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

by Coach David Ertl

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.

So now that RAGBRAI is over for another year, what should you do?

A. Hang your bike up until next July
B. Keep riding, because you are in the best shape of your life.

If you are good at multiple choice questions, you know you should always select the longest answer.  Yes, you should keep riding and enjoy the tremendous fitness you have from riding 400+ miles in one week.   I live near Des Moines and typically notice a big drop off in the number of people out riding on our extensive trail system the week following RAGBRAI but I am pleasantly surprised to continue to see the large number of people still our riding. They are doing the right thing.  Of course our mild summer weather may have something to do with that.

Very few people, including avid cyclists, ever ride 400 miles in one week, so you have a lot of riding miles in your legs and your fitness level is at an all-season high, perhaps all-time high.  It would be a shame to let it waste away by not continuing to ride and maintain and enjoy this fitness level.

Another good reason to keep riding:  If you plan to do RAGBRAI next year, you will want to build on the fitness you gained this year and keep it going into next year.  Endurance fitness, like you have now, goes away only gradually, and you can build on it year after year if you don’t let it fade away.  So if you continue to ride, and throw in some 50 mile rides here and there, you may just be surprised next spring that you still have some of that endurance in your legs.

Once winter comes, don’t hibernate.  Continue to stay active, even if it is an activity other than cycling.  Anything you do to maintain aerobic fitness and keeping the pounds off will help with your cycling next year.  If you do, you will be even stronger for RAGBRAI next year.

So have a good summer, fall and winter and I’ll be back in touch next spring.

Coach David Ertl

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

2 Responses on “RAGBRAI Training: Now that RAGBRAI is Over for Another Year, What Should You Do?

Profile photo of Paul


August 11, 2016 at 10:35 am

Winter long exercise is a benefit to keeping fit for RAGBRAI. The High Trestle Trial snow is removed from Madrid to Woodward. Many cyclists and walkers benefit from winter exercise. Come and enjoy the HTT from Madrid to Woodward all year long.

Profile photo of Gary


August 13, 2016 at 8:57 am

One recommendation from a first year rider: TRAIN ON HILLS (or equivalent interval work). I live near Chicago and did most of my training on bike trails / abandoned railroad beds. I could do the distances without difficulty. But railroad beds are flat, and the hills on RAGBRAI were continuous in places. Next year: more road training with more hills!

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