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Next summer, I'm planning to do a very long bicycle trip. I'm not yet sure where it will take place, but I have 2-3 favorites. 1) from Stockholm to the North Cape 2) from Switzerland to Istanbul 3) from Switzerland to the Black Sea.

Now I have some troubles to guess how much time I will need for this. I'm not talking about days, but I'm not sure if this will take 3 months, half a year or a whole year.

That's why I'm interested if there are any rules (e.g. on average 30km a day) so that I can vaguely guess how long it will take?

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The main problem is that the time will depend a great deal on the terrain. –  Michael Borgwardt May 8 '12 at 9:53
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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You can check famous cycle paths for estimations. The most famous along your 3) From Switzerland to the Black Sea is the Donau Radweg, which is almost fully cyclable from Donaueschingen in Germany up to Budapest in Hungary. Given durations depend on the kind of trip you want (family, sport, leisure...). It gives approximately:

  • Donaueschingen to Passau: 15 days for 600 km
  • Passau to Vienna: 8 days for 350 km
  • Vienna to Budapest: 8 days for 350 km

Another cycle path runs along the Loire Valley. The only estimation I found is 600 km in 18 days from Nevers to the Sea.

Note that these two cycle paths are easy because they don't involve mountains and accomodation is more or less organized for cyclists.

For other cycle path suggestions, you can check EuroVelo (and on Wikipedia), which has gathered data on 70000km of cycle paths in Europe. For instance the routes I suggest are known as the Eurovelo route #6 from Nantes to Constanta, 4500km.

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It actually worries me a little bit that you are planning such an extensive trip without the capability of estimating yourself how long it will take :)

Checking out estimates for other bicycle routes might help you, but my experience is that they are exactly what they are labeled: only estimates. To give you an answer with a higher confidence rate than rolling some dice, you have to fill out a few blanks with your personal conditions and preferences:

  • What is your pace? Even with a moderate physical condition and some weight from your luggage, you should easily be able to keep 15-20 km/h on a flat route. If you calculate as low as 30 km/day, you shouldn't need to spend more than two hours a day on the bike. If your condition is well above average and you plan to spend more time on the bike, your daily leg may just as well be five or even ten times longer.

  • How much time do you want to spend on the bike and how much time do you want to spend on interesting points along your route, meeting other people etc.

  • How "weather sensible" are you? If the rain is pouring, will you stay in bed or still force yourself through the daily leg? After you've decided for a specific region and the time of year, historical weather databases should be able to give you an estimate on the expected weather.

  • What are your accommodation requirements? At least in the more rural areas in northern Sweden and Norway, it may be difficult to find lodging along the shortest route, forcing you to choose a longer route than strictly required.

I am not sure if my personal experience is of much value here, but I made a longer bike tour in an oddly mixed group last year. The attendants ranged from a 23 year old sport science student on a rented e-bike to a 65 year old tweedy gentleman on a rusty 3-speed bike and we rode a part of the Weser-Radweg in Germany from Hannoversch Münden to Bremen (about 350km). The trip took us 21 hours (real "on-bike" riding time) over three days and arrived safely after the sport science student gave up on the last day and took his e-bike aboard a train for the last 60km or so. As you see, it is not at all easy to estimate.

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Great answer... –  John Doe May 9 '12 at 11:42
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