RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
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

  • Online Registration Closes June 1

    In order to receive your wristband, your registration must be complete, paid, and finalized by June 1.  For a registration to be finalized, it must be submitted with waiver and payment ...

  • Merch Monday - Riders Try On the 2016 Jersey!

    It's Merchandise Monday! This week we had real RAGBRAI riders try on our 2016 jersey for size, and this is what they thought.

  • RAGBRAI Training: 5 Rules of Training

    I am going to let you in on a little secret. My secrets of coaching. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. But here they are.

  • Businessolver Foundation Partners with RAGBRAI Foundation

    We are proud to announce our partnership with the Businessolver Foundation in memoriam of Chris Charron, former Businessolver and Register employee.

  • RAGBRAI Expo Exhibitor Preview

    The RAGBRAI Expo is where RAGBRAI begins and is always a great way to start off the week. Check out the latest bicycles, clothing and accessories as you take a ...

  • Variety- the Children's Charity Joins RAGBRAI 2016!

    Variety is partnering with RAGBRAI this year to give bikes to kids in 5 overnight towns!

  • Hydration Tips from nuun: If It Isn't Broke...

    ... then you are missing the opportunity. two and half years ago, we asked ourselves the question: if we started all over again, how would we design nuun? would it be ...

  • Want to be in a RAGBRAI Video?

    Hey RAGBRAI Nation! We want to show off our 2016 merchandise and we want YOUR help! We are looking for a wide range of riders to be featured in an ...

  • RAGBRAI Lottery Results Are In!

    Did you make the cut? Do you know where you will be spending your vacation during the last full week of July 2016? Emails have been sent to those who ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: How Much Riding Should I Do to Prepare for RAGBRAI?

    This is probably the most common question I receive so chances are you have wondered about this as well. I’ll start by giving my standard answer. I suggest ...

Latest Videos

  • RAGBRAI 2016 Jersey

  • Merchandise Monday! Riders Try on the 2016 RAGBRAI Jersey

  • Darrel Harken of Riceville said goodbye to his daughter Grace as she headed home on her bike. Moments later he and his other daughter Hannan stop at a car accident only to discover the woman who was hit by a car is Grace.

  • Where will RAGBRAI ride in 2016? See the full RAGBRAI XLIV route including overnight and stopover towns.

  • Register reporters talk with RAGBRAI founder John Karras about the announcement that RAGBRAI and the Des Moines Register were working to create a statue of Karras and fellow founder Don Kaul.

  • RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz talks about the southern Iowa 2016 route. "We haven't been to some of these towns in a long time!" he says.

  • Miss the live RAGBRAI 2016 overnight town announcement show? Join Kyle Munson, Michael Morain as they chat with RAGBRAI riders and towns vying for a spot on this year's route. And learn the overnight towns, of course!

  • Watch as RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz unveils the 2016 RAGBRAI overnight towns. The route is heading to the southern cities of Glenwood, Shenandoah, Creston, Leon, Centerville, Ottumwa, Washington and Muscatine.

  • Get the details on this year's RAGBRAI overnight towns in southern Iowa.

  • Join the "Tr3s" amigos for the 2016 BACooN ride June 18 on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. There will be a plethora of bacon.

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