How many hours in the saddle?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by ILikeCheese, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. ILikeCheese

    ILikeCheese Banned

    May 23, 2013
    Kitsap Peninsula
    When you are traveling long distances for a sight seeing trip (over 1000 miles), how many hours do you normally spend on the bike each day?

    Is it smart to plan on a mandatory 8 hours of riding each day, or is it better to plan on 4 hours a day and if you feel like riding more go for it?

    I plan on taking a couple of weeks of vacation to go riding in the near future and I am just wondering how far should I plan on traveling each day without getting so fatigued that the trip is no longer much fun.

    It seems that most of the long distance threads that I read start off with the rider going many miles on the first couple of days, recovering for a couple of days, and then hammering out a bunch more miles before resting again.

    I love riding and look forward to many miles in the saddle, but I don't want it to start feeling like a chore.
  2. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

    Dec 21, 2008
    Vagabond Hippie
    On a multi-day trip I usually plan on about 350 miles per day, with sightseeing, stops and following my whimsy it seems to work out to around 8 hours or so. AND it is doable day after day after day after........

    Tomorrow, I have to run 500 miles so that will just be in a strait shot.
  3. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Oct 17, 2006
    Denver, more or less.
    What threads are you reading? :eek1

    Do what you like. Some people get a lot of enjoyment out of 1000 mile days, back to back. Others stop often and only make a fraction of that mileage.

    Honestly, I don't even see a need to "plan" how many miles you'll ride each day. Get up, get on the bike, ride for a while, stop now and then, see some stuff, stop for the night.

    But to specifically answer your question, if I'm on a multi-day ride, my daily average is around 275 miles per day. That works out to be five or six hours of seat time.

    Everyone is different. I've ridden with people who want to get up at dawn, ride all day, stop for lunch and dinner, and the find a place to stop after sunset. That makes them happy.

    People like me like to stop to see things. It doesn't bother me to stop somewhere for a couple hours in the middle of the day, or if I find someplace really cool, I'll decide to spend the night there and visit the next day. For the most part, I don't "plan" much. I don't plan how many miles I'll make each day nor how many hours I'll ride each day. I just get up and see how the day goes.

  4. Boondox

    Boondox Travels With Barley

    Aug 4, 2007
    Northern Vermont
    Some days are better than others. Heat, rain, humuggity and traffic can all add to the stress. Generally I find long days easier early in the trip, or after a break where we camped in the same place a couple days and got a chance to unwind.

    I used to ride till I needed to refuel, eat something, drink something, then press on. By mid afternoon I'd be tired and my reflexes noticably slower. Since traveling with my dog, I take more breaks for his sake and find I enjoy the experience a lot more! I ride for 90 minutes and take a stretch break of 10-15 minutes. Another 90 minutes and a half hour break. Another 90 minutes and we refuel, eat, and nap. Then we start the cycle again. When Barley gets out of the sidecar he stretches, so I followed his lead and give a good stretch as well. It makes me feel better and in a typical 14 hour day we are moving for 12 of those hours. It works pretty well!
  5. dddd

    dddd Been here awhile

    Jan 15, 2012
    Montreal, Canada
    I can maintain 8h/d indefinitely I think (not tested more that 8 days). I can sustain 11h/d for 4 days then have to shorten the days. Best to alternate. Secret is in trip planning.
  6. TacticalRider

    TacticalRider No Road, No Problem

    Jun 11, 2006
    Toronto, Ontario Canada
    I use to ride in 400km to 500km sprints on long days. I have a limited vacation schedule so I typically try to do 800km to 1200km a day.

    I now try to follow a more relaxed program on long rides:

    Start at 6AM (on the bike) and ride until around 9:30AM - approx. 300km
    Breakfast 9:30Am to 10:30AM

    Back on the bike from 10:30AM to 1:30PM - approx. 300Km
    Lunch 1:30PM to 2:30PM

    Back on the bike from 2:30PM to 6PM - approx. 300km

    I usually start looking for places to stay the night around 5pm. When I rode the Dempster a few years ago I got to Watson Lake and every hotel/motel was filled :cry. Make sure you have an idea of where you want to stop and a plan if there is no vacancy.

    My riding buddy hates may riding schedule :D. He prefers to wake up at 9AM, relax and have breakfast and then get going. He is good for 400Km a day.
  7. sorebutt

    sorebutt Long timer

    Jun 26, 2008
    It all depends on where you are. I couldn't get out of northern Texas fast enough, but could spend a week in the mountains of Colorado. Don't set a specific number of miles each day, do what you feel like. You might pass something really interesting if you have to make up specific number of miles. Remember it isn't the destination, it is the trip getting there that is important.
  8. Scott_F

    Scott_F Been here awhile

    Jul 10, 2011
    It depends entirely upon what you're doing. If it really is a a sightseeing trip, then you'll want to take your eyes off the road.

    If you live in the middle of Flatland, where the nearest curve is ninety miles away, then by all means, ride WFO for eleven hours if that's what you have to do to get to scenery. Once you're there, take your time. Stop and see the attractions, talk to the folks, learn about the area. It makes it more interesting and more enjoyable then driving past all the interesting places.

    My wife and I tour on Burgmans, riding pairs. We have peculiar rules. We don't ride on Interstates unless there is no choice. We don't ride before 8 AM or after 8 PM when there are animals around, which is always. We stop every hour and get off to stretch and drink some water. We also wear earplugs, all to reduce fatigue. We want to be able to enjoy ourselves when we get to where we're going.

    Those habits slow us down, no doubt, but we enjoy it more when we pace ourselves and we're not tired at the end of the day. We also get to meet all sorts of people in little towns along the way. It's a vacation, after all. We've done this before, tried other regimes, and this is what works best for us, particularly for SWMBO. When she's not happy, neither am I.

    Go riding. You'll soon find out what works for you. Don't try and go farther or faster than you're comfortable going, and you'll get your own habits. Ride safe, regardless.

    Scott Fraser
  9. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

    Oct 18, 2007
    central USA
    I live in missouri. I have to cross all of Kansas and half of colorado to get to the good stuff. That takes a day and a half. Then I enjoy the good stuff. I am up 14 hours a day or more. Not riding all that time. But going. Then when time to go home, up at daybreak, ride till mid morning or sun issue, have breakfast. I will do 800 or more miles to get home in one day. Yes, it hurts to get off the bike.

  10. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

    Sep 5, 2011
    Out There Somewhere
    I tend to mix it up, depending on any perceived itinerary for a specific trip.
    Mostly, I want to stay on U.S. highways mixed with state roads, but will definitely hop onto a freeway or super slab to make a connection or also for speeding things up a little along the way (when prudent). I've ridden 12 hour, bigger mileage days, and it sucks.

    Remember stopping for gas, to stretch, rest, or take pix eats up lots of time at the end of any day. I typically plan a mix of bigger mileage days and some not-so-big days where you can break it up- so it doesn't get to be "a chore". As others have suggested, this could well depend on things like location or terrain.

    The real key things (IMO) to do are: know your limits, stay well hydrated, feed your body well, and stop before you get too tired. Beyond that, it's an open game.
  11. jckid

    jckid Been here awhile

    Feb 25, 2009
    Do what's comfortable and fun for you. When traveling, we try to plan between 200-300 miles a day. We prefer a more relaxed, leisurely pace. And we don't ride fast, so it works out about right. That leaves plenty of time for sightseeing, hiking, reading, and kicking back around the campsite. For a lot of riders, this may be to laid back. But we've kind of figured out what works for us after taking a few trips.
  12. Strawdog

    Strawdog Strawdog

    Jun 5, 2012
    That's the way I travel usually end some crazy miles to back at work on time. I'm not good at tracking time on holidays. As long as I am riding cell phone is off not worried if I put 10 miles on or 600 miles.:rofl
  13. falcon20x

    falcon20x Adventurer

    Nov 21, 2009
    Dallas, TX
    Great advise.
    The greatness of the trip is often the Journey not the destination.

    The only planing I do is in hours not mileage. So many factors such as road condition (dirt or pavement), location ( city, parks etc..) will affect your riding mileage/ speed.
    If there is not much to see, just highways, I may ride up to 8 hours and cover over 500 miles a day, with the stops for food and gas you are still looking at a good 11 hours days.
    The length of trip is also a factor. Pace yourself, if you are to tired not only you are taking some risks but you are also not going to enjoy it.
    Trust me I have done a few iron butts ride, there is no much enjoyment in riding 1000 miles in less than 24 hours.:muutt

    Overall, six to eight hours a day is a good average.
  14. FinlandThumper

    FinlandThumper Has Cake/Eats it Too Super Moderator

    Jan 30, 2008
    Yep, it's not a mileage contest unless you actually sign up for one. I am heading from Madison Wisconsin to Wilmington north Carolina next week via the blue ridge parkway. I have it figured out that basically 5, 300 mile days will get me there with a sixth just in case I decide to spend more time sightseeing, I definitely second the comment that around 250-300 a day is a very comfortable pace allowing time for exploring, good food, and relaxation.

    Sometimes on the way home I put the hammer down, having spent more time at the destination than planned. So for example a few years back on the way home to Helsinki from the north cape, I did a 900 mile day, and likewise once from Colorado to Wisconsin. Frankly these are not the most fun days but I will admit there is a certain glory in the martyrdom. :lol3

    Either way, just turn that cell phone off, ride your own ride at your pace, and enjoy. But if it's your first trip out, the 250 a day guidance is a reasonable estimate.
  15. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

    Jul 21, 2004
    It's your trip, your bike, and your body. Don't let other people dictate what you "should" do on _your_ trip.

    Do your trip based on how you like to do your rides. Some people get gung-ho about highwaying it 5000 miles to Alaska so they can check it off the list and sightsee for 4 days. Other people will take back roads and hardly put any miles on any given day.

    Every trip I did has been different. Just do what you feel like and you will fall into a schedule that seems to work for you. I've had trips where I was comfortably putting down 600 miles each day, and I've had trips where I went weeks without riding. Everyone is going to be so different it's not worth over-analyzing.

    Ride it like you would ride your regular day/weekend ride. As you go along, you can make it more aggressive or more relaxed depending on how you feel at that moment. The worst trips are ones where you have a set schedule and you are forced to ride to keep the schedule.
  16. K2vodka

    K2vodka Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2009
    My Town Chi-Town
    Like it's been said... It is Your Trip, Bike, and Body.

    How do you normally ride? How have you handled long days in the saddle before? Are you doing some longer rides and getting some exercise in to get you body use to or in shape for riding all day? Sore butt is never fun but anyone whose ridden a lot knows what works best for them to minimize it.

    In my opinion you choose out some major places you would like to see, keep your trip loosely planned, and enjoy whatever crosses your path. There are things you'll come across which are not on the map that will catch your interest.

    If time starts running tight you change it up as needed. If you don't like a place you planned on spending the night... don't stay. Hop back on the road and get going towards your next destination be it 10 miles or 100 miles. You end up being a little closer to where you want to be.

    Have fun and watch out for the cagers and any suicidal animals.

    Love the journey!

  17. SiouxsieCat

    SiouxsieCat Been here awhile

    Mar 22, 2010
    I hear that brother! Exactly the same here: day and a half getting out west, then one shot back home. I always add an extra vacation day from work for recovery.
  18. raebear

    raebear Been here awhile

    Jan 1, 2013
    Ely, NV; Grand Junction, CO
    Lot of good advice and opinions in there. It really is hard to give a 'definitive' number, so many variables. As an example; on an upcoming trip Ely to Reno is 320 miles- less than 6 hours- total. A well known deserted main road, very few towns, posted 70mph. Another day Weaverville to Eureka 315 miles I am thinking 10-12 hours, new unknown roads and scenery = more stops pictures etc.
    Are you trying to get from pt a to pt b for a reason? Is the trip about the ride or things to see and do off the bike? Are you just totally vagabonding it?
    I'll do a route w google maps and look at their time calc's it's usually fairly accurate. I figure where I ride 60mph avg including fuelstops. So for a 360 mile day- 6 hrs of saddle time including a fuel stop, 15 min for every other stop and an hour for lunch. So 6hrs saddle, 1hr lunch, 1hr for 4 pic stops and an extra hour just cause ='s 9 hours for the day very comfortable and doable for multiple days
    If I am on a mission to get somewhere I would rather do the longest day(s) up front and be more leisurely on the way back.

    Here are a few examples;

    My next trip

    then from Vegas back to Ely

    A ride for next year in the works

    A little3 day solo jaunt this fall
  19. spinney

    spinney n00b

    Jun 21, 2013
    Riding a moped you learn quickly that you aren't going anywhere fast. I can ride for about 4 or 5 hours before I'm totally pooped (those pedals sure do help get some muscle in your cavs though) When you know you aren't trying to get as many miles as possible in a day the whole vibe of the trip changes. It's more about what you see along the way and cool little things you can find.
  20. BeemerBT

    BeemerBT Been here awhile

    Sep 15, 2012
    Syracuse NY
    I'm starting off with the raw numbers for next week's trip . . .
    Roughly 6000 miles in 10 days. So I have my target daily average figured out, and will adjust the daily saddle time accordingly.