How To Tell If You’re Ready For The Old Mutual Wealth Double Century

Are you ready for the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century? Here are six major signs that you’re all set to go the distance.


By Selene Yeager |

Watching the mileage on your cycling computer tick over to triple digits is one of the most satisfying benchmarks in our sport. To see it do so twice in one ride… Yet like all high marks, it doesn’t come easily; hitting 200 kilometres in a single outing puts your fitness, skills, and general cycling know-how to the test. Here are six signs that you’re good to go… and make it to the finish.

You’ve Clocked at Least 5 Hours in the Saddle (in one go, not in total!)

More than 20 years of endurance (and ultra endurance) cycling has taught me that the fifth hour into an event is the hour of reckoning, where any errors in fit, pacing, hydration, nutrition, and so forth will rear their ugly heads. Unless the 200km ride you’re gunning for is pancake flat and you can easily cruise at 30km/h (in which case you can adjust that max time downward), a rolling 200km ride will take you 7-9 hours (using 23km/h as an average). Working up to at least one ride of at least five hours will allow you to practice everything you need to know and give you confidence on event day. Riding longer than that in training? The jury is out… there doesn’t seem to be much evidence it will make a physiological difference, but one or two monsters in training might be good for your head.

You Can Assume – and Hold – Your Riding Position

Any little tweak that you feel after a few hours in the saddle will become a nagging pain once you hit the four hour mark and beyond. If you have a 160km in your sights, be sure to address any “little” fit issues like neck pain or back aches, knee twinges, and numb hands or feet, because they’ll only become more pronounced as the kilometres wear on. Research shows that your upper body plays a significant role in not just supporting your weight as you ride, but also in generating power as you pedal. Strengthening the supporting muscles in your core, shoulders, and arms can help eliminate pain and fatigue, improving your endurance overall.

Your Fueling is Waxed

Nothing sidelines an otherwise successful Double Century like bonking or a raging case of rot gut (nausea generally from too much sugar). First time endurance riders often fail to eat enough early in the ride because they’re excited and don’t feel hungry…until suddenly their energy levels sputter like a car on fumes. Same goes for taking in adequate fluids to stave off overheating and dehydration, both of which can sneak up on you after four or five hours of riding. Practice in your training to nail your nutrition and hydration. On long training rides, aim to get about 200 calories an hour from simple foods like bananas, figs, and energy bars. Make it a goal to drain one 600-700ml bottle of sports drink an hour.

RELATED: 6 Ways to Avoid Fading on a Long Ride

You’re Prepared for Anything

One of my first double centuries rides nearly cured me of ever attempting the feat again. It was the Santa Fe Century in Gainesville, Florida, which climbs just 350m over the full distance. Sixty kilometres in, everything hurt from being planted in the saddle hammering the flats without a break in position. If you’re staying local, you’re likely ready for the terrain you’ll encounter just by training in the area. If you’re traveling somewhere new for your 160km ride, do a little research and try to simulate what you’ll find in your rides leading up to it.

RELATED: Prevent Numbness on Your Next Ride

You’re Comfortable in a Crowd

Most organised endurance rides start out as a rolling mob, the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century is a little different, but a little the same: you have chosen your bunch more carefully! Being comfortable riding with others – as well as being able to identify what wheels to follow and what wheels to steer clear of – will help ease your nerves and make that first attempt more enjoyable – most teams sort this out long before race day. Most.

You’re *Really* Prepared for Anything

Flat tyres, missed turns, lost riding mates, incoming storms…lots can happen in 160km. Have a plan for what you’ll do should common mishaps (like going off course or suffering a mechanical) happen out there. At the very least, do yourself a favour and practice fixing a puncture before your big ride.

READ MORE ON: Skills training programmes workouts

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