Bike from Waterloo to Ottawa in 24 hours

I'll admit, this is a bit of a crazy idea, and it's probably something I'll never achieve, but there's something irresistible about it.

July 22, 2007

I've done some thinking about this one:

The official distance would be from city limit to city limit (Ottawa's pretty big, so that helps a bit)

I think the only way this feat would be possible, at least for me, would be to do it on a day where the wind was near perfect. In other words, the wind would have to be blowing pretty hard and at the optimum angle. (East north east) It's sort of cute that Navtech's primary business is flight planning, which uses wind data from across the globe to produce the most efficient route between two points, so ideally I could write a little program to calculate the average wind component of the proposed route on any given day. (Predicted wind values)

You would need a support vehicle to carry your food and water supplies. A Camelpack would be the ideal way to carry water on the bike, which the support vehicle would refill every few hours, and a liquid food source like Ensure would likely be the ideal for food.

I'd obviously need to invest in a road bike. I have a mountain bike right now with hybrid tires.

Time for some math:

473 km / 24 hours = 19.7 km/h

When I biked to Ottawa in 2005, I think the group's average speed was around 24 km/h. We worked pretty hard to keep that pace, and I can say with 100% certainty that maintaining that pace for 24 hours would be impossible (for me). When I'm biking around Waterloo, doing 30 minutes at 25 km/h is enough to really tucker me out, and anything faster than that requires that I'm either going downhill overall or have a nice wind at my back. Often, maintaining 22 km/h is a more realistic effort.

So 19.7 km/h, while it's not "fast" by any stretch of the imagination, is still a pace that will tucker you out after a few hours. That's where the wind comes in: I expect that I'd only be able to maintain a 15 km/h effort for 24 hours, so the rest would need to come from mother nature. Even at this rate, I would have to be in incredibly good condition... each hill takes its toll, and to be able to keep a constant effort for 24 hours would be grueling. Having a road bike would help a bit, perhaps lowering my required effort by around 1-2 km/h, but it's also a less comfortable riding position, which might be more of a hinderance than a help. I've heard of "triathalon" bikes that might be the best alternative.


From: 900 University Ave East, Waterloo, ON
To: 45.27392,-75.786438
Distance: 473 km

Google map of a possible route