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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bike Touring: How Far Can You Bike in a Day?

By Megan Maxwell
While planning a bike trip, an important question to ask yourself is, “How far can I bike every day?” Having a flexible schedule is ideal, but it is also good to have a timeline for when you can finish your trip.

On my third day of my bike trip from Canada to Mexico, I was taking a break on the side of the road when a local cyclist stopped beside me. He was waiting for his group to catch up with him, and seeing my panniers, he asked where I was going. I told him about my bike trip. “Oh, so did you start in Vancouver this morning?” “No, I started there three days ago,” I replied.

IMG_0376.JPGEveryone moves at a different pace. I didn’t train very much before my trip, so I didn’t have a very clear idea for how many miles I would be able to bike every day. Conventional bike wisdom says that most people average 50-70 miles a day on a bike tour. That turned out to be too many miles for me to do regularly. I eased into my trip by biking 20-30 miles a day at the beginning. By the end of the trip, I could do 60 miles a day. My ideal mileage was about 40 miles a day. The bike trip that I thought would take six weeks to complete ended up taking eight weeks. I had fun though, and I got to hang out on the beach every night, so I was happy with my biking pace.  

How to Find a Good Pace
  • Be flexible. If you’re not sure of how far you can bike each day, try to be flexible with your schedule. This means one of two things: be able to extend or shorten the amount of time you have for your trip, or be able to change your end point if need be. It was really important to me that I make it to Mexico, and I had quit my job before starting my bike trip anyway, so I decided to add two weeks to my trip. Some people won’t have the luxury of adding more time to their trip, so having a flexible end point is also helpful.
  • Push yourself, but not too hard. One of the many reasons for going on a bike tour is to push your limits. Try to go a little bit further each day. Keep pedaling when the top of the mountain is still far away. Also, recognize when your body has had enough. Everyone needs to take a break at some point.
  • Underestimate and over preform. If you don’t bike a lot, underestimating what you can do is good for the planning process. If you get on the road and you are slower than what you originally thought, then at least you didn’t plan more than what you could do. If you underestimate your mileage and go further than what you originally planned, then you will have some free days to either bike a little further or relax.