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Completing a double century or 200 mile bike ride, in one day, is a great accomplishment for any recreational cyclist. It is also a makes a great story when you get old. There are plenty of organized rides all over North America. Most have a small entry fee. The support that is offered varies greatly from ride to ride.

Step 1: In the Long Run, It's More Than a Bike Ride

If I can offer you one tip it is wear sunscreen. If I can offer you a second, it is loose weight. Extra weight slows you down plenty. Calorie counting it the most brutal as well as the most successful way to loose weight. Depending on your circumstances you can eat less or exercise more. Keep a diary of how many calories you consume. There is no need to be accurate. You can round off items to the nearest 50 or 100 calories
Consider the double century a long term goal. Train lots. Allow plenty of time to improve. Take up to three years, if you begin as a couch potato, There are training schedules to guide your progress. The schedules all have the same theme. That is increase your mileage slowly. Involve your commute to work in your training. Complete plenty of century rides beforehand. Try 2 century rides in 2 consecutive days. .
Recovery time after hard rides is important, as is time away from the bike, when you get bored,

Step 2: Prepare to Be Challenged

Preparation should start one week before the ride. Sleep lots in the week preceding the ride. Avoid alcohol. Try to do minimal strenuous work.
Plan your strategy. A strategy that does not involve hammering all the time. Set reasonable goals, for the time that it will take you to reach each way point. Make sure your bike is in excellent mechanical shape.
Arrange for transportation to the start of the ride.
In the morning of the ride do not experiment. Have everything tested and true. This include clothing, bike equipment and magic potions. Eat a good breakfast about 40 minutes before riding . Porridge and a banana are a favorite
Take lots of sweet food with you. You will at have to replace 300 calories of sugar per hour. You will actually be consuming about 1000 calories per hour, but the fats and proteins can be replaced later. Fluids are important. Fasten a few extra jugs to your bike if you don't plan on stops.
Finally your shorts should be lubricated to prevent chaffing. Antibacterial hand lotion works great

Step 3: The Long Ride

Start fast. It does you no good having to wait for slowpokes, so loose the weak as soon as possible. Slow down to find your pace after a few miles. Blend into a group to draft with. A group that you can keep up with. Don't be a hero when it is your turn to pull at the front. Keep at a steady pace
Be prepared for mood changes throughout the ride. The ride is long so you will experience some downs along with all the enjoyment. Realize the rough sections will always end. As the day grows long you will need more and more determination.
Finally the ride will end. When you are finished, be prepared for some exuberant bragging. You have earned the right to brag, until you meet someone who has completed a triple century. Have fun and take care always.

Step 4: Picture Credits

Pictures are from Flickr and licensed under the creative commons
Can of whoop by srboisvert.
sunscreen 70 by h. wren.
Hand cream by Daniel Slaughter.
Double century by srboisvert.
Taking lots of sweet food with you is about the worst thing you can possibly do and would explain your mood changes you describe.You want to drip feed your body with food rich in complex carbs and low in sugar. Malt Loaf, banana loaf, "certain" cereal bars, check the nutritional label you want to aim for a 3:1 ratio of carbs to sugar. The amount of carbs required depends very much on the intensity of effort required, everyone's body and level of fitness is different but start out at around about 20-to 40g of carbs fed into the body every 20 minutes is a good starting point. Experiment with your body and these numbers, you'll know when you've got it right because you will find yourself cycling long distances with significantly less physical and mental anguish. The mood changes you describe are probably as a result of your body having to release insulin to counter the high levels of sugar you were pumping into your blood stream, causing your body to spike and crash physically and mentally as your body tries to regulate your blood sugar,
Lubricating my shorts?... hmmm, you know on second thought, i think i'll just stick to recreational riding.
Nice. sounds killer difficult, but I'll try it in a year or two. At the moment I just bike 20km to and from work everyday, as a bike is and will ALWAYS be my main form of transportation, its just scary biking at night on the highway :(
I did the Frozen Snot Century a few years ago. Closer to a double century--Chicago to Milwaukee and back, over 2 days(in February). Toughest thing I've done, but awesome. I did zero preparation. I'm not in bad shape, but I'm not particularly athletic. The one thing I would recommend is a recumbent bike, at least for a flat course.
what's your average speed/ride time?
I have only completed one double century. It was more or less flat, with favorable winds. My time was 12:12. Some recreational cyclists are able to ride it in under ten hours. Thankyou
16.4 MPH average? my hat goes off to you. I ride a 4 mi circuit that is hilly a couple times a week right from my house. It goes: okay..., slight drop, climb, 300ft drop in 2 miles (weeeeeeeeeeeeee), 300ft climb in 1 mile (gahhhh), home. Today I did it in 20 minutes (12 MPH avg :D), best time yet. I always see a bunch of cyclists ridding up that last 300ft climb by my house on their $2000 racing bikes, and their flashy costumes. If I keep training, I think I can get good enough to pass them with my dad's old touring bike :P, im getting faster every run.
Congrats with your double century! I've always used bicycling as a way to get somewhere while enjoying the scenery, rather than as a way to push myself. I think the most I've done was over a single century - <em>in metric</em>! :-D But I do admire the effort and dedication...<br/><br/>Oh, and nice job on the picture credits! It's always great to see people use CC pictures *and* acknowledge the original photographers! <br/>
Awws, I can't do a double century, I don't think my country is long enough lol... At the minute the longest cycles seem to be 50miles here... which is a bit annoying since there are days i rack up well over that... Cool to see such a thing, as some additions it would be cool to see some strategies during the cycle like for the rough bits... even on the 50's getting people singing is a great laugh, until someone swallows a bee.

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