Two iconic cross-state bicycle tours - RAGBRAI and Ride the Rockies. RAGBRAI is easy since Iowa is so flat and Ride the Rockies is the challenging one that summits mountain passes nearly every day. Lets compare the two...
"I have to admit that I, too, was a bit surprised at the amount of climb we do on some of the RAGBRAI rides. It is real! By my count, 12 of the RAGBRAIs have exceeded 22,000 feet of climb. The record was RAGBRAI IX which had over 26,000 feet of climb."
"As a point of reference, a typical RTR day experiences most of its climb doing a single pass. A rider is subjected to a long, sustained climb that can exceed 5000 feet. On the plus side, the payback is the long decent that follows.
"I remember going from Gunnison to Salida via Monarch Pass where we had ~8 miles of sustained climb followed by ~23 miles of downhill.
"Switching to RAGBRAI, most people think that Iowa is flat. Although there are plenty of areas where this is true, Iowa also has plenty of areas that are extremely hilly. This is a result of a vast number of watersheds that exist, which ultimately feed into the Missouri and Mississippi river basins. These hills are most noticeable in W, SW, and S Iowa.
"These don’t present long sustained climbs, but rather a series of climbs and descents. It’s not unusual to experience climbs of 100+ feet followed by similar decents, for 20 to 30 miles or more. ..."
"When shooting a pass on RTR, the name of the game is to find the gear that sets a torque load that you can sustain for the duration of the climb (gut it out). A technically proficient rider on RAGBRAI will be challenged by the number of gear changes they will be subjected to and the rate at which they occur. A rider from Colorado who did the afore mentioned RAGBRAI day complained that he couldn’t find a gear to stay in. He was trying to maintain a constant cadence and lost count after shifting over 100 times."
"It is safe to say that each ride has its own unique conditions and demands. Riders need to understand these, train accordingly, and come to the ride prepared."
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