Author Topic: What's an 'average' day?  (Read 11258 times)

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Offline jbennett

What's an 'average' day?
« on: June 29, 2015, 02:46:42 pm »
I know this is completely arbitrary based upon highly personal factors as well as equipment.  I realize that time spent sight seeing and terrain can have a major impact as well, not to mention weather.

I'm just trying to gauge what would be a good mileage to expect when trying to plan out a route.

I am very fit on a bicycle as I race, a lot.  Spending time on a bike and having the physical fitness aren't a concern.  What is a concern is the weight of the bike and equipment and understanding what a reasonable daily average might be. I ride roughly 15-20 hours a week as it is currently, but much of that is specific training for racing.  I'll cover anywhere from 250-400 miles in a week on my race steed.  I'm looking to enjoy the ride but not take forever to get to my destination.  I'm hoping to take in the sights and sounds and get back to what drew me to bicycles in the first place.

I'm looking to ride roughly 1800 miles along I-40 up to North Western Nevada around the first half August of next year.  I'll be starting the trip from Dallas.  I mention this information in order to help with estimates. First part of the trip will be extremely flat (but no doubt windy), middle will have some elevation change, end will be relatively flat once again.  Yes, this will be during what is normally a very hot time of the year.  I am conditioned as I train and race in the heat.  I will plan my days around early start times to help accommodate for the temperatures in certain parts of the route.

I'd appreciate any and all info and insight!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2015, 04:28:48 pm »
Before I started touring, I saw a bunch of posts saying that the average touring speed was about 10 mph and the average daily ride was 40-60 miles.  I figured I was in much better shape than that, I could average 15 mph without much effort and finish 75 miles a day easily.

Then I started my first tour.  I fought it for a couple weeks, then relaxed as I averaged 10-11 mph, and rode 30-50 miles a day (in the Appalachians).  After a while I made it up to 60-70 miles a day.  My body could tolerate that kind of miles if it wsn't too hilly.  My overall average was a bit over 50 miles a day.  In subsequent tours, I'm comfortable with that kind of mileage.

You'll get guesses all over the place, from 30-40 to 80-100 miles a day.  YMMV.  If you're young, or if you're going to ride very light, you may be able to hit (or exceed!) my pre-tour goals.  It might be a good idea to plan a few weekends, or even a week-long tour, to see how you fare.

Offline jbennett

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2015, 05:42:17 pm »
Yes, I'm already planning a few trips between now and then.  Short 5-6 day trips.

Your input is valuable as I was hoping to average around 110 miles a day.  An average 100 mile ride for me takes between 5 and 6 hours, course depending. However, I understand that there's a lot to take into account so I wanted to do my research well in advance.

I was planning to be on the bike for around 8-10 hours a day, give or take.

Offline Tim Cullip

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2015, 07:18:25 pm »
It is very hard to give an estimate since there are so many variables, but the best advice I can give you is to plan out a 5 to 7 day practice tour with an average daily distance near your goal (so I'd say 80 to 110 miles a day) and see how it goes.

I've done several 7 to 10 day rides in NC, Virginia, Tennessee with a mixture of mountains, hills, and fairly flat terrain with about 40 pounds of gear. I've found that 60 miles a day is good in the mountains, 70 - 80 in hills, and 90 in flat terrain is doable for me (I've put in 5000 miles/year for the past 2.5 years). Over 70 miles a day in the mountains tends to take the fun out of it for me. I've had a few days that came real close to 100 miles and haven't really enjoyed a single one of those (anything over 90 and I end up asking myself "why am I doing this").

If you get more satisfaction out of reaching a goal, then I'd think your mileage goal is doable. But you think enjoying the journey and the sights is more important, then you might want to back down to something closer to 70-80 miles a day.

Also, if you are planning a multi-week tour you should probably plan for a down day once every week to 10 days.


Hope your plans work out
My motto for life: "It's all a part of the adventure"
Tim Cullip


Offline John Nelson

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2015, 06:47:11 am »
I find my average mileage also depends on available daylight. I average more miles a day on a tour in June than I do on a tour in September.

I like to plan on 60 miles a day. I have, however, averaged 75 miles a day on a two-month tour, with no rest days. But that was when the daylight is long. When the daylight is long, I can ride as late as 10 PM. In fact, I like riding between 6 PM and 9 PM when the light is very pleasant and the temperatures have come down. I sometimes stop for dinner and then ride a few more hours before quitting for the day.

My typical day is usually 5 miles longer than the map says. That's because of off-route mileage to access services.

I typically go the same daily distance in hilly terrain as in flat terrain. I'm not sure why.

Plan in a few extra days. That way if you're not feeling strong one day, you can cut the mileage short. There's not much worse than grinding out miles when your heart isn't in it. OTOH, if you have a strong day, you can ride until the cows come home.

Don't go long miles each day unless your time is short or you're driven by the challenge.

Offline staehpj1

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2015, 07:20:41 am »
Most of the folks that I know who planned longer daily mileages typically found that they averaged a bit less than they expected.

What is average may not really be meaningful to you, but I think that in the range of touring riders most fall in the 50-70 mile per day range.  A fair number are 10 miles per day on either side of that range, and just a few are farther outside that range in either direction.  Folks averaging 100 miles per day are fairly rare.

That said the terrain you picked sounds like it is pretty good for knocking out longer mileage.

One other thing...  I highly recommend open ended schedules.  Allow more time than you need and finish when you finish whether that is early or late.  Set schedules can be joy killers.  BTW, the same applies to budgets.  It keeps things stress free to have more time and money than you need.  It doesn't mean you have to use more of either, but having options is nice.

Offline neil

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2015, 05:06:44 pm »
It's really a question of why are you on the bike?
If it's to simply stay on the bike all day, enjoy the scenery but ultimately do little else then 75-80 miles a day
If however you want to meet the locals, enjoy a cafe and see what you are passing through then 45-50 miles a day.
I've led tours with both types of cyclists and I am definately in the 45-50 mile a day catagory.

The Lands End John O'Groats in the UK is a classic example.
It's a 1000 miles trip. For some a 3 week meandre is ideal. However for most it's a 10 day sprint and I personally think they are missing the point as if you talk to them they have nothing to say about the trip aside fatigue, but look on it more as an achievement.
    Neil

Offline jbennett

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2015, 11:17:06 am »
It's really a question of why are you on the bike?
If it's to simply stay on the bike all day, enjoy the scenery but ultimately do little else then 75-80 miles a day
If however you want to meet the locals, enjoy a cafe and see what you are passing through then 45-50 miles a day.
I've led tours with both types of cyclists and I am definately in the 45-50 mile a day catagory.

The Lands End John O'Groats in the UK is a classic example.
It's a 1000 miles trip. For some a 3 week meandre is ideal. However for most it's a 10 day sprint and I personally think they are missing the point as if you talk to them they have nothing to say about the trip aside fatigue, but look on it more as an achievement.
    Neil

I am not one to spend my days chatting away with strangers.  I do enjoy a good convo, but this trip is more about me and my need to go solo and get out on my own and explore.  I spend too much time around others currently, which is why this trip came up in the first place.  :)  It's going to be an opportunity for me to strike out on my own, not have to be on anyone else's schedule but my own, and spend some time reflecting.  I realize this is a bit different from what most others strive for (apparently) and this all may change after a few solo days on the road.

While it would be an achievement, it's more about the journey for me.  I enjoy long days in the saddle and get a sense of accomplishment out of it.  This trip would be about sight seeing and taking in the scenery, not so much about meeting people along the way.  I have that in my daily life as it is, thankfully!!

Offline John Nelson

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2015, 01:19:30 pm »
This trip would be about sight seeing and taking in the scenery, not so much about meeting people along the way.  I have that in my daily life as it is, thankfully!!
Fair enough, but I predict that you will find that the people you meet "out there" are way different than the people you meet in daily life.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2015, 02:05:42 pm »
Long days the saddle can be great in theory until you hit days of rain and cold and wind and rough roads, etc. Also, you will see the same scenery between points A and B whether you spend 3 days going from A to B or 5 days. Some would say you will see more if you take 5 days. Since you will only have to answer to your own schedule I wouldn't worry about an average day. My second and third tours were nearly two month solo trips. Only one of the two had a firm deadline, but it was far enough off that I didn't have to worry about it much. I had daily plans for both trips, but they changed drastically depending on external and internal conditions. For example, while touring in Andalucía I planned to spend two nights in Cordoba but spent four because it was dry and warm and convenient, unlike many of the places I had just come from.

I just got back from touring the Black Hills. Winding up not doing as many miles as I had planned, in part because, on the advice of a Nebraskan I trusted, I decided to scrub the planned Nebraska portion of the trip. While I did fewer miles than expected, the flip side was that I had plenty of time to visit the mammoth site in Hot Springs and wasn't so worn out or rushed to take a cave tour at Wind Cave National Park.

Offline RonK

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2015, 11:09:12 pm »

I am not one to spend my days chatting away with strangers.  I do enjoy a good convo, but this trip is more about me and my need to go solo and get out on my own and explore.  I spend too much time around others currently, which is why this trip came up in the first place.  :)  It's going to be an opportunity for me to strike out on my own, not have to be on anyone else's schedule but my own, and spend some time reflecting.  I realize this is a bit different from what most others strive for (apparently) and this all may change after a few solo days on the road.
I too enjoy the freedom and solitude of solo touring. However my experience has been that I tend to interact more with the people I meet along the way than if I was in company.
To me it makes sense to plan shorter days in the first week while I find my touring legs and settle into the gentler rhythm of touring. Then take an extra day off when I want, ride a double day when I want, take a side trip - whatever.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline staehpj1

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2015, 07:06:24 am »
There has been some mention of mileage vs smelling the roses.  My experience is that it isn't an either or choice.  Some folks manage to chat up the locals, see the sites, and even do some side hikes while doing long miles.  Some do short miles, still miss a lot of the sights, don't talk to the locals, and hole up in their campsite or a motel room for most of their down time.

How well you see the sights and meet the folks has more to do with your openness to it than the mileage you ride unless you are racing RAAM or something.  I know that even on my longest day (142 miles including a mountain pass) I managed to take a lot of pictures, meet interesting local folks, observe the wildlife, enjoy the scenery, and even sit and relax a bit.

There are a lot of hours in the day and I find it more important how you use the time both on and off the bike than how much time you have.  I guess what I am saying is that being open to the experiences is more important than allowing extra time for them.

Offline Bike Hermit

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2015, 06:17:46 pm »
It's really a question of why are you on the bike?
If it's to simply stay on the bike all day, enjoy the scenery but ultimately do little else then 75-80 miles a day
If however you want to meet the locals, enjoy a cafe and see what you are passing through then 45-50 miles a day.
I've led tours with both types of cyclists and I am definately in the 45-50 mile a day catagory.

The Lands End John O'Groats in the UK is a classic example.
It's a 1000 miles trip. For some a 3 week meandre is ideal. However for most it's a 10 day sprint and I personally think they are missing the point as if you talk to them they have nothing to say about the trip aside fatigue, but look on it more as an achievement.
    Neil

I am not one to spend my days chatting away with strangers.  I do enjoy a good convo, but this trip is more about me and my need to go solo and get out on my own and explore.  I spend too much time around others currently, which is why this trip came up in the first place.  :)  It's going to be an opportunity for me to strike out on my own, not have to be on anyone else's schedule but my own, and spend some time reflecting.  I realize this is a bit different from what most others strive for (apparently) and this all may change after a few solo days on the road.

While it would be an achievement, it's more about the journey for me.  I enjoy long days in the saddle and get a sense of accomplishment out of it.  This trip would be about sight seeing and taking in the scenery, not so much about meeting people along the way.  I have that in my daily life as it is, thankfully!!
I'm with you on this. No better way to clear out the cobwebs than to get on the bike and go, without having to meet the schedule or demands of anybody else. Actually, that's what I enjoy most about bike touring. I do agree with the advice to plan a little more time than you think you need in case you have problems or if you just want to hang out in a nice spot.
Bike Touring News
"Empowering The Bicycle Traveler"

Offline LouMelini

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2015, 10:50:13 pm »
You have been given a lot of very good advice. The only advice I can add is that your mileage may be determined by where you are spending the night, wild camping, motels, campgrounds, warmshowers, etc may influence your mileage.

Offline zzzz

Re: What's an 'average' day?
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2015, 11:12:05 am »
Hi:

From your original post / question I'm guessing that 1800 miles could be done in 3 weeks, give or take a day.

I'm similar in cycling background to you (though probably older at 56 y.o.). Started taking the month of September off and taking a long solo ride / tour four years ago. I typically do between 600-700 miles a week though I've had days when the wind was up that I maxed out at 50-60 miles. That said, I'm pretty well beat at the end of every day in a way many people would equate with the trip being a grind rather than a pleasure. We all do this for our own reasons and my reasons have a large component of the trip being a physical challenge.

I don't see anywhere on your post how much weight you're carrying and weather you are camping. I primarily "credit-card" tour and sleep in hotels and eat in restaurants and ride a Ti road bike so my entire rolling weight (except water) is around 35lbs. Thats not a big shock to the system the way going from a racing bike to a touring bike w 30 lbs of gear would be. There's a excellent article on packing light over at Crazy guy on a Bike by Pete Staehling (sp?) who answered your post a couple of spots ago, I suggest you read it.

Also if your camping/ cooking you have a smaller daylight window to ride in although that's somewhat offset by the fact you can camp at many more places than you can find a hotel.

One thing that I had to get used to mentally was that if you got a big wind in your face, there's a real good chance you will be dealing with it ALL day (& maybe for several days on end). Previously to taking up the touring rides I would ride a loop or an out and back ride where the wind would only be against you for one part of the ride.

Lastly, I'm not much of a social sort either and a big part of these trips for me is the hours on end of a clear head but as others have noted, some of the people you meet the way really adds to the trip. And it's all completely effortless. It may just be someone in the booth next door in the diner, the guy who runs the rural hardware store where you're trying to cobble together a fix for your stuff, or someone at the top of a pass where you've stopped to change out of your sweat soaked jersey for the big descent, these little 10 minute conversations end up being some of the trips highlights for me.

Pete
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 11:14:17 am by zzzz »