The Magic Number: 100

The “century” ride. 100 miles on-bike in a single day. Quite alluring.

There’s something about riding to that big, round, 3-digit number of miles with a simple mechanical device that it totally human-powered. It’s a feat. It’s a great goal.

Completing a century ride is a satisfying accomplishment, and a rite of passage for new cyclists. And, once achieved, is a recurring milestone in each subsequent cycling season. So, when will you ride your first century? Or your first century this year?

Three classics are provided by the Charles River Wheelmen, in the Spring, Summer, and Fall:

CRW Spring Century

CRW Climb To The Clouds

CRW Fall Century

Enjoy the ride.

Photo Credit: bp6316

Spring is in the air! Start planning your first century.

Well, the sun is finally shining steadily here in Massachusetts, and the temperatures are certainly spring-like. Spring, in fact, is just hours away at this point.

So, time for more outside riding! My training program was mostly indoors this year, so I am ready to ride on real roads more frequently. And also to ride outside without tons of layers of clothing.

It’s also time for goal-setting. And a good one to start the season off is planning for the first century ride. A great one to start with might be the CRW Spring Century. It takes place this year on May 16th. That leaves just enough time for training, even if you haven’t begun riding yet this year.

The route starts in Wakefield and travels along the relatively flat northeast section of Massachusetts. The route travel through some great roads in Harold Parker State Forest, Boxboro, and Topsfield. The sections furthest north in southern New Hampshire aren’t quite as good. Still, the ride is usually well-attended so they’ll be pacelines and groups for all levels present. And, hopefully the torrential rain that dampened last year’s ride won’t return. It seems we’ve had quite enough rain for a while.

Check out the Prouty Charity Rides to the North

Alice Nelson 2009 Ultimate
Alice Nelson 2009 Ultimate

I’ve been a committed Pan Mass Challenge rider for 10 years. It’s perhaps the biggest and best cycling fundraiser in the world. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of other great charity rides.

Charlie Kimbell, director of the Prouty Ultimate and Prouty Century Ride and Walk Challenge, recently told me about his group’s great rides up North in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Inspired by the impact of cancer many years ago, the first Prouty ride was held in 1982 by four nurses, in honor of their patient Audrey Prouty. Monies raised benefit the Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Each event caters to a different group. “The Prouty Century is the best ride for a first-time century rider.  There are SAG stops every 10 miles, the ride is fully supported and the terrain is not too difficult,” Charlie explained.

The Prouty Ultimate caters to a small group (limited to 150) of more serious riders.  It’s a two-day, double-century ride that is as scenic as it is challenging. Charlie explains, “We took the time to include country roads along rivers and streams, around lakes and through quaint New England towns and farmland. ” And, because the group is limited in size, “There is great camaraderie amongst the riders.”

Check out all the details at their web site: Prouty Rides

100 Years Before Lance Armstrong…

Great little peak into the Major Taylor story and some video shots of the annual Major Taylor Hillclimb race held in Worcester each summer:

Remembering Major Taylor (from the Boston Globe, 8/19/09)

Here’s some additional footage from the 2009 event.

Coming up in just about six weeks is the Major Taylor Century Ride produced by the Seven Hills Wheelmen. 25, 62 and 100 mile routes begin in Whitinsville, MA through some really great cycling roads.

Cycling Endurance – Choose A Century

from New England Sports Magazine

A major goal most cyclists embrace at some point is the century ride–a single-day 100-mile journey. New England abounds with a variety of classic century rides from the legendary Flattest Century in the East along the flat seacoast of Southern New England to the epic Mount Greylock Century that includes nearly 10,000 feet of climbing in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. Many of these organized club century rides also include shorter options, such as the metric century at 100 kilometers (62 miles) and the half century at 50 miles. The variety of terrain in New England and the variations on the century theme provide a wide array of options for you to establish your personal goals for the upcoming season. Here are descriptions of three challenging century rides from the guide book Road Biking Massachusetts that can be found within a short driving distance of Boston.

Half Century (50 Miles): Petersham Challenge. The Petersham Challenge will take you through the peaceful but steep hills of Central Massachusetts for a tour of quaint New England hilltop towns near the mighty Quabbin Reservoir where four towns were “discontinued” to establish a reservoir that holds 412 billion gallons of drinking water. You’ll visit Barre, North and West Brookfield, and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it New Braintree town center. The ride begins in quaint and quiet Petersham with its inviting town common and convenient general store, which boasts a full breakfast and lunch menu. The towns are quaint and the scenery is stunning, but be prepared for a good workout – the hills are frequent and steep.

Metric Century (62 Miles): Bolton Berlin Challenge. Route 495 is often viewed as the demarcation point separating the greater metropolitan Boston is from Massachusetts’s vast rural areas. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Bolton Berlin Challenge. The convenience of the highly developed starting area in South Acton is quickly contrasted by long open stretches of country roads where fast food – or any type of modern convenience – disappears. Many of the roads go mile after mile without even passing a house. Load up on supplies before heading out on this one, there’s only one real stop for food and restrooms along the way. That inconvenience is easily outweighed by the beauty of the expansive views you’ll enjoy at the top of the route’s climbs and the winding descents that are each climb’s reward. Your camera won’t capture many historic sites on this route; this is a ride for bonding with nature rather than sightseeing.

Century (100 Miles): Mount Wachusett Classic. This is no ordinary century ride. This is an epic journey through Central Massachusetts from historic Concord to peaceful Princeton where solid rock juts up 2,000 feet toward the sky to form Mount Wachusett. A great family spot for skiing in the winter, the mountain also provides a great challenging climb for cyclists during the warmer months of the year. A quick glance at the course profile will show you that the mountain isn’t the only climb along the route. Pack well, be sure you’re fit and embark on a classic cycling adventure based on the very popular and aptly named “Climb to the Clouds” ride run annually by the Charles River Wheelmen.

Tom Catalini is the author of Road Biking Massachusetts, a cycling guide book available on, and cycling blog

Sidebar: Popular New England Club Century Rides

Massachusetts: Charles River Wheelmen – Spring Century (May), Climb to the Clouds (July), Fall Century (September).

Massachusetts: North Shore Cyclists – Blazing Saddles Century (August).

Rhode Island: Narragansett Bay Wheelmen – Flattest Century in the East (September).

New Hampshire: Granite State Wheelmen – Tri State Century (September).

Vermont: Mad River Valley Century Ride (August).

Sidebar: Road Biking Massachusetts

Road Biking Massachusetts features forty carefully designed rides throughout the state, from the summit of Mount Greylock to the tip of Cape Cod and everywhere in between. Local cyclist Tom Catalini provides a sampling of the state’s diverse offerings, including rides in the rugged Berkshire Mountains, through scenic Nashoba and Pioneer Valleys, around the historic North Shore, and along Boston’s picturesque South Shore to Provincetown. Rides for every fitness level and ability, from and easy 17-mile ramble to a challenging 124-mile classic. Detailed information about each ride, including directions, length, terrain, traffic conditions and road hazards. See for more details. Purchase at or your local bookstore.