So the plan was this…

It was the first week of January.  A new year with new adventures. The idea was to ride from Currumbin to Brunswick Heads, via the Billinudgel Nature Reserve, stay two nights and then ride back. Google Maps estimated it would be 60.3kms each way and 3hours 18mins pedal time.

The good thing about Google Maps is that it profiles the elevation of the planned route, making it clear where the ride will rise and fall. Some people prefer not to know about the hills in advance but somehow it helps my state of mind to have an idea of what’s ahead. It allows me to pace how I expend my energy.

(The other good thing is that, with Google Maps, I learnt of the bike trail through the Billinudgel Nature Reserve.)

The downside of Google Maps for bicycle tour planning is that the average speed it estimates for a particular journey might be quite different from the speed at which I ride. If riding a road bike made with lightweight materials and without any luggage, the average speed would be much faster than a touring bike like mine loaded with panniers.

You see, this was my first bicycle tour and I didn’t know what my average speed would be on a tour with two full panniers. Around the neighbourhood, my average speed might be as low as 11kms/hour if I’m roaming back from the beach or the Saturday markets. On a longer ride to collect supplies or ride to work it might be 18kms/hour. But these rides were only around one and a half hours, so I had no idea how I’d last over three hours of cycling.

Now I’m writing about this, I’m realising that I hadn’t factored my endurance into my planning. I’d looked at Google Maps and thought:

.”..yeah, I can ride for three hours twenty. We’ll take it slowly and give ourselves plenty of daylight time”.

So that’s how I approached it. I estimated we might average 15kms/hour and, at that speed, the 60km trip to Brunswick Heads would take us about 4 hours pedal time.

Hmmm, what was that advice John Lennon sang to his beautiful boy…

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

I underestimated by about 25%! We pedalled for almost 5 hours (4hrs 54mins) each way. On the upside, I now know our average speed for touring with two loaded panniers is about 13kms/hour. Maybe it was the amazing scenery that slowed us down, or the hills or perhaps it was what we’d packed into our panniers…

13 Comments on “So the plan was this…

  1. Welcome to the touring phenomenon. While training for tours, I would often ride 50 miles from home to the Cape Cod canal. With a stop for coffee or something, it would take me four to fiver hours to complete the ride. On tour however, riding 50 miles would often take eight hours or more. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 It’s a different experience isn’t it? I know there’s the endurance factor to account for but I think there’s also something about soaking up the landscapes that we’re riding through. It’s a good feeling!


  2. What an adventure! Gail, I’m glad you made it back. Nearly five hours of riding – each way! The scenery must truly have been worth it. Next tour you’ll have a more accurate estimation of the time it will take.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. that’s the one thing that I take with a pinch of salt- google maps cycling times. I think it is based on a young fit road cycling enthusiast not an ” older ” ( me) lady cycling with a full load – then average speed is about 8 mph – about 12ish kph I think. however if there are lots of steep hills it drops dramatically. just keep enjoying the ride

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true Brenda – it’s only a guide and seems to always allow for a much faster average speed than what I ride. Fortunately it was no problem and added to the adventure of the trip. As you know from your recent rides, wind and rain add more variables to the mix. And in some way that’s what I like about going outside – it’s different every day and that brings new things to encounter and enjoy, and even if they are a little challenging, there’s the reward of knowing you made your way through it or around it or over it – but you made it! 🙂


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