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RAGBRAI Training: 2010 Mileage Guide

  • 30 March, 2010
  • TJ Juskiewicz

I often get asked the question: “How many miles should I train before the start of RAGBRAI?”.  My answer is that you should have ridden at least 1,000 miles on your bike before you start RAGBRAI (this year, not in your whole life!).   While this may seem like a lot, remember that RAGBRAI is more than 400 miles long this year.  If you break it down and start training by May, you will be able to get 1,000 miles in without putting in huge miles during any given week.   I have developed a guide showing suggested training miles that you can use to prepare for RAGBRAI.  CLICK TO DOWNLOAD TRAINING GUIDE CHART

This chart has two weekday and two weekend rides listed.  With just four days of training a week, it’s possible to get in good shape to be able to ride an enjoyable RAGBRAI.  This plan builds up mileage in a systematic fashion to 150 miles in the week prior to the start of RAGBRAI. There are a couple of easier weeks built in for recovery.  The week before RAGBRAI should be easy to allow you to fully recover and be fresh for the ride.  Don’t worry, you won’t lose your hard-earned fitness in one week!

If you can work up to 150 miles in a week, you will be able to comfortably ride RAGBRAI.  This plan has you building up to 70 miles for your longest training ride.  This will allow you to comfortably ride each and every day during RAGBRAI.

This plan is meant to be a guide, not a hard and fast rule.   If you can’t ride four days a week, and can only ride thee days, adjust the mileage – the main thing is to aim for the weekly total and try to get the longest day in as suggested.  If you need to switch around days of the week, that’s fine.  And, if you can get in more days and more, that’s great.  Just don’t build up to fast – try to increase your weekly mileage no more than 10-15 miles per week max.  There is space in this guide to write down exactly what you were able to ride.  Hang it on your refrigerator and use it to keep you on track for a successful RAGBRAI.  There is a column labeled “Bonus Miles” which you can use if you ride more than four days per week.

In addition to the miles, be sure to find some hills to ride.  Don’t avoid them because you can’t avoid them on RAGBRAI.  Hills force you to work hard so they serve as a good way to get in shape quickly.   Same goes for the wind.  Use the wind as a training tool.   Ride steadily and push into the headwinds and return home with the tailwind practicing your spinning.

Ride on – Coach David Ertl

David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) Coach.  He coaches cycling teams and individual cyclists.  He is also an NSCA certified Personal Trainer. Learn more at www.CyclesportCoaching.com.

28 Comments

  1. Janet Burgess

    I am well on my way already up to about 40 a week. No problem finding unbelievable wind and sand. but in Florida it is very hard to find hills. Any suggestions? Also I have lost weight in the last year and am having more issues with my tailbone. Am wondering if I should change seats. Any suggestions?

  2. Doug Cozad

    I looked for a seat for three years and had severe pain but I am pain free and going strong with a Brooks leather seat.

    Doug

  3. amy

    I second the Brooks saddle; it’s been around for over 100 years; it takes time for the leather to conform to your butt but it’s much better than a gel seat. Gel is good for people that don’t have sensation. My husband rode his bike around the world on a brooks saddle.

  4. SFC JKL 2

    It’s not as much fun, but you can simulate hills on an exercise bike at the gym. Just make sure you are on one of the upright ones (as long are riding an upright bike). recumbents use different muscles so that wouldn’t help you.

    Go to a good bike shop that does seat fittings and lets you return seats. This way you can try out several and see what works best for you.

  5. Deb

    You could try parking garages (on the weekend- or other non-busy times) to train hills

  6. Walt

    Janet:

    You should change the seat for one that has a midsection depression that gives protection to the pudendial nerve and artery. This will also offer protection to the coccyx. This could best be done by going to a professional bike shop that fits you for a seat specific to your body dimensions. You should make sure that the bike shop accepts returns just in case you don’t like the seat and want to return it.

  7. jamie

    Get a bob trailer/panniers or add weight (40lbs) some how.. trust me it will feel like a hill….

  8. Mickey

    Two things for Florida: If you live on the coast (Brevard County) like I do, riding back and forth on the intercoastal causeway bridges are pretty good. The other thing is to go to the Claremont area and ride there—-plenty of hills and some are much worse than anything in Iowa

  9. Amy

    It’s not as much fun, but you can simulate hills on an exercise bike at the gym. Just make sure you are on one of the upright ones (as long are riding an upright bike). recumbents use different muscles so that wouldn’t help you.

    Go to a good bike shop that does seat fittings and lets you return seats. This way you can try out several and see what works best for you.

  10. Patrick

    You could try parking garages (on the weekend- or other non-busy times) to train hills

  11. Brian

    You could try parking garages (on the weekend- or other non-busy times) to train hills

  12. Dave

    You could try parking garages (on the weekend- or other non-busy times) to train hills

  13. Larry

    It’s not as much fun, but you can simulate hills on an exercise bike at the gym. Just make sure you are on one of the upright ones (as long are riding an upright bike). recumbents use different muscles so that wouldn’t help you.

    Go to a good bike shop that does seat fittings and lets you return seats. This way you can try out several and see what works best for you.

  14. Matt

    I looked for a seat for three years and had severe pain but I am pain free and going strong with a Brooks leather seat.

    Doug

  15. Ian

    Two things for Florida: If you live on the coast (Brevard County) like I do, riding back and forth on the intercoastal causeway bridges are pretty good. The other thing is to go to the Claremont area and ride there—-plenty of hills and some are much worse than anything in Iowa

  16. Patrick

    It’s not as much fun, but you can simulate hills on an exercise bike at the gym. Just make sure you are on one of the upright ones (as long are riding an upright bike). recumbents use different muscles so that wouldn’t help you.

    Go to a good bike shop that does seat fittings and lets you return seats. This way you can try out several and see what works best for you.

  17. Sean

    Two things for Florida: If you live on the coast (Brevard County) like I do, riding back and forth on the intercoastal causeway bridges are pretty good. The other thing is to go to the Claremont area and ride there—-plenty of hills and some are much worse than anything in Iowa

  18. Lee

    I second the Brooks saddle; it’s been around for over 100 years; it takes time for the leather to conform to your butt but it’s much better than a gel seat. Gel is good for people that don’t have sensation. My husband rode his bike around the world on a brooks saddle.

  19. Daniel

    You could try parking garages (on the weekend- or other non-busy times) to train hills

  20. Rick

    Get a bob trailer/panniers or add weight (40lbs) some how.. trust me it will feel like a hill….

  21. Simon

    Two things for Florida: If you live on the coast (Brevard County) like I do, riding back and forth on the intercoastal causeway bridges are pretty good. The other thing is to go to the Claremont area and ride there—-plenty of hills and some are much worse than anything in Iowa

  22. Sarah

    It’s not as much fun, but you can simulate hills on an exercise bike at the gym. Just make sure you are on one of the upright ones (as long are riding an upright bike). recumbents use different muscles so that wouldn’t help you.

    Go to a good bike shop that does seat fittings and lets you return seats. This way you can try out several and see what works best for you.

  23. Jonathan

    Two things for Florida: If you live on the coast (Brevard County) like I do, riding back and forth on the intercoastal causeway bridges are pretty good. The other thing is to go to the Claremont area and ride there—-plenty of hills and some are much worse than anything in Iowa

  24. Bill

    Two things for Florida: If you live on the coast (Brevard County) like I do, riding back and forth on the intercoastal causeway bridges are pretty good. The other thing is to go to the Claremont area and ride there—-plenty of hills and some are much worse than anything in Iowa

  25. David Ertl

    You can simulate hills by shifting to one of your hardest gears and grinding along at about 80 rpm. Start with 2 min intervals like this and work up to 5 min. If your knees are strong you can use a headwind and even higher gear and get down to 60-70 RPM. Us coaches are always preaching spin, spin, spin, but if you want to work on leg strength for hills, these low rpm intervals are the one exception.

  26. Nancy

    I have a question about the training schedule. How important is it to do short, short, long and longest rides in that order each week? Not at all, somewhat, very important or extremely important? Thanks.

  27. sheff

    I never have ridden 1000 before any of the last 5 Ragbrais. Scheduling and climate. This yr I have to date about 200 in. Going to ride 3-4 days this week for a total of another 100-200. I am active in other regards. I do recommend definately doing some back to back days for virgins.

  28. Josh

    This training schedule has been great. I’ve come a long way since the beginning of the schedule and have actually come to enjoy distance riding. The only way to ultimately lessen the potential for injury and toughen up your rear for riding is saddle time. I will use this schedule to continue training even after Ragbrai.

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