Next Sunday, September 13, I will be riding in the NYC Century, a 100-mile bike tour through New York City. I am super excited because I missed the TD Five Boro Bike Tour due to my injury. This will be my first bike tour and my first century, so I have no expectations and just want to enjoy it.
(sample of a ride to or from White Plains as recorded on MapMyRun)
To train, I’ve been riding twice a week. My mid-week ride takes me from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to my office in White Plains, New York, approximately 26 miles each way. I also do a weekend long ride, which started at 25 miles and increased between five and ten miles a week until this week’s 80-miler.
I bought my bike, a 30-year-old ten-speed Fuji Monterey nicknamed the Silver Fox, from Greenpoint Bikes in June of 2014. I had just moved to Bushwick, and wanted the bike to get around Brooklyn more easily. I was hooked within a few weeks of riding.
As I’ve increased my mileage and started to save money to buy a more modern cycle, I’ve learned more about different types of bikes, bike geometry, and bike fit. I’ve also learned that the Silver Fox is wrong for me in all categories. The frame is long, which does not properly support my long legs and short torso. No matter how much I try to get the bike to work for me, it will always come up short.
As a result, I had started to experience neck pain on any ride over 15 miles (that is, all my rides), and brought my bike to Master Bike Shop on 72nd Street near West End Avenue. My girlfriend bought her Fuji Absolute (hers is black) there, and I bought my clipless pedals and shoes there. I met with Joe, who does Master Bike’s bike fits, and he raised my seat, tilted my handlebars forward, and advised me not to ride on the hoods. These adjustments and advice saved my neck (literally) during my 80 miler. Thanks, Master Bike!
Armed with a more properly fit bike, and fresh off the prior day’s 14-mile marathon training run, I planned to rest, have fresh legs, and lots of good snacks. The only thing I had, however, was the rest. Before my ride, I walked five miles with my mom, sister, and girlfriend, and spent time carrying the girlfriend around the Central Park reservoir. I’ll call it “training for the bridges” during the NYC marathon! Then, I realized that I had left my KIND Dark Chocolate Chunk bars at my office, and all I had in my apartment was a package of nuts and raisins, some pinola/chia snacks, and a plastic sandwich bag filled with Puffins a/k/a a large helping of sugary goodness. Fingers crossed that this measly 700 calories plus water would get me through 80 miles, I foam-rolled my IT bands, hopped out the door and hit the roads.
Here’s the route I followed: I did half a loop in Central Park, and headed north through Harlem on St. Nicholas Avenue. I then rode alongside the Harlem River, traveled west to the Hudson River Greenway, and down to the southern tip of Manhattan (about 23 miles). I then rode through the Lower East Side and across the Williamsburg Bridge, through Williamsburg and Greenpoint, across the Pulaski Bridge into Queens, across the Queensborough Bridge and up 1st Avenue to 111th Street, and across 111th Street and into Central Park for a half loop (about 39.6 miles). After a short refueling break, I rode six full loops of the Park and two lower loops. My phone died at 76.5 miles, so I didn’t capture the final 3.5 mile splits.
The NYC Century is a tour on open roads, so I wanted to train on the streets. This would have been great at 6 a.m., but not at noon. I nearly got doored four or five times, and I had to stop at lots of traffic lights. Even the Hudson River Greenway drove me nuts, with harsh wind gusts and people clogging the paths. Through the southern tip of Manhattan, I was not feeling it.
The Williamsbridge Bridge and Brooklyn were great. Riding through Brooklyn and Queens is lovely because they’re both much less crowded than Manhattan, and even the Queensborough Bridge is a smooth ride. First Avenue is mostly flat and, despite numerous delivery guys riding the wrong direction in the bike lane, the ride was pleasant. By the time I returned to Central Park, though, I was ready to put in smooth, steady riding that did not involve stopping every three minutes for traffic.
I did one new thing on this ride: I drank a can of Coke after my fourth of six full loops of the Park. I have heard from numerous endurance athletes that a caffeinated beverage late in the day can re-energize the system. Let me tell you, these folks are absolutely right. I didn’t know how tired I was until the caffeine and sugar hit my brain. My final two full loops and two lower loops felt like I had just started riding.
I felt good when I finished, and am ready for the Century next week. I will be doing one more mid-week ride beforehand (probably a 25-miler home from work), and then I’ll get some sleep before the big day. Let me know if you’re riding the Century!
Happy riding and running!
Here are mile splits for the first 76.5 miles. I took a nice break around mile 40 (mostly to eat lots of Puffins!).