By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
I’m not riding RAGBRAI this year and I’m already regretting my decision. While it’s great not to have to train hard every day, I miss the anticipation of the event itself. So, next year.
This year, though, I get to encourage my friend and former student, Matt Carroll, as he gets ready for his first RAGBRAI.
Matt is glad he’s made the switch.
“I like the fitness aspect but it’s also a mental health thing for me as much as the physical,” Matt says. “It gives me time to think and reflect. I never got to that point when I was running. ”
As an Iowa farm boy (Columbus Junction), Matt is used to hard work … and getting ready for a ride across Iowa (did I mention hills?) is definitely a challenge.
A month ago I was a bit nervous,” Matt says. “But I’ve been training and I’ve done some longer rides since – 50-60 miles one day and 30-40 the next – and I’ve felt good afterwards.”
Matt figures he’ll have the recommended 1,000 training miles in before he sets out on the ride. Although he’s done most of his training alone – except for his weekly rides with me – Matt is optimistic about riding alongside 20,000 other bikers.
“It’s going to be a whole different experience to try to share the road with that many people,” he says. “It will help pace me so I don’t go out too fast. I’m a competitive person and I know it’s not a race.”
(Sharing the road was the least of my troubles. Sharing the restrooms and showers? Now that was interesting. You can read about my experience here. Just scroll down to see the RAGBRAI posts.)
Matt’s following RAGBRAI’s recommended training program. He says following someone else’s plan has kept him from going out on his own and overdoing it.
He says he’s not sure when he first heard of RAGBRAI, but growing up in Iowa, it’s something he’s always been aware of.
“I didn’t get super serious about it until I really started riding my bike 5 or 6 years ago,” he says.
The countdown is on. And I’ll be with him in spirit!