Originally Posted by Living Proof
In the FAQ section of the Back Roads, they state riding in a flat century can be harder than rolling hills because you get to exercise different muscles while climbing. I'd call bs on that as climbing beats me up.
I've done the Sea Gull, and, they used to call it the "flattest" century. Nice event, flat ride. I ride near the ocean on a regular basis, so, for a change of scenery, I'd try the Back Roads and spend some time in the Shenandaoh Valley.
Actually, it's good to mix things up if you're riding long distance - so the comment about "flat being harder than rolling" makes a good deal of sense. Many recreational riders tend not to "mix things up" on flat terrain (e.g. take stretches pedaling out of the saddle, thus working different muscles), which is fatiguing in the long run. And unless you're really good at spinning and riding pacelines, flat centuries like the Sea Gull can be taxing. I tend to recommend the Sea Gull for folks who are accustomed to riding in crowds, with pacelines, etc., just because that's what happens during said event.
Frankly, the hills on the Back Road Century aren't that bad. It's mostly rolling terrain, similar to the Bay Country Century but with different scenery. And both the Back Road Century and the Bay Country Century have smaller fields of riders, so there aren't as many chances for huge pile-ups (and the pile-ups at the Sea Gull are legendary).
Agreed on riding a metric as a barometer/prep for the full English century: it makes sense and preps the legs and mind for the long-duration endeavor.