Miles per Day

A couple of experiences this season have given me some idea of possible mileage numbers in a day of riding.

We did 300 hot, sticky miles, mostly on freeways, coming back from Indianapolis this summer.  This involved getting lost for about half an hour before we finally stopped for the day near Detroit.

Without the getting lost part, 300 miles would be easily doable with gas and snack breaks if you’re making highway miles.  We were on the road from about 9am to 5pm.  400 wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, and would be an 9am to 6pm with stops kind of day.

That run to Detroit was in hot, humid weather and had me saddle sore with a bad case of baboon butt.  Less extreme conditions would make those miles easier to manage, but bike miles tend to be fairly extreme even at the best of times.

On that same day our riding partner headed straight home, doing Indianapolis to Alma, just shy of five hundred miles in a single day in about 10 hours of riding.  Had I not been two up with my son I’d have done it with him.  A five hundred mile day is certainly doable on freeways.  It’s a full day, but you’d sleep well afterwards.

On the way down to Indy we did two stints, from Elora to Coldwater and Coldwater to Indianapolis.  In both cases we minimized highway riding and spent most of our time on back roads (and sometimes dirt roads and trailer parks when we got turned around).  Coldwater to Indy was just over two hundred miles and took us a good day of riding.  We left about 9am and were feet up in the hotel in Indianapolis by 4pm.  Elora to Coldwater was a long day of riding, leaving about 8:30am and finally stopping just before 6pm.  Even that long day had us up and ready to go the next morning, so it was a sustainable distance.

Based on those experiences I’d say a three hundred mile day if you’re minimizing freeway use is a reasonable number to aim for, knowing that you could push a bit beyond that and still not be riding into dusk.

All of those experiences were on a fully loaded bike with my ten year old son as pillion, so we weren’t exactly ascetic in our riding, looking to pound down the miles relentlessly.  I stopped more frequently than I otherwise might and for longer.

What got me thinking about this was the 178 mile ride the other day that got me over the 30k mark.  In cold weather and over twisty, slow roads with no highway at all, I left about 9:30am and was home again just past 3pm, stopping for a coffee and lunch.  The cold weather made this feel longer than it was, which reminded me just how much being comfortable in the saddle makes the miles go by.

Around the world, it’s a long slog!

Your typical around the world trip is about 15,000 miles, so is north to south in the Americas.  If you’re managing 300 miles a day, that’d be 50 days on the road.  If you’re doing 300 mile days that means you’re averaging 50 miles per hour for at least six hours a day.  Not as easy as it sounds when you factor in borders, extreme weather, navigation, bad roads and other potential slow downs.  All things to consider when trying to schedule a long trip.