A day in the life of a bicycle tourer
You may wonder what an average day on the road looks like, when you’re on a long trip like ours. It depends a lot on the country you’re in of course, the circumstances vary. But typically a day in the life of a bicycle tourer goes something like this.
05:30 AM – Time to wake up
I wake up from the cries of my stomach. ‘Feed me, feed me’ it yells. Robin isn’t an early riser like myself, so I give him a few nudges to wake up too. He growls a little too and turns around to get a few more minutes of sleep.
Before I open the zipper of our tent to start making breakfast, I get my morning exercise in: stuffing the down sleeping bag back in the compression bag. This way there’s a little more room in the tent so I can find my clothes and put them on.
06:00 AM – Breakfast time
I pull out the oatmeal which we’ve already mixed with raisins, nuts and maybe some other dried fruits we’ve found along the way. There is also milk powder in the mix, so we can use water to make our cyclist’s brekkie. Just have to filter it first, because we were probably too tired or lazy to do it yesterday evening.
By now Robin is up too. That’s good, he’s better at lighting the stove. Besides if he does it, I can stay in the tent a little longer. We’re going to be outside all day, and the morning sun is still working hard at heating the place up.
While Robin cooks the oats I put away his sleeping bag and start to deflate and roll up our sleeping mats. I get dressed and by then, Robin comes with our breakfast which we usually eat inside the tent. We don’t have chairs with us and eating breakfast while standing isn’t very convenient.
07:00 AM – Pack up our gear
We almost always argue about who has to do the dishes and sometimes we both win. Then we don’t do them at all and make it a problem for later. Together we pack up the rest of our stuff. The tent is always the last part, which we fold together. Everyone has a unique folding technique for the huba huba, but we make up something new every day.
08:00 AM – Ready for today’s ride
Before we take off, we check our camp site one last time to make sure we don’t leave any traces. All trash from last night’s dinner comes with in a baggie which we dispose when we find a trash can. We try to use as little as plastic as possible, because we know that even when we throw it in a designated trash can, it will most likely still end up in the river. Very frustrating, but at least it has made us very aware of the amount of plastic we use.
10:30 AM – Second breakfast
By now we are probably running low on water so we keep our eyes open for a tap. In many countries we got offered fruit, tea and all kinds of food when we asked if we could fill up by someone’s house. The generosity of people is something that kept amazing me.
We always accepted whatever they were offering, because we were also getting hungry again. Time for second breakfast! And a nice chat with people in a language we don’t speak.
The first ten kilometres are always the hardest for me. I’m a cyclist who needs to warm up. If we want to cycle 80 kilometres and I feel like rubbish for the first eight it’s a difficult mindset to snap out of. Luckily there is always something to distract me along the way. And if there isn’t I listen to a podcast or some music and talk to Robin. We somehow never run out of stuff to talk about, must be because we see so many new things every single day.
There are so many elements you have to factor in to determine how many kilometers we can get in before lunch. The surface, the elevation, yesterday’s ride, the wind, it all has a big effect. Some days we were happy with 15 kilometers and some days we strived for at least 100.
01:00 PM – Longer lunchbreak
But as soon as one of us starts to get grumpy, we know we have to take a break. We take some shorter breaks along the way, to take a picture or maybe buy a soda for some extra energy. Snickers breaks play an important part in our life too. But those are always relatively short.
For our lunch break we take more time, usually about an hour or so. We use the tarp of our tent as a picnic blanket. I pull out the pot and… oh shit, we forgot. One of us still had to clean out the pot, which is ten times as hard now, since it has completely dried in. But one of us always steps up and gets it over with.
We are one of the lucky few who thought to bring along an egg container, so it’s usually scrambled eggs on bread and some fruit and veggies to go along with it.
02:00 PM – Just a little longer
At lunch we try to determine our finish line for the day. We check out the rest of the route on Komoot so we can see the elevation profile and the types of surfaces. Komoot is our preferred app to plan our route, together with maps.me. In cities we prefer navigating with Google maps, but for that we need a local SIM card with data.
We usually have one, so after we’ve finished our lunch we relax for about fifteen minutes. We check Instagram to see where the rest of the cycling community is at. Are we going to cross paths? We love meeting other cyclists on the road. We also share the pictures we might have taken that morning.
04:00 PM – Searching a camp site
The search for a new camp site begins at least an hour before sunset. If we haven’t seen anything to our liking on iOverlander we find something ourselves. I’m usually quite tired by now and don’t really care if the camp site is well hidden or away from the traffic sounds. I could literally set up camp next to the road.
Robin is a lot better at this, so he usually takes the lead here. It’s always interesting to see how this goes when you cycle in a group. Who takes the lead and for how long do they get to keep it. Everyone is tired and hungry by now, so the true personalities come out. How long do the extremely picky camp site searchers get to find that ultimate spot to pitch our tents. So far no one has gotten hurt.
05:00 PM – Setting up camp
After a long day of cycling I usually want to get out of my bib shorts as soon as we’ve put up our tent. We take turns changing inside the tent and wash ourselves with baby wipes. Found a camp site with running water, a river for example? Then we take a skinny dip in the usually ice cold water. With our cooking pot we create a bucket shower and rinse of a days worth of dirt and sweat.
06:00 PM – Dinner time
We cook up a simple meal on our stove with some lentils and rice and eat it either in our tent if it’s cold or find a nice rock to sit on when it’s still warm outside. The argument about the dishes takes place again, but whoever did it at lunch probably gets away this time.
09:00 PM – Nightfall
When it gets dark we cozy up in our tent and talk about what we saw that day. Sometimes we like to tune out and listen to a podcast or watch something on Netflix. But as soon as the starts come out, so do we for one last time that day. We look up to the sky and realize how lucky we are to be here.
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Wow, you must miss this life. (But the dishes are easier now)