Riding a century, one hundred miles, is a watershed accomplishment for many recreational cyclists. It’s long but not crazy long and is doable by most recreational cyclists with a little will power and some training time. (Note: it’s official that rides over 199 miles or involving sleep deprivation are totally fucking crazy.) But it pretty much kills an entire day especially if you have to drive to the start—which is all the time—and then drive home. Let’s just say that afterwards you’re not going to be eager to mow the lawn, cook dinner, or engage in social conversation with your significant other that involves uttering more than monosyllables. That’s where metric centuries come in. A metric century is 100 kilometers or about 64 miles. A metric is long enough to get a prodigious workout and see some great countryside but not so long that you’re wasted at the end. Well, that’s really up to you because you can do a metric at full bore and end up wasted. But you still wouldn’t be as wasted as if you had done the 100-mile route. And guess what? You don’t have to get up (as) crazy early to get to the ride (most centuries want you registered and on the road by 7:30 a.m.) Your morning may not be leisurely but at least you’ll get a normal night’s sleep. And when you’re done, you can actually get home and have enough energy to be a real human being!
Most of us are used to riding 30-40 miles at a time, so a metric is just double that—certainly something that is within reach without any special preparation. A full century is a much bigger reach on just a diet of weekend rides. On the other hand if you’re doing a hundred miles a week, you could do a full century but you’re likely to be in the pain cave for the last 20 miles or so. Keep in mind that in Northern California a full century is also going to have a lot more climbing than a metric, so it’s not just the miles that make it hard.
One of the nice things about organized century rides is that you get to ride in unfamiliar territory. Who wants to ride the same roads over and over? Plus, you don’t have to worry much about food or drink because it’s all organized for you. If you’ve picked a well-hosted ride you can be sure the snacks at the rest stops and the provided meal will be tasty. Fortunately that applies to almost all the centuries in NorCal! Both the Tour of Napa and the Marin Century, which take place in August, are club favorites and they both happen to have excellent mid- and/or end-of-ride meals. The bonus is neither is far away: the Marin starts at the Marin County Fairgrounds just north of the Marin Civic Center on 101 and the Tour of Napa starts in Yountville.
But what makes riding a metric century the best? Being able to ride with your friends so you can encourage each other and make the time pass oh-so-pleasantly. Join your fellow Spokers this August!