Yesterday we went from Flagstaff to Dalhart TX. It was a pretty uneventful trip except for a thunderstorm in NM that was spectacular. Every where we travel today is on a heat advisory so we should feel right at home:)
Down-tube shifting, weighs as much as a small elephant, and it sure can turn heads!
Before the Ride Across Iowa, many people fearfully beg the question “how much do I really need to train?” There are many answers out there, which I’ll try to sum up. The main thing that gets me on my bike when I’d much rather be sleeping in is what I’ve learned before: the more I train, the more I will enjoy all that RAGBRAI has to offer. Most humans can survive the trip. But if you have the energy to go to all the concerts and lasagna dinners and ‘World’s Largest…’ exhibitions, the trip becomes an actual vacation, instead of a chance to experience a small portion of hell.
The answer depends upon if you enjoy pain and suffering. It is certainly possible to complete RAGBRAI with little or no training. One year, we went with a family friend who did just that. But, if I recall correctly, he spent most of his off-bike time hobbling to free Gold Bond stands, instead of exploring the fun that the towns had to offer. When considering whether or not you should train, ask yourself this question: “On day three, would I rather be watching the laser show or lying down and praying to not move for the next twelve hours?”
The problem with this question is that everyone is different. There are some people who are naturally athletic and can get by without much training. But the chances are if you’re looking for how much training to do, you aren’t one of those blessed few. First, even if you are in amazing shape you should still ride! Your derrière will thank you. I won’t go into details, but truly: certain body parts need to prepare for hours of constant movement, under a lot of weight, on a very small, hard seat.
Some suggest the 500+ mile method, which I have done in the past and which seems to work. However, if you are not in relatively good shape to begin with, or if you are unfamiliar with cycling, you should get a base before starting the official 500 miles by taking spinning classes and/or riding shorter rides for a few months to get your body used to the basics. Once you start, the idea is simple. Just get in 500 miles. This can be achieved riding 20 25 mile rides, or 5 100 mile rides (not recommended.)
This sort of simplicity has a few pitfalls. First, if you only ride once or twice a week, you won’t know what it feels like to get on the bike with truly tired legs—the kind of legs that, when asked to stand up for the last climb, politely but firmly respond ‘no’. This can be scary, especially if you have never ridden a days-long ride before. And building up endurance is necessary in order to enjoy the entire ride. So, here are my suggestions for training well:
When prioritizing for the 500+ training method, you can ask yourself this question: “On day six, would I rather be making new friends at the awesome polka concert, or bonding with my favorite Advil bottle?” That’s what I thought. Polka always wins in the end.
Finally, remember that it’s not a race. It’s difficult, and there will probably be times when you loathe anything that spins. But remember – people complete RAGBRAI on unicycle! They complete it during their 90th year! They complete it wearing nothing but a kilt! The only trick is to train enough to be comfortable, so you can fully enjoy all RAGBRAI has to offer. You’ll be fine.