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RAGBRAI Training: Welcome 2011 RAGBRAI riders!

  • 10 January, 2011
  • TJ Juskiewicz

Welcome 2011 RAGBRAI riders!

This is the first of many blogs I will be writing this season to help you prepare (dare I say ‘train’?) for a successful and fun ride across Iowa this summer.  I will be writing a training blog specifically for RAGBRAI riders.  Some will be focused for beginner riders and other will be focused for beginners and RAGBRAI veterans alike. But whether you have never done one or you have done them all, hopefully you will learn something which will help you on your RAGBRAI journey.

It’s hard to believe it can be so cold in Iowa now, yet so hot during RAGBRAI.  Believe it or not, it is not too soon to begin preparing yourself for the riding season.  The sooner you start the longer you have to get ready and the less fitness you will lose. 

Winter is not for hibernation.  For those of you who are fortunate enough to live in a location where you can ride your bike outside, you have it easy. You can start riding right now, if you’ve even stopped.  Those of us in places like Iowa have something called winter, which is accompanied by cold air, icy and snowy roads, and wind chill. 

However, even for us northerners there are many options for staying fit.  Of course, many people have stationary trainers that they can ‘ride’ during the winter.  Others choose spin classes which are an excellent way to stay in shape.  There are some brave souls who like to ride year round in all sorts of weather.   But, you don’t need to ride your bike to stay in shape.

Any activity which increases your heart rate and keeps it up for extender periods of time are good alternatives – running, walking, swimming, aerobics classes.  But if you are buried in snow right now, then get a pair of cross country skis or snow shoes and head out for a couple hour jaunt.  And don’t forget about your muscles. Cycling is great for the legs but other muscles get neglected.  Doing strength exercises in the winter is a good time to rebuild strength and muscle mass, which we tend to lose as we age. 

Check back here often for additional training tips and topics.  Also, there is the training forum where you can submit questions you have about training  https://ragbrai.com/forums/forum/training.  I will comment on questions that are posted there.

So get moving and start getting back in shape!

Coach David Ertl

David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach.  He works with the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team, the Iowa JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes Team, and individual cyclists across North America.  He is author of ‘101 Cycling Workouts’. You can read more about training at his website www.CyclesportCoaching.com


  1. Schley Cox

    It has been strictly treadmill weather here in KY. Today the temp is supposed to hit one degree over 40. That definitely calls for cycling on a very long lunch hour. Thanks for the help and instruction.

  2. Ken S. Naylor

    -7 degrees yeterday here in Fargo, ND. Light winds allowed a 13 mile ride (140 mi. so far this year). There is no such thing as too cold a day to ride, just ill-dressed riders. Invest in some good clothing (Pearl Izumi is wonderful), some winter-specific tires (Google Peter White Cycles, studs) and go for a ride.

  3. Sean Meade

    excited about the route announcement. it’s 70 here in SC. going out for a nice easy ride this afternoon :-)

  4. Cathy Jantzen

    Will be riding my first RAGBRAI. Coming from Phoenix, AZ, the hills don’t scare me, but the humid weather is something we don’t experience. Any suggestions to prepare for the humidity?

  5. Coach David Ertl

    It’s hard to escape humidity so the best thing to do is live with it (even though we don’t have to like it!). Best advice I can give is to pace yourself so you don’t overhead, drinks lots of fluids while riding, wear light colored jerseys on the hottest days(which I know you have living in AZ) and take frequent stops.

    Riding when its humid usually isn’t the problem because you are always generating a breeze. But when you stop you will certainly feel it. Try to find shade and a breeze when you stop. Iowa is good about providing breezes (except at night when you really want them!).

    Best of luck Cathy

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