What is a Century Ride?
A century ride is a badge of honor among cyclists. Get ready to suffer amidst scenic views over the course of 100 miles and then celebrate your achievement.
Century Rides have traditionally been the backbone of road cycling, supported and sponsored by local cycling clubs across the country.A century ride is of course 100 miles in distance, but most events support different distances, for all abilities, typically:
25 miles - quarter century
50 miles - half century
62 miles - metric century (100km)
100 miles - imperial century
120 miles - double metric century (200km)
200 miles - double century, also known as a "double"
Double century rides are usually scheduled nearer the middle of summer to take advantage of the longer daylight hours, and begin at or before dawn. Nowadays many events provide short family orientated events to encourage families and children to participate in cycling. Many cycling clubs sponsor an annual century ride as both a social event for cyclists and as a fund-raiser too. A sanctioned century ride is organized and conducted under the rules and liability protection of a sanctioning organization. Sanctioned rides typically have rest stops every 25 miles or so, where water, food and toilets are available for cyclists.
On a supported century ride, the route is patrolled by a SAG wagon to assist riders with bicycle maintenance, or provide transportation back to the starting line for those unable to ride the entire course. Sanctioned rides are almost always supported.
The typical entry fee for a century event is around $50. Century rides are are usually one day events but are also incorporated in multi-day events known as "Cycle Tours". Standards can vary, but most cyclists agree that you are required to be somewhat self supporting, which requires you to carry spares like inner tubes, puncture repair kit and tyre levers.
The History of Century Rides
The origins of the century ride are obscure, but most agree they were invented in the United States, around the 1890's.
Dora Rinehart of Colorado, gained a reputation as "America's Greatest Cyclienne" for her long-distance riding in the mid-1890s.
Rinehart took up cycling in 1894, even though society at that time discouraged female riders. In 1896 she famously rode more than 100 100-mile rides. She commented that "I do not like to go on a hard run when my husband is with me, for you know it does take so much starch out of a man to ride the century."
In June 1894 she addressed the 24th Annual Convention of the Colorado State Medical Society in Denver. On the agenda were presentations titled, "The New Movement in Dress Reform" and "Bicycle Exercise for Women." She is quoted as saying: "Just to give you an idea of the benefits of a divided skirt, it is almost impossible for a lady to ride any distance…with the ordinary skirt. You get too much of the dress on the one side of the wheel, and you do not get enough of the dress on the other side.
The Tour of the Scioto River Valley began in 1962 with two riders and now boasts over 3,000 cyclists each year!
Joining a local club and taking part in weekly group rides is one of the best ways for newcomers to be introduced to cycling.
Build your confidence by riding in a group, learn the basics of sports nutrition, training and make new friends.
Then set your self a goal, like ride a metric century or your first century.
What's the difference between a Century Ride and Gran Fondo?
Century rides typically don't have any electronic timing for the duration of the ride or timed sections. They don't typically have much support like a SAG wagons, escorts, marshals. Many do have feed stations but standards can vary. Cyclists should plan to be self sufficient carrying spares and tools. They are run on open roads and all traffic laws apply and must be obeyed.
Although Century Rides don't as offer much support to the rider, they are a great day out ,whereby you can ride a new route, make new friends and ride in a group. They are generally much cheaper than a Gran Fondo.
Standards vary, so you always check the event details on our event calendars and contact the organizer if you have any queries.
2023 USA Century Rides Calendar
2023 USA Century Ride Calendar by State