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Top Ten Tips for RAGBRAI: #2 Long Live Long Rides

by Coach David Ertl

The second installment of my top 10 tips for RAGBRAI training is the most simple and basic.  Ride your bike.  Then repeat (almost daily).  You see, RAGBRAI is about riding your bike a long way, all the way across our state, in one week.  The very most important aspect of fitness you need for this ride is to be able to sit on and pedal your bike for hours on end, then get up the next morning and do it again.   It doesn’t take any particularly fancy training to do that, but it does require that you get out and ride, a lot.  But there is a method to this.

The first to remember is to work your miles up gradually.  Especially if you are new to cycling, start with very short rides, 10 miles, or even 5 to begin with.  Then start adding miles to it. If you start now riding 5 miles, and add 5 miles to your longest ride every week, you will be up to 75 miles by the time RAGBRAI rolls through.  So don’t think you have to automatically go out and do 30 or 50 miles right off the bat.

The second thing to remember is that riding regularly is as important as how far you ride.  To start out, aim to ride 3-4 times per week and as you and your buttock become more used to it, you can bump this up to 4-6 times per week. I recommend taking a day or two per week off the bike, just to let your bod recuperate and refresh.  But by riding several times per week, you train it to get used to getting out and moving every day, something that will be important on RAGBRAI.

The third point to keep in mind is that your weekly mileage as well as your longest ride of the week should increase gradually throughout the season.  I have laid out a template to suggest how you might want to prepare for RAGBRAI – my annual RAGBRAI Training Plan.

You can find the annual training plan here:

for the pdf:

and for the Excel spreadsheet:

Note that the longest ride as well as the total weekly mileage increases.  Following this plan, you will be able to ride more than 100 miles per week and have around 1000 miles of riding in before RAGBRAI.  This will be plenty to allow you to be in great shape to ride across Iowa.

There will be additional tips on how to ride, but the first and most important step is just getting out and riding.  And, to be honest, if all you do is that, and do it regularly, you should be fine.

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.

1 Response on “Top Ten Tips for RAGBRAI: #2 Long Live Long Rides

Profile photo of Tob


May 1, 2017 at 8:50 am

When will the daily riders be notified if they are selected to ride specific days?

Also, can I join a team that has been selected to ride? My daughter (Anna Bronwyn Trickey, Team Trickify) formed a team of 1.


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