Worcester, Mass.
August 6, 1995

Cyclists seeking century marks

By Lynne Tolman

     One motivation for sweating it out in the saddle during the hottest days of summer is to build the strength and endurance to be able to bike a century -- 100 miles in a day -- by the end of the season.

     Many cycling clubs make centuries in late summer or fall their biggest events, inviting riders from near and far to tour their favorite roads while undertaking a challenge.

     While the distance sounds daunting to the uninitiated, 100 miles is an achievable goal even for first-year riders. Training schedules typically increase mileage about 10 percent a week and call for a rest day after the longest ride each week.

     Some cyclists like to "collect" centuries the way hikers bag peaks. The rides are not races, but some riders set time goals for themselves. Whether that's nine hours or six, the riding tends to be sociable, with stops to eat or sightsee. For riders who want to join the fun but not spend all day, shorter routes such as a metric century (100 kilometers, equal to 62 miles), usually are offered.

     Registration fees typically pay for maps, arrows painted on the pavement, snacks along the way and a sag wagon in case of breakdowns. The steepest fees include T-shirts and post-ride feasts.

     The Charles River Wheelmen change their fall century route every year. This fall's ride starts in Carlisle, travels back roads to Lunenburg, then follows the Souhegan River north to Wilton, N.H.

     The Flattest Century in the East is relatively level, and the Tri-State Seacoast and Maine Freewheelers rides rival it for lack of hills. The Connecticut Valley Century and the Don McCulloch Memorial Ride on Cape Cod also aren't too hilly.

     Mountain goats might prefer the Great River Ride in western Massachusetts, which has nearly 8,000 feet of climbing.

     Another challenging ride, the Mount Greylock Century, isn't being held this year. But at least one group of cyclists plans to ride the route on the traditional date, the third Sunday in August. They'll start from West Cummington instead of Pittsfield, making the killer ascent to Hawley the last of the four major climbs. For $55, riders get a Saturday night stay and three meals at Remington Lodge. For details, call Karen Saltus (508-845-5571).

     Except for the Steeple Chase, the following centuries are not fund-raisers, so you don't have to collect pledges. For an entry form, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope. (Note: The following dates are for 1995. For more recent information see 2001 Guide to New England century rides.)


    TIP OF THE HELMET -- To Frank McCormack of Leicester, the Saturn pro team rider who won the Norwest Cup last Sunday in Minneapolis. McCormack, 26, broke away to complete the 110-mile race in 4 hours, 11 minutes. Also in the top 10 were Saturn teammates Brian Walton, third place, and Norm Alvis, eighth.

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