Most cyclists gravitate to an organized century ride, gran fondos, and gravel events as they increase their comfort level riding longer distances and tougher routes. While these supported events are a great way to meet other cyclists and build your strength, the first step to becoming an adventure cyclist is to start heading out unsupported.

What makes an unsupported ride more of an adventure than an organized event? For that matter, what is adventure? Rather than define adventure it might be easier to start with answering the question: Why do we seek out adventure?

For some, it is fundamentally about the opportunity to discover, learn and grow. All of which come from taking on something with an unpredictable outcome and then reflecting on the experience.

It is in this spirit that we are introducing an “un” century ride: The Comova Century.

What is The Comova Century? There’s not much to it, really. Cover 100 miles (161km) in a single ride. But there’s a small catch. Organized centuries, gran fondos, or any other events where you pay for entry to receive a marked route, aid stations, and SAG, do not count. It is a self-supported century. Not necessarily solo, but self-supported.

The aim of The Comova Century is to learn how to plan for and undertake your own cycling adventure and by doing so build skills in everything from route planning to in-the-field troubleshooting. If you’re already doing this, then for you the invitation is to help someone newer to adventure cycling complete The Comova Century. Here are the rules along with some suggested considerations:

Rule 1: Create your own Comova Century Ride route of at least 100 miles (161km), ideally one that starts/finishes at your front door

  • Based on your predicted pace plan a route that offers food, water and bathrooms at regular intervals; or
  • Plan to carry the food and water you’ll need and/or a way to filter water if your route is in remote areas

Rule 2: Set multiple possible dates for your ride

  • Since this isn’t an event you paid for, choose a few possible dates and then as they get closer study the weather and make the call (we wrote about how to use Epic Ride Weather here)
  • If your route has segments with heavy traffic (e.g., weekday rush hour or weekend tourists), plan the day and departure time around these
  • Invite friends on the adventure; there’s a good chance one or more will be available on at least one of the possible dates

Rule 3: Make a plan for other logistical considerations that will ensure your safety and increase the chances of a successful adventure whether or not you complete the route

  • Figure out your bailout options so if something prevents you from completing the ride you have a way of getting home
  • Decide on an emergency contact and give that person all the details of your adventure (e.g., a link to the route and intended start/finish times)
  • If there are no bike shops on the route, decide what you need to carry so you can handle the possibility of multiple flat tires or other mechanical problems; know how to use everything you bring (e.g., chain breaker, pump, CO2 inflator, tire boot, etc.)

Rule 4: Do or don’t train, it’s up to you

  • There’s no T-shirt or belt buckle at the finish and this isn’t a race or even a timed event; so all you really need to make sure of in terms of fitness is that you can complete the distance
  • If this will be the first time you ride 100 miles, make sure to complete a ride of at least 70 miles 2-4 weeks before you hope to complete The Comova Century

Rule 5: Get out there! Ride The Comova Century Ride

  • If you planned a route from home, appreciate waking up in your own bed and the lack of stress wondering if you got everything you need in the car before leaving for the event
  • Stay in the moment; part of a successful adventure is about monitoring your situation and dealing with potential problems like dehydration and caloric intake, a slow leak in your tire, a brake rub, chafing, sunburn, or even navigational errors

Rule 6: Post about your adventure to social media using #thecomovacentury or send us a message with your story

  • Posts or stories featured in future issues of The Adventure Almanac will receive a Purist custom Comova water bottle with leak-proof Watergate cap, Comova stickers or a Comova patch
  • The best story, decided by our editors, will receive a free 2-night stay in Comova’s Cazita for a weekend of cycling adventures

Most importantly, reflect on what you learned. What went well? What didn’t go so well? How did you get through the most challenging part of the ride? Did anything surprise you? Now take your answers to these questions and start planning the next adventure. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. There’s always something new to learn, something you haven’t seen before, or something inside yourself you didn’t know was there. An unsupported century ride is a great way to discover it. Now go find it!