RAGBRAI sunrise


Welcome back RAGBRAI riders.  Hills, hills, hills, hills; it's off to southern Iowa we go!  It's been awhile, but here we come!  Did I mention hills?  Yup, better get ready.  Start your training now and you'll be able to enjoy the ride this July.  Coach Dave Ertl has posted a suggested training schedule on the RAGBRAI website, so no excuses. 

All total, RAGBRAI XLIV is clocking in at almost 420 miles and a little over 18,000 feet of climb.  If the route doesn't change between now and July, this will be the third shortest RAGBRAI and we almost cracked the top 10 list for easiest ride.  Don't let this lull you into false sense of easiness.  There are some challenging days in your future.  Even though none of the individual days made any of the top 10 lists, several will get your attention.  In particular, the first three days have similar climb characteristics.  On the plus side, as the week progresses, the difficulty eases off.

We start at Glenwood and end up in Muscatine, with lots of sights and fun as we cross the state. 

Day 1 takes us from Glenwood to Shenandoah, a distance of almost 50 miles and a little over 2600 feet of climb.  For those of you who want to do a bit of gravel, the gravel loop is today and takes you through Imogene.  This will add about 17 miles to your day and about 1000 feet of climb.

Day 2 takes us from Shenandoah to Creston, slightly over 75 miles and and around 4000 feet of climb.  From a climb stand point, it's going to be a lot like day 1, except 25 miles longer.  There are plenty of thru towns so look forward to a lot of fun as we head east.

Day 3 goes from Creston to Leon, not quite 60 miles and around 3300 feet of climb.  Experience the highest average climb grade this day, slightly over what the first two days have in store, but shorter than day 2.  Out of Creston we drop straight south until we hit U.S. Highway 2.  From there, we head again head east on into Leon.  We also cross I-35 just prior to reaching Leon.

Day 4 travels from Leon to Centerville, a distance slightly over 65 miles and climb of around 2800 feet.  As with day 2, there are a ton of pass thru towns to stop and enjoy!  We end out the day passing on the south side of Lake Rathbun, through Mystic and then into Centerville.  The Karras Loop is today and takes you around Lake Rathbun via the Honey Creek Resort.  If you feel like bagging the Century, the loop clocks in a little over 32 miles and adds almost 1300 feet to your climb.

Day 5's ride is from Centerville to Ottumwa, a bit over 51 miles and a little over 1900 feet of climb.  We go through Moravia, Unionville, and Blakesburg; Amish country.  I have a feeling that there will be a few food stands featuring some great pies this day.  Dutch Apple, here I come!

By the time you get to Day 6 which takes us from Ottumwa to Washington, you will ready for a distance of almost 70 miles and a little over 2500 feet of climb.  For a change of beverage, stop at The Wooden Wheel Winery.   I may have to stop in, sample their reds and watch the ride go on by for awhile.

The last day takes us to Muscatine, not quite 50 miles and around 1500 feet of climb.  A nice feature to enjoy will be crossing the Iowa River at Columbus Junction and Fredonia.  Oh, and we pass the Ardon Creek Winery, so I may have to take another "observation" break.

Even though this year's ride is hitting only one of the top 10 charts (third shortest), you'll still want to get in lots of training miles.   As always, weather and winds can be a significant factor.  Make sure to include as much headwind training as you can prior to the ride. During training just keep thinking about all the great food and fun we're going to have!

Enjoy the GeoBike site and keep logging those training miles.   See everyone in the pancake lines!