tree attracted us, and we pulled under its branches to get a tad cooler (temp in low 90sF).

Besides gulping various concoctions of water and electrolytes, most of us pulled out some kind of food to fuel us for the return trip. Most of us, because I had forgotten to stick a bar in my pocket when I left the house this morning. I looked around at the other riders to see what they chose.

Clif bars seemed to be the number one choice, with several unwrapping one of those. One person preferred Clif Shot Bloks to the bars. There was a Power Bar, and one rider had a small chocolate and coconut bar that was passed out at the start of the ride a week or two ago. I forget what they’re called, but I remember that they weren’t bad.

A 10-year-old boy riding with us wanted to go one more block to a donut shop, but his mother nixed the idea. “No donut if you’re going to turn around and ride another hour,” she said. He was not pleased. He reached into his pocket and took out some Shot Bloks, and chewed three of them at once.

On the way back, we made another stop after a stretch of twisty, hilly road. This was conveniently at a convenience store. The store could be more convenient, however, because a sign over the sink says the water is not potable. Dandy water stop, with no drinkable water. I grabbed a bottle of G2, and looked in vain for some kind of nutrition bar to sustain me until we got back home. Nothing but candy bars. Finally, I asked the clerk, who pointed at an end display. One box of Nature Valley granola bars. Honey-oat. No other choice. I bought one, and scarfed it down.

I could probably have gotten by without it, since I had my usual large pre-ride breakfast this morning, but I like to eat something to keep going during a ride. My bar of choice is a Lara Bar, much like a Clif Bar, but my wife and I prefer their taste. On organized rides, I’ll always go for the half bananas at the rest stops, and if they have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut in quarters, I’ll have one of those, too.

But I don’t carry PB&Js with me on regular rides. Bananas, either, although I’ve seen them sticking out of other riders’ jersey pockets. What do you like for mid-ride food? How often do you eat during a ride?

Are you a century fanatic?

This heat wave won’t last forever. I’m looking ahead to more reasonable weather, with lots of long rides. In fact, I’m toying with the idea of riding another century.

It seems that many cyclists set riding a century (100 miles) as a long-term goal. They put in the hours and the miles training for it, then it comes. They manage to get through it, and have a rush of exhilaration that comes from reaching their goal.

When I finished my century, I had the “been there, done that” feeling. It wasn’t something I expected to do anytime soon again. I trained for the MS 150, which if it went off as scheduled, would have involved a 99.6-mile first day. As you know, that was rained out, and we only did the second day, about 77 miles. It took me longer to ride the 77 miles because of the huge field and a longish lunch stop than it did to finish the century.

So I haven’t been piling on the miles since then. My long rides are in the 30-35 mile range, and that’s just fine with me. That’s still over two hours in the saddle. Besides, my mileage is picking up, and so is my strength. I can ride faster for longer distances than I could two months ago. So what the heck — should I plan on doing another century?

Luckily, because summers are so hot in Texas, we’re in a lull in organized rides. I’ll have time to boost my mileage to do the hundred miles, and I ┬áhave several choices. There’s the Waco Wild West in September, the Outlaw Trail 100 in October, and the holy grail of Texas centuries, the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred in August. That’s up in Wichita Falls. It’s a Texas happening, with over 11,000 riders, and several days of bike-related activities. Problem is, the hotel rooms are all booked. I’d have to find some other accommodation.

So I haven’t decided for sure yet. I haven’t even decided if I am going to ride 100 miles again.

But there are lots of riders out there who are crazy about centuries. They do one, and can’t wait to ride another. Some set a target of a century a month. A couple in my club are heading west to do a double century (200 miles) this weekend.

What camp are you in? Do you like riding centuries, and try to ride in a lot of them? Is it something you would like to try once, just to say you’ve done it? Or are you among those who think riding that far is crazy, and there’s no point to it?

And if you’re targeting a century, which one is it, when will it be, and how’s your training going?