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Zero Days

Old 02-05-24, 12:05 PM
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Zero Days

Do you build-in zero (rest) days prior to starting your tour or do you do in on the fly (e.g., weather changes, your physical/mental condition, etc)? If you build in the zero days prior to starting the trip how often do you space them out (e.,g every 7 days, 8 days, 10 days, etc)?
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Old 02-05-24, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by jkinner
Do you build-in zero (rest) days prior to starting your tour or do you do in on the fly (e.g., weather changes, your physical/mental condition, etc)? If you build in the zero days prior to starting the trip how often do you space them out (e.,g every 7 days, 8 days, 10 days, etc)?
This varies with the duration of the trip, e.g. what you do in a five-day trip vs multiple months.

I don't plan out rest days much in advance and instead do them on the fly. The reason is the most common reason I might take a rest day is weather or mechanical issues and those can change. Instead, I approach my trip more in a sense of having a "time budget". At the start of the trip, I'll know I have Y days with an estimate of X miles. The X/Y is less than I normally cycle so I know I have a margin for some extra rest days here and there.

To give a an example
- Last August there was a "heat dome" that came across the middle of the US when I was cycling Nebraska with temperatures considerably above normal. It wasn't too bad when I started at sunrise but I preferred to get inside not much after noon and hottest times of the day. So rather than a rest day, I made shorter days and took six days to cover what I probably would have done in four days otherwise.
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Old 02-05-24, 12:51 PM
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If I have not had a day off for a week, I might take a day off if I am at a campground that has something interesting to do.

A forecast for heavy headwind, I have taken a day off for that several times. I had no intention of pushing into 30 to 50 km/hour headwinds this day, gusts at 50 to 70 km/hour.



Photo below, I really thought from the forecast that I could ride on one windy day and I literally could not pedal up a hill an hour after I started that day. Killer headwind with big side gusts that tried to blow me off the road. I had passed a campground at the base of that hill, half way up the hill I turned around and went back to the campground. The water stream out of the faucet is deflected from the wind that day at a sink at that campground.




If I see heavy rain in the forecast, I will sit out a day if I have a good place to sit it out. But if it is just a drizzle where total rain for the day is minimal, I just ride in that sort of thing. One time I saw five consecutive days of rain in the forecast. I re-routed to a hostel and stayed there for three nights, that gave me a chance to ride in for rain two days, then sleep indoors and sight see for two days, and then ride in one day of rain as I left the city. That was much preferable to getting soaked and staying soaked for many days.

Photo below, I just rode this day, there was no good excuse to not do that. The rain was intermittent and light. It had rained several days so we were already soaked.



But it depends on the opportunity, sitting in a tent in the middle of nowhere is not fun, I would rather ride in the rain.

If I see something that looks really neat to see for sightseeing, I will schedule a day for it. But otherwise I do not schedule off days in advance. I keep them in the bank as a contingency.
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Old 02-05-24, 12:58 PM
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I am not inclined to take zero days with a few exceptions. My usual preference is to ride every day, but do take an easy day here and there. I call them half days. I have found myself somewhere that I wanted to take a day to enjoy a particular spot or to do something in particular. For example, of the Trans America the closest we came to a day off was a day spent whitewater rafting where we still rode 8 miles to a new camp. We did have a few 30 mile easy days. Even then I may ride a little way down the road. I think I have only taken one typical "rest day" and that was more because I liked the spot and wanted to explore. I also took a week to hike and explore in the Yosemite Valley area when there. Oh, and I have had a two consecutive days where I was too sick to get out of bed before continuing and a on off road trip that ended with a couple days in a motel trying to recover from HAPE.
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Old 02-05-24, 01:20 PM
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I've led several ACA TransAm tours westbound. We'd take our first layover on day 5 at Charlottesville VA. Folks are still getting in shape and that town has bike shops for last minute adustments. After that it varied anywhere from 4-9 days between rest stops.

We rode only 4 days from Pueblo > Breckenridge CO because both towns were destinations where we wanted to stop. We rode 9 straight days from Berea KY > Carbondale IL as there weren't any special attractions on that stretch. We also rode 9 days from Baker City > Florence OR to finish the tour on schedule. We arrived 1 day early to assure that nobody would miss a flight.

Usually we rode 5-8 days between rest stops.
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Old 02-05-24, 01:51 PM
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Depends on the context. If I have a hard schedule (ex: return flight), I'll consider alternatives to make up for lost days (ex: terrible weather, accident etc.) One alternative is a zero-days bank. Alternatives include public transit.

​​​​​​One logistical issue with floating zero-days is that they are incompatible with reservations. Reservations imply scheduled zero-days, a lousy strategy against unforeseen delays.

As a matter of fact, I've always had hard endings (return flight or meeting with family at some point). I plan 100kms/day + 1 zero day a week. Usually translates into no zero but shorter riding days.
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Old 02-05-24, 01:53 PM
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When I did the GAP/C&O a lot of other riders asked me when I was going to get to DC. They were pretty much all shocked when I didn't have a scheduled end date. One of the things that eats into my enjoyment of a tour, I find, is a schedule. Thus I don't plan for zero days, but I am mentally and emotionally prepared for zero days if they occur. The same goes for extra days, or days of detours to points of interest I had not planned on.
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Old 02-05-24, 02:15 PM
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I've ridden up to a month between zero days. In the long distance hiking world, there's a "near-o day." When you need town services, camp in woods, enter town for a late breakfast, run all your errands, tour the local museum, have a late lunch, then leave town and camp in the woods, and maybe even enjoy the short day of cycling. Master that technique and you'll never need a day off. (Except for more complicated logistics, injury or illness, severe weather, visiting friends and family, etc.)

Sitting all day in nice weather in a motel room watching TV just to satisfy a schedule you made at home makes no sense to me!
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Old 02-05-24, 03:11 PM
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I maybe should add that on long tours (multi week or multi month) I have always managed to have a flexible end date. This helps avoid the need to have a rigid schedule and avoid needing to schedule days. Getting air travel up front by riding toward home may help if you live near one end of your tour.

In general if the purpose of a zero day is recovery, I find that a litlle mileage is better than none to accomplish that. I generally ride every day at home these days so it is even more natural to do the same on tour than it was back in the days when I couldn't ride every day at home, but I always tried to do that on tour.

Planning days off to do interesting or fun stuff is another matter. I probably should do more of that. I can't say I regret spending days sitting in camp or worse yet a motel room.
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Old 02-05-24, 04:10 PM
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7-9 days, no.

Two weeks, yes. I will plan what I call a no-move day somewhere of interest. That day usually includes at least some time on the bike riding from and back to camp.

Crossing the country decades ago, we usually took every 7th day off, but sometimes it was fewer days between rest days. As Bob mentions, they were usually in places of interest or at least with stuff to do. (Remember going to the zoo and seeing the Southpark movie in Fargo.) I can only remember one day off that was boring. That was in Glasgow, MT. The only thing to see was too far of a ride from town. I think we took a rest day there because we had done at least 8 days without a break, including Logan Pass, the ride to Watertown, and Magrath to Cut Bank, MT. Those were hard days.

One really memorable day off was at Lake Itasca SP. Several of us took a boat tour on the lake and saw a family of loons. And, of course, we walked across the Mississippi River.

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Old 02-05-24, 05:21 PM
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I have had two tours with flights at the end. On both of those, when I was a week from finishing, I tried to schedule out that final week so that I was not so far ahead that I would get bored, but had enough time to take an extra day of sightseeing at the final destination. That sightseeing day was my contingency day that I could afford to lose.

Amtrak, I am inclined to buy the ticket home several days before I need it, but not before that because Amtrak was usually easy to schedule. I had plans for two days of sightseeing in San Francisco when I finished my Pacific Coast trip with a friend. But Amtrak had much cheaper tickets if we waited one day, so instead we did sightseeing for a third day, the Amtrak savings paid for our lodging and food for that day. My Amtrak experience is pre-covid, I do not know if they are still that flexible for ticketing, they might not be.
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Old 02-06-24, 04:36 AM
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I always have zero days.
For multiple reasons.

I love bicycle touring, but if I simply ride and ride and ride -
then I don't think it's all that different than driving nonstop from L.A. to NYC.

I almost always hike the backcountry in national parks -
from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite to Glacier to Denali.
I've crossed the Grand Canyon six times - you can shuttle your bike around.
I've hiked up from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows - the concessionaire took my bike.

I also stop for church and don't want to be too stinky, so I clean up a bit.
I play piano/organ and have played in small churches across the country.
Not only is it a great way to meet people, but there is often good food afterwards - and lots of it.
And there's some story about resting on the seventh day - - I think.

I'm a big believer in sitting out awful weather. Why make yourself miserable?
I'm not talking about a little rain or a headwind or a hot day.
I'm talking about pouring rain, 35 mph winds, or a 100+ heat wave.
Plus, there's a higher risk of an accident in bad conditions.
Not only are you bonking, but drivers may be, as well.

Most importantly, building in off days lets you enjoy the other days.
There are always things that come up unexpectedly.
Weather, breakdowns, food/water that doesn't agree.
If there's no built-in leeway, then you are playing catch-up.

YMMV - Jama




Pic - Heading down to Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab Trail
If you start down in the late afternoon, camp at Cottonwood,
then continue just after dawn, reaching Box Canyon as the sun comes up,
you can do the entire hike in the shade.
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Old 02-06-24, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jamawani

Pic - Heading down to Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab Trail
If you start down in the late afternoon, camp at Cottonwood,
then continue just after dawn, reaching Box Canyon as the sun comes up,
you can do the entire hike in the shade.
How does this work? You walk your bike? Ride? Carry it?
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Old 02-06-24, 06:44 AM
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As I said above, there is a shuttle service.
You call to make arrangements, meet the shuttle with your bike and gear.
Then it is stored on the South Rim until you get there.
A gratuity for the person retrieving your stuff is in order.
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Old 02-06-24, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
How does this work? You walk your bike? Ride? Carry it?
Drifting away on a side note, there's a new way of hiking the Canyon--pack your bike through it for 25 miles on an Arizona Trail (AZT) bikepacking trip. It's either that or about 200 miles of road. Riding the AZT is starting to get popular.
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Old 02-06-24, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
How does this work? You walk your bike? Ride? Carry it?
I do not know if it is legal to walk your bike, but you would not want to try I can assure you. You can't ride a bike on Grand Canyon trails down in the canyon.



I was on the south side, not the north side.
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Old 02-06-24, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I do not know if it is legal to walk your bike
I don't think you can, which is why I asked - I could have been mistaken, it could have been allowed on special days, etc.

A few years ago we were camping at the South Rim hike and bike and came across a guy who was packing his bike so he could carry it - and all his luggage - on his back. I believe he mentioned Instagram...
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Old 02-06-24, 08:07 AM
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Simply having a bicycle anywhere in the inner canyon is illegal.
Backpacking a bicycle makes a hiker ridiculously top-heavy
and a danger to themselves and to others on narrow trails with sheer drop-offs.
A friend who is an inner canyon ranger deals with multiple deaths and near deaths every year.
100% of them are avoidable.

Please, don't even think of packing your bike across.
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Old 02-06-24, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
I don't think you can, which is why I asked - I could have been mistaken, it could have been allowed on special days, etc.

A few years ago we were camping at the South Rim hike and bike and came across a guy who was packing his bike so he could carry it - and all his luggage - on his back. I believe he mentioned Instagram...
After I posted that, I saw that someone before me posted something on the Arizona Trail, and suddenly I wondered if I was incorrect. Then I checked this link:
https://bikepacking.com/routes/bikep...ona-trail-azt/

That states:
  • The Grand Canyon is one of the great wonders of the earth. No experience quite compares to riding your bike to one rim of the canyon, dissassembling it, crossing on foot, then riding away from the other side. A true ‘bikepack’ in every sense of the word.
So, I think it still is illegal to ride it. But when I hiked that trail, there was no way I would have wanted to walk a bike on it. This is the profile from my GPS. The odd blip in the data part way through was from stopping overnight at a campground and the GPS took a while to get the elevation right upon startup the next morning.



Isle Royale National Park has a firm prohibition on wheeled vehicles too. But, I did see one exception when I was there, a touring bike with panniers but I did not see the rider. I asked a park ranger what the story on the bike was, he said that the biker rode the ferry from Michigan to the Park, and the next day they were taking a different ferry to Minnesota. Thus, the park was just a stop over between two ferries. I suspect that the biker was allowed to roll his bike 100 yards from the boat dock to the campground.
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Old 02-06-24, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by jkinner
Do you build-in zero (rest) days prior to starting your tour or do you do in on the fly (e.g., weather changes, your physical/mental condition, etc)? If you build in the zero days prior to starting the trip how often do you space them out (e.,g every 7 days, 8 days, 10 days, etc)?
have you ever toured before, and if so, what are your feelings on this?

I'll break rank here and say that I like taking a rest day about every week. As you can see, it's pretty personal as some folks don't need them, but I would wager that for most people, having a break every week is a nice thing.
Heck, if you feel like a rest day every 4 or 5 or 15 days, thats fine too. Really it comes down to finding the rhythm that works best for you and your traveling partner if sharing the experience of a trip.

I use my rest days to go over my bike from bow to stern, I check all the bolts for tightness, I give the drivetrain a good clean with a rag, lube the chain as needed, remove the wheels at some point and check the hub bearings that they are turning well with no looseness, all that sort of thing.
When daily riding, if needed, I lightly wipe the chain down each day so there isn't too much overflow lube on the outside (which just gets dirt stuck in it) and after riding in rain, I wipe and lube as needed--- I find its better to do this sort of thing regularly as it is much less work than letting stuff gunk up.
A daily wipe of chain is so fast, it's totally worth it. Can take just a minute.

Plan rest days in advance? Nope, to me that goes against listening to your body and also in my opinion, a bit bonkers to plan every detail of each day out in advance--but some people like that, I don't.
Sometimes you want to get to a given place that might be more interesting for a rest day, or as noted, weather comes into play, or whatever, so being flexible is my view BUT when planning a trip, you always want to have some leeway in the number of days for rest days or unplanned stuff.
This is pretty obvious if a return flight is set, so its always better to have the appropriate number of non riding days in your adding up of a trip length-- pretty basic trip planning routine.
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Old 02-06-24, 10:32 AM
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I do rest days at sightseeing destinations. I never take days off just for the sake of resting. Once you're in good shape, you don't need to rest. You can ride day after day forever and feel nothing. Beginning of the tour it's good to take it easier.
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Old 02-06-24, 12:04 PM
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Sink Into the Earth

https://youtu.be/4HOk0MmgFwE

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Old 02-06-24, 12:09 PM
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and this guy



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Old 02-07-24, 07:10 AM
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depends on the tour.

if i'm in a national park zone, i'll ride every day, then stop at a national park for 2-3 days of hiking. that counts as a break from cycling. otherwise would plan riding every day city to city, with a 2-3 day stopover in a hotel/guesthouse and spend the days wandering thru the city.

if i'm on an extended tour thru isolated areas, i'll pick up some extra food, find a pleasant campsite, and spend a day reading.
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Old 02-07-24, 07:31 AM
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For our upcoming tour we have our rest days planned ahead as we have all our accomodations planned ahead as well.

This time we're going from hotel to hotel as our youngest spawn is still under 1yr old during the tour. While it's technically possible to sleep in a tent with an infant, it's not much of a vacation if it doesn't work out great. So this time we're taking the hotel route.

When we were touring without kids we'd decide on the go without having a strict schedule. Sometimes rest days were just lying down for the day or going sightseeing on foot depending on where we were, how tired we were and what we wanted to do.
But mainly we'd decide on rest day based on what our laundry needs were. If we were running out of clean clothes we'd start scout out places to stay which would have a washing machine handy either as part of the services or a nearby laundromat.

Hand washing is cool and all, but machines are just so easy and fast.
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