The Experiment

Simulating 14 days completely self-sufficient

In addition to our goal of meeting, exchanging and sharing with Canadians and visitors from “Away”, we plan on conducting a small experiment to verify our assumptions concerning the amount of food and fuel needed to be completely self-sufficient for 14 days. This is required in order to prepare for a future Alaska trip down the Dalton Highway, Alaska.

The Dalton Highway runs for 800 km from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks (or vice versa). There are few services along the highway except for an inn and two restaurants at Coldfoot (Mile Post 175). The highway was formerly graveled for its entire length, but in recent years a long-term paving project is roughly half-completed, notably a large segment at the beginning of the highwayWe decided that we would be self-sufficient for 10 to 12 days given that the average distance covered by a cyclist on the Dalton Highway is 65 to 80 km a day. 

We would have liked to find a 400 km gravel road along our intended route in Québec but we could not. So in lieu, we opted to cycle through hilly Charlevoix (past Québec City on the North Shore of St Lawrence River, Hwy 138). The more usual route is Hwy 132, South shore of St Lawrence River and much flatter. This should be sufficient to simulate the physical effort. See below for our intended route in 2019.

Click here for detailed route

Daily Calorie Needs 
In order to determine how much food you need, you have to estimate your daily calorie needs. A quick search of the Internet reveals numerous calorie estimate calculators. We chose two calculators that are reasonably well documented and differ somewhat in how they arrive at the daily caloric need. When we compared the numbers, they were close to each other. The numbers are approx. 3,150 and 4,650 calories for Hélène and me, respectively. We also calculated our daily need for proteins (105 and 156 grams). See first spreadsheet below.

How Much Food
We consulted a number of references and discovered that there are two methods to determine your food requirements:

      Meal Planning:  # of days X meals/day = # of total meals X # of people = total breakfasts and dinners. For our trip:
1)   14 x 2 (breakfast & dinner) = 24 meals x 2 = 48 meals total
2)    24/2 = 12 dinners and 12 breakfast
3)    Snacks to be eaten between meals and after dinner

       Bulk Rations: # of days x pounds per person per day (ppppd) x # of people
1)    14 x 1.5 = 21 pounds of food
2)    As one gets fitter, the effort (mileage) increases, so more mileage = more food. Increase the food for week 2 to 2 ppppd (7 x 1.5 + 7 x 2.0) = 35 ppppd.

We opted to go with the meal planning method:”…you have a little more freedom to meet your caloric needs but carry less food weight.” Cookery, National Outdoor Leadership School, page 42

We purchased a 1-month supply of freeze-dried meals from Costco! This gives us the 2 meals a day and all we have to decide is what snacks (bars, nuts, dried fruits, etc.) to eat between meals. We snacked a lot on our first bike trip, mostly various flavours of tortillas with peanut butter and jam!

We will use the second spreadsheet below to assist with meal planning, using one for each/day for each of us. We should be providing food/fuel updates on the blog daily.

If you want to use the spreadsheets for calorie needs and/or menu planning of your own, let us know in a comment. 

How Much Fuel
We found this on the Trangia stove "...Trangia stoves consume about 32g of fuel to boil a litre of water. On an extended camping trip, you will need to carry about a litre of methylated spirits between 2 people for each week you wish to camp out. A litre of metho weighs about 700g." So 2 litres of fuel should do us for the 2 weeks.

We are having some publishing issues with the spreadsheet below, we are working on it.  It should be corrected in the near future (blog administrator, aka Hélène 😊)
To view the entire grid click here
To view the entire grid click here

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