RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
Friends of RAGBRAI

Training blog

RAGBRAI Training: Yes Punxsatawney Phil was Wrong, But it is Now Time for Training!

Punxsatawney Phil was wrong.  We didn’t have six more weeks of winter, we had eight more.  But the weather is finally warming up a bit and the snow is almost gone here in Iowa and we are starting to get out on our bikes after a long, long winter.  It’s hard to believe that in three short months it will be steamy hot here.   This article will touch on some items to keep in mind as you get out on your bike again this spring, especially if you haven’t, ahem, ridden in a while!

Bike:  Before you start putting a lot of miles on your bike it’s a good time to check it over and tune it up.    Be sure to check your tires.  Inspect them carefully in good light looking for gashes, holes or fabric showing through the tread and be sure to check the sidewalls for cracks.  If you see any of these, replace the tires right away.  Run through the gears and make sure they all are working correctly.  Check the brakes to make sure they aren’t rubbing and to also determine that they are grabbing the rim tightly when you pull in on the levers. Lube the chain and inspect the bike for any cracks in the frame.  Spin the wheels and make sure they are true and don’t rub on the brake pads (or frame!) as they turn.  While you are at it, clean it up nice as it is more fun to ride a shiny clean bike.  Also change the handlebar tape whether it needs it or not (it will).   If you find any of these problems, take care of it right away and if you aren’t mechanically inclined, have your local bike shop take care of it for you. It is money well spent for the reliability and peace of mind while out riding miles from home.  And be sure to check that you have tire levers, a pump or CO2 cartridge and spare tub in your saddle bag.  It’s a good idea to take the spare tube out and pump it up to be sure it holds air.  A leaky spare isn’t much help.

Body:  Even if you have been doing spin classes or riding your indoor trainer over the winter, you will find that it didn’t entirely keep you in road cycling shape. Use chamois cream as your derriere will have become a little more tender over the winter.  Start out by riding a nice easy pace on a level course just to get your legs and body back in the groove.  So start out gradually and build up your mileage slowly (5-10 miles more each week).    Save the hills and harder riding for later.  If you have ridden a lot in past years, it will come back quickly.  The spring usually brings wind.  Ride into the wind at your own pace.  The wind gets tougher the faster you ride so if you don’t feel like killing yourself, just gear down and take your time.   However, the wind can do wonders for increasing your power on the bike so don’t avoid it.   Also as the temperatures are cool this time of year, be sure to dress warmly enough.  Wear two or three layers of clothing so you can unzip or take off the outer layer if you get warm on the ride.   One word of caution about riding with other cyclists.  While it is more fun to ride with others, it may not be the best thing for you right now.  Depending on your fitness level, if you are riding with other cyclists who are stronger than you, especially early in the season, it will force you to ride much harder than you should first thing.  So you may want to get out for a few rides by yourself to get your legs back under you before trying to keep up with Joe Fastguy in your club.

Food and beverage:  Once you start riding more, you will notice your appetite wakes up and you will be more hungry throughout the day. You need to remember you have to eat on purpose again.  All winter you probably tried to stop yourself from overeating, now you need to intentionally start eating more.  Before you head out for longer rides (90 minutes or more), be sure to eat some extra carbs.   If you have a few pounds of hibernation weight you have accumulated since last fall, now is a good time to try to burn that off.  But rather than starving yourself prior to rides, go ahead and eat so you have energy during your ride.   If you go into a ride short on energy (carbohydrates in particular), your training won’t be very enjoyable or effective. Instead, cut back after your ride and in the evening.  Your riding will increase your metabolism and will burn fat when you aren’t riding as well as when you are.  Be sure to drink more during the day as well so you are well hydrated for your riding.  And don’t forget those water bottles as you head out the door.  Some of the most simple things seem to get forgotten over the winter.

Every spring reminds me of the spring when I got my first real road bike (yes, a 10-speed, I’m old).  It’s an exciting, fun time, and a new beginning with a set of new goals ahead of us.  Let’s make this the best year yet!

Coach David Ertl

David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team and is a national head coach for the the JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes and he coaches individual cyclists. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at coach@cyclesportcoaching.com.


4 Responses on “RAGBRAI Training: Yes Punxsatawney Phil was Wrong, But it is Now Time for Training!

Profile photo of Jean


April 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Will you be posting the 15 week training plan again? It was very helpful last year. If not, then do you recommend the 2012 training plan even though the route is shorter this year?

Nancy Rigler

April 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Just echoing Jean Ungers reply…..would love your training plan for this year…or a reprint of last years plan.


April 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

http://ragbrai.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Chart-Training-2012.jpg here is the training chart I found I think from last year

Coach David ERtl

April 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I am working on the training plan for 2013 right now. It should be posted soon. It will be similar to last year. Even though RAGBRAI is a little shorter, 400+ miles is still a lot.

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • RAGBRAI Registration for 2016 Is Open!

    Been thinking about great Iowa hospitality and all that RAGBRAI has to offer? Relax! Registration is now open for RAGBRAI XLIV!! If you’ve registered before, take note: the username and password ...

  • Coming Soon - New Online RAGBRAI Registration System

    To meet higher security demands brought about because of internet fraud, we found it necessary to upgrade our online registration system. We took this opportunity to incorporate some changes that ...

  • RAGBRAI XLIV Logo - Revealed!

    We've had hogs, corn, and tractors. We've ridden mile upon mile and ventured all across the state of Iowa. And now it's finally time to relax, and enjoy all of ...

  • RAGBRAI XLIII Survey Results

    A big Thank You to all the riders, support personnel, and volunteers who made RAGBRAI XLIII such a huge success.  We had 4735 respond to our online surveys providing a ...

  • My RAGBRAI Story: An Inspirational Tale from a First Time RAGBRAIer

    RAGBRAI XLIII was the culmination of a process that brought me from the edge of personal disaster to the brink of a new life. Just nineteen months ago I ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: Reflections on RAGBRAI from a Training Perspective

    RAGBRAI is over for another year. Congratulations on riding more than 400 miles in one week (or however many miles you rode). Not many people ever ride their ...

  • Congratulations to Ben Behrends for Winning the RAGBRAI Kid's Art Contest

    We would like to congratulate all the young artists throughout Iowa who drew, painted or scultured RAGBRAI masterpieces leading up to RAGBRAI. We hope you saw some of the ...

  • RAGBRAI® XLIII Lost and Found

    Do you recognize anything in this photo?  Several lost items were turned into us throughout the week including cell phones, keys, bike computers, eyewear and more.  All owners of wallets, ...

  • 20 RAGBRAI photos: Blue skies and countrysides

    20 RAGBRAI Photos: Blue Skies and Countrysides

  • 15 RAGBRAI photos: Creative costumes of the ride

    See some of the most outlandish outfits of RAGBRAI 2015.

Latest Videos

  • This year's logo theme is "It's time to take a break."

  • We made a new camel friend, played human foos-ball and did the required slip and sliding. Relive the 2015 RAGBRAI ride with some of our favorite moments. And get ready for the 2016 route announcement party in January.

  • "This is my gift to you guys," said pool owner Bud Henson whose house is right along the RAGBRAI route this year in Moscow, IA.

  • First time RAGBRAI rider experiences Iowa on two wheels.

  • All Ability Cycles gives bicycle rides to residents of the Hiawatha Care Center on Friday, July 24, 2015. The group gives rides to senior residents along the RAGBRAI route.

  • Jabara the camel stole the show in Mount Vernon for RAGBRAI.

  • DM Register scribes scarf more rhubarb cream pie than NPR!

  • Tony Ron, of Fort Dodge, sells jewelry made of recycled bicycle spokes to pay for a flight and visa to Ecuador.

  • Patty Ankrum explains a project in Mount Vernon to take advantages of the thousands of RAGBRAI cyclists passing through.

  • Hundreds of riders flock to Team Google's complimentary charging tent set up in the RAGBRAI meetup town.

Find us socially

Email Signup

Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).

© 2015 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy