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

Training blog

RAGBRAI Training: How to Ride Faster



By Coach David Ertl

I have said more than once that RAGBRAI is not a race and the objective is not to see how fast you can get through it.  My emphasis has been on building endurance so that you can make it through the whole ride enjoyably, comfortably and feeling good about yourself. 

However, in the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked a couple times about how to get faster on the bike.  So I will address this, but keep in mind that your first priority is being able to put the miles in.  It doesn’t matter how fast you can ride if you can’t go the distance.  As a matter of fact, if you do ride too fast, you will burn out (we like the term ‘blow up’) before you get to the end of the day’s ride and you don’t want that to happen.   But once you do have a good set of base miles established and you can comfortably ride 50 or more miles, and if you want to now get faster, here are some pointers.

First, I want to be clear that I am talking about riding fast on level roads. I’ll save my hill climbing tips for another blog.  If you can ride along comfortably at, say, 14 mph, it is reasonable to think you should be able to increase your average speed by a couple of mph with some training.  The first tip is to continue to put in more miles on the bike.  By riding, even at your regular speed, you will build aerobic fitness and leg strength by continually increasing the length of time you can ride.  Think of this as your fitness foundation. 

The second tip is to start riding faster.  Seems logical, but if your goal is to be able to ride at a faster pace, do you actually train by riding faster?   Now you can’t just go out and do your next ride 2 mph faster than what you currently ride.  Instead you should push yourself a little faster for short periods of time to train your body to go at this new faster pace.  Then when you start to get tired, back off to your normal pace for a while.  Then do another short, faster effort.   If you do this throughout your rides, you will, gradually over time, build up the length of time you can ride at this faster pace and build the speed you can ride.   What I’ve just described here are intervals.   I hesitate to use that term because it may scare some people off.  But they don’t have to be gut-busting hard, blood and sweat efforts (well, maybe the sweat part).  All you have to do is ride  2-4 mph faster than you normally ride, for a minute or two at a time.  The only way to get fast is to ride fast, and this is a way to get there.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you want to ride faster, then train by riding faster, but do it bit by bit in small chunks and over time your speed will increase.

 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. 

2 Responses on “RAGBRAI Training: How to Ride Faster

Profile photo of tancanoe

tancanoe

May 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Yesterday I rode ( after 4 consecutive days of sort of pushing) and it was all I could to finish 20 miles. How do overcome this , I even drank accelerade and it didn’t help

Kevin

May 26, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Tan canoe, congratulations! You just laid down your first 20 miler! Yes it was tough, veritably killed you, but…you did it. And that’s the first step in building endurance. As Dave said above, the most important thing you can do is RIDE…a lot. Doesn’t have to be a long distance every day (but I’d say at least 10 miles a day, minimum) so that your body gets used to riding everyday and your legs are used to the everyday exercise of cycling. If you can’t ride every day, put time in walking fast, using an elliptical, or a trainer. At least once a week, preferably twice, do your challenge distance (20 miles, then 25, then 30). On weekends do your ultra challenge (40 to 50 miles). The idea is to go as far as you can. Remember, if you make it a loop, you only have to go halfway out (’cause you’ll ride it back). For some reason, that way of thinking has helped me: if I can ride 27 miles one way out, I can ride 27 miles back. There’s just no substitute for putting I. The hours though, especially with RAGBRAI so close.

But, bottom line, feel good about 20 miles! You did THAT, once, you can do it again.

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • Only 50 Days 'til the RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party!

    Join us as we reveal Iowa's biggest secret on January 21, 2017 at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines.

  • Guess the Route Contest is Now Open for RAGBRAI XLV!

    Do you think you can pick the eight overnight towns for RAGBRAI XLV? Enter the contest and see how close you come.

  • Black Friday Sale!

    Click to find out our Black Friday coupon code for free shipping at www.RAGBRAI.com/shop

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    The RAGBRAI Crew is thankful for... you!

  • Great Holiday Deals at Primal Wear!

    Get phenomenal deals on cycling gear now through November 30 at primalwear.com!

  • 'Mr. Pork Chop' leaves behind meaty RAGBRAI legacy

    If there's any justice in this life or the next, Wednesday's lunch special in heaven was a thick, juicy slab of Iowa pork chop served on a paper towel.

  • We Will Miss You Mr. Pork Chop!

    RAGBRAI lost a true legend today with the passing of Mr. Pork Chop, Paul Bernhard. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bernard family.

  • 2017 Full Kit Now Available!

    RAGBRAI XLV jersey, shorts, and bibs now available with registration or on the RAGBRAI Web Store!

  • RAGBRAI XLV Registration Now Open!

    Registration for RAGBRAI XLV is up and running.  If you registered for the ride in 2016, use the same username and password to log in and register.  All of your ...

  • Veteran's Day

    On this Veteran’s Day, we honor all Americans who have served or made the ultimate sacrifice for our country including the service men and women of our RAGBRAI military teams. ...

Latest Videos

  • The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (edition 45) begins July 23 in ... well, we won't find that out until January, but the logo for the 2017 ride is here.

  • 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

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