Ragbrai L - Tips & Training Advice

I am considering riding RAGBRAI L this year. Who has ridden it and what lessons did you learn from the experience. I am 54 and currently doing low-volume training with Plan Builder and Adaptive Training. I was planning a mid-July gravel ride in Vermont but am thinking I may shift my training plan to work towards this.

Thanks!

I’ve never done the full week, but done a few days back-to-back… I’d just worry about a clean chamois and good bike fit. Don’t skimp on miles, but basically anyone can have a good time at almost any speed on Ragbrai. Its about the riding, but its not about the distance (for most) nor the speed (anyone).

I live in Iowa and have ridden RAGBRAI a dozen times. First get into a supported group like Pork Belly’s. To use the RAGBRAI Service your bags are on a semi truck with thousands of other, and you have to hunt for food and a place to shower after you set up your tent. Next, heat and humidity. Embrace it or else. It’s that last week of July.
Daily climbing is 2000 to 5000 feet and 75-100 mile days. . Not the worst but seven days worth can drag an average rider down. The more you train the more you enjoy. I shoot for at least 1000 miles of riding before with weeks of 150-250 miles the month prior. Spend $30-50 day on food and treats. Start early, it’s get crowed by 7am and you can wait 30-45 minutes in line for breakfast and then again for the port-a-potty. Don’t hesitate to use a corn field. Be able to do basic mechanics on your bike. Get use to crowds there can be 15,000 riders and you have to ride defensive to protect yourself from the inexperienced, especially when going 30 mph plus down hills. People will cut in front of you. Small towns are a party and they really come out in support. You have all day to make it. But I ride from 6am to 2pm with plenty of stops. Be an extrovert and make friends. Some people wear costumes and excessive jewelry. For the average TR user, RAGBRAI is easy enough, fun and a good vacation, if you do it right.

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Checkout pkbelly.com. They are experienced and take care of your every need.
Pre-selected camp sites, catered meals, nightly bands. Port-a-potty’s, charging stations, tents and water mister. mechanics on-site, message team on-site. Free Beer and lemonade. You can even sign up to have your tent set up and down daily. Sign up early as they fill up fast. Registration starts at the end of January. They take around 1200 riders, largest group on RAGBRAI for a reason,

Thanks! I was planning on using Pork Belly’s if I ride it. I live in NH so I’d be shipping my bike and using their full service to include tent. I planned on just bringing 7 days of chamois and jerseys to always have a clean kit. I’ve had my bike fit and updated recently so that’s covered. I’d say the most daunting piece is the volume of riding combined with poor recovery if it’s super-hot at night.

Oh, and my longest ride is around 66 miles (last summer) so the 100-mile day in the middle is a little scary.

Meh, if you start early its more like two 40 mile rides and a pair of 10er townie rides mixed in. The guys I rode with always started late and rode hard through the first 2-3 towns when the roads were empty and then took a long liquidy lunch once they’d starting catch up to the bigger groups.

7 days in a row will add up, but think of it as a rolling bicycle festival and not a training camp or stage race.

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Pork Bellies always used to offer a mid-week laundry service. That would reduce how much clothes you need to bring along.

I’ve done it 3 times. It’s a party on wheels.

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I did it in 2021 for the first time at 55.
I’d agree with pretty much everything posted.
I came from California and Pork Belly was a great one stop shop for the traveler.
I flew into Omaha and except for a very short airport shuttle, they took care of all the rest. All for a price.
They did have laundry service on day 4, so I only brought 4 kits, $20 for a garbage bag worth of clothes. Their showers were awesome.
I brought my own tent to save $500 for them to do it.
Pour over their website, even if you don’t use them, a wealth of info.
The days averaged about 60 miles per day. The century probably won’t be mandatory, it’s an option, the day could maybe be only 80.
Hills were not bad for me, yes there are some. Lots of rollers, but no long sustained climbs the year I did it.
My “flat” rides tend to have more feet per mile than any day that RAGBRAI did

Best advice I heard was that it was a series of 10-20 mile rides, as that’s when you encounter towns.
The miles add up, but it’s not all that bad.

With Pork Belly your bags had to be on the truck by 7, so that’s when we started riding. Take all day to enjoy the rides. Have the pie, the ice cream, the pork chops, the corn and the beer - lots and lots of beer. We saw no reason to sit in camp in the heat and humidity, we’d finish each day 3:30 to 4:30.

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Great info…thanks. I think I just pinned down a buddy to ride with me. I am pretty excited and planning to register this week and watch for PBV to open up registration. I”ve heard good things about Cycling Panda as well, but the way PBV seems to have the whole out-of-state travel piece integrated along with the reivews make it my top choice.

Out of curiosity, any suggestion how to enter the event into PlanBuilder? Not seeing the 7-days of A race option readily available! :rofl:

I have been doing RAGBRAI since 1998. Best advice I have ever gotten is: If you are not having fun, slow down or speed up. Basically, RAGBRAI is whatever you want it to be. Wake up and ride at 5 AM and hammer it out, or sleep in till noon, drink all day and end at midnight. It is up to you what your fun is on the trip, it is all there for you to have. You can do PorkBelly or other services like BikeToYou. You can also join a group a people or a team on the RAGBRAI Forum. They are always looking for riders. The more you train, the better the experience. Tuesday or Wednesday is to the worst day, because that is usually when you feel the effects of 4 days of biking. Iowa is not flat and the first few days can be short but repeated hills, and as you go east it usually flattens out. I know people that don’t ride till RAGBRAI and do ever mile but slowly, so don’t overthink you training. I would try to do a string of days together to figure out how you feel and what you would change on your setup. We will probably have openings on our team, because we bring new people each year to keep it interesting. DM if you want more details.

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Thanks! I’m hopefully riding with a couple of friends of mine. We are not planning to register as a team. I appreciate the insight. That sums it all up nicely. I’m getting excited for it.

Cheers,

Tim

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I’m just really hoping for a central route so I can get a couple days in! If it is then it will probably be pretty flat and I’ll hopefully see you out there.

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I like in Council Bluffs Iowa, just across the river from Omaha. I’m always willing to help out with a place to stay and logistics.
As you train consider this.
Don’t worry about being able to ride 100 miles. Be more concerned with riding back to back days of 30-50 miles. the more back to back to back days you can ride the better, in training. If you can ride 50 miles, you can ride75 even 100 with breaks. Start early in the Am, at least by 6am and maybe earlier if it is really hot. Even on hot days you can get 1/2 to 3/4 of the miles done before it gets really hot. Then multiple stops and liquids will get you through.
If you are winter training with TR you will have a leg up. I use to start in May and ride 15-20 miles at a time, then advance to 30 then 50. I would get around 500 base miles in and then start adding hills. In three months I was ready and would have 1000 to 1500 mile cumulative training. That worked great. Now with TR I have even more of a base and training.
I also Ike the advice of another poster. if you are thinking negative or struggling just slow down. I ride at 15-16 over long distances which puts me in the top 1/3 of riders, but there is nothing wrong with dropping to 13. There are plenty of people at that pace and it is more about being consistent and not stopping for more than 30 minutes than it is about speed. Remember this is vacation not an endurance race.

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Thanks Ron. I’ve been training on my current plan since the month after Rooted with my A event in September. I run a low volume plan and am trying to get some consistent strength work in plus, now I’m bumping the volume with more Z2 work whenever I’m feeling like it’ll fit in.

I appreciate the input. Planning to register this week after route announcement and go from there. Waiting on another buddy to firm up he’s in.

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We’re in! Such a good route

I’m sure it’ll be amazing. I don’t know the roads or cities at all. I’m a newb and riding with a guy whose done it before and a buddy of mine whose also a newb.

He (newb buddy) and I registered for PBV charter but the site crashed so have not paid nor set up bus or hotels.

Time to adjust my current training plan for the big week.

Pork Belly sent a email today. Over whelmed their site, they are a small Company that is a victim of their own success. They indicated if you got through to the payment site you are registered and they will connect back with you for payment.
Registering multiple times only complicates the process.

This is the 50th and the route is a classic ride through Des Moines. Multiple 80 plus miles days but I think the feet gain will be moderate.

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Plan on gaining a little weight over the week. You definitely fuel the work with all the pie, ice cream, etc. (it’s worth it :wink:

I’d imagine this years numbers will be massive given the 50th celebration and proximity to population centers bringing out single day riders.

It’s going to be fun.

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Also, I ditch the road cleats for the week and go spd. There are 42 pass-thru towns this year, and depending on your timing you will be walking a block or two in many of them even if you don’t stop to eat.

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Thanks! I only ride SPD shoes. I typically am on my Diverge on road and dirt. It’ll be my bike in July.

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