by Coach David Ertl

Once again I will be providing training tips to help you prepare for a successful and fun RAGBRAI.  Regardless of your goals, whether to ride the entire route or just do some of it, hopefully I will be able to provide some useful information to help you prepare. The two most important things about making RAGBRAI successful is to have fun and to finish it safe and sound.  I will address issues related to this all season.

The 2015 route was announced this past weekend so here are some initial thoughts for you to consider. First, RAGBRAI is a ride, not a race. If you treat it like a race, you will miss most of what makes RAGBRAI special. You want to experience RAGBRAI and all the towns and people that Iowa has to offer.  “Training”, and that term is used loosely, for RAGBRAI mainly means preparing yourself to sit on your bike for many hours during one week in July and being able to pedal it a mere 462 miles.  Most of the training advice will be around how to get your body, mind and butt prepared for this challenge. You don’t have to pedal all that fast so it is more important to emphasize endurance and conditioning than speed.

Here is some insight into the course this year. If you ride the entire route, not including the century loop option, it will be 462 miles.  This is the 19th shortest ride in the 43 year history, so just about average.  But believe me, 462 is a long way to ride your bike in a week, regardless of who you are and your fitness level.  So you will want to be prepared for this.  I typically tell people they ought to have at least twice this amount in training done prior to the start of RAGBRAI, which would be about 900 miles.

This year’s course is the 13th flattest, so in the easier third of all rides in terms of hills.  However, this year’s route still includes 15,948 feet of climbing (that’s almost three miles straight up) so again, treat it with respect and come prepared to do some climbing.  Iowa doesn’t have a lot of long sustained hills, but the ones we have can be short, steep stinkers.  We’ll address some tips for hill climbing throughout the season.

But another consideration that can make this ride even more challenging is the weather.  RAGBRAI usually falls in one of the hottest weeks in the summer, and it can get very hot and sticky in Iowa in July. There can be some wind as well, and it isn’t always at your back. Add in the fact that you will be eating different foods (pork chops for breakfast anyone?) and may not have the nicest sleeping arrangements and can make for a long, challenging week.  But that’s what people love about this ride so embrace it, and I will be here to help you on your way.

Soon I will be starting with some tips on how to start getting in shape while it is still winter.  Even if you can’t ride outside, there are lots of other things to be doing to get yourself and your bike in shape.  So stay tuned and check back often.  Follow the RAGBRAI Facebook page for updates on my latest articles. http://ift.tt/1uEitEX

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://ift.tt/KCPCu1 . He can be contacted at coach@cyclesportcoaching.com.


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