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bobbotron 08-24-06 09:03 AM

Speed of touring
I'm just getting into touring, did my first tour last weekend. I was surprised at how slow I ended up traveling for most of it. I didn't have a spedometre, but I know my average speed was pretty slow. :) I'm sure part of this was due to the hilly terrain, my 700x35 tires + beefy wheelset and (most importantly) me getting tired. I know touring is a slow paced endeavour, but I was surprised. Is this pretty much to be expected?


acantor 08-24-06 09:27 AM

Your experience sounds typical to me. Touring can be very slow going; especially if you stop frequently to enjoy the scenery.

Over the years I have learned to pace myself during my first days out. I try to stop before I get overtired. On Day 1, I may reach my limit after only three or four hours. Often I COULD go on, but I try to force myself to stop for the day.

On tours longer than two or three days, you may find that your endurance improves as you go along. On my big tour last summer, I did 25 or 30 miles (40 - 50 km) on Day 1, but 60 or 70 miles (100 - 110 km) on Day 7.

Bekologist 08-24-06 10:12 AM

no matter how fast i ride on the computer, it ALWAYS averages out to about 10 miles an hour. maybe 11, sometimes 9 ish....

10 hours 100 miles, 8 hours about 80 miles etc. once the days' ride is done....

David in PA 08-24-06 10:24 AM

Originally Posted by Bekologist
no matter how fast i ride on the computer, it ALWAYS averages out to about 10 miles an hour. maybe 11, sometimes 9 ish.... 10 hours 100 miles, 8 hours about 80 miles etc. once the days' ride is done....

My experience has been exactly the same: roughly 10 mph average speed. My slowest speeds (other than steep uphills) occurred while riding into a fierce headwind (30 mph with much higher gusts). This happened in eastern CO, and it slowed me so much I decided to quit for the day. It actually pissed me off, but seems pretty funny now.

David in PA

hoogie 08-24-06 04:44 PM

don't worry too much about speed ... touring is about enjoying the ride and the destination ...
i usually have a cycle computer on my touring bikes, but this is just to measure distance so i have an idea of how far i have gone or how far i have to go ...

if you want a higher speed, buy a racing bike ...

stokell 08-24-06 05:23 PM

When planning distances I use the 12 km/hr benchmark. If someone asks how far I've travelled, I just remember how many hours I've been out and multiply by 12.

!!Comatoa$ted 08-24-06 05:30 PM

If you go on shorter tours that are less than a week you can try and plan it so everything you need it at the destination you set for yourself that day. Just bring money, plastic, and all the food and water that you need for a long ride during the day.

In my neck of the woods I can do this but it only works for short tours. I just get my clothing to a friend or relatives place before I start the tour. Then all I have to do is connect the dots on the map and presto, I have a cheap bike tour happening. Of course camping out is usually more fun than being in some place that you are familiar with. But it is also nice to ride 300 miles to see your favourite uncle and get to jam and drink beer.

Also since this seems to be your first loaded tour you may have carried more than you needed to. As you become more addicted to loaded touring you will probably become stronger and much more experienced and your speed may increase.

I saw a post earlier in this forum where the person travels super light but camps out as well, try your best to lighten your load, I am sure there is always something that can be left behind or mailed back home.

avatarworf 08-24-06 10:26 PM

We find about 15km/hour is what we tend to average. Hardly racing speed but it suits us just fine!

BigBlueToe 08-24-06 10:33 PM

I'm pretty worthless the first couple days.
I don't really pay attention to my average MPH, but I know that I'm always pretty worthless the first two or three days of a fully-loaded tour. The miles feel endless, my body feels worn out, etc. After about the third day I start to hit my stride. Before long, 70 mile days aren't bad at all. I've begun big tours in various degrees of being in shape. Before a four week tour down the coast, I had a hernia repair. I wasn't able to train until two weeks before my ride left. The first three days were awful. I had planned a short (10-15 mile) ride on the fourth day, then a rest, but after I got on the bike that fourth day, my aches and pains had left and I felt great! I rode 40 or 50 miles that day. Before another long tour I was able to train for months. I felt like I was in pretty good shape, although my training was without luggage. When the tour started, again, I was pretty wimpy. But this time it only lasted two days. On the third day I was feeling strong.

Now I try to make my first day really short - 25-30 miles, my second day not much longer, and don't really plan on covering much distance until the third day. I think it's good to be flexible. If you feel wimpy, don't push yourself. Take it easy until you feel like riding further. Eventually you will.

Shemp 08-25-06 02:31 AM

If you took my camera away, I'd go faster, but still, there's no point in worrying about speed, because then you're missing the whole point of touring anyway. It's about stopping to smell the roses and slowing down to enjoy what we miss in our fast-paced lives.

MichaelW 08-25-06 04:24 AM

I guage my touring speed at 10mph. It is pretty accurate for navigation.

Juha 08-25-06 06:29 AM

Depends on whether I have camping gear with me or not. If not, I average about 22-23 kmh, excluding all breaks. With full load I average something like 18-20 kmh, again excluding breaks. In the mornings I'm slow as molasses, but somehow I always end up with those averages at the end of the day.

Covering 80 kms may take me anywhere between 4,5-7 hours of "real time", breaks included. I like to stop often.


Mooo 08-25-06 06:24 PM

I've been toying with writing an essay that starts with:

"Speed is an elusion, bicycle speed doubly so" but I can't figure out how to work the proper Douglas Adams angle into it.

Actually, rip the little tattler off your handlebars and just enjoy the ride. Yes, I know, it makes navigating harder, but it sure is sporting!

sherpa93 08-25-06 10:33 PM

All depends. On how many dogs try to attack you. Potholes and ripped up pavement. If you see the pretty maiden in the leafy glade... HeHe If she smiles at you.. After a while speed is really a non sequiter. In the end you see more on a bike in 5 miles than you see in the automobile in 100.
It damn slow at times. You never know whats around the corner.
Its all good I tell ya.

Lolly Pop 08-26-06 04:18 AM

I did my first loaded tour a few weekends ago and I was wiped. I went about 35 miles (maybe more -- my computer was malfunctioning and packed up the next day) in 5 hours over hilly terrain. Returned the next day on a more direct route of about 30 miles in 4 hours. This included descending the very long climb that started my ride the previous day. I felt I was going really slow for much of it. I stopped to eat blackberries from the side of the road though, and took pics when I found a particularly nice vista, trying to make the most of my slow pace!

I was surprised how shattered I felt when I arrived in camp. I wasn't as sore after the return journey however. I don't think I would have doubled my distance that day over the previous day, however!

What I found was worst was how sore/numb my bum was! My muscles could have gone further but my bum protested. This has led to my decision to try a Brooks saddle.

bobbotron 08-28-06 08:19 AM

Thanks for all of the replies! :)

I thought I was pulling the right speed during my tour, however sometimes it's nice to get reassurance from those with more experience.

Sebach 08-28-06 08:55 AM

I think the right speed is whatever feels right. On my just finished cross-Canada tour, I had daily totals ranging between 260km and 30km per day. If you take a pace you feel like you should be doing instead of one you think you should be doing, you'll be happier. It took me couple of weeks to figure that out. Then again, sometimes it just feels good to hammer your little heart out on a nice stretch of road.

cyclintom 08-28-06 09:18 AM

Well, I've never been on a long unsupported tour but all of my up to a week tours have me riding at 15-18 mph and averaging about 12 MPH or so.

banthevan 08-28-06 06:42 PM

Same here... 10-11 mph average on my first tour, fully-loaded (Pacific Coast).

gavin_japan 08-28-06 08:08 PM

going slower than I thought
I just finished my first 600 mile tour. I was averaging about 13mph on a road bike with 28mm tires and a 25 lb load. This is much slower than my 21 mph average trainging pace. The trip was fun. What I lost in speed I was able to make up in hours on the bike. I had a 117 mile day.

FlowerBlossom 08-28-06 09:27 PM

If I was to go faster than 10 mph, I would wonder what I had missed.

Count your experiences, not your (k)mph.

Sigurdd50 08-29-06 12:05 PM

on a supported tour that I do each summer, I got up at about 4:15AM to take a leak... (the camp is around high schools thru the state of Wisconsin). Bleary eyed, I glance over and see two fully clad riders in the dark, breaking camp, getting ready to ride...

I mean, what's the point? 'To be the first riders into the next 2 horse town? To beat the support vehicles to the next overnight so you can lean against a brick wall with nothing to do?

Touring is all about moving at a more human speed. Killing time. One of my favorite tasks is picking out great secluded roadside spots to 'see a man about a dog.' (an anti-urban experience). Century rides are okay, but I think 80 MIles is about max... 65-70 is good... leaves plenty of time to putz about and get into camp before 5PM or so.

cyclintom 08-29-06 03:30 PM

Well, I agree with Sigurd, but even in California you have to have some idea of how long it's going to take you to get from A to B. And you sometimes have to ride a long distance in order to find a decent place to stay.

I prefer to keep a ride to 60 miles or less on tour but that's not possible sometimes and you need to be flexible and you also need to be able to ride fast enough so that you can relax in the next town without having to set up, eat and hit the hay in order to recover enough for the next day. I don't like to ride past noon on a tour because traffic gets worse and the day starts heating up.

And I'd much rather be sitting in a soda fountain listening to the gossip in some jerkwater berg than riding into a headwind any day.

qqy 09-02-06 09:37 AM

I found 20km/h was my sweetspot and average speed. I tried to go faster, but found my quads ached like hell that night. I'm young, though and mostly stick to flats.

Brian Sorrell 09-06-06 10:40 AM

We just finished our first loaded tour along the Santa Ana River Trail in Southern California. The trip was 30 miles. The way out took us 3.5 hours with about a half hour worth of stopping -- so 10mph. The trip back took 4 hours with about 1.25 hours of stopping -- so quicker paced but we soaked in more of the scenery. We all agreed that the pace was good and, though tired after it all, we had enough steam and endorphines to go out to dinner and walk along the beach :)

I'd say to keep the spedometer if you're intrigued by distances like I am, but dump it if you find yourself racing the clock. 10 mph is plenty!

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