Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Statistical Analysis of a Cycle Tour

Location: CancĂșn, Quintana Roo, Mexico
For nearly 9 months we have been cycle touring around the U.S.A, Canada and, to much lesser extent, Mexico.  Today we want to tell you the real reason we have been on this journey; to gather, collate and analyse data of the trip to give you folks an interesting insight in to the numbers.  Whooo!!! (In all honesty we are quite excited about this and we both geeked out over these numbers for a little too long).

From our starting point in California to our final day in Quintana Roo we have been away for 262 days and during that time we have covered 8,709 miles.  This distance was completed in 17 States in the USA, 5 Provinces and 1 Territory of Canada, and 2 states in Mexico (check these out on the map page).  

Pie Chart to Show Distance Cycled Per Country
In terms of analysing the data we we have decided to split the analysis up.  We are calling these 2 sections 'Cycle Touring' and 'Being Away' as since we arrived at our 'destination' of Oshawa things have taken a decidedly un-bikey turn.  We've cycled a total of 135 days; 75 in the United States, 56 in Canada and 4 in Mexico.  As with all exercise one needs to have rest days so as to prevent injury (though Drill Sergeant Soph would often forget to plan in rest days).  Whilst  in the Cycle Touring part of the trip we had a total of 79 days of zero or very little cycling. In the Being Away part we have had 44 days out of a total of 52. Just to put things in perspective.

In the About Us section we talked about doing 2 days of 60 miles and having a rest day (so 1 rest day in 3, covering on average 40 miles per day).  So just looking at the 210 days we spent Cycle Touring we have had more rest days than we thought (we had 1 rest day in 2.7 days), however, we have covered a few more miles that we expected.  The unfeasible regime of 2 on 1 off would have us at 8,400 miles by day 210 whereas as our total was 8,522.  So on average we covered 40.6 miles a day.  Considering the fact we had never done a long cycle tour prior to this we think we had a surprisingly good idea of what a 'good day of cycling' looked like. Incidentally, Sundays, far from being a day of rest, were the day of the week we clocked up the most miles on during the trip.

Bar Chart to Show Number of Times Different Distance Per Day Completed
Having a few more rest days than expected but still covering the distance we expected means we must have done bigger miles when we did ride.  And yep, when you average the days in the saddle we did 65 miles a day.  We can look deeper into these days and get some more insights.  The chart above shows how many times we completed different length rides.  It quite closely resembles the old bell shaped curve of our maths classes, with the apex at 71 - 80 miles.  However it drops off quicker than it rose with markedly less days of over 80 miles than below 71.  The day we covered the most miles was the 30th July (day 154 of the trip, it was a Thursday) and we did 115 miles.  In total we had 5 days where we completed more-than-century rides.  Before we set off Sophie had never done a century ride before and Tom had only done two, both unloaded and fully supported.  Now we have completed 5 on touring bikes weighing around 50 kg each.  We're proud of us.  And whilst the tour absolutely was not about riding far and fast, we think it shows how our confidence & fitness really improved.  All of these greater-than-century rides were clustered around weekends.  With one each being completed on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Drill Sergeant Sophie says Tuesday and Wednesday are feeling left out and we better plan some big rides in for when we get home!).

Bar Chart to Show Total Distance Cycled Per Month
The month we cycled the most was August, we covered 1711 miles!  Compare that to our first month on the road, March, when we rode 1030 miles.  In August we did an average of 55 miles per day, including rest days.  But if the rest days are removed, then when we did ride we rode an average of about 81 miles a day!  Our total mileage since arriving in Oshawa is 187 miles, so we did more in 3 days of riding in August than we have in the last 52!

Stacked Bar Chart to Show Number of Nights Per Day of The Week We Stayed in Different Types of Accommodation
Some other interesting day of the week stuff is shown above.  First of all we have stayed with a lot of people through the wonderful online network that is WarmShowers; we stayed 64 nights with hosts throughout Canada and the US and it is spread pretty evenly through the week.  Although we stayed slightly more times on Monday and Saturday nights and a little bit less often on Thursdays and Fridays.  The few times we stayed at Hotels/Motels/Hostels it was during the week and never at the end of the week or weekends, mostly this was due to serendipity (e.g. the snazzy hotel in Santa Barbara that some friends hooked us up with) or need (e.g. the hostel at Pigeon Point on our second night out after Tom broke his bike) but on the 2 occasions we splurged on a motel just because we felt we needed it, the fact these days fell midweek and were therefore a little cheaper, sure helped us to go ahead and book in.  The fifth night in this type of accommodation was Sophie's birthday, which was luckily a Monday.  Since being in Mexico we have paid for all accommodation, be it a hotel, an Airbnb or a home-stay; there are WarmShowers hosts in Mexico, but almost none in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Infographic to Show Total Weight Lost Across 30 Weeks of Cycle Touring 
It's hard to know, but we probably burned something like 5000-7000 calories each per day of riding our average 65 miles.  And we lost a bunch of weight.  Sophie lost something like 20lbs or 9kg, Tom lost around 39lbs or nearly 18kg!!  The best infographic for this our Friday Photos.  The photos on the left were taken on the morning we flew, 27th February 2015, the ones on the right were taken in Oshawa on 25th September 2015.

So that's about it from us on our statistics and our tour.  We leave in a few hours to fly back to Manchester.  We don't really know what's going to happen next, but if it turns out to be interesting and fun (and we are both very much hoping that that will be the case) then we will probably write about it.  We're so looking forward to catching up with friends and family back home and to all of you that we met along the way remember our door is always open and we can't wait to repay the hospitality you've shown us.


  1. You guys are great! I so enjoyed meeting you and learning about your trek (that you insisted was not an "adventure"!) I am so glad you have reconciled the issue about when to end your journey, and that it's absolutely amazing and commendable what you accomplished. If you ever happen to venture by Okanogan WA (yah, right!...) please know you are welcome to stop by.

  2. Wow this is amazing!! What a huge achievement!

  3. I think you guys have done amazing well!! Take heart that you guys dared to do what many don't even dare dream of doing. Be happy with what you guys have done and experienced as not everyone dares to do what you 2 have done for the last 8 mths!!

    I believe this journey is just a beginning for both of you and start on another adventure!!