By the numbers5 min read

On the last long ride we did, Shawn asked how many ‘long’ ones I’ve done. Curiosity got the better of me and I went to have a look, as below.

There are few things I like more than creating a spreadsheet and this was the perfect opportunity for another one. But first, what constitutes a long ride?

The majority of my long distance rides are from randonneuring, and sans Strava, the easiest place to grab some data would be from the Audax website. The shortest local rides are 200km, so that is my default minimum distance to qualify as a ‘long’ ride.

Audax rides

My first BRM was 8 years ago, in Jun-2012. I was looking for longer distance events as training for my first Transbaviaans, which was later that year, in Aug-2012. I’ve since shared in 34 wonderful excursions, some with mates and some all alone, for a relatively modest 12800 kms as a randonneur in South Africa.

That gives an average of 375km per ride, and according to the distribution below, 600km is the distance which accumulated the highest total:

  • 200km*12 = 2400km
  • 300km*8 = 2400km
  • 400km*5 = 2000km
  • 600km*6 = 3600km
  • 1000km*2 = 2000km

There was also a single Fleche, to tally up to a mere 34 rides in total. Honestly, given the great experiences I’ve had, I would have thought that there was more.

Other rides

One thing lead to another and it seems randonneuring was the gateway drug for more adventure. Add another 15700 kms for other long distance rides, local and abroad, on road and off, including, but not limited to the following:

Shorter ones like Transbaviaans, the 36ONE, Everesting, a silly Coronation DC on a mountain bike (never say never, but not likely again), and the Cross-Cape route (in both directions). And longer ones like JHB2CPT, Munga, PBP, LEL & TCR.

Total distance

So all the 200km+ bicycle rides I can recall or account for adds to 28500 kms in total. Which doesn’t sound like much, given the number of people I know who cover in excess of ten thousand kilometers in a year, with ease.

Number of rides

How cool is this – according to the stats in front of me I’ve now done exactly 50x rides of 200km or longer (a nice round half-century). It doesn’t sound all that much, until you look at the average for each one.

*Edit: 52 rides. I’ve added two failed attempts of the Cape-1k, as one was 400km and the other 500km — and both of them were worthy adventures, for different reasons.

Average distance

I am not very active on Strava and do not often share ride info there, but then again I really don’t ride that frequently. However, when I do hop onto a bicycle, I want to know about it —

This next statistic is probably the best summary in my opinion. Total distance divided by 52 rides gives a fairly substantial average of 548km per ride.

Terrain

The split was nearly 80/20, in the favour of tar. Of the total distance, only 5000km (18%) was off-road/gravel on a mountain bike, while the vast majority of 23500km (82%) was on tar.

Average speed

I am by no means a racer and a blurry image of a sprint finish should rather be swopped with one of a tri-bar loaded with pints of beer or bottle cages stuffed with wine bottles.

Here we have to distinguish between a moving average speed (excluding time spent during stops) vs the total average speed (including time spent during stops).

Audax rides on the website is always recorded as total time including all stops, and that comes to 16.8km/h (total distance over time), or 18km/h if you just average the km/h column.

Unfortunately I don’t have complete data to isolate a moving average speed only, however it feels comfortable at 25km/h, depending on the terrain. TCR had lots of climbing and there my moving average was 20.2km/h.

And then there is that blessed ratio of moving time to stopped time, ie time spent cycling vs time spent stationary. So if you want to go faster, you do not necessarily need to pedal harder — just have shorter stops. These are my examples:

  • On Everesting it was 70/30
  • On the Munga is was 60/40
  • And on TCR it was 50/50, ie I stopped for just as long as a cycled (granted, there was much to see and experience).

Geography

I’ve been very fortunate to visit some of the most amazing places on a bicycle, both locally and abroad, for a total of 18x different countries, including our own.

Rides over 1000km

These are already included in the figures above, but probably deserve special mention due to exceeding the magical 1000km number for a single ride. And by the looks of things my next one will be special, ie number ten. Links below are to write-ups for each ride.

  1. Dec-2009 — 1500km JHB to CPT
  2. Aug-2015 — 1200km Paris-Brest
  3. Dec-2016 — 1000km Hors-délais
  4. Jul-2017 — 1400km London-Edinburgh
  5. Jul-2018 — 4150km Transcontinental
  6. Nov-2018 — 1080km Munga MTB
  7. May-2019 — 1000km Cape Beast
  8. Nov-2019 — 1000km Mishap-Munga
  9. Oct-2020 — 1000km Lambertsbaai

Also worth noting is the frequency at which these occur. At first the thought of cycling a thousand kilometers was outrageous. Now it’s a three day outing.

What next? SRE, R10k, and it is about time to create a wish list for future adventures…

PS, while glancing at the numbers the following stood out like a sore thumb: total distance is almost 29000kms, 15kmh average gives you 81 days. Now where have I heard that before? Not that Mark Beaumont is in any trouble.

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