Several a Long-distance Cyclists Describe a Day in the Life That'll Quicken Your Heart Rate

Posted by tan xiao yan on

Long-distance cycling may have been a mystery experience for some people, such as people like me. I like bike tour, but not the long-distance-type. My longest cycling only lasted for two hours, with the distance of 10 kilometers. So what should one prepare for his one-day-long-distance-ride? And what is a day like in the life of a long-distance cyclist? To start with, I would like to introduce you several cyclists and their cycling experiences.

Jeff Walden, finished the long distance bike touring from San Francisco to Yorktown in summer 2012.

Simon Gardner, a cyclist who lives in Dorset, UK with the experience of cycling from Cairo to Capetown in 2009.

Howard Metzenberg, many cycling experiences, crossed several continents by bicycle.

Andy Madeley, used 16 months to complete the cycling tour from London, UK to Sydney, Australia.

Long-distance bicycle touring packing list

1.Water and/or sports drink

Keeping hydrated is essential on a bicycle touring of any length, while it is worth noting that dehydration does not occur only in hot summer, but also in cool weather. Also sports drink is a good choice after a long-distance ride, for your body needs supplement of microelements and sodium chloride.

2. Cash and credit card

In the journey of long-distance cycling, it is impossible to bring all the food and water by your own, while emergencies might occur anytime. If your bike breaks down and you are lucky enough to be near a bike shop, then credit card plays its functions. Some stores have a limit amount for credit card purchases, so cash is very necessary.

3. A tent/sleeping bag

It depends on the place you are traveling to and the riding route to go. Maybe a few cyclists like Jeff Walden would choose to stay at motels, most cyclists would rather bring a tent or a sleeping bag with them, for it is a good way to save expenditure. Take Simon Gardner for example, he brought a tent on support vehicle and stayed at campsite at night.

4. Basic maintainance and repairing tools

These basic tools include a spare inner tube to fix flats, a hand pump to inflate tubes, tire levers to remove tires, patch kit, a multi tool for various types of repairing, and a chain master link in case of chain break.


5. Personal identification

Sometimes, the journey involves several continents or countries, so it is very important to bring your personal identification. If you get involved in an accident, it will be of great help for emergency personnel if they can verify your identity when you can’t speak for yourself. At this aspect, a driver's license always works.

6. Cell phone

The function of cell phone in a long-distance bike touring is not only to keep contact with your friends and family, but also to ask for help when you get involved in accidents or emergencies. Modern cell phone like smart phone is very powerful, for it has various sort of functions including GPS and electronic map. However, smart phone is not recommended in long-distance cycling though it has powerful functions. Its standby time is too short.

Long-distance cycling tips

There are a few things one needs to know before and during the journey.

Check your bike before setting out
Make sure your bike is in good condition. If you haven’t ride it over a year, you’d better have it to the repairing store for a check. Before setting out, you can check your bike by yourself. Make sure the brake works, and pressure in tires is proper. Check the pedals spin and the chain is tight. Make sure the handlebars are straight and secure.

Determine your destination and route
In some way, your destination and route decide your packing things. If you pass through frequent civilization, it is okay for you not bringing a tent or a sleeping bag. If the place you are going through is rainy place, your stuff should be waterproof.

Be physically and mentally prepared
Ask yourself: “Are you ready for this trip?” Long-distance cycling isn’t an easy challenge, it’s both physical and mental challenge. One needs a healthy body, energy, patience and strong willpower to maintain the journey.

Make your schedule
Before you start cycling, you should make a schedule including which day to set out, your deadline to arrive the destination, average distance per day (or average cycling time per day) and backup plan for mechanical troubles.

Check the weather during the journey
The weather is very important for cyclists during their riding tour. One must know the highest temperature and the lowest temperature of the place so he can prepare ahead. In the first 2 months of Simon Gardner’s trip from Cairo to Capetown, temperature change was the biggest challenge to him. In Egypt, the temperature was around 20 degree Celsius, while it quickly climbed to over 30 degree Celsius in Sudan and over 40 degree Celsius in Kenya. Under such high-temperature circumstance, it is easy to be dehydrated.

Fix your food problem
Are you going to bring food and a stove for cooking? Or are you eating out, or bringing pre-made food? If you cross through frequent civilization and okay with more expense, then eating out is available. If you decide to take pre-made food, have you thought whether it would go bad because of the weather?

A day in the life of a long-distance cyclist

Simon Gardner

During his trip from Cairo to Capetown in 4 months with a group of 70 other riders, his everyday life was very simple. He rode 120 kilometers per day on average, with one day off every five or six days. Before dawn, around 5:30 in the morning, he got up and packed tent and other equipment into the support vehicle. Then ate breakfast and started his riding tour. When it came to late afternoon, he arrived at campsite, exhausted and tired, putting up tent and getting water supplement with a large mug or two of salty soup. Around 6 pm, he would have a meeting discussing tomorrow’s route, wind directions, hills etc. And then dinner would be served. At 8:00 pm, he would be in bed and fell asleep immediately. On the day off, he would do his laundry and maintain his bike.

Jeff Walden

Jeff’s tour was a self-supported ride from San Francisco to Yorktown in summer 2012. The biggest difference between Jeff’s and Simon’s tour was that Jeff took no off day during his riding. This was an aggressive ride with over 100 mi per day. His time to set out was unsure, sometimes as early as 4:00 am; sometimes as late as 11:40 am. After packing up he would eat breakfast, then started to ride. For lunch, he would find a place to get a sandwich and then continued riding until dark. He would set up a tent then pull out dinner or find a restaurant and eat. With all that completed, he usually had time to read for half an hour. Finishing his reading, it’s about time to sleep.

Howard Metzenberg

Howard’s day in long-distance cycling is much like Simon’s. He specially mentioned his first day of cycling trip that he experienced physical discomfort and had to stop riding for several days to let him recover achilles tendons.

Andy Madeley

In 2011, Andy set out from London to cycle to Sydney with his friend, Matt. It took them 16 months to finish the approximately 15000 miles’ tour. In the summer of Europe, they woke up at 6:00 am to avoid the heat in the midday. When the sun reached its zenith, they had a 2-3 hour lunch to wait for the sun become less ferocious. Then they set off again to find campsite for the night. When winter came, they did most of the riding on the day before begging a room in a local’s house. Briefly speaking, their cycling day was to eat, ride, eat, ride, camp, eat, sleep and repeat.