The New Centurion

A TIME reporter finds that a 100-km bicycle journey is both a good road trip and a personal triumph

There is something seductive about numbers with zeros in them. Milestones in wealth or accomplishment, they whisper, "Come, you can do it." One hundred is a special number for bicycle riders. Cycling 100 miles--or even 100 km--in a single day is a rite of passage cyclists call a century ride. It is for a bicyclist what a marathon is for a runner: a badge of endurance and achievement.

Each year hundreds of thousands of bicycle enthusiasts participate in the many century rides organized by charities and bike clubs all over the U.S. These rolling events provide measured fun, challenge and physical...

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