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If someone of moderate cycling abilities, and pretty good fitness tried to cycle to Greece from eg. London; how long would it take approximately. Assuming around 8 hours of cycling a day?

And please (for future users) explain how you did the calculation and link to any on-line tools or resources you used.

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migrated from travel.stackexchange.com Sep 15 '11 at 10:08

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I think this question is more related to the bicycles.SE rather than to travel.SE. If you want, I can migrate it there. –  VMAtm Sep 15 '11 at 9:54
    
@VMAtm: yes, you are probably right. Could you do that? –  Vass Sep 15 '11 at 10:06
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I'm not sure that this is a particularly useful question - but if edited to include what online tools exist (e.g. how @Roflcoptr generated the graphics in that answer) and what sort of time buffers, speed degredation and so on that should be used to calculate touring distances, then it would be more useful. At the moment it's on the cusp between too localised and not a useful question. –  Unsliced Sep 15 '11 at 10:45
    
@Unsliced, that is a useful comment. There is an editing option for users other than those that asked the question for such a change. As I am probably not as experienced as you appear to be, I would be glad if you could make the question stand better and possibly include some description about how to generalise the distance/time measurement. –  Vass Sep 15 '11 at 10:50
    
@Daniel R Hicks I edited my answer so that it also covers your edited part. –  RoflcoptrException Sep 15 '11 at 12:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 23 down vote accepted

It's more or less a math question. A way from Athen to London without using a ferry if not absolutely necessary (Canal), it is approximately 3200 kilometers.

So if you have an average speed of 15 km/h (mountainbike) or maybe 25 km/h (racing bicycle) it would take approximately 214 respectively 128 hours to cycle the route.

As always for such rough approximation I would add at least 20% time buffer. So you would have 257 hours (32 days) respectively 154 hours (19 days).

I also generated a tour profile for you:

enter image description here

Here you can see that the route is more or less flat, expect for one or two passes that you would have to climb. But be careful, on such a large scale, all steep climbs aren't visible. The red line indicates Zagreb (Croatia).

The largest mountains on the road are between Graz and Wels (Austria). But with a few extra kilometer you could avoid them when traveling over Vienna.

Then also the evalation profile looks much nicer (unfortunately I can't draw it in the same scale):

enter image description here

Here the first red line is Zagreb and the second Vienna (Austria).

Traveling over Budapest (Hungary) would be even more flat, but now the distance is really longer:

enter image description here

Here the first red line is Zagreb (Croatia) and the second one is Budapest (Hungary).

In order to draw all the profiles, I used GPS Visualizer. It is a online tool, that can plot profiles from various sources (e.g. GPS tracks). In this case I just created a tour in Google Maps and then used the static link to this tour as input for the GPS visualizer.

Just for the fun of it, I created you a very alpine route:

enter image description here

The first red line is Brindisi (Italy), the second is Vaduz (Liechtenstein) and the third is Sion (Switzerland).

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amazing answser! thanks –  Vass Sep 15 '11 at 14:29
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This is such a cool answer. –  Pekka 웃 Sep 15 '11 at 20:33
    
Can this be done on a single speed? –  Baumr Jun 9 '13 at 0:59

Give yourself a week to follow the Loire down to the Alps, a couple of weeks to cruise around lake Geneva, through Interlaken, Liechtenstein (to add an extra country to the bedpost), Graz, Vienna and on to Budaspest. Remember that it is one Alp a day unless you are a TdF rider, so be prepared for some astoundingly steep climbs and low mileages if you go the Alpine way. Budapest is fully first world, but, heading south through the Balkans isn't going to be quite so luxurious, but you will be okay. Give yourself another couple of weeks for that 'adventurous' stretch.

Naturally you can go the other way through Italy, avoiding too much Alpi-ness, this should be a lot quicker but you will have to get a boat when you get to the heel bit.

Personally I would do the Alps and maybe consider following the Danube as much as possible as the roads along side it in Hungary are quick and easy - Hungary is a big plain. But then you would be missing out Lake Balaton, which I think is a must. Also the Loire can be a bit trying as it is a bit boring by bike, but it does help you to get the France bit out of the way quite quickly.

Hope that helps!

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P.S. Ballpark figure, 5 weeks. –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Sep 15 '11 at 12:18
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As for 'online tool' for calculation, really you have to plan a route to take in must see towns, cities and nature thingies along the way. You then just need to join the dots and guestimate contingencies. I don't think that an 'online tool' can really trump riding ambition, gut feeling and finger in the air tinged with experience. –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Sep 15 '11 at 12:21
    
I can't edit your answer, but it is called Liechtenstein. –  RoflcoptrException Sep 15 '11 at 12:24
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Fixed - amazing answer you have provided b.t.w. Can't really be bettered, but I have done a lot of the route and my ballpark figures for the Alps were so wrong when I got there, hence some 'accurate' ballparkage! –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Sep 15 '11 at 12:30
    
Thanks. I like to play with these tools and since I'm living in the Alps I regularly use it to plan my tours. For sure it is just a rough estimation, but it can be quite useful. –  RoflcoptrException Sep 15 '11 at 12:42

Roflcopter already tackled the actual route planning more completely than I ever could. I thought I'd add a bit about the time you can expect to take. This depends mainly on the following:

The amount of cycling you do in regular life

Regardless of how fit you are, your body needs to adjust to the cycling if you are not a regular cyclist. Plan trips of fewer km/day for the first week to 10 days, and add a few rest days if you are not at least a regular (50km/week+) cyclist. Your bum will become sore, obviously, but if your body is not used to prolonged bike sitting you will also feel this in your back, shoulders, neck and arms.

Your fitness level at the start of your trip:

Cycling is a physical activity. Even if you have no problem cycling 20km/h for 2 hours around your town you will find that cycling 15km/h for 5 hours is much more demanding, doing this a few days in a row even more so. Take a few test-trips of 5 hours or more in the weeks before you embark on your trip to find out how your body feels at the end of the day, and the day after. If you are tired at the end of the day, but feel fine the day after you have found a distance that you can keep up for more than a few days in a row.

The bike you ride

Get a bike that is suitable for the terrain you expect to tackle. In most cases slick road racing tires are not the best choice because they skid easily on loos gravel, sand, other dirt, or mud. If you plan on taking luggage, don't take your 8kg full carbon racer. Get a light-but-stiff mountain bike and fit it with narrow-but-not-too-narrow road tires, or get a hybrid or fitness bike fitted with these tires.

The amount of luggage you are planning to take

Full camping gear will weigh in at about 15-20 kg, if you plan on staying in hotels/hostels/b&b's you can cut this to below 10kg. This is dead weight that you will have to drag around all the time. In my experience full camping gear (which for me is about 17 kg) cuts my maximum daily distance by about 10-20% compared to no gear. Also, more gear might mean you need to take a stronger, heavier bike on your trip.

The amount of sightseeing you are planning to do

Don't expect to slog around a town looking at the sights after you've just spent 8 hours on your bike. If you want to do more than just take in the highlights from the saddle of your bike, plan accordingly. Plan half- days or even full days just for sightseeing.

So, now on to the actual numbers. I will try to outline a few steps to figure out a reasonable average speed. My base bicycle here is a reasonably light (~13kg) mountainbike or fitness bike, fitted with road tires with some profile (no slicks), and with 24 gears: If you almost never cycle in your daily life (i.e. no commute, no long distance (30km+) recreational cycling on weekends, start with 12km/h. If you cycle 30-50km/week, start with 15km/h If you cycle 50-100km/h start with 18km/h If you cycle 100km/h+ start with 20km/h

If you have high stamina from long distance running, swimming, or other endurance sports but you are in the lowest two levels for cycling, increase your average by 3 km/h for the first week, and increase it again by 3km/h for the days after that.

If you plan to take only hotel gear increase your average by 0-2 km/h depending on the hilliness of the terrain. If you plan to take no cargo (i.e. your luggage will be transported for you) increase your average by 1-3 km/h.

If you ride a very heavy (18kg+) bike or a mountain bike with knobby tires decrease your average by 2km/h

If you ride a very light (10kg or less) bike and have road racing tires increase your average by 2km/h

Following this should give you a reasonable estimate of your average speed if what you get falls within the 10km/h to 25 km/h range.

Plan to ride about 4-8 hours per day depending on the amount of sightseeing you want to do. In my experience, 8 hours means all you do is cycle, eat, sleep, and prepare for these three activities (i.e. bike maintenance, food shopping, pitching tents/searching hotels, etc.) 6 hours will give you some time for sightseeing, having a few drinks in town at the end of the day, etc. 4 hours or less will allow all the sightseeing you need.

Plan a rest day (i.e. little or no cycling) every 4th to 7th day. You will need some margin in your planning to cover emergencies, and your body will probably also need to rest a bit more from time to time. Have more rest days in the first weeks, and postpone them if you feel good. If you are not an regular cyclist plan a rest day every 3rd day for the first two weeks.

And now for some general advice for first-timers:

  • Get cycling gloves. Your hands will go numb from holding your handlebars otherwise.
  • Get cycling shoes or other shoes with a stiff sole, preferably with click-pedals or toe-clips. Your feet will thank you.
  • Bike maintenance is important! It is especially important to keep your cogs, chain and derailers clean and you tires at optimal (high) pressure. Anything that adds resistance uselessly lowers your speed. I generally clean my drivetrain every 3rd day, and after days with significant rain.
  • Keep drinking and eating.
  • look ahead on the map and make sure your supplies are adequate given the distance to the next food stop.
  • Keep an extra emergency supply of some salty stuff (I use pringles chips) and some sweet stuff (energy bars) on hand for when you accidentally "hit the wall" from undereating/drinking.
  • Don't even think of taking more luggage than just what you need for the day in a backpack. You will regret it.
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Have a look at http://blog.ch3.gr/

He is an average cyclist who did a UK to Greece ride 3 years ago and has captured all important information in that blog.

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