RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

RAGBRAI training for a busy teen?

My 13 year old son will be riding with me. I’m well into my training regimen, but unfortunately (or fortunately) between music, cross-country, crew, school and other sports, he is busier than I am. This summer, it doesn’t get any easier as he has 3 weeks of summer camp. I want to make sure he’s ready, but realistically, we might be able to get in 1 weekend ride together each week – in the 30 to 50 mile range. The big difference is his overall level of fitness, which is extremely good. He does distance running, he’s a dedicated rower, and the summer camp he attends is extremely physical. The kid has probably between 4% and 6% body fat, and he’s pretty muscular. Furthermore, time in the saddle doesn’t seem to bother him, even when he does long rides without any prior

We have 1 day per week between now and early June, then maybe 2 weeks prior to RAGBRAI that he could do a daily training regimen. Given his current high level of fitness, do you think that’s enough or are we inviting problems?

7 Replies

“Bicycle Bill”, April 1, 2012 at 10:53 am

This is going to be one of those times where age and skill will not overcome youth and enthusiasm. Sounds like this kid has got an excellent fitness base to start with, so the actual physical effort of riding should be no sweat. I do, however, foresee perhaps two potential problems.

The first, and most significant, will be the tenderness of his tush. Time in the saddle may not be an issue on a single day’s long ride, but remember you’re going to be doing this seven days in a row. Invest in at least two decent pairs of cycling shorts (for each of you), and have him get as much time in the saddle as possible in order to toughen up his nasty bits. Even riding back and forth to work/school/his other activities will help.

The second is the fact that unless he gets some group riding in, he will not know how to comport himself when riding in close quarters with someone else. Check and see if there is a local club or riding group in or near your home town; if there is, spend some time on their group rides. Even short rides with a group will pay significant dividends in July when you and he start rubbing elbows on the road with 10K people.



John L, April 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm

If all else fails, just use that apparatus on your head to sooth the pain of listening to him moan about his rear!


mcpartla, April 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Youngsters endurance and stamina is pretty amazing. Our 13-year old grandson joined me on RAGBRAI 2004; he did little in the way of preparation and his folks would never let him ride on the road anywhere but with me in Iowa but rode the whole thing including the century and simply got stronger every day. Rode the whole thing including the century. The next year our other grandson (his cousin) also 13 at the time, came along with the two of us and everyone back home was taking bets on how soon and how often he’d sag. Again, neither did much in the way of preparation but both rode every mile and then some. After coming into the end town and resting for maybe 20 minutes the kids are rested and ready to go again. My guys would head off to a pool to swim and bike for miles around the town burning off excess energy. Their last year on RAGBRAI and then they moved on to the world of girls and cars. Sigh! Most kids will do fine on RAGBRAI if you give them the chance. I left it up to them whether to stay with me each day or go off on their own and most days I’d see them now and then but often not catch up until the evening campground. They knew what to do in an emergency and it would be hard to get lost and if need help just ask. Maybe only in Iowa.


CyclingRoberto, April 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Is it possible for him to use his bicycle as transportation to some of his other interests? Saddle time can be gotten in any number of ways; it doesn’t have to be a ride of any significant distance. Lots of small rides add up. Also, even 30 minutes two or three times a week on his bike would be better than just winging it. Fitness is essential, but as with most sports cycling uses specific muscles in a specific fashion. So not only to toughen his butt, but to give his body some good “muscle memory,” encourage him to ride whenever he can. Have a blast with him. He’s at the age where he still will enjoy being with Dad. Trust me, it fades before returning again later in life.


gregonline, April 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

As an old CC runner and coach, i bet he will do just fine. His physcial training will overcome lack of seat time.. Butt Butter might be a great idea though


mcapps11, April 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I took my 15 yo grandson & his 15 yo cousin last year. They don’t ride regularly, especially the cousin who never rode more than 5 miles. They play ice hickey & my grandson plays basketball as well. They had no problem with a 15 mile pace. Most teens are just naturally, physically able to do this.


Michael Knapp, April 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

I wouldn’t have him train to much. You want him to be so tired that he’s ready to turn in when you are. That way you’ll get a good night’s sleep rather then staying out late.


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