dmrdc5-65wcwylyq8hqjz655dq_originalBy Coach David Ertl

This year’s RAGBRAI overnight towns have now been announced and that tells us some important things about this year’s route.  This year’s ride is quite short and quite flat by RAGBRAI standards.   It is the third shortest and the second flattest in the 42 year history of RAGBRAI.  So what does that mean?  Well, it allows for a more relaxed, less stressful ride than usual. 

If you are one who worries about big hills or killer long days, there won’t be much of that this year.  If you have never done RAGBRAI and always wanted to but were intimidated by the distance and hills, maybe, just maybe, this is the year you should give it a try.  They won’t get much easier than this one.  In addition, the overnight stops are fairly small towns this year so you will really get to experience rural Iowa hospitality at its best.

There will still be the Karras Loop on Tuesday which offers a century ride for those who want the longer miles. But, keep in mind, 418 is still a looong way to ride your bike in a week.  That means you will still need to get your legs and butt in shape for this adventure.   You just won’t be in for such a grueling ride as normal.  However, you also need to keep in mind that the heat, humidity, possible headwinds and rain has the potential to really challenge you.  But challenge is partly what this ride is about. 

As with every RAGBRAI, you will want to ride (i.e. train), and ride a lot prior to July.  This is not a race and with the relatively short days, you will not need (or want) to hurry through this ride.  The shorter days offer the chance to spend time in the towns you pass through each day, and have an enjoyable journey.  The more you train, the more fun and comfortable your RAGBRAI will be. 

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be providing tips on how to prepare yourself for this year’s adventure.  In the meantime, get registered and start planning your trip!


David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team and is a national head coach for the the JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes and he coaches individual cyclists. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: . He can be contacted at