What An Average Day Of Bicycle Touring Looks Like

If you are new to bicycle travel, you might be thinking to yourself, “What exactly does an average day of bicycle touring look like?” By this I mean, “What kind of schedule must one traveling by bike keep in order to eat, sleep, travel a certain distance each day, and still have time to stop and smell the roses along the way.”

This is a difficult question to answer because no two bike trips are the same and every person has their own preferred means of travel, but I’ll attempt to answer this question by breaking down my average bicycle touring day and showing you what most of my days look like.

After I’m finished, I hope that those reading this who already have some bicycle touring experience under their belt will share exactly what their average day of bike travel looks like by leaving a message in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

So here it is! My average day of bicycle travel looks a bit like this:

7:00 AM – Wake up, break down my tent and pack up my bike.

8:00 AM – Stop and have breakfast. (Note that I don’t usually eat as soon as I get up. If I’m in a campground I will usually eat and have a shower before I leave in the morning, but if I’m stealth camping, I usually get out of my hiding spot as soon as possible and then eat somewhere down the road.)

8:30 AM – After breakfast I start the serious riding for the day. I usually ride in intervals of anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour at a time and then stop for just 3-5 minutes by leaning over my handlebars (not even getting off my bike) and grabbing a good drink of water. I may also stop to take photos or explore a passing area, but these stops usually range from just 3-5 minutes. I will repeat this process until I stop for lunch.

1:00 PM – Somewhere along the way I will stop and eat lunch. I usually try and find a park or some secluded area where I can sit down and stare off into the distance as I eat my peanut butter sandwich or whatever I might have to eat.

1:45 PM – After lunch I get back out on the road. Again, I’ll ride in 45 minute to 1 hour segments and then stop for about 3-5 minutes just to catch my breath, take a picture or grab a drink of water. I don’t usually drink from my water bottles while I am riding. I use my water breaks as an excuse to stop and enjoy my surroundings.

4:00 PM – By this time I usually have most of my distance for the day totally covered. In fact, I might be totally done riding by this time – having covered anywhere from 40-80 miles. If I’m done for the day, I break camp or walk around town with my bike. If I’m not done, or I plan to stealth camp, I continue riding until about an hour before it gets dark.

6:00 PM – By this time I usually (but not always) have my tent set up and I’ve changed out of my riding clothes. I’ll take a shower, eat dinner, then spend some time writing in my journal, calling friends or family back home, and then finish the night by reading.

8:00 PM – After an especially long day of riding, I’m usually asleep (or at least inside my tent and trying to go to sleep) by 8 PM. I may stay up reading or journaling by flashlight if I have the energy. But otherwise, I usually go to sleep as soon as it gets dark – as there often times isn’t a whole lot you can do once night falls.

Then, the process starts all over again the next morning!

So that’s it! That’s an incredibly simplified breakdown of what most of my average days look like when traveling by bike. Now it’s over to you.

If you are an experienced bicycle tourist, leave a comment below and let me know what your average day of bicycle touring looks like. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the different daily schedule choices and we might just help some less experienced riders pick out their preferred means of travel in the process.

7 thoughts on “What An Average Day Of Bicycle Touring Looks Like

  1. Mike in WI says:

    You left out personal hygiene and laundry, ” among the very important parts of my daily touring. Also of huge importance to me is a comfortable nights sleep…without a good nights sleep and general comfort around camp life on the road sucks and gets suckier with each passing day.

    I have learned many tricks to keeping the body and clothes clean on extended trips but just do not have the time to write them down right now.
    Mike the Bike

  2. fred zahn says:

    Im a stealth camper, I dont like to pay to camp, and its fun to find places to set up.If I have my miles in for the day Ill stop for dinner for on hour or so then ride to just before dark and find a place to set up my tent for the night,
    I carry baby wipes to clean up between showers.

  3. Robert Gladfelter says:

    An unsupported bicycle tour day is as you described, but as you said with different riders comes different routines.
    7:00 AM break down and have breakfast, even when stealth camping. I’ve been stealth camping for about 10yrs and never been caught. When you know what to look for, you will become more confortable. Also remember the “leave no trace” rule. I also will go over route map and prepare for the day ahead. Will I need rain gear? Will I need plenty of suntan lotion? Where is the first place to replenish supplies?(8-9AM) off on the road. I always stretch before I head out.(10-11AM )usually first stop to eat some snacks, usually friut and granola. I’m usually looking for a nice spot to hang for 10-20 minutes. Unlike Dan, I don’t take as many breaks. (1-2PM)lunch, find a nice place to take a break and chill for awhile.
    (3-5PM) looking for any needed supplies for the night, such as water for cooking dinner and breakfast, any fresh fruit and veggies.also another break for me. I try to be aware of where I’m at, so I don’t miss a place for supplies. This will keep your load lighter if you don’t have to carry too many supplies through out the day.
    (7-8PM)set up camp, i usually end up sleeping around 930PM.
    Of course the beauty of unsupported touring is that this routine does not work all the time. Depending on day events , weather, and location, you learn to be flexable. It’s great to see a site like this for newcomers. I also read a lot of Sheldon Brown https://sheldonbrown.com/eagle.html . Good luck and have fun.

  4. Matt says:

    Well I’m a few months late in my finding this site but, enjoying others comments I’d like to chat too. I have only really complete two cycle tours but feel I have gained valuable experience from these, namely ; cycle of Asia 7months ish and Manchester, England to Malaga, Spain 27 days. I’ve spent a number of years ‘rough’ camping and have a few years in the Marines which all adds to the experience.

    Re- miles covered. I find 120km a good average distance that can be quite easy over a day or three but the difficulty is always the constant grind. Attempting this distance over a few weeks alone lies the difficulty in long distance touring. A fit, confident cycle tourer will manage 100km per day 6 days per week over a few months. Heat is a whole different problem, enforcing slower miles and more breaks, it saps the strength so much more than in more comfortable climates.

    Rough camps; Essential, even if only the occasional rough stop to have a safe, practical stop for the night rather than feeling bound by continuing for another hour… or 3 to find a ‘camp site’. Roughing it lets you feel much more a part of the trip that you are creating.,

    Personal Hygine; Paramount to any long trip to avoid potential failure and huge discomfort. Always find time half way through the day (in hot climates particularly) to clean up however crudely this may be. Stay clean!!

    Stops…; Real easy to drink on a bike o make the most of this. Drink from your bottles every 10-15mins minimum (hot temperatures again). If you don’t you’ll find yourself flagging toward the end of the day

    EAT!! THIS IS SO IMPORTANT ON LONG DAYS AND LONG TOURS.. EAT AS MUCH AS YOU COMFORTABLY CAN. I find I can cycle huge distance with plenty of sleep and loads of food. compared to those days that I don’t manage to get the calories in.

    Have fun and explore!!

  5. Eric says:

    Some of the best camps are stealth camps. That being the case, a late stop and early start are a necessity. Stealth camps also encourage early morning and late evening riding, often the most scenic (best light) and pleasant times of the day to be riding. A typical stealth camp day might run as follows:

    Wake early, around sunrise, break camp and maybe have a granola bar or some other quick energy food and some water to get you on your way. You should be minimalist enough to break camp in 15 or 20 minutes.

    Ride for an hour or two until you come to a pleasant breakfast spot. The local diner is a wonderful place to load up on calories fairly cheaply and provides an interesting insight into the community you are passing through. I can remember mornings listening to discussions of farming techniques or general goings on in the community. The Lion’s Club may be meeting, or moms my be getting together for coffee after seeing the family off for the day.

    Walking off breakfast is a good time to do a little exploring and stock up on supplies. I’ll often buy some fresh fruit for the day and replenish staples, like peanut butter and bread. I also refill all of my water bottles. I carry a couple on the frame for sipping while riding and larger ones buried, but accessible, in the paniers, to keep the water cooler.

    Morning is a good time to get in some more miles before the heat of the day sets in, depending of course on the climate where you’re riding. A late lunch, maybe 1:00 or 2:00 in a scenic location or near a place for sightseeing makes a good break for the afternoon. Remember, you’re going to be riding fairly late and this provides some pacing. These stops are also the reason you’re touring. I try to plan my day around an interesting afternoon lunch stop.

    You probably don’t want to cook in your stealth camp, so, some more riding and then a break for dinner. It’s always good if this can also be timed to be a pleasant location.

    After dinner, back on the bike for a few more miles and begin looking for your camp. It’s good to give yourself at least an hour before dusk to find your camp. Perfect timing would be to have your shelter set up and everything put away just before you need a flashlight to see. I only unpack the minimum amount of gear necessary for the night and have my bike easily ready to go for the morning.

  6. John Goldman says:

    I have done just a couple of short tours. What do you do about the morning dew on the tent and sleeping bag especially if you want to get going early to avoid the heat of the day? Pack it damp and hope it dries when you unpack later for the night? How about after a rain?

    • Darren Alff says:

      It depends on the situation. If it is sunny out, I sometimes just put my tent in the sun in the morning before I pack up my bike and wait for the sun to dry out the tent. If it is raining or overcast, however, then yes, I just pack up the tent wet and hope that I can dry it out later in the day (if the sun comes out) or in the evening when I set up camp again. But sometimes, you are force to go for days on end with a wet tent. It’s not fun, but you want to try and keep the inside of the tent dry (or as dry as possible).

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