One of the great challenges when cycle touring is how to mentally cope with the scale of the task. One end of the scale for this trip is cycle 1300km. Big chunk and a bit depressing to start counting kilometres from number 1, waiting to reach 1300. We will revolve our pedals approximately 650,000 times. Pedal revolutions would be quite unbearably small chunks to count. Not to mention that, if one started counting pedal revolutions, it would be very easy to lose track. Then, if you are like me, if you aren’t sure if you countered 12 or 13, you have to go with 12, so I could be stuck at a count of 12 revolutions all day, making no progress.
We need an intermediate scale that works at a daily level, so our rule of thumb to break the journey up is to stop for a break either every 10km or every 100 vertical metres climbed. There are always exceptions, of course – if it’s really easy cycling on the road, 20km might be more appropriate, or the distance that is halfway to the next major milestone.
However, even 10km is way too far to not look at your bicycle speedo in between. So I try to look ahead to a putative 1km point, then check my distance when I get there. If I need to check more often than 1km, I probably should be following the 100m climbing rule! Of course that one can also be broken down – I try to look no more often than every 10m climbed.
Another way of getting the kilometres to add up is to promise oneself treats at intervals (and not deliver them sooner than “allowed”). At a 10km stop I have a handful of nuts and a swig of water. Where there are cafes, we hope for a cup of tea stop every 30-40km. Listening to story tapes help the kilometres go by, but sometimes I might start the day by having to cycle 20km before I’m allowed to listen to my story tape.
There are lots of times in life I find creation of chewable chunks is helpful. In lockdown, we didn’t know when the end would be, day by day was too big a chunk, mealtime to mealtime seemed more manageable. When I am working on large grant proposals, I allow myself a cup of tea once I have edited a set of sections. When I am planting trees, there’s a daily quota of 10 tree holes, and usually a cup of tea quota of 5.
Chris and I seem to have similar scales of chewable chunks. This is pretty handy because if one of us wanted to cycle 5km before a break, while the other wanted to cycle 30km, we would have a problem. In writing this, it occurs to me that I have rarely asked other people how they determine the scale of their chewable chunks. If you feel like commenting, please let me know!