I see the questions popping up over and over again - "how many kms/day?", "can I get to such and such place in this ammount of time?". Usually these questions are related to extremely ambitious itineraries, even for the most experienced, and usually by people who only have a few weeks or months to travel - and who wants to cram in as much as possible (I am often one of those
). So, I thought it would be a good idea to start collecting all your opinions and point people with these types of questions to this thread.
So, here is my few cents:
A dayly riding average of 300 to 350 kms/day, including resting days, border crossings, etc
is not a problem for prolonged travel... if you stick to a very rigid but efficient routine - even 600/kms can be done in the extreme, but probably not for prolonged travel over more than a few weeks. I have personally done 1.000 km/day on shorter trips on my Dakar, but they only lasted a few days. The ironbutt people ride more than 1.600 kms/day for a day or two (but not on overlanding type bikes). However, when we are talking overlanding, with prolonged travel, border crossings, brake downs, camping, etc - 600 kms/day just isn't the way to go for anyone! I see that many people do not reccomend more than 200 kms or 250 kms/day at max - which I will clearly abide myself once I have the luxury of time. This much said, doing anything more than 300 kms/day is a lot and should not be taken lightly!
To be efficient it is important to understand a few things: - it is the stops and not the riding speed that kills your daily average - in fact, riding at high speed is very tiering and will eventually lead you to taking longer and longer brakes and ind the end make you slower. On the other hand, without sufficient ammount of rest, fatigue sets in and spirits are killed - both which require a great disproportionate ammount of rest and recreation to bring back into line.
Fatigue accumulates not only throughout the day, but also over the days. It creeps up on you, and once you notice it, it is too late... its like rot. It is therefore of great importance that you find an optimal balance of rest and riding, which will work for the whole group
... not only through individual days, but across days. This means that there are two types of rests, one is riding brakes, and the other is resting days - and both are equally important... think about the turtle and the rabbit, the turtle allways wins.
My experiments have lead me to the following general rules of thumb (for groups of 1-3 people):
10-20% of a single riding day should be brakes, and 10-20% of the total trip should be resting days. The longer the days, or the longer the trip, the higher end of the percantage scale for riding brakes and resting days.
Example of daily routine, applying the 10-20% brake rule
-Wheels are to be rolling no later than 08:00 in the morning if breakfast is available early, if not, then 08:30. This means that the bike must be tanked up and serviced before having gone to bed. Late arrivals means less recreation and rest - leading to rot in the end
-A qucik 5 min brake at the top of every hour - to be used efficiently: Have a drink of water, a cigarette, a snack, a piss... To most newbs, it sounds like a lot to have a brake every hour, and few initially feel the need to stop the first hour - but after a long day in the saddle, with fatigue accumulating, at least half the group needed it badly. Frequent stops is necessary to hold fatigue at bay, especially on long days.
-A 5 to 15 minute stop every other hour at a gas station to refuel, restock on water and food, snack, drink, etc.
-A 15-30 minute lunch brake.
-Dinner after having arrived at the final destination for the day
-With this routine I can easily do 10 hour days, day after day. If I press myself, I can do fifteen hour days for a few days in a row.
NB, with short stops like this, you will not have time to wait for service - you will need to bring your own food and drink, and consume it by the side of the road (i.e. just some bread, jams and water), and then get going quickly. If enjoing a coffee at a café, eating lunch in a restaurant, or anything else that require service from others, is an integral part of your daily routine, then you should reduce your daily average by 50-100 kms/day.
With 300 kms/day average, you should still be able to enjoy a coffee every now and then, shoot some photos, and maybe even have a warm lunch on occasion - but maybe not every day. Border crossings, banking, shopping, flat tires, nightfall, may all get in your way.
Example of resting day routines, applying the 10-20% resting rule:
Set the pace immediately by trying to spread the resting days evenly from the very beginning. For example: Ride four days and take the fifth day off, or ride five days and take the weekend off, etc. After a while you can adjust and balance resting days with the length of riding days... maybe you find that you want to push it on a stretch to save up some free time down the line?
For a week long trip, there may not be need for more than a half day for rest and/or recreation (10%), while for a three month trip might want to spend a few days at a beach resort, accept invitations to late night parties, etc (20%)...