Three Days on Two Wheels: My RAGBRAI Experience

Indianola – I recently did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it wasn’t easy, nor should it have been. The closest I’d ever come to being part of RAGBRAI was when it rolled through Sigourney in 2018. To be honest, it’s a little hard to believe it’s been over a year since that event went down, and we all know how big a deal that was for everyone. Now, I can officially say I’ve been on both sides of the experience, times I’ll surely never forget.

It’s one thing to say you’re going to commit to something like RAGBRAI but it’s a whole other thing to back it up and follow through. The most I’d ever ridden in a single day of my life was 50 miles, with some stops, but it was something I prepped for nonetheless. Even though that ride took place over one decade ago, I can still remember the satisfaction of what I’d done. I started my preparation for RAGBRAI shortly after Spring arrived, logging five rides of varying distances. 

Looking back, my first ride took place on the bike trail in Oskaloosa and how eye-opening it was. I should let you know, I hadn’t ridden a bike in a couple of years and that wasn’t even with a road bike. I’d ridden a mountain bike for much of my life and with a thinner tire, I was a more cautious rider at first, though I did enjoy riding faster. I took my “new” old Schwinn for a spin on that trail in Oskaloosa and, as soon as I found some resistance, it was difficult. I was winded and a little discouraged, but I pushed through it. Sure, I was fighting against the waning daylight, saw a family of deer in the process, but in the end, I logged just over seven miles. 

That experience showed me how much I really needed to put in before RAGBRAI. My schedule didn’t allow for as much time as I’d hoped, and even then, the weather didn’t cooperate sometimes. Little by little, I tacked on more significant rides, ending the month of April with just under 60 miles ridden. The month of May varied even more, and June was busy, but I highlighted it by riding the full High Trestle Trail from Woodward to Ankeny. Regardless of the few rides, I did get in, I still felt confident about riding across the rolling plains.

Wrapping up this portion, I put together another couple of rides in July. My final prep ride was a scoche over 30 miles, and while it was difficult, I managed to get through it. The end of my training totaled 186 miles over 12 rides, totaling just under 3,500 feet of elevation change and just under 17 hours of total riding. 

Now onto the part that matters most, the actual RAGBRAI experience. As the title states, I only rode halfway, which gives me mixed feelings. On one side of the coin, I’m disappointed I couldn’t complete the full ride, even though it logically didn’t seem like I could, based on the small numbers I put together in preparation. On the positive side, I have something to aim for going forward with the notion one year I will ride it out fully.

To read the full article, pick up this weeks' Keota Eagle.


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