/ Cycle touring to get somewhere - daily distance?

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TobyA on 27 Mar 2019

Has anyone here done any longer, multi-week bike journeys? Either classic touring style with panniers or super light bikepacking style? I'm toying with the idea of in the summer cycling from home in Sheffield to old home in Helsinki and meeting my family there who would go by the more traditional flying method! Realistically this would be ferry to Hook of Holland then cycling to Stockholm to get the ferry to Finland.  Google informs me that is 1500 kms of pretty flat terrain. I'm reasonably bike fit, commuting 60 to 100 kms a week depending on the season, plus fun riding at weekends if I'm not climbing. Riding 100 kms in a day isn't too bad on decent cycle paths on my gravel bike, pretty certain I could do that day after day. I've done a few 200 km days but those take more out of me, don't think I could do that day after day though. Just wondering if people have done longer trips, and what they found was a mileage level they could keep up, day after day?

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cb294 - on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Packed with panniers, ca. 150km/day from Bavaria to the North cape. Ultralight (sleeping in bus stations, eating in cafes) 250km/day in the flat, 120 or so in the Alps (Nuremberg/Nice and back via the Classic TdF passes). 

Even if the first days wear you out, you will get in the flow eventually. 

Put some effort into setting up your bike, and you should be fine!

CB

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subtle on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Sounds like a great idea for a trip.

When I've done flat stuff I find it takes a toll out of me as no hills to coast down, or hills to grind up and break up the tempo etc. but 100kms a day is def doable.

Perhaps try a few long weekends first though so as its not a total shock when you try it - Fri evening/Sat/Sun and then try again Mon night type stuff

Good luck if you do go for it.

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TobyA on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to cb294:

Thanks. You sound pretty fit though!

A decent chunk of the route would be across northern Germany. If you couldn't get to a convenient campsite in the evening, how do Germans take to a little low profile wild camping if one is sensible and doesn't do anything stupid? I know once in Sweden it's no problem but Germany obviously has less wild bits and more people.

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Garethza - on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I rode from Copenhagen to the french alps at a leisurely pace of about ±100km a day a few summers ago with a fully laden setup of panniers. My only form of training was commuting by bike everyday as I didnt have a car! (±5km). The route was all pretty much flat and as long as the wind is in your favour just take it easy - you have all day to reach your target distance remember its not a sprint - its a marathon! 

Edit: I see you are wanting to go roughly on roughly the same route that I went.. I can give you my route .gpx if you want? Finding wild camp spots in Germany is not an issue.. there is almost always a random plot of land somewhere you can pitch up when the sun is going down.. and if not, most Germany camp sites have beer on tap which is quite handy after a long day in the saddle!

Post edited at 14:07
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Toby_W on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I rode up and down the East Coast of Oz.  We were fully loaded on touring bikes, we covered some difficult roads and later in the trip would knock out 100 miles in a day.  None of this was a problem as we had all day and it was a holiday!!  My advice would be don't push the distance to much to start with, keep it comfortable.  Breaking up the day with a couple of coffee stops and lunch makes the miles easier.  The main thing to expect is that your fitness will be fine or come quickly but your endurance will take a week or two.  What I mean by this is that I felt it took us a couple of weeks to harden up to riding most days.

Good luck, sounds amazing I'm I'm jealous

Toby

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cb294 - on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Hard to say. I do it every now and then, and as long as you do not pitch a tent in plain view and avoid National Parks and the likes you should be fine. 

CB

Forgot to add, I was fit 20 years ago....

Post edited at 14:18
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summo on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

There is an annual charity event, team rnykeby, that goes from sweden to Paris every year. They have a good route off the main roads, but still generally a good direct line. I can't find it on their website though. Might be worth asking or hunting around for it. 

Edit. They do 1200km in 7 days. 

Post edited at 14:27
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MischaHY - on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

If planning on wild camping in Germany, take a tarp or expect to have problems if caught. It's illegal and they take it quite seriously because they're worried about people setting the forest on fire. 

Tarps are legal though curiously, or hammocks. 

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TobyA on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to MischaHY:

Interesting. Any idea why a tarp is legal when a tent isn't?

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MischaHY - on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

The problem as I understand it comes more from casual campers etc going for an 'adventurous wild camp' in the local woods and starting fires etc so by eliminating the possibility for closed shelters also eliminates most of these people from the activity and thereby addresses the problem. 

Weird, but there we go. Car camping by comparison is incredibly easy and legal, there's laybys everywhere to sleep in even in rather urban places. 

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DaveHK - on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

The thing with touring and especially if you're camping is you have the whole day to do your mileage so can take it relatively easy. Based on what you say about terrain and fitness up to 160km a day should be relatively doable.

Fully loaded hilly touring (alps and Pyrenees) we found that 100km per day was an easy day and allowed for 'holiday' stuff like reading, lounging and cafes. Later in one trip we did 160km days. This still didn't feel too bad but we definitely felt like it was pushing on rather than having a holiday.

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cb294 - on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to MischaHY:

Even more bizarrely, it varies from state to state. The tarp good, tent bad rule definitely applies in some but not all federal states.

CB

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gethin_allen on 27 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

With a full summers day to use up you can easily do 150 km moving at a very leisurely pace.

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TobyA on 28 Mar 2019
In reply to gethin_allen:

Yeah, on flat terrain, 20 to 25 kmph isn't that bad, but 6 to 8 hrs of pedalling sounds quite a lot to do day after day. I don't know - perhaps I should just try it one weekend locally and see how it goes, like someone above was suggesting.

Thanks everyone - lots to think about.

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Jim Lancs on 28 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

When touring, 15km/h is a steady average pace that includes the time spend stopping to put on a jacket, piss breaks, filling water bottles, and a reasonable stop for coffee and a lunch. The actual speed you 'ride' at is nothing like the average speed you progress when everything else is considered.

So a 100km day allows at least a couple of hours for sightseeing with a campsite departure at 9 and tent pitching at 5. Or if it's hot, an earlier start and leisurely 2 hour lunch picnic during the heat of the day. It's also the minimum to actually make progress somewhere.

100 miles (160km) now begins to dominate your day. You feel the need to be 'moving' and delays take some time to catch up. But it's entirely do-able and crossing France and Germany is a bit quicker.

200km a day is all riding with a 6 o'clock departure, and any time off the bike needs a sense of urgency. It's the stops that can be your downfall.

300km a day is possible, but it's all riding, with sleep being an eight hour interlude between your riding days.

At 400 kms a day, sleep is now 'as and when required' in whatever spells works for you. (11 minutes was my optimum).

500km a day simply hurt.

Unless you're Gethin Butler, then these figures need to be adjusted by simply doubling them.

Post edited at 09:49
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gethin_allen on 28 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> Yeah, on flat terrain, 20 to 25 kmph isn't that bad, but 6 to 8 hrs of pedalling sounds quite a lot to do day after day.

The biggest thing that slows a ride down I find is not knowing where you are going.

If you have a good route card and map/gps then you are well ahead.

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MB42 on 28 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I've done a handful of 1000+ mile trips with camping stuff and for me 60-70 miles a day is sustainable and enjoyable. Don't think personally I'd want to do more but then I like it to be a holiday  Mind you Holland might be the exception and flat enough to do a wee bit more...have fun looks like a great trip

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TobyA on 02 Apr 2019
In reply to all:

Just a sort of follow up on this. This weekend I decided to do a longer ride to see how it would go. I left home on the eastern edge of the Peak District early door and followed Google maps cycle path suggestion for a route to beach at Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire. I just wanted to cycle to the seaside to say I had really!

152 kms in all (94 miles). I had carefully checked the forecasts to be sure I wouldn't get wet, but forgot to look at the windspeed and direction! The first 80 kms to Lincoln was fine and felt cruisey, but the next 70 as the morning went on was battling quite strong headwinds, and there is really nowhere in Lincolnshire to hide from them. I was pretty knackered by the time I got to the beach.

I was trying to keep to a schedule as my family were driving over and we were all going to the seal sanctuary (they've got lots of other animals there besides seals - I liked the gibbons!) then for a walk on the beach afterwards, so I think trying to make sure I got there for a certain time meant I was pushing harder than if I had been just touring for the day. But I'm not sure how I would have done trying to do the same again the next day! Big respect for those of you who have done long distances day after day.

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ChrisBrooke - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

How was your arse after that? (Serious question) Saddle comfort would strike me as one of the most pressing issues when banging out 100km days on the trot. 

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summo on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

> How was your arse after that? (Serious question) Saddle comfort would strike me as one of the most pressing issues when banging out 100km days on the trot. 

I now treat cycling shorts like buying running shoes. Spend as much as you can reasonably afford. The difference between spending £20 and £80 is staggering. I now use my cheap ones for shorter trips out on the mtb where it doesn't matter.  

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TobyA on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Not too bad, but I've had better with the same saddle and shorts on equally long, or longer days in the past. 

I find that long days cycling mess with my stomach and then if you feel like you want to go to the loo, but things don't come easy shall we say!, it can add to soreness in that region.

On Sunday I didn't stop much though. My movement time was 7.18 and it was maybe only one hour more total time out, so I wasn't off the bike too much. If I had had all day, I would have taken some longer breaks.

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Rigid Raider - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Exercise can cause constipation because the first place the body takes water from is the bowel, meaning the bowel contents become dryer and harder. There's 10 litres of water permanently involved in the digestive cycle and that also forms a "battery" of water reserves, which is why it's important to keep drinking. A stop at a pub is always relaxing and beer is a good recovery drink.

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TobyA on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

Thanks! I've never had it that clearly explained to me before. Interestingly I don't get the same thing from a hard day in the hills, say 12 hours out up and down the Ben to do a winter route. I used to get dehydrated a bit when I first started winter climbing as I didn't get my water bottle out enough, but that would lead to headaches not constipation. And I rarely get it now just because of 20 years of practice and better management.

Cycling is somehow different for me at least, I think the level of effort is a bit higher and more constant. Sunday was interesting - it was relatively cold. I wondered if I started off with too many layers on and where I would store them if I stared removing them. As it was, I only removed my windproof gillet, but everything else stayed on. The easterly winds had a big impact on that too.

Last summer I rode from home down to my parents' place in the West Midlands, about 170 or 180 kms, and had a lovely stop in a thatched country pub around lunch. A good pint of beer, a pint of iced water and some salty snacks. I had the beer as I like beer but on future long rides I will factor a pub stop in specifically on the basis that a random bloke on the internet told me beer is excellent at rehydration!  

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Rigid Raider - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Good plan Stan. Beer is a very beneficial drink and if you drink something good and sticky like Old Peculier you won't need to linger for long in the bathroom next morning.

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subtle on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Nice on - I often do these things, set out earlier on the bike to meet family somewhere where they drive to - means I get my exercise fix and still have family time with them.

Now, you did 152km in one day, what about doing it another weekend, except maybe reduce it to 100 km on the Sat but then also do 100km on the Sunday, see how your body copes with that

And wind, its a bugger - and beer is a great rehydrator whilst on the bike  

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summo on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Layers. Look at the sleeves you can get etc.. or the same for lower legs. They'll provide an extra barrier to the cold first thing on a morning. But aren't very bulky to store. 

Hydration. Because of the constant breeze you lose more fluids through evaporation off your skin than you might think. It's only when you stop and lose that wind you start to feel sweaty. 

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dominic lee - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Don’t be put off. The first few days might hurt a little with the laden bike so adjust the milage to suit. You’ll find you get fit very quickly on a bike. Touring frames much more comfy for long distances than the more rigid weekend frame. Enjoy it. Good luck.

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Sam W - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Did 1500 miles from UK to Cham via Prague, camping all the way, 60 miles a day was comfortable.

Only thing I'd add to comments above is that chamois cream was essential, even rinsing shorts every day I was getting sores, they disappeared as soon as I bought a pot of cream 

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TobyA on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to summo:

> Layers. Look at the sleeves you can get etc.. or the same for lower legs. They'll provide an extra barrier to the cold first thing on a morning. But aren't very bulky to store. 

I had all them on, vest-baselayer, short sleeve jersey with arm warmers, long sleeve jersey then gillet on top. Bib shorts but with full leg warmers, then a pair of baggies over the bib shorts. I even had light overshoes on because I didn't wear my winter boots. I really thought I'd get hot and start taking off the layers but never needed to.

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artif on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I spent many years messing on bikes, not so much now.

Never got on with long distances ( anything over 50 miles was torture) due to saddle discomfort, despite the best shorts different saddles etc etc.

I decided to build an old school comfy cruising road bike, as a toy really, I picked up a Brooks saddle just for the look more than anything. My first ride was just to try it out, ended up doing 70 miles with absolutely no discomfort (and I was just wearing regular shorts no padding at all). 

Obviously, not everyone will get on with a Brooks, but rather than masking the issue I suggest checking out a variety of saddles, you may get lucky and find a very comfortable one and not need the padding and lotions

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ChrisBrooke - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to artif:

In a world of carbon fibre, titanium, space age technology and weight-saving at any cost, the leather Brooks saddle looks anachronistic at best, but most conversations I’ve seen about long distance saddle comfort seem to lead back to the B17...

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artif on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

A brooks on my DH bike would have been a bit odd, but the seat was more for show than looks. 

The B17 was quite a revelation, it did need a little tweaking on the angle to be most comfortable though.

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Doug on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Only just seen this thread. I used to cycle tour quite a lot with some multiday trips (up to 2 weeks)  in the 1980s & 90s, either camping or youth hostelling, in northern Scotland or Wales. With camping gear (split between two but gear was heavier then) we reckoned on about 60 miles a day allowing for some site seeing along the way. Occasionally we went a bit further although never more than 100 miles in a day. We also used to have a half day once a week, partly to rest but also to wash clothes etc (much of our clothes would have been slow drying cotton) and maybe walk rather than cycle for a couple of hours.

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