Joe Sheller is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids. He is also a RAGBRAI rider- this will be his second year on the great bike ride. As a Cedar Rapidian, Joe is excited for the RAGBRAI overnight in Cedar Rapids. “I get to sleep in my own bed!” he says. “Cedar Rapids is making a pretty big deal out of it, which is a good thing for Cedar Rapids and for RAGBRAI because it’s the 40th anniversary.”
To prepare for RAGBRAI last year, Joe did the Des Moines Register’s RAGBRAI training program, which challenges participants to complete over one thousand practice miles in preparation for the big ride. Though his schedule didn’t allow him to complete every mile of the program, he managed to get in a lot of training. “There’s no such thing as too much practice!” says Joe. This year, Joe was able to log some practice miles overseas while visiting his daughter and son-in-law in Norwich, England. You can read more about his trip to the UK in his bicycling blog, http://crbiker.blogspot.com/.
Joe says his favorite trail to ride in Iowa is the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. He likes the scenery on this trail, because it goes through both rural and urban settings. Joe also enjoys biking on the Prairie Park Fishery Trail and the Sac and Fox trail.
RAGBRAI riders have to take special precautions in the summer heat. Joe stresses that one of the most important elements of participating in RAGBRAI is staying hydrated. “I always carry water, even on practice rides,” Joe says. “On RAGBRAI, you stop at every town to use the restroom and drink water.” Joe encourages riders to carry water bottles and drink electrolyte-replenishing drinks for a safe, healthy ride.
If you are new to RAGBRAI, Joe advises that you to make time to practice riding up hills. “There’s probably not a day without hills,” he says. “Always ride them, even if very slowly. Riding feels so much better than walking your bike uphill.” Joe also stresses the importance of wearing the right clothing. “The biking shorts have the padding in the right places,” says Joe. “They look ridiculous because they are tight, but you can always wear baggy shorts over them!” Joe’s final words of advice? “You have to get off your bike and take breaks occasionally. Ride for an hour max, and then talk a short walk around to relax your rear end and leg muscles.”
Look for Joe Sheller on the RAGBRAI 40th anniversary ride. Enjoy your practice miles, and check back often for more interviews and biking trail information.