Author Topic: Miles per day in different parts of the country  (Read 383 times)

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Offline dhurwitz

Miles per day in different parts of the country
« on: November 23, 2018, 10:17:16 am »
Hi,

I am riding across the country this spring, going eastbound.  Based on previous tours and my normal riding, I am planning on averaging 75 miles per day. However, I realize that there is a huge difference between PA and New England compared to the Rockies compared to the Great Plains.

For me, the 75 miles/day number works well in New England and PA, which are not flat.  I am planning only on 50 miles per day in the Rockies.  I have heard that between the topography and the tailwinds, you can do big miles in the mid-west.  What is a realistic number or range of numbers to expect?

Thanks.
Dan

Offline John Nettles

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2018, 10:34:18 am »
Actually, I find the Rockies easier than New England, Allegheny, Ozarks, Carolinas, etc. simple due to the easier grades.  Yes, the climbs in the Rockies may last for 20 miles but they usually average less than 5% versus 10% in the other areas.
While you may be different of course, I would say that what you can accomplish in the New England area you can pretty much guarantee at least 90% of the same miles in Rockies, all things being equal.  The bigger issue may be the services are typically much further apart than in the eastern part of the country so even if you could do 75 miles, you may have choice in the west between say 60 miles and 100 mile day.
Hope this helps, John


Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2018, 11:10:53 am »
I do similar miles in different conditions. It just takes me different amounts of time.

Offline zzzz

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2018, 09:04:27 pm »
I live in eastern pa at the edge of the Appalachians and the riding here is MUCH harder then almost anything you see out west. There’s a ride I take around here that’s got 10,000’ of climbing over 90 miles. I have done many 100 mile + days out in the mountain west and I don’t think I’ve ever logged more then 6000’ of elevation gain on any of those days.

You may be thinking that because a pass is 11,500’ that means you’ll be climbing 8-9,000’. The way it works is that if the pass is at 11,500 you probably start the climb at 8000’and as John noted, they are not steep. Also, the really big climbs do not come at you back to back. It’s extremely unusual to have a 2nd big climb even on a long day.

I actually really enjoy the big passes. I do my best in the days before a big pass to time things so I hit the climb either first thing or no later then mid day. You find a rythem in the first mile or two and then you stop thinking about going uphill and let your eyes wonder, sometimes down hill to see how much you gained, sometimes uphill to try to guess which set of folds in the mountain represent where the pass goes. And, it’s always nice and cool up there and of course you’re in for the monster downhill after you cross the pass.

Unless you’re re very sensitive to the thin air you are likely to find the days out west much easier then Pa and NE.

A day on the plains when the wind is up and against you, now that is misery.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2018, 09:07:10 pm »
"A day on the plains when the wind is up and against you, now that is misery." ----

Agreed.  Wind is a far greater factor in limiting mileage than elevation gain is.  Like World Traveler, I kind of enjoy the challenge of a big hill.  I've seldom enjoyed riding into a strong headwind.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2018, 09:09:41 pm by hikerjer »

Offline dhurwitz

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2018, 09:39:49 pm »
I certainly agree about headwinds. I much prefer hills.  That said, I am told the prevailing winds across the mid-west are tailwinds for me on this trip.  If I am averaging 50 to 75 miles a day in the mountains in 8 to 10 hours (including meals and breaks), how many miles per day can I expect in the mid-west?

Offline zzzz

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2018, 10:06:19 pm »
Hi Dan:

I’m a little curious about where your coming from here. You’ve toured before and averaged 75 miles a day over some pretty tough topography so you have above average ability on a bike. And since you’ve toured you are familiar w the fact that if the wind is with you it is likely w you all day and if it’s against you......And no matter what the prevailing winds are and “average” temps and rainfall, what you actually get may be very different.

Are you trying to nail down how much time you need for the trip? If it is, I would suggest you think in average weeks rather then average days as then rain and wind is then expected and considered.

And a lot just depends on you and what kind of trip you want to take. I tend to average 650/week and have done 800/wks but I set up these trips to challenge myself physically and to try to chase away the demons that haunt me about growing old. And I have missed a lot by riding past really cool stuff in order to make my mileage. There are lots of folks on this site who do 250 miles a week and duck there head into anyplace that looks interesting. How many miles a day/week depends more on how you want to tour then anything I, or I suspect anyone else here can say to you.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2018, 10:12:01 pm »
And I have missed a lot by riding past really cool stuff in order to make my mileage. There are lots of folks on this site who do 250 miles a week and duck there head into anyplace that looks interesting. How many miles a day/week depends more on how you want to tour then anything."


"Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen. --- Louis L'Amour

Offline dhurwitz

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2018, 11:57:38 pm »
You make a really good point, zzzz, about miles/day and missing much because you get too fixated on the mileage.  As an ex-thru hiker on the Appalachian Trail, I am very familiar with the problem.  The answer, as you suggest, depends on what you are looking for.

And to answer your question, yes, I am trying to figure how long the ride is going to take.  More importantly, I am trying to make route decisions based on how long I think different segments will take.  I have a semi-hard end date.  On the one hand, if I miss my target end date, it will not be a disaster.  On the other hand, it would be nice to hit it.  Within that constraint, can I visit here or there, or must I take the most direct route?

I believe I will be comfortable doing 75 miles per day, 5 days per week.  That averages to 375 miles per week.  If that same level of effort will yield 100 miles per day between Pueblo and St. Louis, or even 125 miles, that would be nice to know, because then I might be able to visit more people along the way. On the other hand, if I just plan on 75 miles, but find I could have gone much further, I will miss out on those visits.  And on the 3rd hand, if I plan on 125 miles per day but only hit 60 comfortably, then my plans will be forced to change.

Of course, anything might change, and I will have to be ready to make real-time decisions based on all the factors which go into a long ride.  I am just trying to get a feel from other people's experience.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2018, 12:12:43 am »
Dhurwitz,

I guess you could consider it like this.  The classic "average" is about 55 miles per day OVERALL (includes all days, riding, resting, long, short, etc.), not riding average.  If your OVERALL average, again not riding, is 75 miles per day, then you could just figure it based on that.

Honestly, I think you are over analyzing this.  The more important factor is where are the overnight stops.  As I pointed out earlier, even if you could do 100 miles, you may be forced to go 60 or 120 in order to not stealth camp and/or stealth camp in a place that meets your needs.  Since you appear to be a relatively strong rider, if you get behind by a day, you could easily make it up sometime in the next week by riding a couple of hours extra for a few days.  Don't sweat it too much.

Also, I would assume your first week would have lower mileage as you are getting adjusted to it, i.e. breaking camp efficiently, having the body get used to it, etc.

As a final note, whatever you plan out will most likely not happen in reality.  You will be off on some days and you will be where you planned some days.  In over 35 years of touring, I have never had a tour go exactly as planned, regardless how long or short the tour is.  You can't plan for delays due to severe weather, major mechanical issues, getting sick, etc. You can build in a few "buffer" or extra rest days to help but that is about it, nothing guaranteed.

Whatever you do, I hope you have a wonderful trip!  John
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline zzzz

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2018, 08:35:12 am »
Dan:

While I agree w everything John said above, the fact that you are planning to ride 5 days a week gives you a huge amount (28%!) of built in flexibility to your trip.

I too always have had a hard end date either thru a plane ticket or I need to get back to work and I typically ride every day so when I fall behind it has to be made up in a way that can hurt. From what you said before about your riding, go ahead and budget yourself 400/wk IF you're willing to ride either some or all of that 6th day or even a partial 7th to maintain your schedule.


Offline fastrog

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2018, 01:54:57 am »
Assuming the PA Appalachians are similar in nature to the  VA ones, I found them harder than the Rockies. I rode 800 miles of the Transamerica this year, and suffered the steepness at Afton and Vesuvius more than the long climbs when I lived in Montana, Oregon, Washington, Utah and California. So I agree with those who favor long, more gradual climbs of the west over the shorter monsters in the Appalachians. Now that my bones have healed from a little episode on the Transam am in July, I plan to pick it back up next year in Kentucky. Maybe see you out there. Good luck.

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2018, 11:54:38 am »
Agreed with all above. Relative to your question regarding distance on the flats, all wind conditions remaining equal you can probably cover about 20% more distance on the flats than in Rocky Mountain valley/pass conditions vs about 30% more  compared to PA/VA/Appalachian riding. One important thing to note is that on the TA you won't see a forest from Pueblo to the Missouri border and if the wind happens to be against you it's going to work you harder than any pass in the Rockies, and typically all day. For me, that was the biggest challenge of the TA. I've crossed twice and I do definitely suggest going west to east as it typically helps you in very wind prone areas like WY but do not think that you won't get hit with aggressive, mind numbing headwinds along the way. Last summer I followed a blog of a couple going west to east on the TA and they reported strong headwinds every day on that entire stretch from Pueblo across Kansas. Once you get to certain density of trees in MO that problem disappears. You just have the crazy grades to deal with there, but I'll take those any day compared to headwinds across eastern CO and KS. Enjoy the trip and post out here if you're going to do a trip blog.

Offline canalligators

Re: Miles per day in different parts of the country
« Reply #13 on: Today at 12:25:45 am »
I assume 10-20% less mileage on days with a lot of climbing.  And while the climbs in the west are generally not as steep, you can still hit days with 7-8,000 ft of climb, such as along Lake Kookanusa.  Not as bad as the Blue Ridge Parkway, but still tough.

Well, that was my old planning case.  Now that I’m sixty mumble years old, I plan less overall mileage.