Organizing a Wheelmen Century Run

Bulletin #: 28
by Donald Peoples
Prepared: 1994-01-01

This bulletin is being written as a guide to assist in organizing a Century Run and should not be considered a set of rules which must be followed. The information identified here has been obtained from Wheelmen who went through a learning experience when developing their ideas. Hopefully, with this information you will be able to provide a pleasant Century experience to Wheelmen without unnecessary expenditure of time on your part. However, set a schedule for yourself or your committee to make all the necessary arrangements and ensure that the schedule is completed on time.

Route Selection

  • Make the route safe and as flat and scenic as possible.
  • Establish the route on lightly traveled roads where possible. (You might check with local cyclists or bike clubs for their favorite route.)
  • Determine an alternate course if one is available! Road or bridge construction, even poor weather conditions could affect the route between the time you plan the Century and the time it actually takes place.
  • A 20 mile out and back or loop course works well.
  • Enlist the assistance of a few Wheelmen to ride the course on high wheels to check it for safety, compatibility, and rest areas or food stops.
  • If the Century is in conjunction with a meet, try to start the tour from the meet headquarters or a short bike ride from the meet headquarters to the starting point.


  • Request preregistration by mail, but not all people intending to ride always comply with such requests. Be prepared to accept Century registrations as late as the morning of the event.
  • Designate a person to be at the registration point about 1/2 hour before the start time. In most cases the start time is about 6:00 a.m.
  • Get a signed liability release. You should have a statement on the registration form indicating that the rider must be a paid up member at the beginning of the Century to be eligible for any awards and for The Wheelmen’s liability insurance coverage. • If you know in advance that this will be the person’s first Century attempt, suggest he/she review Wheelmen Bulletin #24, Preparation for The Century Tour (Physical Fitness), and prepare by participating in other events and learning from those experiences. Give first time riders additional information including:
    1. Carrying a water bottle and drink plenty (one or two bottles per hour); drink before getting thirsty!
    2. Protecting skin from 10 to 12 hours in the sun. For example 1)wear clothes and/or 2)use sun screen for protection from severe burns.
    3. Being as comfortable as possible while riding: - Biking shorts are a good idea, or extra padding on the seat.
    4. Riding with a partner, for moral support; it helps tremendously.
    5. Requesting a friend or family member to check on his/her progress and provide a snack or drink. Little things like that will help the first time century rider get through a long day.
    6. Identifying whether each rider is responsible for his own food on the route. If so, he should carry enough snacks to maintain energy between food stops. If the rider does not have sufficient nourishment, he will burn out.
    7. Reminding riders they must be off the course by dusk or whenever predetermined by the century committee.
    8. Providing data as mentioned under Suggested drinks and snacks.

Participant Briefing

  • There should be a meeting for the Century participants the night before, if possible, or in the morning.
    • Have a map and written instructions for each rider and sag operator.
    • Go over the map and instructions and inform the riders exactly how the route has been marked.
    • Have a contact phone number included, so a rider can make contact if lost or has a problem (medical, mechanical, etc. ). A cellular phone would work well, if available.
    • Identify the type of first aid available at the sag wagons and rest stops.
    • Be sure all riders understand
      1. How to get bikes out of storage,
      2. How to register to initiate their ride so registrars know who is riding, and
      3. How to register at check points throughout the ride.

Record keeping

  • The Century can run from dawn to dusk so three or four people will be needed at each check point to alternately cover the long day of record keeping.
  • Departure time from the start, arrival and departure from the intermediate point(s), and arrival back at the starting point should be recorded accurately. If the course is a loop, the direction of travel should be noted, i.e., clockwise or counter clockwise or that it doesn’t matter as long as the rider checks in at each check point.
  • An easel and large pad works for this and the rider could get off the bike to record the required entries. If a rider is attempting a continuous ride (i.e., not getting off the bike for anything), check point personnel should be informed and should assist the rider by registering the rider as needed.
  • Send a copy of the Century results to the Commander and Awards and Membership Chairs. Be sure all riders completing the tour are clearly identified on appropriate forms and that all names are legibly printed. If this is done, every first-time century rider will receive the appropriate awards and the membership file will be updated. Obtain copies of Wheelmen forms from the Publications Chair.

Sag Support

  • The longer the course the more involved the sag job becomes. A course 10 miles out to a turnaround means the sag vehicle can drive 10 miles and pass every rider in a 15 to 20 minute period. A longer route out or a loop may require more vehicles. On a loop it may be better to drive in the opposite direction of the riders.
  • A pickup truck, a van, or trailer will work well for a sag vehicle. Have it well marked as sag vehicle for the benefit of the bikers and other motorists.
  • The sag should carry cups, ice, water, drinks, fruit snacks, first aid kit, a few nuts and bolts, duct tape, a few tools, a blanket, and towels.
  • Cellular phones or walkie talkies could provide communications from the sag to the start and turnaround point.
  • Prepare a list of needed job assignments. Request assistance from local bike clubs or motorcycle clubs which may like to help. The latter cycles usually have radios.

Rest Areas

  • On a 20 mile loop it is recommended that there be a rest area at the start and the half way point. If it is a longer course, consider setting up additional areas.
  • Arrange for use of rest rooms: they may be available in a community building, church, park, etc. If these options are not available consider renting “Port a Johns”.
  • Have the rest stop all prepared and attended well before the first rider is expected to arrive.
  • Select a shady spot. If none is available, set up a tent for shade.


  • If the Century course has food facilities on it, then each rider could be responsible for his or her own meals.
  • A fee could be charged so that meals could be supplied, but the time frame that meals are served must cover all riders. Course layout and distance should be taken into consideration when scheduling meals. A short or loop course may bring the riders past the food in a shorter period of time or a long out and back or long loop could extend times.
    • For example, if the start time is 6:00 a.m., breakfast should be available before 6:00 and for a few hours.
    • Lunch should also be available for about three hours so that the people who left just prior to lunch can eat upon their next return.
    • The evening meal should also be available later since many riders will take 12 to 14 hours to complete a Century.

Suggested drinks and snacks

HAVE PLENTY AVAILABLE at the rest areas and on the sag wagons.

  • Water … Sport Drinks … Fruits … Power Bars … Candies, … etc.
  • Plan enough beverages to provide 24 oz., per hour, per rider, times 12 hours or at least 2.25 gallons (8.5 liters) per rider.
  • Excerpts from “Sports Nutrition ’89” by Kathryn Pinna, R.D., and Trisha Ratto, R.R., published in American Health June 1989:

“Though water has always been promoted as the best replacement fluid, it looks as though Gatorade or diluted orange juice may be better for some athletes. A study by Dr. Michael Sherman, an exercise physiologist in Ohio State University’s Department of Health, is casting doubt on previous dogma. ‘We found that, contrary to what most experts think, ingesting carbohydrates in the form of sugar sweetened sports drinks before prolonged exercise improved performance,’ says Sherman. ‘We are beginning to recommend that athletes eat carbohydrates up to an hour before endurance exercise,’ says Sherman. He suggests drinking fruit juice or eating fruits such as apples or bananas (you should still avoid sweet junk-food treats). Contrary to past theories, recent studies show, however, that sports drinks containing 6% to 8% carbohydrates are absorbed as quickly as water, and can put zip into your performance during long workouts. Ellen Coleman, author of, Eating for Endurance, suggests that a 6% carbohydrate sports drink enters the blood stream as quickly as plain water. On the other hand, solutions that contain more than 10% carbohydrate, like most soft drinks and undiluted fruit juices, are absorbed slowly and can cause gastrointestinal problems like cramps, diarrhea, bloating, and nausea. Don’t Depend on Thirst to assess your fluid needs. Drink approximately 3 to 6 oz. of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes during activity.”

Some popular sports drinks are Gatorade, Exceed, Recharge, and Max.

Local Authorities

Notify local authorities (Police and Emergency Medical Technicians) that there will be antique bicycle activity in the area and give them a contact phone number to be used in case of an emergency.


Each Century organizing committee is entitled to give any appropriate award along with a Century Certificate. Each first time rider successfully completing the Century will receive the National Awards from the Commander.

Establish Rule Regarding Completion Time

  • Establish the latest time for anyone to be riding and stick by it! Sag wagons are to pick up anyone still riding at that time.
    • Explain it is too dangerous to remain on the road after dusk.
    • Explain if bad weather arrives and daylight is no longer available, you reserve the right, in the name of safety, to pick up all riders and terminate their Century tour attempt.


Inform local newspapers, TV, and radio stations in advance when and where the events will take place. State that the cooperation of motorists is requested by allowing cyclists appropriate courtesy and room to maneuver. After the event contact the media that provided publicity to thank the public for cooperating and inform them of the results.

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