What Does it Takes to do a Double Century Ride (200 miles)?
The Double Century
Shane at top of Storm King, 80 miles into his 200 mile double century ride
Most normal people consider doing a century ride (100 miles) a great achievement in endurance and perseverance. I guess I'm not normal. Don't get me wrong, a century is a right of passage of any cyclist and we all remember our first. However, after nearly 15 years of training and racing at a high level, 100 miles just wasn't enough of a challenge anymore. I usually do at least one training ride per week that is somewhere between 90-100 miles, in addition to my other rides. As a part of the Zenberry Challenge, I really wanted to do something to test myself now that my racing season was over.
As a bike racer I understand that distance doesn't equate difficulty, in itself. Though this does have an impact, of course. I've done 20 mile crits or 40 min cyclocross races that had me near vomiting, not to mention the always painful time trials which usually range from 6-25 miles in length. Most non-racers think only of the distance you've done while ignoring the high intensity of shorter races/rides.
That being said, I knew I would have to pace myself really well, choose the right equipment and eat the right things (and a lot of those things). Here is my Strava ride file from my double century in case you wanted to look:
Distance: 202.1 miles
Duration: 11:35:51 (moving time)
Elevation: 10,610 ft (amount of climbing)
Ave. Speed: 17.4 mph (including the 39 miles in NYC traffic...18.1mph if you cut out the city miles)
What to Eat?
To ride 200 miles in one day you really need to eat a lot and as often as possible. I started with a very large breakfast which in included a large Zenberry smoothie. I continued to eat as often as I could throughout the ride. You must remember to eat before you start to get hungry or you will begin to get behind in your calorie intake. Forgetting to eat or limiting calories is fine on a shorter ride or even a 100 mile ride, if you're experienced, but when you have to ride for more than 11 hours, you need all the fuel you can get. Trust me, it's impossible to over eat and this isn't the time to be watching your figure. One of the issues, however, is that there is only so much you can carry in your jersey pockets. Mine were ready to burst! So, you have to make due with what you can find at stops along the route. I was lucky, there are plenty of high-quality cafes on the route but I still had to hit the occasional gas station and eat what I could find (Oreos). The other issue I had that I've never experienced before was a total lack of appetite. I mean, from mile 90-125 I could barely eat. Nothing tasted good and I had to force feed myself. Luckily this passed. It was fairly warm at 88 degrees so getting water was really essential as well. Here is about what I ate before, during and after my ride
Breakfast: (Mile 0)
3 Lundburg Farms wild rice cakes with raw honey, almond butter, cinnamon: 920 cal
Large cold brew coffee (homemade) with coconut palm sugar: 40 cal
Zenberry Blue smoothie with 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup cherries, almond milk: 350 cal
Lunch: (Mile 82) 2 Alice's Coffee Lounge in Cornwall, NY
Whole grain "Everything" bagel with hummus, sprouts, cucumber.
Large iced coffee with Zenberry Green added
Dinner: (Mile 202.1)
Zenberry Green smoothie with frozen banana, blueberries, kale, cashews, almond milk
Bowl of short grain brown rice with black beans, peppers, cilantro
1 hour later I had 2 more rice cakes with raw honey and almond butter
Portables (consumed while riding)
2 JoJe Bars (espresso chocolate almond)
1 Natures Bakery Fig Bar
1 Kind bar
1 package Oreo Cookies (you get what you can)
2 bottles homemade sports drink (coconut palm sugar & Pink Himalayan salt)
1 Clif Shot Bloks (Margarita)
Several liters of water (it was 88 degrees)
I made some specific equipment choices for this trip but much of it was what I typically use all year long. I put in between 10-12k miles per year so I'm pretty good with my choices, however, everyone is different (especially with saddles etc) so these are just suggestions.
I chose to use my new Giant TCR Advanced Pro because the new frame design is the best I've ever ridden. I also have the TCR Advanced SL 1 as a race bike. The TCR is stiffer than anything I've ridden but also much more compliant than anything this stiff. It glides over bumps and potholes better than any racing frame I've ridden and I see a lot of potholes and rough roads in NYC.
Wheels: American Classic Argents (Tubeless)
I paired the American Classic tubeless Argents because they are lighter and more aerodynamic (according to their website) than Zipp 303 carbon clinchers and I can run the IRC tires down to a nice comfy 90 psi and not have to worry about pinch flats. This made for such a comfortable combination for the 11.5 hour ride. Plus the tubeless tires have sealant that will fill any small puncture before the tire flattens (usually).
Saddle: Specialized Power Comp
My new Specialized Power Comp saddle is a dream. I have been riding their Toupe for many years but this new one is even better. Again, everyone's butt is different but I'm told roughly 80-85% of customers who buy the Power saddle find it comfortable.
Helmet: Specialized S-Works Prevail
I have been racing the Specialized Prevail helmet for years now. It fits my head really well and is one of the lightest helmets available which is good for an 11.5 hour ride. That's a long time to be hunched over the bars and my neck and trap muscles were really hurting by the end of the ride
Finally, my Smith Pivloc Arenas were great at keeping junk out of my eyes as well as the sun. I did have to take them off for the final 30 miles because it was really dark at that point. They have good coverage, are comfortable and really look great.
Sunglasses: Smith Pivloc Arenas
Pockets are filled! Ready to Roll!
Contrasting environments. Bottom is Canal St. Top is Harriman State Park, 100 miles later.
Getting superfoods is as easy as stirring Zenberry into my iced coffee
Getting your hydration down is essential on such a long ride
A warm beautiful day quickly turned bad as I cross the GWB into Manhattan. Wet windy ride to Brooklyn
After 11:35:51 I finally stopped in front of my house in the dark
This ride was one of the hardest things I've done in my life and I've never been one to avoid a challenge. It took a lot of strength and determination to keep going during the low points of the trip. One of the hardest parts of the ride were the 40 miles of loops in Prospect Park. I chose this because I didn't want to be far away, on poorly lit, busy roads once the sun went down. It also gave me an easy bailout if I couldn't finish or my knee injury flared up. But being so close to home, but still having 2 hours of riding to do, was tough mentally. It was also very boring and tedious. I persevered and finished the ride with a total of 202.1 miles. I'm really proud to have this goal off my bucket list but I don't think I will be doing one again, anytime soon. Thank you for reading and please follow us on social media: @zenberrymix
Shane's post-ride interview: