09. Oktober, 04:36 Uhr
This summer I did some experiments to optimize my cycle-touring range. Now I just completed the 4 river bike-route in Korea, leading >600km from Seoul to Busan, diagonally across the country. Despite heavy rain on the last third of the tour, the whole ride only took me only 56 hours and I rode alone without external support.
Here are some key aspects how I achieved this ride (and a couple other fast ones). To put it into perspective: Being a mountaineer, cycling is not my main sport but I do cover quite some distance in my everyday life and have a decent stamina.
- Try to stop as rarely as possible. I ate, drank, took pictures and took on/off my raincoat while riding. Avoid navigation stops too. Stopping costs time and even worse: breaks the rythm.
- Don't go too fast or you'll have sore legs, avoid high intensity
- Don't bring panniers (aerodynamics, weight) or a backpack (at least my back hurts after a couple hours). Stick to saddle bags and limit lugguage big time
- Continuously eat lot's of carbs. If you feel hungry it's already too late.
- Camping is not an option (too much luggage and too much time).
For the long and fast tours, I ride a road-bike with comfortable seat position (Canyon Endurace). I have a Saddle bag and a small bag on the handle-bar with my valueables.
Bike jersey, pants and gloves, compact rain coat; SPD-Shoes; T-Shirt, very light shorts and a set of underwear for the evenings-, mobile phone, power bank; wallet, oversleeves for legs and arms, tooth brush and paste, repare set, spare tube, pump, lock, sunscreen, 2x600ml liquid, some snacks.
Things I passed on: Rain pants, Non-SPD-shoes, shower-equipment and so on...
**The Speed & Time-Management**
In the flat without wind, I try to ride around 26km/h (16mph). It is important, that the speed "feels boring" as you need to keep it up for a long time and multiple days. During the whole day, I try to make 20km for every hour I am on the road (including breaks, minor hills, traffic lights and so on - only exception: when riding mountains with >200m elevation gain). I usually didn't start terribly early (around 8am) and kept riding until it got dark. Often I feel very good in the evenings and ride until 9pm. Good lights required for this.
Lots of sleep is also a key aspect to stay fit for me. 10 hours are optimal for me on these tours.
I never display anything other than my speed on the bike-computer. Looking at the daily distance makes me count kilometers - nothing worse than that. I try to focus on the landscape, other riders or whatever. Just enjoy myself as much as possible.
Trying to get the most kilometers out of a day, it is important to have several options as where to go to in the evening. Having the budget to stay in most hotels certainly helps here.
For multi-day trips it is important to consider the fact that you need to ride on the next day as well. For me it is very important to know my limits not to have a break-down after an overly motivated first day. For me speed and steep hills seem to be the killer. Therefore I try to avoid high intensity at any cost, even if it means to push my bike up steep hills every now and then. I did a couple one-day trips from home to get a feeling for my limits.
During the day I only eat food that I can consume on the bicycle (sometimes I get proper lunch though). Mostly power bars and other high-carb foods (e.g. Gimbap here in Korea). Bananas also work very well. In the evenings I paid a lot of attention to eating lots of carbs and also plenty proteins. Generally I have to force myself to eat, eating when hungry is a bad idea at least for me. Additionally I have coke or energy drinks in one of my bottles and water in the other one.
The stats of this particular tour for anyone interested:
Day 1: 265km, 1700m elevation gain, averaged 24km/h
(Mostly flat with some serious mountains at the end, perfect weather and fresh legs)
Day 2: 198km, 900m elevation gain, averaged 23km/h
(Mostly flat with some short nasty steep hills and some dirt/gravel sections that slowed me down. Stopped by rain in the evening, legs felt so-so)
Day 2: 146km, 800m elevation gain, averaged 24km/h
(again some short nasty steep hills and continuous rain until 2 hours before the finish, finished the ride at 3pm, legs felt very good)