People often ask us, “How far do you cycle each day?” The best answer is, “It depends.” When we are cycle touring, we rarely plan more than a few days in advance. That way we aren't tied down to a fixed schedule, and can be more spontaneous in deciding where we will go. A lot of different factors go into the decision. Some are deliberate and calculated, others more intuitive. And some cause friction. Here is a sampling:
- Food and Lodging – what is available in the upcoming towns? This one's a biggie. Even though we can camp, we don't cook or carry food so we need to be able to get meals in addition to finding a bed. In remote areas, this can easily limit our choices, either stretching our distance or cutting it short. Alternately, we may find a nice place we'd like to stay, and finagle the distance to make it work.
- Weather – what is the chance of rain? We are willing to get wet, but we see no reason to slog through hours of downpour if we can help it. We may choose to shorten our mileage in order to start late or quit early to avoid misery. Headwinds slow us down, and may also limit how far we can get.
- Terrain – are there a lot of hills? Significantly hilly areas, particularly if they are steep and challenging, require a lot more effort. Slower progress and more tiring equate to fewer miles. Poor pavement also impedes progress, taking a mile or two off our speed.
- Sights to see – are there places worth visiting? Time spent sightseeing has to be carved out of our cycling time. Significant stops require much shorter distances, maybe even a day off cycling.
- Our bodies – are we in need of rest? We are hopeless about taking rest days. For me in particular, it goes against my nature. But occasionally we need it. Sometimes we fudge by taking a “rolling rest day,” cycling only 10-20 miles at a leisurely pace and calling it rest.
Taking all that into consideration, we average somewhere around 45 miles a day. We generally cycle at least 30 and rarely do more than 65.
Right now non-cycling factors seem to be taking priority. Knowing there was a lot to see and do at Whitefish Point, we stayed two nights in Paradise and made a day trip (without gear!) just 11 miles up the road to Whitefish Point. The beautifully sunny weather encouraged us to linger there most of the day. Naturally, the lighthouse and the Shipwreck Museum were a draw.
The area also includes a bird sanctuary. I am certain that was of more interest to Rich than the lighthouse. But I was perfectly happy to spend time on the beach, lingering among the sand and waves while he looked for birds. Unfortunately, not much was happening on the birding front, but I took up a new hobby and left my own mark on the coastal scenery.
Making our way to Macinac Island, we knew we wanted to spend time exploring the island. That and finding Twin Cedars Resort was reason enough for us to break our journey en route. Not only have we had a relaxing afternoon and evening at the lake, but we will have plenty of time for the island tomorrow.
How far did we go today? A mere 37 miles. It's tough for my hard core (can't we do more?) cycling mentality to admit, but it was the right amount. It's been a great day.