RAGBRAI XLV Countdown – July 23-29, 2017
Friends of RAGBRAI

Training blog

RAGBRAI Training: The Secret to Training for RAGBRAI



by Coach David Ertl

I can already see the responses to this title and several will likely involve beer.  But to your dismay I will not be talking about that aspect of preparation.  Instead I am going to reveal to you a well kept secret for bicycle training for RAGBRAI.  I will share it with you if you promise not to tell anyone else.  OK?  Here goes.  The secret to training for riding RAGBRAI is to ride your bike – a lot.   That’s it.  Aren’t you glad you didn’t pay for this bit of advice?   But it’s very truthful.  For a non-competitive ride like RAGBRAI, you need to train your body for endurance, first and foremost.  There are other things you can do like intervals and hill training, which will help you become a stronger and faster rider, but if your goal is to get through RAGBRAI feeling good about yourself and just plain feeling good, you need to be able to go the distance, i.e. have endurance.

But while this is simple advice, it is not so simple as just going out and riding four hours a day, starting today.  There is something called adaptation.  You will want to start gradually and build up so your body has a chance to adapt to the increased time in the saddle.   Depending on how much or how little you’ve been riding over the winter, your distance goals as you start training this spring will vary.  If you rode a lot over the winter and are in good shape, you can continue to build on the distances that you have been riding.  If you haven’t done much riding, or it’s been limited to 30 or 60 minutes on your indoor trainer or spin class, you may want to start out just doing one hour rides at the beginning.   The training plan that was posted on this blog ( http://ragbrai.com/2014/03/14/ragbrai-training-training-plan-for-ragbrai-2014-and-how-to-use-it/ ) gives some recommendations on how to build up your distance as the season progresses.  Being a generic plan, your specific miles may vary, but the general increase should be followed.

When you are riding increasingly long distances in preparation for RAGBRAI, several things take place as your body adapts.  Of course your leg muscles will get stronger. They won’t feel as weak and shaky after rides once you get them used to it.  Your endurance improves as well – you can go longer before you get generally fatigued.  This is due to a number of physiological changes in your body but has a lot to do with your energy system improving.  Much of fatigue is often lack of energy.  As you build endurance, your body becomes more efficient at converting the food you eat as well as your own body fat into fuel for propulsion.  You will also notice other parts of your body adapting to these longer rides.  Your back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck and buttocks will increase their stamina.  While people think mainly about their legs when it comes to cycling, it can often be these other body parts that give out first and cause pain that can ruin your enjoyment of the ride. 

Finally, you also build mental endurance. The ability to get out and spend several hours straight on your bike takes some getting used to for some folks.  Many people prefer to ride with others for the company.  It also makes the time pass when there are people around to talk to.  But others don’t mind the solitude and that may be one of the reasons they ride. It certainly is for me.

So there you have it.  Get your bike out and ride it.  Increasingly farther each week.  Do it gradually.  By yourself or with others.  It’s not that complicated.  And it is fun.

– 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: The Secret to Training for RAGBRAI

Coach David Ertl

April 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm

OK, I want everyone to know that I did not select this picture of the guy wearing the (gag) Wisconsin shirt. That was TJ’s doing. Go Huskies! ( UConn Class of ’80)

Sandaltan

April 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Well kept secret…shhhhhhhhhhhhh…pie is an endurance food. Start gradually, build a base and then expand the base.

Profile photo of caroline

caroline

April 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Awright, so I know from first hand experience the more I train, the better off I’ll be. But with my schedule right now – juggling work & kids – it’s often much easier for me to take two, or even three separate rides over the course of one day. So what’s your take on, say, riding 30 miles in the morning, and then tacking on another one or two 10-15 mile rides in the afternoon and evening.

Guardado

June 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Exceptional submit. I’d been looking at continuously this site using this program . astounded! Very beneficial data in particular the very last piece 🙂 My spouse and i keep these kinds of info a whole lot. I used to be interested in this unique facts for years. Appreciate it as well as all the best.

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • The Results Are In...

    Before we get too far down the road planning RAGBRAI XLV, lets take a quick look back at what a great time we all had in 2016!  Here is a ...

  • A big thanks to nuun hydration for supporting RAGBRAI

    A big thanks to nuun for supporting RAGBRAI and keeping riders hydrated this summer!

  • Thank you to TransIowa Equipment

    Thank you to TransIowa Equipment for helping keep the #RAGBRAI towns clean every day!

  • Thanks Jamis!

    Just wanted to thank Jamis Bikes for supporting #RAGBRAI this summer. This is the 3rd year Jamis has brought a fleet of bikes to Iowa.

  • Thanks Bianchi!

    Just wanted to thank Bianchi for their continued support of #RAGBRAI every summer by bringing their demo team to Iowa!

  • RAGBRAI Web Store Now Open!

    The RAGBRAI Web Store is NOW OPEN!

  • RAGBRAI Training: Now that RAGBRAI is Over for Another Year, What Should You Do?

    Well, RAGBRAI came and went, and I hope you were well prepared and had a great time. Hopefully you learned something to do better for next year.

  • Adventure Traveler's Video Captures the Essence of RAGBRAI

    Check out this great ‪‎RAGBRAI‬ video from Ryan Van Duzer, who travels the world and creating content aimed at inspiring people to hit the road.

  • Congratulations to the Dream Team on Another Great Year!

    The Dream Team uses the power of a bicycle to assist youth in developing a positive approach to life’s challenges.

  • Congratulations to Grace from Shenandoah for Winning the 2016 RAGBRAI Kid’s Art Contest

    This year’s winner of the RAGBRAI Kid’s Art Contest is 9 year old Grace from Shenandoah. Grace’s artwork depicted the local theme in Shenandoah of “Peace, Love, Ride”

Latest Videos

  • Take a look back on all the fun moments the Des Moines Register staff captured on video during RAGBRAI 2016.

  • Riders brave the swinging bridge in Columbus Junction.

  • Winds remain out of the northeast for Saturday and with partly sunny skies, highs will hold in the lower 80s. The weekend looks dry for the most part, perfect for those finishing up Ragbrai or maybe heading out to the Indianola Balloon Classic.

  • Omaha-based Team Pump's bus is one of the most colorful, and oldest, team buses currently operating in RAGBRAI.

  • Hal Colliver has been collecting signs since 1973. Its a hobby of his he loves to share with others who often stop by to look at his barn.

  • Teresa Condon and Tracy Henriksen have fun in their infant costumes.

  • Riders take over Wooden Wheel Vineyard

  • The complete century ride, including the Karras Loop, from Leon to Centerville on RAGBRAI 2016.

  • Lyle Dumont has built and rebuilt enough model trains and full size tractors to fill 30,000 square feet of space. Take a look around his collections

  • \u0022The best part of this job is hearing all the thank-yous,\u0022 Iowa State Patrol trooper says.

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).

© 2016 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy