RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

Final Tips for RAGBRAI from the Cycle Coach

  • 18 July, 2019
  • Andrea Parrott

RAGBRAI is just about here.  I’ve collected a few random last thoughts which may be helpful to keep in mind.

  1. While RAGBRAI happens at the same time as the Tour de France, RAGBRAI is a bicycle tour, not a bike race. So, you don’t have to ride fast, turning yourself inside out trying to finish ahead of someone. As much as a cycling nut as I am, I have to admit that RAGBRAI is mainly about experiencing a trip across a very scenic and welcoming state more than it is a bicycle ride.  It is a chance to do a very long bike ride, ride all the way across a fairly large state, take in the sights, smells and tastes that Iowa has to offer. But most of all, be sure to experience the hospitality that each town along the way has to offer.  These towns are thrilled to host this event and go out of their way to make each stop something unique and enjoyable.  So don’t go racing through. You’ll miss the main point.  Pace yourself, take your time.  There’s no sense rushing through only to get to the overnight town by noon (unless you want to get there while there is still hot water for showers).  Also, there is a lot of good homemade food along the way.  Make sure you partake in some of these unique offerings.  You can’t get this kind of food anywhere else.  You must try the pie that RAGBRAI is famous for!  Just eat in moderation and don’t try to eat it all at one stop.


  1. Take care of yourself. It is very hot here and it looks like that will continue into next week – highs in the high 80’s and low 90’s and humid (one of Iowa’s other “blessings”). Refer to my blog from last week about how to beat the heat.  Also, pace yourself and don’t over-extend yourself while riding.  If you didn’t get as much training in as you hoped to, you can still make it, just ride at a comfortable pace and take frequent breaks.  See my previous blog for more details on this.  Keep drinking and keep a few calories going in. Avoid eating too much while on the road but refuel when you get into your overnight town each night.  Watch out for each other and make sure you and your group and staying rested, refueled and rehydrated.


  1. Be safe. Whenever there are 10,000+ bicycles sharing the same roads, there is a need for caution. You have all levels of ability out there at the same time sharing the same space. It can get congested at times. Be on the lookout for the other riders around you. Some will be riding past very fast (they need to see #1 above).  You may be passing people going quite a bit slower than you.  Faster riders should yield to slower riders.  Slower riders should stay closer to the right side of the lane, faster riders should pass on the left, but avoid passing in the opposite lane! These roads are open to traffic, although anyone in their right mind would not try to drive down a road being used for RAGBRAI, but they still do.   Shout out your intentions when slowing to pull over or to come back on to the road. Always look before turning and avoid making quick swerves.  Watch this safety video before you leave home. Mainly, use common sense and be aware of who’s around you.  Be safe, arrive alive!


  1. Take time to get to know who you are riding with. One of the best things, in my opinion, about RAGBRAI is finding out the stories about people who are out there riding. You have many hours of riding out there on the roads.  Take the opportunity to meet the people next to you. People come from all over the country, and even internationally, to this event.  You never know who you might be riding next to until you ask.  Everyone has a story. Find out what some of those are.


One final note.  During the past week I’ve had several people mention to me how they have read my blogs, followed my training plan and have had great success doing so. That’s so gratifying to hear that people actually read and heed my advice and to hear that it is working for you.  I truly wish each and everyone of you has a great and successful RAGBRAI XLVII.

Have a great ride!

Coach David Ertl

David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team and individual cyclists through the Peaks Coaching Group. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at cyclecoach@hotmail.com.



  1. NANCY Fisch

    Thank you for all your help!
    I have followed the training guide each week- I think I am ready!
    It will be so fun to ride and not be training!!!!

  2. Monkeyyear16

    Although I will not ride this year, my past RAGBRAI rides were great and your tips were useful. This year, again, Fairfield will be an overnight stop. We are hosting 2 riders as we did last time.
    I echo Coach’s advise to take time to experience Iowa hospitality.

Submit a Comment

Related Articles
Friends of RAGBRAI