Sunday, August 12, 2012

RAGBRAI: Thoughts on Training

I learned a number of things from RAGBRAI regarding conditioning and training.  It is the farthest I have ever ridden in a week and with the Karras Loop, the longest day (both mileage and "will this ever end" time).

Five hundred miles is a long way to ride in 100+ degree heat.  While RAGBRAI advertises 471 miles for RAGBRAI XL there were a lot more miles added getting to campsites and back to the start point.  I will continue with stating 500 miles which is probably more accurate. 

Lesson #1:  Completing RAGBRAI requires no athletic ability or training!!!!!

This may seem like a pretty bold statement but it is true, maybe not recommended but true.  Case in point my friend "Pahjanke."  By the way that is not his real name but it resulted from an auto corrected drunk text from another friend. 

Pahjanke had little experience on a bike other than that he is capable of riding a bike.  He dropped 2 Gs on a bike and only rode it 40 miles about 2 months before RAGBRAI and then did not ride until the event.  He finished!  Zero training!

We have now turned it into a new term.  So unless you want to get "Pahjanked" you may want to train as recommended by RAGBRAI.  I knew mentally and physically that I could do it, my goal was to do it as free of discomfort and pain as possible.

I did my usual, let us review my training strategy:

1. Ride as much as possible:  This is the hardest part for me.  I am a busy guy with a lot of responsibility at work.  I also have a lot of responsibility at home (4 kids, 1 wife, 2 dogs) that need attention.  My local bike club set up training rides which all conflicted with my life.  They recommend 500 miles of training before the event.  I rode my bike to work (8 miles each way) 4 days a week for several months.  That combined with a couple of 20-30 mile rides count in my book.  I just like to avoid the shoulder/neck tightness and pain that comes after a riding drought.


2. Get a good set of tires:  This is an easy one Continental GatorSkin tires.  It was recommended by the QCBC to purchase new tires before the ride.  Some of the group I rode with did, some didn't.  Those who bought new GatorSkin tires had no trouble.  Those who went cheap and didn't buy new tires did.  Plus, I love new tires there is something about them, like a brand new box of crayons!

3. Drink a bunch of water:  I failed miserably on this one.  Usually this is not a major issue with shorter rides.  I actually suffered great pain and discomfort.  I played hydration catch up for the first day or two.  Miserable!

4. Shove my jersey pockets as full of Jelly Belly Caffeine Sports Beans and Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls: 
I went to Sam's Club and bought a big box of salted nut roles.  I put a few in my jersey pocket each day.  Those are amazing when you are craving a salty sweet snack.  I used Peanut Butter flavored GU based on a friends recommendation.  Nasty, but they did their trick, quick energy.  In the future I will stick with Sport Beans  The real performance enhancing food on RAGBRAI are pork chops which come on a stick.  AMAZING!!!  Three or four of those a day and you are set!
With the exception of the failure to drink a bunch of water, I met my goals well enough to complete the ride with little to no discomfort.  Severe dehydration, but water is a crutch?!?!? 

At least I didn't get Pahjanked!

By the way, I do recommend following the guidance and training, especially if you are one of the athletic types!  With enough intestinal fortitude and desire, anyone can complete this ride.

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