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RAGBRAI Training: 15 Week Training Plan & Log

  • 4 April, 2012

Okay, here it is once again, your training plan developed just for RAGBRAI.  This is the third year I’ve provided this training template to give you an idea of how much riding you should be doing to set yourself up for an enjoyable ride on RAGBRAI.  

Note that I said this is a template.  It is not to be followed literally, although it is okay if you do.  Rather, it is designed to give you an idea of how many days a week you should be riding and some suggestions on how far each ride could be.  The most important number to note is the distance of the longest ride of the week.  If you continue to allow your longest ride to step up each week.  Your weekly mileage should also increase gradually.  You don’t have to do every ride listed, or on the same days as indicated.  However, here’s a few tips. 

Aim for riding 3-4 days per week.  Typically people have the most time to ride on weekends, so if that is your situation, ride a couple of more days during the week.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are logical days, so that you have days off on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to ride every day.  You will make more progress with your cycling fitness if you take some days off and allow your body to recover and respond to the days your ride.  You will come back fresher and feeling stronger if you intersperse rest days in between riding days.   As RAGBRAI approaches, you do want to add in more consecutive days of riding to acclimate your body to riding multiple days in a row. 

Another tip is to ride faster on days when you don’t have much time to ride.  On longer rides your pace can be more relaxed.  So the rule of thumb is the shorter the ride, the faster it should be.

Below, you will see two versions of these charts available for downloading.  One is the training plan in a .pdf format.  You can download or print this and keep it handy for reference.  You can use it as a log of your riding if you wish.   There is also an Excel file available with the same training plan.  If you wish to use this to alter the rides and put in what you actually do, It is set up to sum the daily rides to track your weekly mileage. 

Click here to download a PDF file of the training plan and log: 
RAGBRAI Training Plan 2012 

or to download an Excel files of the training plan and log:
RAGBRAI Training Plan 2012

I need to give a shout-out to Michael Hughes for putting these plans together for me this year.  Michael is a reader of the RAGBRAI training blog and a serviceman with the Army at Fort Bragg, NC.  Thank you for helping me with this training plan and thank you for your service!

 I hope you find this this plan a helpful tool for you.

Coach David Ertl

David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) Coach and Personal Trainer. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team, the Iowa JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes Team, the Above & Beyond Cancer RAAM Team, and he coaches individual cyclists.  He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at coach@cyclesportcoaching.com


  1. Micky

    As my wife would attest, I love checklists. This is a great tool to let me know that I’ll be in the ballpark when it comes to being ready for Ragbrai!

    Thanks for the extra tips in the blog post! It helps put it in perspective.

  2. Lynette

    Mmmm….you are kidding me, right? This is my first Ragbrai. 65 miles in one ride? At my pace that would take me 5 hours…

  3. George Wright

    At my pace that would take me 10.5 hours’ ride time, with an additional 2 hours for breaks. Guess I’d better start training a little more seriously.

  4. Ron

    David, I purchased my first road bike and signed up for my first RAGBRAI last year. After the adrenaline wore off and I realized what I had just set myself up for, I had no idea where to begin regarding training. Your training log was my saving grace! I followed it as closely as my work schedule would allow. I am proud to say, I successfully completed the entire week of RAGBRAI, including the Karras Loop! Thank you for the training log and the motivational tips!

  5. Mike

    Last year was my first Ragbrai and first organized ride. I was not sure how to train. When I saw the training plan, I was happy to see something I could incorporate in my schedule. I followed the plan, did 1500 miles before the 3rd week in July and at age 65 rode every mile in the heat in last year’s Ragbrai. Could not have done it without a well thought out training plan. I will follow it again this year!!!

    Thanks for your help!

  6. Coach David Ertl

    Ron and Mike
    Glad to hear the training plan worked for you. For those of you who think I am kidding, I’m not. No, you don’t need to do this much riding prior to RAGBRAI but you will be glad you did if you do!

  7. Joy

    Thanks for much for posting this! It is so helpful.

  8. christine

    I think this would be more helpful if it started on May 1…the date we find out if we get a spot. This is my first ride and I didn’t think I should buy a bike until I knew for sure I would be riding. Thoughts?

  9. Jborelli

    Last year was my fifth straight RAGBRAI. I had trained pretty haard in the past and was in fairly good shape. I did 1000 miles of training before RAGBRAI two years ago. But last year was the first year I used David’s training log and blog and I was in my best shape ever for RAGBRAI. I needed to because with the heat last year was by far the toughest of the years I have ridden.

  10. marc

    i like riding sat and sun. 40 something plus 20 or 30 something. right now i am training for bpms150. last year i did same and rode ragbrai for first time. felt really good the whole ride. had about 1300 under my belt before i started.

  11. anna

    hi I am trying to get ready for my first RAGBRAI What do you think of spin classes…when time is limited or prohibitive weather conditions thank you

  12. Eman

    It’s all about your bike saddle when it comes to distance riding like RAGBRAI. If you have not been on the saddle, you’ll find out very soon that you have not trained enough for the entire event.

  13. Dan

    This is quite the training schedule! I wish I had enough time to follow it to the letter because there’s nothing I like more than getting out on a ride on my recumbent trike on a nice day! I don’t think I’ll be able to do much more than weekends with my current job.. And I’ll defenitely have to work on some longer rides, the longest I’ve done so far was 53 miles, and I sure as hell wasn’t ready to get back on the next day!

  14. Lee

    Great training log. If more people did at least that much training they’d all be in better shape and have a much more enjoyable RAGBRAI. The only problem I see is that your bike should be tuned up at least 1 or 2 weeks before RAGBRAI so that if something is discovered during or after that tune-up there’s time to get it fixed before leaving.


  15. Coach David Ertl

    Thanks for the comments. You all make good points. Saddle time is the key. Get the hours in and you will be most of the way to having a successful RAGBRAI. Spin classes count. We almost always work harder in a spin class than an hour riding out on the road, so by all means throw in spin classes to get some more intensity. It is a good substitute if you can’t get out on the road.
    If you can’t ride during the week, bump up the miles on the weekends (gradually) and aim for the total number of miles per week that is shown in the plan.

    Enjoy your training, it’s all part of the experience.

  16. LT

    Great training log. Our team is using it to get ready for our first RAGBRAI. I know this is a ride, not a race, but I have some on our team that are pushing a 16MPH average and others that are struggling to maintain 12MPH. This makes it tough to organize our group rides. What is a reasonable pace to train at?

  17. danjpeat

    I passed 500 miles this week! Unfortunately that’s total since January, not in the last week, so I’m aiming to double it at least before heading out there. Can’t Wait!

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