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RAGRAI without long training rides

RABRAI newbie question here.

I’m unfamiliar with training for a ride like RAGBRAI and am a bit worried because weather and work constraints have limited my ability to get longer rides this season.

While I ridden about 1,000 miles over 90,000 ft of elevation since the first of the year, nearly all of that are rides in the 25 – 35 mile range. Only one 75 miler (of dubious value since it was on flat terrain) and one more challenging 48 miler with about 3,000 ft of elevation.

Obviously will try to get some longer rides done in the time remaining but what if I can’t? I know everyone’s different, but is it the consensus view of RAGBRAI veterans that you’re likely to struggle without having a few (at least) metric centuries under you belt?

12 Replies

Luv 2 Ski, June 23, 2017 at 6:19 am


Your training miles will have you prepared. I would try to put in a 50 plus mile ride each week over the next 4 weeks. The only real way top prepare to being in the saddle for 4-8 hours(total time depends on how fast you ride) is to take long training rides.

I have found that my 50-80 mile training rides seem more difficult than the same distance on RAGBRAI. Over a 70 mile training ride I probably stop 2 times, maybe 3, on RAGBRAI it may be 5-7 times. On average on RAGBRAI every 10-15 miles you have a town so you get off your bike for a bit. Much different than pounding endless miles between stops. It has been said before on this Forum, RAGBRAI is like a series of 15 to 25 mile bike rides linked together. So on the long days that is only 3 of your average training rides. I am sure you can do that.


Nico ZZZ, June 23, 2017 at 6:34 am

In 2014, my first RAGBRAI, I rode a number of 45 mile rides as my longest. First day of RAGBRAI, I was afraid I might hit the wall before finishing those 70 miles. Nope, because, as mentioned above and everywhere, RAGRBRAI is a series of 15 miles rides interrupted by lounging in a town, grabbing a slice of pie, a beer, a nap! Last year, I didn’t ride over 30 miles in training, and I rode a better RAGBRAI. I was, however, not overweight, had done three months of core training, weights, boxing, etc. Same this year, nothing over 30 miles, and I will be fine. It really depends if you are supplementing your riding with other training and are otherwise fit/in shape/near proper weight.
Ride On!


Zeb S, June 23, 2017 at 11:23 am

Obviously, the fitter one is the more fun Ragbrai is. This year’s route is so easy I fail to see how it is actually a bike ride but more a social event with some riding thrown in for good measure. 90,000 ft? You’ll fit right in, easily, don’t sweat it, you’ll be fitter/stronger than most other riders.



Charlie S, June 24, 2017 at 6:34 am

Thanks to all for the helpful replies. I’m encouraged to hear that longer rides are helpful but that total saddle time is as important

I just looked at my ride log for the year and have 987 total miles and 95,049 ft of total elevation. I have exactly one 72 mile ride and two 40+ mile rides. The balance average about 25 miles each. I’m going to try to get a 50 miler in tomorrow, assuming the rain stops.

Again thanks and see you all at RAGBRAI.


nhhillrider, June 25, 2017 at 6:30 am

Yup. You are way fine! The only thing that’s really hard to train for at RAGBRAI is the heat … its OMG hot… at least for us from the northern parts of the country. I’m from NH and it kills me every time. And its not so much the riding, its the heat walking around towns and at the campground and at night trying to sleep. Oh and maybe be more prepared to prevent saddle sores due to humidity. Get out of those cycling shorts, keepem clean, use something on the butt to help perhaps.


mootsman, January 4, 2018 at 6:38 am

I met a guy on last year’s RAGBRAI that doesn’t ride all year long except on RAGBRAI (his 3rd). He does the full route without any loops. He said he does get a bit sore. I wouldn’t recommend that approach but you’ve got this covered easily by your description.


Jack in VA, January 4, 2018 at 11:54 pm

I too have a friend who’s done out local MS-150 ride for several years – 2 days of 75 each. I jokingly tell him that his training consists of pulling into the parking lot and out swapping knobby tires for slicks on his mountain bike. The first day, all I hear is “My Legs Hurt” – “My BUTT HURTS ” – “I’m DYING OVER HERE”.
Then on Sunday, he’s usually one of the FIRST riders back to the start and parking lot. Of course, being 16 probably helped him a lot too. Age (or lack of) and youth does have its benefit.


Noah Lazenby, January 10, 2018 at 9:34 am

I did last year’s with 108 miles worth of training in the 12 months leading up to RAGBRAI. No major issues.


Groeny82, January 10, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Due to some work conflicts I don’t always get a chance to do a lot of training. Last year I did about 150 miles of training, no major hill training, and the longest ride was about 15 miles. I didn’t have any major issues either. But I did take a day off in middle of the week, more because of the rain forecast than anything physical. The year before, the hilly southern route, I had about 300 miles of training, longest ride was about 20 miles, no major hill training and I didn’t have a problem with the ride. But again I did take the first and third day off to drive support vehicle. So it’s possible to do the ride with little to no training. But I always wish I had more training in just to make it easier on myself and to make the ride more enjoyable.


paul brabenec, January 12, 2018 at 7:49 pm

It’s worth noting that every day’s miles will be broken with as many stops as you like, so 70 miles non-stop isn’t relevant. Three 25 mile rides in a day is plenty. And these are breaks with all the eating etc. you like. Hour-long stops are fine.
You’ll be okay?


Niles, January 12, 2018 at 10:55 pm

While I admire their fitness level for those can do the whole RAGBRAI with nearly no training, I believe you should have some meaningful physical training (may not be biking) before going to Iowa. Think of that, if you you believe you have been too busy to put even 400 or 500 miles under your wheel, then how can you afford a whole week off for RAGBRAI?

RAGBRAI if a huge and long party with some cycling. But it is also a way of motivation to encourage people to get into physical training, to live an active and balanced lifestyle. For this sake, please do some training before(and after) RAGBRAI.


Gallagher, January 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm

I’ve never done longer than one 50-mile ride per year in prep for the ride and I’ve been fine. I don’t start riding until Memorial Day typically, and I get maybe one 40-mile ride in per week in the early going (maybe two come mid-June on) sprinkled with 15-20 milers the rest of the week. This works great, and I’m in my 50s (I have done this all out of necessity, as I don’t have time with my schedule to devote to 50-plus rides on most days).


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