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RAGBRAI Training: How to Prepare for this Year’s RAGBRAI



By Coach David Ertl

This year’s RAGBRAI overnight towns have now been announced and that tells us some important things about this year’s route.  This year’s ride is quite short and quite flat by RAGBRAI standards.   It is the third shortest and the second flattest in the 42 year history of RAGBRAI.  So what does that mean?  Well, it allows for a more relaxed, less stressful ride than usual. 

If you are one who worries about big hills or killer long days, there won’t be much of that this year.  If you have never done RAGBRAI and always wanted to but were intimidated by the distance and hills, maybe, just maybe, this is the year you should give it a try.  They won’t get much easier than this one.  In addition, the overnight stops are fairly small towns this year so you will really get to experience rural Iowa hospitality at its best.

There will still be the Karras Loop on Tuesday which offers a century ride for those who want the longer miles. But, keep in mind, 418 is still a looong way to ride your bike in a week.  That means you will still need to get your legs and butt in shape for this adventure.   You just won’t be in for such a grueling ride as normal.  However, you also need to keep in mind that the heat, humidity, possible headwinds and rain has the potential to really challenge you.  But challenge is partly what this ride is about. 

As with every RAGBRAI, you will want to ride (i.e. train), and ride a lot prior to July.  This is not a race and with the relatively short days, you will not need (or want) to hurry through this ride.  The shorter days offer the chance to spend time in the towns you pass through each day, and have an enjoyable journey.  The more you train, the more fun and comfortable your RAGBRAI will be. 

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be providing tips on how to prepare yourself for this year’s adventure.  In the meantime, get registered and start planning your trip!

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.

6 Responses on “RAGBRAI Training: How to Prepare for this Year’s RAGBRAI

Bruce Woods

January 31, 2014 at 6:14 am

You can’t fake endurance. But, RAGBRAI is very doable IF: your multi-speed bike is in good condition, you & your gear [including your seat/saddle] are comfortable with each other, you drink water regularly throughout the day and you eat lightly but frequently and you train well. For me [now 70+] that means during the 6 months up to the event you work up to where you can do comfortably 3 rides/week that run 25-35 miles each. Within the last 3 months before the event you’ll want to toss in a half dozen rides of 50 or more miles emulating a typical RAGBRAI day. It’s better to have MANY rides of 25+ miles complete than just a few 50+ mile days. Most RAGBRAI days are, in effect, a series of 10-20 mile rides between towns so if you can do that type of ride at a 12-16 mph pace with comfort, you’ll be OK. Just be sure your training includes some nasty hills; Iowa is NOT flat! Also, don’t set too fast a pace at the start of the day. In 2013, the day of the Karras Loop, my overall elapsed time was 10 hours – 6:45 am start to 4:45 pm finish and my GPS said I’d done 109 miles. That is NOT a sprint – take it slow and save yourself for the heat of the day when the legs are rubbery. And, HAVE FUN!

Sue

February 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Does anyone know the grade % of incline on the steepest hill for RAGBRAI this year?

Cat

February 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Hi, when is the training schedule published?

Thanks!

Susan

March 10, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I wish that you could encourage short ride on the Great River Road from McGregor near Pike’s Peak State Park towards North Buena Vista. The road was built with a special bicycle lane. I am not familiar with what it is like in Allamakee County or south of North Buena Vista. May be heavier traffic in harvest season and there will be truck traffic crossing into Clayton (sand mine). It is a beautiful route with views of the Mississippi and campgrounds, motels nearby.

Susan

March 10, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I wish that you could encourage short ride on the Great River Road from McGregor near Pike’s Peak State Park towards North Buena Vista. The road was built with a special bicycle lane. I am not familiar with what it is like in Allamakee County or south of North Buena Vista. May be heavier traffic in harvest season and there will be truck traffic crossing into Clayton (sand mine). It is a beautiful route with views of the Mississippi and campgrounds, motels nearby.

Tim

March 13, 2014 at 1:38 am

This is the year I am going to give Ragbrai a shot, and very excited about it! Started training to strengthen my legs and core and soon as the weather gets a tad better up here in NE Iowa we are going to get out and start putting some miles behind us. Just doing the last 2 days as it is right up through my area, and if I can survive that, next year it’s shoot for the whole week!

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