The Chainlink

I've never done a century ride before, and am wanting to do one this summer or early fall.
Anyone have any recommended rides?

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If you have a car and a bike rack, there's a great set of crushed limestone trails in mid-Wisconsin. Check out http://www.bike4trails.com/Bike4trails.jpg. Its actually 4 connected trails going from Reedsburg to Trempealeau on the Mississippi, 101 miles one way. Very well maintained and flat. Its a rails-to-trails conversion. Lots of small towns along the way, one every 5-10 miles it seems. Plus you go through 3 very cool, old railroad tunnels, one a half mile long. Be sure to check out Gina's Pies are Square in Wilton if you go. You could break up your ride too; I took a four day weekend and rode this start to finish and back again; an easy 50 or so miles a day. And I think Amtrak stops in LaCrosse.
Wow! thanks guys, these suggestions are great. I think I will start with an organized ride, but on my second I think I will try one of these do it yourself routes.
Well myself and Nee go on weekly centuries in the summer months. Feel free to tag along on one of them there are a number of different routes we do. I should also press the point of being prepared for flats and simple breakdowns. Feel free to shoot me a message if you want to tag along, we should start the centuries sometime in late april or may when the weather warms up enough...

-Ali
Where are you starting from (approximately)? Jeff's suggestions are great, those Wisconsin trails are really fun, but I tend to get more satisfaction when my centuries start and end at my dwelling. A car free day is a better day!

If we have some idea of where you live it might help us focus our suggestions somewhat.
When considering Amtrak, you must ask if they unload freight. They unload at LaCrosse, I'm pretty sure. The other stop, I believe, is at Portage, which is near the trail, but a bit of an effort to get to it because of some hills. The trail I rode on in June on my way to St Paul was absolutely perfect.

Jeff said:
If you have a car and a bike rack, there's a great set of crushed limestone trails in mid-Wisconsin. Check out http://www.bike4trails.com/Bike4trails.jpg. Its actually 4 connected trails going from Reedsburg to Trempealeau on the Mississippi, 101 miles one way. Very well maintained and flat. Its a rails-to-trails conversion. Lots of small towns along the way, one every 5-10 miles it seems. Plus you go through 3 very cool, old railroad tunnels, one a half mile long. Be sure to check out Gina's Pies are Square in Wilton if you go. You could break up your ride too; I took a four day weekend and rode this start to finish and back again; an easy 50 or so miles a day. And I think Amtrak stops in LaCrosse.
I live in the city (chicago) and am open to both. And while my preferred method of transportation is the bike, I would drive somewhere if it meant I could see parts of the state that I wouldn't get to otherwise.

Tony Adams said:
Where are you starting from (approximately)? Jeff's suggestions are great, those Wisconsin trails are really fun, but I tend to get more satisfaction when my centuries start and end at my dwelling. A car free day is a better day!

If we have some idea of where you live it might help us focus our suggestions somewhat.
Good to know, I liked the idea of this one, but had never considered the freight thing with amtrak

David Travis said:
When considering Amtrak, you must ask if they unload freight. They unload at LaCrosse, I'm pretty sure. The other stop, I believe, is at Portage, which is near the trail, but a bit of an effort to get to it because of some hills. The trail I rode on in June on my way to St Paul was absolutely perfect.

Jeff said:
If you have a car and a bike rack, there's a great set of crushed limestone trails in mid-Wisconsin. Check out http://www.bike4trails.com/Bike4trails.jpg. Its actually 4 connected trails going from Reedsburg to Trempealeau on the Mississippi, 101 miles one way. Very well maintained and flat. Its a rails-to-trails conversion. Lots of small towns along the way, one every 5-10 miles it seems. Plus you go through 3 very cool, old railroad tunnels, one a half mile long. Be sure to check out Gina's Pies are Square in Wilton if you go. You could break up your ride too; I took a four day weekend and rode this start to finish and back again; an easy 50 or so miles a day. And I think Amtrak stops in LaCrosse.
I travel with a few dog biscuits in my pocket when travelling on roads likely patrolled by four legged friends. Works wonders when you're in a pinch to throw a few to distract their attention.

Jessica said:
I rode from Hammond to my family's lake house in Monticello. 108(?) miles

My only recommendation is DO NOT TRUST GOOGLE MAPS. Gravel galore. Ugh. Haha, it was all good though. I will say that getting your brains beat out on 3 miles of gravel after already riding 70+ miles is not fun. =) Look out for loose dogs on the country roads!
Agreed that Apple Cider Century is a great first century ride! The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program is good to think about if you want a training schedule, coaching and to support a charity while riding. They train people to do ACC, and also do America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe in June, the Honolulu Century in September, and El Tour de Tucson in Arizona in November. If you don't want the training/fundraising/travel aspect, you can still support the fight against blood cancers locally and take on a century by doing the Blood, Sweat & Tears ride in Highland Park on October 3rd for a small registration fee. If you're interested, stay tuned to www.tntillinois.org for details! Good luck!
In the Chicago area, the North Shore, the Harmon Hundred and the Apple cider are great. Make sure you test all your equipment on longish, 60 mile plus rides, especially your shorts. I would not try anything new i.3., clothes, saddle position etc on a century. One thing about them they will test your gear to the max. I ride a dozen centuries a year and train with a bike club weekly, club riding is highly recommended to get you in shape and it is alot easier with friends around you. The club I ride in does 100 milers most weeks so there are plenty of opportunities.
Make sure you drink plenty of water, at least a bottle an hour and stoke up on food too, it will maintain your energy levels better. Dehydration is death on a long ride. You can expect to hurt some after your first few... but in a good way. It is a great personal accomplishment. puts you in the serious riders class and it is way fun to ride beautiful country roads. Good luck to you and ...keep riding.
I spent my 30s doing centuries every weekend . . . the ones that stand out:

Sudden Century (June?)

Udder Century (June?)

Heatstroke 100 (July?)

Cream City Century (August?)


Wright Stuff Century (September?)

Lakeshore Century (September?)


Some of the best rides of this type are not straight one-day 100-mile rides though-- loved TOMRV and Hilly Hundred.

Done the better known rides a bunch of times-- omissions probably intentional.
I should add for the graphically squeamish-- you might want to squint a bit before clicking the first few links above-- they do get better as you go . . .

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