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Spill your Guts: What is your Ragbrai Training Tradition?

Hi Forum!

What’s your tradition?

Out here in Colorado.. it has become a requirement that we drop by biker bars whilst pedaling the highways and byways. In the midst of June rides, we chat it up with the Harley leather-clad crowd while grabbing pub grub. Two wheels unite.

( And – of course– it is fashionable to wear lime-green ” Runnels: Christmas in July 2013″ rubber wristbands picked up for 50 cents in Runnels, Iowa. )

15 Replies

KenH, June 27, 2018 at 6:53 am

My only tradition is to ride the McHenry County (IL) Udder Century the first Sunday of June with my riding buddies. And we generally only do the metric because we aren’t in shape (yet, we hope!) and I have to be home in time to sing in the end of season church choir concert.

Runnels, Iowa, 2013. Those were the days, my friend!


Dizzy, June 27, 2018 at 4:43 pm

I always attempted to get in 3-4 days/week, 60-80 miles/day & do a couple local long-distance rides. Now that I’m retired, time on the bike is more enjoyable and available. I’m riding 6-days/week alternating between 60-mile & 80-mile days. Way beyond what’s needed for RAGBRAI but so enjoyable to be out riding in the heat & sun and not thinking about work! D


Kevin Beeman, June 27, 2018 at 7:28 pm

I start with a six pack and a round of Prilosec. The first two days are the roughest. I repeat
the same thing the following year.


Julie Walter, June 27, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Hey Ken,
Did you do the Udder this year? That wind was lots of fun. Great training!


Sandaltan ., June 27, 2018 at 10:18 pm

Pie at Patrick’s Restaurant in Adel, Iowa. It was coconut creme today.

RIDE RIGHT (usually raisin creme)


Cory Rood, June 28, 2018 at 6:10 am

I shoot for 2 beers per 10 miles.


KenH, June 28, 2018 at 8:08 am

Hey Julie,

Yes we did the metric loop of the Udder this year. Started before 7 and rode at our agreed upon 12 mph. The wind was in your face for most of the trio to Chemung. I didn’t find it to be too bad but one of my riding buddies hated it. It was good training! And then it was a tailwind for the ride home from Chemung. Most of the time anyway. On southbound legs it was a quartering crosswind that nearly blew us over at one point in a particularly strong, sustained gust! I actually looked over my shoulder to make sure nothing more serious was about to hit us but of course the weather that day made it unlikely.

I love the new starting point for the Udder. It’s a nice ride from my house so I had about 75 miles in by the time I got home. While most of us here on the forum can’t do the Udder we probably all have similar rides nearby if you look for them. They make great training opportunities. The metric distance option is similar to a typical day at RAGBRAI and you have a bit of a crowd to ride in. I recommend them, especially to newbies who want to get a feel for what RAGBRAI will be like.


Julie Walter, June 28, 2018 at 10:44 am

I also did the metric, we’ve been doing the Udder for years. Living in Crystal Lake, it’s a great location. This is my first RAGBRI, so I’m feeling better with the comparison you make. I’m still a little concerned about the famous Iowa 4H’s (mostly heat and hills).


Sam, June 28, 2018 at 10:52 am

I have a nice Tour de Dive Bars I like to do every June

One of my teammates puts on a ride every June/July on the Trestle Trail, we have to take county highways to the trail and I like to get some of those in before the ragbrai.

Important to load the bike bags up with beer and ice on the weekends so I get used to the weight/higher CoG.

Do some camping so I know all my gear is in lousy shape, but not unusable shape

Finally, make a blood sacrifice to the bus gods, so that they might take pity on us and only cause our bus to break down 2-3 times over the week.


Larry Klaaren, June 28, 2018 at 11:08 am

What is the usual date for that Udder ride? It’s a little ways from New Lenox but doable. Might have missed it on the Bicycle Illinois website.
There is a 4th of July ride sponsored by a Joliet bike club. There are several options for distance. They ride out to Platteville or some town around there. It’s a new format and route so I am not sure. There are cloverleaf options from there to pick your distance. So a group can ride out, split up for their target distance and meet again if they want to, to ride back to the start.
I am watching the heat index. We are at 105 for Sat/Sun, but this is the weekend to book it, as well as the next, then taper off before the ride. I am obligated from 8 until 1 p.m. on Sundays so it will be the heat treatment if I ride.
This is my first RAGBRAI. My plan is to have frequent and generous rest stops, and eat a lot of sweet corn. Watch out for the Amish Pies, what isn’t lard is sugar. They used to give me pie in the summer when I made farm calls. Those pies sat heavily in my stomach for quite a while. Food animal veterinary work is kind of physical and along with the sugar buzz the pies were quite an experience.


Barry Schnoor, June 28, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Real life gets in the way of daily training, but weekends are reserved for what’s becoming my favorite training ride: 24 miles, out and back (48 total) on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Milepost 24 has a wayside with terrific sausage egg and cheese sandwiches. The vertical can be brutal (the first 6 miles are uphill, with an elevation gain of something like 1600 feet), but the downhills are thrilling at 30 mph!


KenH, June 28, 2018 at 1:10 pm

The Udder Century, like my end of year choir concert, is on the first Sunday in June every year. A search on Udder Century McHenry County should get you to the web site but obviously it is too early to get information about next year.

I’m in Crystal Lake too, Julie. It is flatter here than parts of Iowa for sure but you can get some hills riding the back roads of northern McHenry county and on the bike trail heading north out of Crystal Lake. There are those short and brutally steep hills through Sterne’s woods. You need to be careful with the brakes on the way down them but they will give your legs a challenge on the way up and honing your breaking skills is good too, just approach that with caution until you become comfortable with them. And then continue to be cautious because reckless teens on skateboard will come at you from the other way and wildlife will dart out across your path!

Another hilly route nearby is off the bike trail south out of Crystal Lake in Algonquin. If you ever go that way you probably get to the point where it crosses old 31 and look at Huntington Drive across the new 31 bypass where the two join right there and think “I’m glad I’m not going that way!”. Well, wait for the light and go that way! When you get to the top head over to the loop formed by Zange and Surrey. I go down the hill on Zange then back around on Surrey and down Zange again. This time I continue on Zange to Harper and then across Edgewood to Cardinal. Climb the hill on Cardinal to Gaslight then take the loop formed by Gaslight and Springhill and return the way you came. This time climb the hill on Zange and work your way back down to the foot of the hill on Huntington. Do it again if you’ve got anything left. I’ve even done it three times! That’ll get you more than ready for RAGBRAI hills which are mostly fairly tame if numerous. Some Iowa hills are quite wild but they are relatively few and you can walk them if you need to.

Friday and Saturday are going to give us a chance to ride in the heat and get used to it. Be sure to take advantage. And for those who don’t live in NW suburban Chicago and cannot take this advice verbatim, the general principles apply. Ride the hills you can find near you. Ride in headwinds. Ride in hot weather. Ride when it is humid. RAGBRAI is not a terribly difficult ride because each day is a bunch of short rides with stops in towns where you can relax, cool down, fuel up, and just enjoy Iowa’s rural towns. Toughening yourself up in advance of the ride just makes it easier and more enjoyable and for newbies helps allay the anxieties which will prove to be groundless once you start the ride. It’s gonna be great, trust me!


Michrider !!!, June 28, 2018 at 4:04 pm

My training consists of riding as much as I can, eating all the pie I can find and Beer, (lots of beer)!!! I know not everyone uses this type of training regimen! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to Iowa next month!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


RDaryl Daryl, June 28, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Michrider!!! –
Don’t forget sitting on an appropriate street curb while doing the above !
The Independence Day Holiday is always a great training opportunity . . . . .


Melinda Blankenhorn, June 28, 2018 at 9:22 pm

After long rides (for me), I treat myself to a large Sonic diet-cherry limeade!


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