Around the middle of February, the participants and mentors start meeting twice a week on Monday and Thursday evenings at the Riverfront YMCA downtown for ninety minutes of training. Thirty minutes is devoted to each
of three workouts; spin classes on stationary bikes, resistance training, and running the indoor track. Mixed
into the exercises are some informational sessions designed to provide the participants with some of the basic
information they’ll need to know once the training rides start. Class sessions include information on
nutrition, proper cycling attire, and bike maintenance and bike safety.
Indoor training serves a couple of purposes. First, the team starts getting in shape. The spin class helps
build bike muscles, and the resistance training builds muscles and flexibility. Second, it gives the team a
chance to get to know each other, and sets the tone for the rest of the training. Participants get used to
the Monday/Thursday schedule. Indoor training lasts until the end of March.
Outdoor training rides
At the beginning of April, as the weather turns warmer, indoor training comes to an end, and the outdoor
training rides start. The typical training schedule involves three rides per week. Monday and Thursday
evening rides are shorter in length, and always completed before dark. Saturday morning rides provide an
opportunity for longer distances, and more difficult terrain. All training rides begin and end at the
Des Moines Register building downtown.
There are four primary goals incorporated into the training rides:
Initial goal – teach the team to ride safely in a group, applying the Ride Right principles
they learned during indoor training, and to learn proper shifting techniques
Second goal – ride efficiently and effectively
Third goal – ride longer distances and build stamina
Final goal – become good hill climbers and finish RAGBRAI® with a smile<
A number of routes are used throughout the training season to accomplish these goals. Early season
rides utilize flat routes on bike paths to learn safe biking habits and riding in groups. Participants
learn to communicate to each other and other cyclists on the trails. Shifting strategies are learned
for efficient riding.
for longer rides, stressing safety. Routes incorporating hills are added later to increase fitness levels
and prepare the riders for what they are likely to see on RAGBRAI®.
Refreshments are provided for the team on all training rides, with lunch provided on the longer Saturday rides.
Attendance is monitored closely throughout training. All youth are required to participate in all
training sessions. No team member will be allowed more than three absences per month, and no more than one
of those absences shall be on a Saturday. Participants are asked to commit to the program from the beginning,
and they learn the value of that commitment as they complete the training schedule.
Overnight campout rides
Three times throughout the training, the Dream Team participates in weekend overnight campout rides.
For each ride, the equipment is transported to the campground and the team members sleep outdoors in tents.
Showers are taken at the campgrounds. All meals are provided for the team members, and support vehicles travel
the route providing assistance. This provides a good RAGBRAI® experience for the team, and they get to enjoy
whatever weather is offered that weekend.
The first ride is scheduled in May, and the team travels approximately 60 miles to the YMCA camp near Boone, IA.
At the campground, the team enjoys participating in team building activities on the leadership course, followed by
an evening of free time. Breakfast is served the following morning, with the riders returning to Des Moines.
St. Thomas More Center west of town. This trip is also 60 miles, and provides another opportunity for team building
activities with a climbing wall, zip line, and swimming pool.
team leaves Des Moines on Friday morning, with a lunch stop in Osceola. Saturday is spent with a short ride in the
area, followed by a day of recreation at the lake. The team enjoys paddle boats, swimming, fishing, and a tour of
the lake. Sunday brings a long hilly return to Des Moines. This final trip usually serves as the make or break
training for RAGBRAI®. Once participants have completed the trip to Sun Valley and back, they know they’re ready to
handle any terrain and weather that RAGBRAI® may offer.
The Dream Team serves as Host of the Mayor’s Ride along with the Des Moines
Mayor and Brian Duffy, Des Moines Register cartoonist. This organized ride gives the team some good exposure, and
provides an early opportunity for the team to ride in a large group and practice their safe riding skills. It’s
always a good indicator of how far along the team is in their training.
Throughout the training schedule, the team participates in some extra activities. These provide a good break
from the monotony of the training. These activities are sponsored through private donations and supporters of
the Dream Team. Activities in the past have included; swim parties, cookouts where the families are invited to
attend, ice skating, I-Cubs baseball, Drake Basketball, etc.