Early Learnings from Our Bike Touring Adventure

Good morning from Fayetteville, North Carolina and the fourth day of our epic bicycle adventure. We covered about 125 miles in about 15 hours of biking over the last three days.  It’s only about 120 more miles to Wilmington and the beach, and I’m really hoping we make it there by this weekend!

On one of the great back roads we've seen on our trip.
On one of the great back roads we’ve seen on our trip.

I say hope because it’s been a moderately tough 3 days. Adam is still happily on his go-go-gadget legs phase, but I am feeling a little beat up. We were not exactly physically prepared for this bicycle odyssey.  Prior to pedaling off, I’m not sure Adam or I had ever rode 40 miles in one day, let alone tried to do it multiple days in a row.

However, the scenery’s been beautiful. We rode on wooded bike trails, scenic and not-so-scenic back roads, and even on a few stressful miles on big, four-lane highways. To give you an idea of our trails, here’s our first 40 miles on Day 1, from Durham to Raleigh, NC.

Our route from Durham to Raleigh was mostly on bike trails and beautiful. It just wasn't the most direct.
Our route from Durham to Raleigh was mostly on bike trails and beautiful, it just wasn’t the most direct. That big green area is Umstead State Park, where we stopped for lunch.

Although we weren’t exactly seasoned riders, at least we already had most of the gear we needed. It helps that the setup for traveling by bike isn’t exactly rocket science. We already had old mountain bikes with luggage racks, a small camping setup with a kitchen and sleeping equipment, and we even had two 35L dry sacks from previous paddling trips. We only needed to purchase two sets of panniers, some bungees and straps to keep everything together, and a small bicycle repair kit. Adam even found a sweet helmet in his parents’ garage, probably from when he was a kid.

Here’s Adam’s bike, fully loaded with a set of panniers and a dry sack. We had to strap the tent poles right to the frame.

As for our stats, we’ve been riding 40-45 miles a day and averaging about 8-10 miles per hour, though we stop rather frequently to check directions and eat snacks. That’s about 5 hours of saddle time every day, which is quite a pain in the ass. (Ha.)  I am currently using an app to chart our rides, and if you want to laugh at any of our slow splits so far and aren’t bothered by an ad or two, check me out at mapmyride.com.

One fun fact about riding so many miles is that we are burning up a lot of extra calories, and replacing them as fast as possible, mostly with junk food. Adam and I spent a long time in Chicago eating very little breads, grains, and processed snacks. We’ve already made up for a lot of that lost time with peanut M&Ms, honey mustard pretzels, combos, and most of the Waffle House menu. It’s fun to eat like a fat kid.

So, in summary, over the past few days of biking, I’ve learned that it’s not really necessary to be a highly practiced biker or have a lot of fancy and expensive, specialized gear to get out there and ride. It’s easy to spend most of your time on trails and back roads. Just don’t forget to bring lots of carb-o-licious snacks to keep yourself going.

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