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RAGBRAI Training: Wrapping up your preparation for RAGBRAI

  • 11 July, 2023

I recently saw a post on the RAGBRAI Facebook page about feeling burned out from training. I expect there may be many of you out there who by now feel like you’ve done what training you need and you just wish RAGBRAI would get here already! Those of you who have been more or less religiously following my training schedule should have about all the riding in by now that you need to have a successful trip across the state. You will notice in the plan that last week should have been your biggest week of training, and now the riding volume tapers off as you begin your taper to the start of RAGBRAI.

Taper means you taper off your training to allow your body to recover and assimilate all the training effect it’s been given over the past several months. Chances are you may not have given your bod the chance to fully rest and recover this spring and summer. Now is the time to do so. This week will have been easier with less riding, and next week is just doing enough riding to keep your legs moving, but to not add any additional stress. In reality, any training you do now won’t build additional fitness by the time RAGBRAI rolls around, so the focus now shifts to resting and allowing all of that training and fitness to be realized.

What if you don’t feel you’ve gotten in all the training you need, should you go ahead and pile it on these last two weeks? No! You will just end up being tired going into RAGBRAI and you won’t be able to make use of the fitness you have acquired so far. You are better off to just use this time to rest up. Think of it this way, who might be better off on RAGBRAI, someone who is 100% trained but fatigued, or someone who is 90% trained but 100% rested? I’d bet on the latter. And no, there is no cramming in cycling. It may (or may not) work when studying for finals, but piling on the miles at the last minute in cycling will only make you more tired, and won’t increase your fitness in such a short timeframe.

So while you are ratcheting down your training, what do you do with the extra time? I’d suggest you put it into planning and packing for your trip. You will be traveling to western Iowa in a week and you need to make a list of everything you need, and get them ready to pack. It’s also a great time to check over your bike and take care of any issues now.  Check your tires for wear, cuts or cracks. Lube your chain. If something squeaks, creaks or clicks, try to figure it out and take care of it before you leave. I’ll warn you that bike shops are getting very busy by all the folks getting ready to do this same ride, so be warned it may be hard to get it worked on before RAGBRAI, but if you can, it’s better than trying to get it worked on once you arrive in Sioux City.

I know a lot of you have been taking your preparation and training seriously. I can tell just by the numbers of cyclists I see out on the trails around Des Moines lately.  Congratulations to you. You have set yourself up for a very enjoyable cruise across our state. For those of you who haven’t, be assured that you can still have a successful ride if you pace yourself, take it easy, take breaks, keep eating and drinking, and enjoy yourself.

I’ve enjoyed visiting with you this year and hope you have found these tips helpful. Now it’s time to go do this thing! Have a great week and here’s to 500 miles on the 50th!

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: He can be contacted

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