The Dirty Century

It seems like everyone is running marathons these days. Oprah did it. Diddy did it. Heck, even I did it a few years back. Today’s marathon is yesterday’s 10K and it seems like pretty much anyone can run 26.2 miles with a little training.

The cycling equivalent of a marathon, the “century,” is a 100-mile road ride that requires nearly as much training and way more time on the road. Still, I’m pretty sure if Oprah had a road bike she’d ride a century too.

The dirty century (100 miles off road on a mountain bike), however, is still uncharted territory for most athletes. According to one article I read the dirty century is the fastest growing segment of mountain bike racing and it seems like new events are popping up all over the country. Most dirty century races include thousands of feet of climbing plus dozens of miles of singletrack and dirty century alums will tell you the more singletrack on the course, the bigger the challenge. Most dirty century race courses include around 50% singletrack (give or take) with the rest of the mileage on forest roads or even paved roads. Even if you average 12 mph for the entire ride, a dirty century will still take 8 hours, 20 minutes to complete!

I had hoped to do my first dirty century in 2009 on the trails in the Sumter National Forest outside Augusta, GA but plans for the race were scaled back to a metric century instead (100 kilometers instead of 100 miles). Sixty-two miles on a mountain bike is still a pretty serious distance and I’m looking forward to increasing my personal distance record of 42-ish miles set on the singletrack at Santos last spring. If the metric century goes well perhaps I’ll train through the summer to tackle the Fool’s Gold 100 – a real dirty century – in August.

In a follow-up post I’ll talk about my training plans for the Sumter (Metric) Dirty Century and I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Just so ya know my goal for the race is to beat Oprah’s marathon time 😉