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Century Day

Well, this could be interesting. We have a century day scheduled for Wednesday between Emmetsburg and Mason City. I have never seen stats for number of riders who chose the add the century loop in past years, but I know the pack thins out considerably on those ‘extra’ miles. How will this pan out I wonder? Lots of sagging the last 30 miles of that day I imagine, and how will that affect the pass thru towns towards the end of that day?

73 Replies

KenH, February 18, 2022 at 1:20 pm

During the first RAGBRAI an 85 year old man showed up riding a ladies Schwinn bike. He claimed to have ridden around the block a couple of times as training. He did not know how to shift the gears on his bike until John Karras showed him the procedure partway through the ride. Before that he had been riding in the biggest gear. He rode the century day.

If you search on the Boston marathon training plan you will find that their level 1 runner’s plan is 20 weeks long. When I did my first century at age 59 I found training plans of 6, 8, and 10 weeks length. There were 8 weeks until the century so my decision was obvious. I rode that century. In terms of energy expended a century is the equivalent of a marathon. In terms of everything else it is much easier and much easier on your body.

If you look on this website you will find coach Ertl’s RAGBRAI training plan. It is 23 weeks long but it started last week. If you did that plan you would be very well prepared indeed for RAGBRAI and the century. If you do half of it you are still in great shape but do get in the long rides at the end of the plan. Ordinary people are perfectly capable of riding a century. RAGBRAI makes it easy by virtue of the many entertaining opportunities to rest and to eat. When I ride a century my biggest problem is fuel. You never run out of fuel at RAGBRAI!


“Bicycle Bill”, February 18, 2022 at 4:05 pm

Remember. RAGBRAI is not a race – or at least it wasn’t; although with the ISP shutting down towns along the route it does now seem to be a race against the clock.  But as has been proven in military history beginning with Philip of Macedonia, “divide and conquer”.  Break down the day into segments, and take it as a series of rides between one town and another.

Now I’m guessing they’re going to route north on B19 and B14, so there are plenty of pass-through towns (I see a minimum of six) along the way.  Keep your eye on the prize (Mason City), but concentrate on just making it from, say, Emmetsburg to Fenton, then Fenton to Burt, then on to Woden or wherever – and the miles will figuratively melt away.



Dusty Ayers, February 20, 2022 at 9:54 am

Sorry peeps, I have to admit I don’t really get what the big deal is. Like, didn’t we all know that we would be riding our bikes all day, every day on this jaunt? Are most of the the days 40 miles? Was there a thread I missed complaining about a mandatory 84 mile day? I mean rides of that distance are not uncommon on Ragbrai. And if that’s ok, why is another hour, hour and a half or so such a big deal? I think spending this time on the route is a lot better than staring at your tent wall or each other in camp. Is that what anyone really longs for on this trip? Isn’t the better use of that extra 1.5 hours how you accomplished something you didn’t think you could?!

Look, we all are taking a vacation in this manner (sweating it out in Iowa on a bike seat) rather than laying on a beach somewhere for a reason right? (Though a case could be made for following Ragbrai with a few days on the beach!). We’re adventurous people, and pretty much everyone we know out side of this community already thinks we’re nuts for doing this.

My advice is to take a step back, give yourself the credit you deserve for already being able to bike across a state, and look on the bright side.

Yours in Ragbrai

PS Inevitable Trolls … Do your thing.


JimCoonRapidsMN, February 21, 2022 at 9:44 am

I’m going to the Boundary Waters for a week starting August 1st for my beach time after RAGBRAI (with a half-dozen senior high kids from my church). Looking forward to a fabulous couple of weeks!
Oh and by the way I will not be riding my trusty Motobecane. My sons convinced me to upgrade so I’ve found a new bike – looking forward to some good weather to get it in gear so I can practice this entirely new way of shifting and braking. Unfortunately I have to deal with a winter storm for a couple days …


Rob Fuller, February 21, 2022 at 2:33 pm

An early start (with head and tail lights) is a good idea. The AM weather in 2021 made for beautiful sunrises shrouded by low clouds. Also, an early start means shorter lines at breakfast. Later, find shade for a nap when the sun is high.


luckylu, February 24, 2022 at 3:27 pm

this is exactly my plan- start well ahead of the sunrise and the heat of the day… for those who aren’t up to the challenge of a century or maybe want a break from the action- many of the charters will offer SAG to the next town for a small fee… (PBV is $30)


HughAinATX, February 26, 2022 at 8:13 am

If you’ve never done a century before, think of ti as a series of 10 mile rides with tasty snacks at every break.

The good news is you have over 4 months to train and be prepared.

The most important thing to realize: we all voluntarily signed up for this. We are doing this for fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

I’ll be the guy on the blue, single speed Bilenky (looks like a classic Raleigh). If you see me on a hill and need a boost, just ask and I’ll help you to the top. Let’s have fun!


Jboz, February 28, 2022 at 9:27 am

First of all, I’m nervously looking forward to Day 4. But for all posters here with the “what’s the big deal, it’s only 100 miles” attitude, you may need to step out of your bubble and try a little empathy. Comments like that remind me of a conversation I had with a really wealthy guy I met once who told me he couldn’t understand why anyone would ever fly commercial. This might shock some advanced cyclists out there, but the reality is not everyone riding RAGBRAI can easily breeze through a century day. It will be a struggle for many/most riders. You have all age ranges, a variety of fitness levels, and many adaptive riders (hand-cycles) which require additional effort. Many riders can’t afford super light carbon bikes and are financially restricted to riding a 30 pound bike (even heavier with bags and gear) with budget components and knobby tires. Make no mistake, this will be a brutal day for many riders. Throw in a few unwanted variables (rain, excessive heat, headwind), and it will be very problematic for the majority of riders. I’m an older rider and as stated, it’s pretty big stretch for me but I’m up for the challenge. But in no way do I think it’s “no big deal”.


FlagCity, February 28, 2022 at 12:40 pm

Looking forward to the challenge. It might get a bit more tricky for me as it is midweek, but glad to be doing it.


Rob Fuller, February 28, 2022 at 2:04 pm

A century ride certainly is worthy of training and planning ahead. Consider that Iowa will give us about 14 hours of daylight. Average 13mph you’ll need 7.7 hours of saddle time. I’m guessing a half-hour rest every 10 miles (4.5 hours off the saddle). That would be total 12.2 hours. You may arrive later in the day, but you’ll be glowing in accomplishment.
Experience says the key to success is saddle time. Will you be saddle-ready?


Mark47n, February 28, 2022 at 2:27 pm

JBoz, It’s exhausting to always have to apply caveat, conditions and qualifications to every statement, I won’t do it.

I think your worrying about feelings is the wrong approach. I think that you should be training, instead. After all, by day 4 you’ll have ridden nearly 200 miles already ridden two 50+ mile days and one 70+ mile day. If you approach this without training you’re not going to have a great time, you’ll have a sore butt and sour attitude. Try to look at it as 5 20 mile rides…or whatever floats your boat.

My previous experience riding centuries in places with real hills is that it took my wife and I, taking turns pulling, about 8 hours (16mph) including 4 stops for refilling our water bottles and getting snacks and popsicles, going to the bathroom, etc. By myself it was closer to 9 hours (14mph) for the same ride but it was definitely colder and, frankly, I wasn’t feeling it and just couldn’t get in a groove, that day.

Adaptive cyclist, in my experience, are often better prepared than us nonadaptive folk. They’re better aware of their limitations and better at training around them in preparation…of course, that’s just me experience.

Oh, I ride an All City Space Horse. It weighs in at 11Kg (about 24.5 lbs) and the only thing I have that would be carbon fiber is if I brought a kayak paddle with me. You’re making excuses based on equipment, physical fitness, etc are all pretty lame since I watched a bunch of folks do back to back centuries on longboards and roller blades as well as beach cruisers, mountain bikes, etc. You are your only limitation, here, but trying to make those of us who aren’t worried about it feel bad about that, for whatever reason, is BS, alas, that’s the language of the day, I guess. I’ve worked hard to get in shape for these types of events and I reap the benefits of it. I earned them and I won’t apologize for it.


Derek Eilderts, February 28, 2022 at 3:16 pm

I think back to July 24, 2019 when I rode into camp with 123.42 miles on my Strava. Yes I had done centuries before but never more than 105 miles in a day. I’m thankful that the RAGBRAI century loop pushed me out of my comfort zone. At the end of the day my tiredness was outweighed by my sense of accomplishment and will remain one of my greatest memories of RAGBRAI. I’m certain the same will happen to many of the RAGBRAI cyclists that have been close to a century but never accomplished the feat.


Joseph Schlau, February 28, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Jboz stated,
First of all, I’m nervously looking forward to Day 4. But for all posters here with the “what’s the big deal, it’s only 100 miles” attitude, you may need to step out of your bubble and try a little empathy.

In 2 weeks, March 13th, the route will be posted. Apparently Ragbrai did express a bit of empathy toward the less capable riders. I understand they will be bringing in additional sag vehicles/trailers from other events and likely have designated pick up points somewhere around the 50 and 75 mile marks. Planning still in progress.

If this is done, designated points will probably be located in a place with some facilities, (like a town). You know where the sag is going to be, like a bus stop, instead of waiting at the side of the road for who knows how long.

Remember, when this thread started, it was considering how this would impact through towns if lots of riders just sagged the whole day. Even if riders cannot make “Just 100”, designated areas at least keeps riders on the course and buying stuff while waiting for a pickup. It also discourages off-route riding to cut miles. A win for both riders and vendors alike.

So riders who were able to handle the 50/70 mile rides earlier in the week may look at the day with less anxiety knowing they have a planed option just in case those motivational words “You are your only limitation, here” doesn’t resonate at 3:00 in the afternoon and are not thankful that the RAGBRAI century loop pushed them into the twilight zone.

Let’s see what magic Ragbrai comes up with in 2 weeks.


francoisvanzyl, February 28, 2022 at 8:17 pm

100 miles I have done on various occasions – my bag even sports a RAGBRAI Karras loop patch. That is what I am chasing. Will we be getting patches?

This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by francoisvanzyl.


Jboz, March 1, 2022 at 7:24 am

I’ve worked hard to get in shape for these types of events and I reap the benefits of it. I earned them and I won’t apologize for it.

No desire to get into a forum flame war, but to be clear I never said anything negative about riders because they can easily do a century. More power to them, and I have no resentment for those who can breeze through it. I’m going to try my hardest to get there as well through training, and I encourage everyone to train a little bit harder this year because of the required century. My earlier comments were intended to call out any poster here who boasts about how easy it is (it’s simply not for most).


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