max daily milage
I'm a semi-experienced tourer, but have never pushed it too hard. I'm trying to plan a cross-country this summer and my friend is planning what amounts to 100miles a day every day. I've done 60+ repeatedly in the past and was fine, but I think 100 might be pushing it.
Does anyone here here have experience doing that kind of distance over a prolonged period of time? How did it work out? Any medical issues? What are the general thoughts/recommendations on daily distances for long tours?
Long Distance Cyclist
Check out the Northern Transcontinental Link:
And if you are going to do it, have a browse through this site:
As for recommendations ... it's up to you. What is your goal? Do you want to do a fast crossing like the PacTour does? Or do you want to do a casual meander taking in sights and allowing for days where you might go here instead of there, or whatever? Are you doing the crossing as an endurance thing? Or do you want to see more the country?
100 miles a day is an endurance accomplishment, like running a marathon. You do it because the physical challenge is the primary objective. Also just like a marathon, it requires intense preparation and it doesn't always work out.
60 miles a day is a vacation. You also want a physical challenge, but you want to have fun too. It's more likely to work out, but you may not have quite as much of an "I'm the king of the world" feeling when you're done. Nevertheless, you've built up a lifetime of memories, and a lifetime of stories to bore your friends with.
At the 20-mile mark of a marathon, few say to themselves, "boy, this is really fun!" But at the finish line, there is a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
Either way is fine. It just depends on what you want.
One of the reasons so many of us tour solo is that what people want out of a tour is a very individual thing.
Last edited by John Nelson; 01-19-10 at 02:46 PM.
Keep in mind that much depends on terrain, weather, and other factors. 100 miles on dead flat roads with no wind and reasonable temps isn't that bad. On the other hand, 60 miles in the mountains with steep climbs, minimal road shoulder and marginal weather could be a killer.
I, personally, wouldn't plan on doing a lot of 100-mile days unless I was sure the terrain and weather were going to cooperate. At the same time, 60-mile days often end up being pretty short. If I'm planning to ride all day, and not stop to see the sights, I like to plan for 75-80 mile days.
Another problem is that places to stay are not spaced in a way that allows you to do the mileage you want. You will sometimes have too choose between 20 miles more than you want and 20 miles less.
I can see doing 150 or even 200 on a really good day, but I wouldn't plan on averaging more than 80 myself and if I am not in a hurry 60 is nice. You may be younger and fitter than I am though (I am 58 and a mediocre athlete).
I met a few folks on the TA who said they had planned to average 100 per day, but none of them did. Most dropped back to 80-90.
All that assumes camping. If you will be credit card touring and carrying 10-15 pounds or have a support vehicle and are carrying nothing it is a good bit more doable.
100 miles/day is definitely on the high end for self-supported tours and won't give you much margin for things to go wrong mechanically or physically. These things are going to vary some by individual, including your individual preferences and outlook.
Originally Posted by mollyw26
I've only done 100+/day on trips shorter than 10 days and on those I spent long days in the saddle. My first crossing of the US I did in five weeks and averaged (including one rest day) at 95 miles/day. I spent most time of most days riding and this was also what I expected. My crossing of Canada I did at 85 miles/day (including a six-day rest period waiting for a wheel and two other rest days) again some long days but not as many as on the US crossing. My second crossing of US was 75 miles a day (detect a trend :-)) and for me a bit more comfortable.
I've had the occasional mechanical issue to work, and so leaving some allowance for things to go wrong there is good. Also, even on the trips my mileage was higher, I my absolute deadlines were longer so I didn't have to feel like I had a "must meet" schedule - but rather that I ended up enjoying riding longer and harder and that is just how things ended up.
So if I had a friend wanting to sign me up for a 100 mile/day crossing, at this point I'd pass even if I think I have an 80%+ chance of making it work. The reason is that psychologically I wouldn't set myself up in the right frame of mind and that would be at least as significant as whether physically I could do it.
I consider myself a pretty fit cyclist. That being said my last cross country tour was 60 days and 4300 miles. So 70 per day with zero rest days... Even on semi-rest days I would go at least 30-50 miles. This was fully loaded touring.
Now if I was riding supported with motels every night... I think I could do it but......... would I want to? My guess is no.
Thanks for the thoughts, folks. I guess I forgot about the difference between support and no support. The guy I am thinking of going with will have a car along with him, so I guess we won't have to carry much. When I've toured before, I've always done self-supported. Still 100 miles per day doesn't leave much time to meet people and take things in, so I'm still gonna either try to convince him to slow down the pace or plan to do something different.
Keep the input coming!
Your mileage will completely depend on you. No one can tell you how far you can expect to go unless they know you. I know people who tour and average 15-16 mph, and 130-140 miles a day. I know people who manage about 30-40. If 100 a day sounds like too much to you, then it probably is.
Yes and no. Personally I think having a car in the mix is more of a detriment to the touring experience than doing long days.
Originally Posted by mollyw26
Thinking back on the longest days that I have done on tour, I still met lots of folks, took lots of picture, and generally enjoyed the scenery. I prefer to do most of my enjoying of the countryside in the saddle so riding long days does not detract from that for me. I actually stop more places for breaks rather than spending a lot of time in camp at the end of the day and therefore meet more people on the long days.
Having car support is a big insulator though. You tend to stop and hang with the person(s) in the car. You tend to not need to rely on local folks for much. You can't stay in hiker/biker sites with the other cyclists if you are on a route that has them. On the TA we had car support for a few days in Virginia. It was great for a few days. We got picked up and dropped off each day and stayed with family of one of my companions. It was very nice and I am glad we did it, but... We definitely did not have the same kind of experience that we had on the rest of the trip. We just didn't get the same feel for the country we were passing through and it's residents. I would do it again for a small portion of a long trip, but am not sure I would for the whole trip unless the goal was to have my wife (non-cyclist) along.
In 2008 I rode from San Diego to Upstate New York in about a month of 100 mile days. My motivation was mostly that I was alone, and already had toured for 2 months and wanted to get somewhere before it got cold and dark. Riding a bike was much cheaper than a plane ticket and rent for a month. In reality it turned into 90 mi per day average due to some nasty weather, but the first 10 days through the desert at least averaged a century a day. I was 22 and formerly athletic. Physically it wasn't very hard. I kept an average effort that felt slightly harder than walking, usually averaging 10 mph with breaks. My biggest problem was daylight. I started in mid August, and would usually be riding an hour into dusk. If I had been better conditioned for cycling, I think I would have ridden faster. I have since done some serious road biking, and realized that touring at a comfortable pace isn't really training your body to ride faster.
Originally Posted by mollyw26
For the route, I just Google Mapped the shortest possible route at a library, and then wrote down a list of towns that I would have to hit. On the way I would look for signs to those towns, or stop in gas stations to use a map. In Colorado I found a state map book on the shoulder and used that for a while. I slept wherever was out of the way. Sometimes this would be the side of the highway, or in a culvert under the highway, or on the far side of some train tracks. For food I mostly ate gas station junk, Subway sandwiches, and always a tall beer at night.
On my very first tour, I was also on my own and it was June up north. I had so much daylight that I would go to sleep with the sun up. It was very easy to average 80 mi per day because there were so many hours in the day.
Getting your fit dialed in will be very important if you're planning on consecutive 100+ mile days. It is easy to get injured from a fit that isn't quite right when you're doing those distances.
Use what daylight you have by starting early. It feels good to have 70 miles under your belt by noontime.
I've heard of cross country supported tours for roadies that avg 120+ miles a day. It's possible, but not the way I like to tour.
I average about 110 per day going from London to Egypt, including 10 rest days, but I pushed my self alot. 100 per day is fine but to average 100 means you have to push, on one occasion i did 230 miles in a day, all along the river, so flat riding. I have to say that i also lost 18kg whilst cycling and i was not over weight by any means. You need to eat a lot more food than you think
It is easy to keep your weight in America where you can get 400 kcal donut packs at every stop for 70 cents.
I agree with what Staepjh wrote regarding having the car along (I wouldn't like it) and particularly regarding where to stay overnight. I have done three tours in China. In the built-up areas there's towns, cities and people everywhere. It's just a matter of deciding to stop and there's a $5-$8 a night guesthouse with bed and shower waiting for you a kilometre or two up the road. But what to do in the rural areas? In the mountains when you're not sure when the next village is. There hasn't been a village for over one hour, no sign of one ahead, and the previous village/town didn't have a guesthouse at all? Or the seemingly-eternal road has a steep cliff-face covered in pine trees on one side and guard railing with valley below on the other side!
If it starts getting dark at 6pm, I like to start looking for a campsite/guesthouse around 3.30pm. If I find something within five minutes, then great. I'll have an early night, wander around the town (or read a book alone in my tent/abandoned building. Then start early the next day. All this will eat into your day and subtract from hours available to ride. All depends upon the terrain and how easy it is likely to be to find a suitable campsite.
I was cold, tired, dirty etc. one night last year. I didn't feel like camping. It took until practically nightfall after climbing and descending mountains all afternoon to find somewhere. There was nowhere to camp at all in that area so I pushed on, hoping to find something better up ahead. After one very long uphill climb (part riding, part walking) and the last trace of sun leaving the sky, I had all but given-up on my nice room when I suddenly descended the mountains (hardly pedalling for about 5 miles), coasted over a small bridge, turned sharply left and without any warning a small town appeared in front of me.
I ended-up right in front of a guesthouse where the reception girl could understand every word of my dreadful Mandarin, didn't try to rip me off, I had no trouble taking the bike to my room, no need to pay a deposit or use my passport to register officially etc. Luck like this won't happen every evening!
I only rode 100 miles once. On my last day of tour after riding 21 days previous so I was fairly fit and strong. I started at 6.40am. I'd covered 104km by 12.10pm. (Sorry, I'm not good with using miles). I rode 170km for the day to arrive at my destination. The +2 to -3 degrees celcius weather that day didn't help but I was exhausted and am not sure I could cover a distance like that again. 80-115km is a good day for me, but so much depends upon the road quality, how flat the terrain is, weather etc. No way I would be agreeing to 160km per day, day after day after. If I decide to do that of my own accord, that's fine. But I would quickly resent the person/companion pushing me to cover that distance back-to-back. For many tourers, 160km in a day is nothing. For me (and this is purely my perspective), it's beyond my current capabilities. I like to ride fast, but then have a couple of hours to wander in a small town for lunch or stop for a half hour rest if I feel like it. That last day of my tour I was having a two or three minute stop every hour and kept pushing myself on. It was not enjoyable, but I will never forget that one day.
I hope some of this helps you.
i think it's weird that people come up with these seemingly arbitrary numbers and latch onto them. just ride your damn bike until you don't want to anymore. is it really worth it making a 100 if you're miserable? not trying to talk you out of it, i just know that the few days i was doing 200+ a day, i wasn't having that good of time. now i ride when i want, stop when i want and enjoy my tours much more.
when i was 18 (1973), i did an unsupported tour from rhode island to near mexico city and then back as far as north carolina, from mid august to mid october. i remember getting to the border in laredo, texas and, with my rudimentary math, figured i had done about 2100 miles in 21 days. no cycling computer, just estimating my milage from maps, so just how accurate that figure was is anyone's guess. what i averaged after that point is also unknown.
i also did 212 miles the first day, which probably contributed to a swollen ankle i had by the time i reached relatives in alexandria, virginia, where i spent 3 days i think. i also spent a couple of days visiting relatives in north carolina. other than that, i basically rode from morning to night and didn't think 120 days were particulary difficult. on the other hand, i was riding alone, not particularly into sightseeing, and am the type that gets antsy with nothing to do. summer days are long. on the other -otherhand, i wasn't in any hurry either. i did take a day off when a hurricane came through in louisiana, and i spent 3 or 4 days in monterey, mexico. on regular rainy days i probably did 70 - 80 miles, spending a lot of time reading & drying out in restaurants over coffee. i recall another deluge kind of day in mexico somewhere, walking my bike through ankle-deep-in-water long sections of road and getting practially nowhere before i eventually gave up and retired to a cantina for the rest of the day.
i think that if you are careful about not over-doing it the first week or so, you shouldn't have any real problems averaging 100 miles per day and still have several hours of "relax" time everyday.
best of luck on your big adventure
Last edited by philso; 01-23-10 at 01:58 AM.
On the transam I did, which was fully supported, I rode a lightweight (16#) road bike. We averaged 85 miles/day and I felt extremely rushed. The riding was no problem-particularly after a few weeks, but I never felt like I was "touring", just jamming it to make the next hotel.
If I was to do a self supported tour there is no way I'd agree to a 100 mile/day average. No way.