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Getting miles in

Every year I struggle with getting enough miles in. I get up about 4:30 and go to the gym during the week. Then work until 4:30 at the job. By the time I get home and make even a small supper, I am too tired to go for a ride. I have tried to ride right after work and then make supper but that gets late since I go to bed at 9. Weekends are my days to ride. Of course I fit it in with laundry, and other household chores. :(

Last week I rode my bike to work which is about 7 miles round trip. At least I am getting some seat time in! So 2 questions. How do other people with a schedule like mine get miles in? And is 7 miles a day considered junk miles that won’t help?

And yes, this is not my first rodeo. This will be my 18th RAGBRAI and last year I did make it on 350 training miles.

Sheesh, I am really whiney today! Sorry.

126 Replies

Michrider !!!, May 21, 2016 at 10:12 am

Amanda: And is 7 miles a day considered junk miles that won’t help?

All saddle time and all miles count! Do you intend to win RAGBRAI???

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!!


“Bicycle Bill”, May 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm

If all you can get is seven miles a day, you need to make them quality miles.  My recommendation is that you go to your local Goodyear dealer and ask them for a discarded car tire, the bigger the better.  Take a rope; tie one end around the tire and the other end around your seatpost and drag the tire behind you when you ride.  The added resistance of the dead weight will cause you to work harder, and your seven-mile commute will give you the equivalent workout of a 20 miler or so.

You can increase the benefits even more if you set your brakes to drag on the rear wheel as well … but I suggest that you work up to that point rather than going for it all at once.



Michrider !!!, May 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm

“Bicycle Bill”: Take a rope; tie one end around the tire and the other end around your seatpost and drag the tire behind you when you ride.

Beebs, what length of rope? Should we use Firestone tire???? Steel belted radial tire???
BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!!


BillSpriggs, May 21, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Amanda, I’ve got a good friend that meets me every morning at 6:00, we do a quick 20 miles and then do longer rides on the weekend. The miles add up quickly. I do like BB’s recommendation to pull a tire and set the rear brake to rub, I’m on the way down to the tire shop!


T. Gap Woo, May 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Beebs, those were great suggestions! However, instead of ruining a good set of brake pads and possibly damaging the rim, why not schlep a tire already mounted on a rim? If you really want to support Iowa’s economy, go to a John Deere dealer and get the front tire/rim assembly from a mid-sized tractor. Either way, the added weight should more than offset the drag from the brake!

See you along the I-O-Way in a few months.


KenH, May 21, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I just ride when I can and that is mostly weekends. Most years I manage to eke out around 1k miles by RAGBRAI. But I count the miles I did on the rollers since January and I count my bike/train commuting miles which is around 8 miles a day on a folding bike since that is what the local train lines allow on rush hour trains. I don’t set the brakes or tow old tires or strap a parachute to my back to make quality miles. I do go as hard as I can for the 8 miles, traffic and sweat output permitting. It has been a cool spring this year so hard riding before and after work has not been an issue so far as far as sweat goes. But it is warming up now.

My training took a couple of hits this spring. My mother died a few weeks ago and naturally I lost some time to that. And then I got some kind of chest cold that did not put much of a dent in my normal activities but I had too much congestion to do any real exercise. I could ride sedately to and from work and the train station but that was about it and that lasted three or four weeks. But I was finally able to do 23 last weekend and 50 this morning so while I am well behind the curve I am making a comeback. But yeah those 8 miles a day commuting and then whatever I can fit into the weekend have been my RAGBRAI training program for the five years I have ridden it except 2013 when I was unemployed and had more time to ride. It’s always worked for me so far and while I’ve been across Iowa only five times I’ve been around the Sun over sixty times so I’m no spring chicken!

Hang in there and do what you can. Basically you have to get ready for Sunday. Sunday is training for Monday is training for Tuesday is training for … or you can tow an old tire if you like!


Brian Wallenburg, May 21, 2016 at 9:23 pm

My wife and I attempt to get 50-75 miles per week, prior to the organized riding season. We happened to get closer to 100 this weeks because of the nice weather today. We commute 45 minutes to work so our time is often limited too. We will take our bikes to work with us on occasion and ride home. We don’t count training miles in the gym during the colder months. We’re sitting at 450 as of today. Plan to do several longer organized rides prior to RAGBRAI, that being said, we should be well over 1000 by then, likely closer to 1500. The key for us is partnering. If I don’t feel like getting out, she pushes me and vice-versa. I don’t need a push to often though, I really enjoy riding, especially hills! Set your goals and attain them!


Amanda, May 22, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I have decided to shoot for 700 miles. Twice as much as last year! I rode 35 yesterday and only 5 today. The wind is blowing so much that I figure it was equivalent to riding 20 miles.?


Nico ZZZ, May 22, 2016 at 6:34 pm

I thought I’d get more miles in but I think I’ll only get about 400 in before late July. I had over one thousand miles before my first ride in 2014, but that was really my only physical training. In 2015 I was out due to broken ankle – surgery on Cinco de Mayo 2015. Now however, after five months of no walking and eight months of PT, I am now doing strength and conditioning sessions three days a week, so I am actually in much better physical shape than 2014. The riding I have done is relaxed, easy, and hasn’t been a cause for concern, as the body feels no aches or pains after a long ride. For the riding I have just got to make sure the sit bones are toughened up and the bike is taken to the LBS for a once over.
But as a wise fellow we all know (by web, PBV or by curbside beverage partaking) has said more than once: “Ragbrai don’t care!”


jwsknk, May 23, 2016 at 8:13 am

7 a day = 35 a week, 140 in a month 3.5 at a time. Better than none. Add 1 more thing to beebs suggestion, take out your saddle and fill the down tube with pennies then replace seat post.


T. Gap Woo, May 23, 2016 at 9:59 am

jwsknk: Add 1 more thing to beebs suggestion, take out your saddle and fill the down tube with pennies then replace seat post.

Keep in mind that 3 rolls of pennies = approximately 1 pound. Filling the tube with pennies would add no more than 2 pounds at most. If you want more weight, may I suggest you pour loose pennies into a water bottle mounted to the bike, thus adding about four pounds? If you are a glutton for punishment and to make clean-up easier, add rolls of pennies in equal amounts to both sides of your panniere until you reach a desired weight.

I suspect that Michrider would recommend either adding 6-packs of your favorite beer to both sides of the pannier or towing a beer-filled ice chest behind the bike. This has the advantage of keeping you hydrated while the weight decreases as you get more tired. Am I right or am I right, Mich?

See you along the I-O-Way in a few months.


HeyYou, May 23, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Your miles sound like a go, how many pies can you consume in a day? How many pounds of pork are you consuming per workout? What’s your butter/salt vs. corn ratio?
You have to train for the whole ride…


RoyBoy, May 24, 2016 at 8:38 am

I try to get up every morning and put in 10+ miles before breakfast. Occasionally I skip the morning ride when I know I will be riding in the evening with a bike club. The miles start adding up by riding everyday, even if it is only 1 mile on really bad weather days. For 2016 I’ve already passed the total I used to ride in a whole year. Keep on biking!


navychief01, May 24, 2016 at 12:16 pm

If you’ve ridden RAGBRAI 18 times you could get no miles in and still do fine. I ride as much as I can. No matter how far I ride, I’d like to have gone farther. 7 a day is great, that’s still 200 a month. The most I’ve ridden this year is 40, although I’ve done that a few times. But if there was a century this weekend I was signed up for, I’d go and be fine. My opinion is that there are no junk miles. Even if you sat on your bike and coasted down a 12 mile hill, and got a ride in a car back up, that 12 miles is training you to handle your bike, break, lean, and just handle the wear and tear of the road. I told some neophytes on my team last year that it wouldn’t be their legs, it would be the rest of their body that needed to get used to long hours in the saddle, because that’s been my experience.


Randall Murphy, May 24, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Dearest Princess,

You are not whining. I would say that most of us struggle to get in training miles. Life is messy. This year will be number 13 for me and my mileage totals before the ride have ranged from 1500 to 325. My wife has taken issue with Ragbrai dominating our lives to get training miles in (even though she rides most of them with me). Our compromise for the last two years is for me to use a trainer until June and then only weekend rides until I leave. My training loop is 31 miles with about 2400 feet of climb and I’ll be doing two loops back to back on Saturday and repeat it on Sunday by the end of July. This meager amount of road riding has concerned me but I’ve been fine. In fact, last year was my best ride ever. I think the key for me was that the trainer time was all interval training. I was stronger than I had ever been in spite of the low miles. Like the others have said, all of the miles count (at least we’re not just sitting home on the couch), and if you can only get a few in, go hard to get the most out of them. See you on the century loop.


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