12

Wikipedia only attempts to explain the origin of the riding distance event but not why the term was used and why it "stuck".

  • 5
    It's also used for 100 runs in cricket, which is a noteworthy achievement, like 100 miles on a bike. – Chris H Dec 22 '16 at 17:58
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a misunderstanding about an English word and only tangentially about cycling – andy256 Dec 22 '16 at 21:23
  • In the antipodes we might refer to a "tun" or a "tonne" as 100 km/h, or $100. Neither is related to weight. Example "I was draughting a truck and did the ton down the Raumati Straights" or "round the final cost up to the tonne and I'll call it even" English makes no sense sometimes. – Criggie Dec 22 '16 at 21:50
  • 4
    Used in Snooker, too (“century break” = at least 100 points in a single break). – chirlu Dec 22 '16 at 22:33
  • 1
    For some people, it's both a distance and the time taken for it! – Colin Dec 23 '16 at 13:16
27

A distance of 100 miles (161 km) is often referred to as a century. Century is also a common designation for 100 years, but that is not its exclusive meaning. The English word derives directly from Latin centuria, a group of 100 [etymonline]. This is a form of centum (or CENTVM if you will) which simply means (one)hundred.

A ride of 100 miles is thus aptly named a century ride, without having to resort to metaphors or figurative meaning.

Chris H mentioned another instance where century is used to count something other than years: In the sport of cricket, a century is a score of 100 or more runs in a single innings by a batsman [wikipedia].

9

If I read Google correctly, it isn't that a century necessarily means 100-years and a bike event borrowed from that. Instead, they are peers of one another.

The Latin root, centum or centuria simply means 100. In a more generic sense, it can simply refer to any collection of 100 definition.

Thus, a century in time is a collection of a common unit of time (year) and a century in biking is a collection commonly used units of distance (miles) or (km) for a metric century. The are both likely derived from the same Latin, not the later from the former.

  • To add to this, a centimeter is 1/100th of a meter. – SGR Dec 23 '16 at 11:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.