First things first: hello from France! It's been a minute since our last batch of stories. We've been traveling plenty these past few months, still working our way around the world on our little bikes, and more updates will be coming sometime between soon and soon-ish. For the moment, though, we'll be posting a few round-ups of our time in Africa. Our spending sheets for the past four months went up last week; this week, here's an attempt to answer one of the most common questions we get on the road. Au revoir!
We get a bunch of questions pretty often, but we get this one particular question a whole lot. People we meet always want to know one thing: how many kilometers are we pedaling each day?
For six months across Africa, we didn't really know. We don't exactly count our kilometers. We aren't traveling with an odometer or cycle computer or live Strava tracker. We just bike, with a very rough sense of how far we've come since morning. And so our answers have always been a little vague. Depends on the roads: up or down, gravel or paved. Depends on the winds: bad, or really bad. You mean in general? Uh, between zero and one hundred kilometers per day?
But no more. Finally, seven months since starting our bike ride, we have a slightly better sense of our pace.
Just slightly, though. We calculated the numbers below (Lauren actually did all the calculating) pretty simply. We just took the total distance we cycled in each country (an approximation of our route, give or take maybe 5%, pulled from the app we use for our maps and directions) and divided by the number of days we spent there (double-counting a few of the days we crossed borders) to find our average pace. We then created a second set of averages excluding rest days—days when we did no biking at all (or very little biking around town). These two numbers (expressed in kilometers per day) aren't necessarily exact, but they're a little more precise than what we've had to work with so far.
Anyway, here they are, by country and in total.
South Africa (5 rest days)
890 kilometers / 24 total days = 37 km/d
890 kilometers / 19 cycling days = 47 km/d
Namibia (7 rest days)
976 kilometers / 27 total days = 36 km/d
976 kilometers / 20 cycling days = 49 km/d
Botswana (10 rest days)
1,109 kilometers / 26 total days = 43 km/d
1,109 kilometers / 16 cycling days = 69 km/d
Zambia (7 rest days)
1,162 kilometers / 23 total days = 51 km/d
1,162 kilometers / 16 cycling days = 73 km/d
Malawi (16 rest days)
681 kilometers / 28 total days = 24 km/d
681 kilometers / 12 cycling days = 57 km/d
Tanzania (18 rest days)
674 kilometers / 30 total days = 23 km/d
674 kilometers / 12 cycling days = 56 km/d
Morocco (5 rest days)
625 kilometers / 16 total days = 39 km/d
625 kilometers / 11 cycling days = 57 km/d
TOTAL (68 rest days)
6,117 kilometers / 169 total days = 36 km/d
6,117 kilometers / 101 cycling days = 61 km/d
So. How far do we cycle each day? In Africa, on days we were actually cycling, we rode about sixty kilometers per day—sometimes on gravel, sometimes into headwinds, but also sometimes in perfectly good conditions.
How far do we cycle on average? In Africa, for every ten days on the bike, we took about a week off. Practically speaking, over a series of weeks or months, we really only moved about thirty-six kilometers each day, or a pretty measly two hundred and fifty kilometers per week. One could certainly pedal plenty more (and we've met other cyclists pushing a hundred kilometers each and every day), but we enjoy taking it slow and stopping often, and a quicker pace would probably feel a little too rushed for us.
A few other fun facts. We cycled quickest in Zambia (all paved) and slowest in South Africa (plenty of mountains and gravel). We moved most quickly across Zambia and most slowly across Tanzania. We took the most rest days in Tanzania and the fewest in South Africa and Morocco. We covered the most ground in Zambia and the least in Morocco. The cycling pace of our final three countries in Africa (Malawi, Tanzania, and Morocco) was almost identical (between 56 and 57 kilometers per day), suggesting we've maybe found ourselves a good rhythm.
So anyway. If you were wondering how far we go each day, now you know.