RAGBRAI Training: Are you training yet for RAGBRAI? Psst: you might want to start
- 2 February, 2024
- Andrea Parrott
Editor’s note: Coach Ertl has developed RAGBRAI Training plans since 2009! That is 15 years of developing high-quality, free, training plans and blogs for riders prepare for RAGBRAI. Thank you Coach Ertl for helping us get in shape so we can enjoy RAGBRAI to the fullest! If Coach Ertl has helped you on your training journey, please leave a note in the comments below! You can see past years’ blogs and training plans here in the Training Archive.
Are you training yet for RAGBRAI?
Psst: you might want to start
As I am sure you have read following this weekend’s route release party, this year’s RAGBRAI will be the hilliest on record, 18,737 feet to be exact. To compensate somewhat for this, it is ‘only’ 424 miles this year, the 8th shortest RAGBRAI ever. However, trading miles for hills isn’t quite an even trade, when it comes to training. You can train for more miles, like last year’s 500 mile RAGBRAI, by training more miles. But when it comes to being a climber, that will take some different preparation. Just riding more miles will help but is not optimal. You guessed, it is riding hills, working on strength, learning to use your gears, maybe even shed a few pounds, all things I will cover in the coming weeks. And yes, even answers to the perpetual question I get (mainly from folks in Florida): “I don’t have hills, how can I train for hills?”.
I am hearing a lot of talk about the hills on RAGBRAI already, and I know it may seem like a deterrent but please don’t let it be. It adds to the intrigue and challenge of this year’s ride. Think of the satisfaction you will get by completing ‘the hilliest RAGBRAI in history’! The greater the challenge, the greater the satisfaction. As I will keep saying all season, riding up hills takes the right frame of mind – it is actually as much mental as physical exercise. If you see a hill up ahead and say ‘Oh no, not another hill’, the hill has already won. But if you prepare properly, you will gain confidence so when you see yet another hill on RAGBRAI you may not say ‘Oh goodie’, but at least you can say ‘I got this’. (Some of us will be going to Colorado this summer in search of mountains to climb – I know, I’m different than most).
So the best thing you can do right now is to not worry about the hills, respect them yes, but not to worry. The second best thing you can do is to start your training now. I know, I know, its still winter in the Northern US and riding may be out of the question, but I said training, not necessarily riding. Do whatever you can to start developing strength and aerobic fitness with what you’ve got to work with. Take a spin class, cross country ski, walk, run or hike. Anything to get you moving and getting your heart rate up. Strength can include upper and lower body strength work and don’t forget core training. During the winter is a great time to work on this as you have more time when you aren’t riding as much. The other thing you should do is get your bike back in shape. Now is the time to make repairs, do upgrades (lower gears anyone?), and do some basic maintenance. If you don’t do this sort of thing yourself, get it into a bike shop now before the spring rush hits.
The next article will be my annual RAGBRAI Training Guide but for now, just get moving. If you are in a place where you can ride, then get out and ride. Or ride in Watopia on your trainer. You can also review some of my many hill articles I’ve written in past years. They are all available for reading here. Just search for ‘hill’ or ‘climb’.
Can you do it? Hill yes!
Coach David Ertl
David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team and individual cyclists through the Peaks Coaching Group. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
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