Training for RAGBRAI

Sunset on the Mississippi

We have been training for several months in preparation for RAGBRAI which is the last full week of July. Over the past two months, we’ve averaged 100 miles a week. Here’s how we do it.

Weekly Rides

We started riding consistently in mid-April. We started with an 8-mile loop that we did early morning, before traffic (even in Iowa!). We did that 2-3 times before we moved on to a 20-mile loop. We do this loop 2-3 times/week – all before 6:30am!

Plus, two months ago, we joined a local bicycling group that is training for RAGBRAI and with whom we will be traveling and camping during RAGBRAI.

This group often does rides Monday and Wednesday evenings, usually 15-20 miles in length. This group also often does a longer ride on Saturday, 30-40 miles in length. We usually join them for these rides.

Great River Trail along the Mississippi

View of Mississippi River at Thomson Causeway Recreational Area in Illinois

We also did a trip to Illinois a couple of weekends ago to ride the Great River Trail that goes along the Mississippi River for nearly 70 miles.

We camped Friday and Saturday nights in Thomson, IL hoping to ride half of the trail on Saturday, then the other half on Sunday.

Camping by the Mississippi River
Our Campsite and standing water after the rains.

However, the weather put a stop to that idea. We rode 20 miles (10 miles up and back) on Saturday, and maybe another 20 on Sunday. It rained for hours Friday night and Saturday morning. On Sunday, there was a fairly strong wind.

The other goal for that weekend was also to test out our new camping equipment. We wanted to practice setting everything up and taking it down – since we’ll be doing that 8 times during RAGBRAI.

Our equipment passed with flying colors. On Friday night, it started raining at 3:30am and didn’t stop till 9:30am. We finally crawled out of the tent at 9:30am, only to observe huge puddles of water around us. Inside the tent, all was dry! There were also thunderstorms during this time. On Saturday, we noticed a tree within a mile of where we were camping, that had been struck by lightning.

Not only did we learn how to quickly set up and take down our camping gear, we also learned it will keep us dry!

The sunset pic at the top of this article is also from this adventure!

Cedar Valley Trail

We also did a two-day bike ride last weekend covering 75 miles each way.

We took advantage of a mostly paved trail from Ely, Iowa to Waterloo, Iowa. Much of the trail follows the Cedar River. However, we found out 17 miles of it was dirt/crushed rock. Needless to say, it tested our endurance!

Cedar Valley Trail -  Bridge overCedar River
Not a glamorous pic, but we’re bike riding!

We did learn a bit more about what we’ll need to eat while exerting that much energy over multiple days.

There was a stretch of 40 miles each way where we did not have access to convenience stores, extra food, and water beside the water bottles and energy bars we carry. Unlike RAGBRAI, we didn’t have access to homemade pies and homemade ice cream!

However, we will be stocking up on additional Larabars (energy bars), Shot Bloks (fruit snacks for adults to replenish electrolytes and carbs), and Nuun (tablets to put in our water to replenish electrolytes).

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