How fit do I need to be?
You are fit enough. There, I’ve said it. There’s no reason not to ride the trail.
More important than absolute fitness levels is an ability to match your attempt to what your body can handle.
I’ve found it’s hard to look at a website and work out from that how much you should attempt each day, so I made an objective scale to help you work it out. (see handy hints to the right) If you’re aiming for daily segments as I’ve described below, Id say you should be level 4-5 on my scale.
I’m a level 5 in the scale, and in good conditions the segments below for me are fine.
As I’ve said though, experience is the main thing. You need to know what 100km on dirt roads feels like, how to pace yourself when a headwind comes up, how not to blow up on a climb, etc. If you’re an experienced rider all this is obvious, if you’re not, you can still do the ride. (how else will you gain experience?)
I rode the segments described below in 2015 (and revisited many in 2016). Leading up to my first ride of the trail, my training rides were roughly 40-60km each, two or three times a week and with 1000m or so of vert on each ride. I experimented with a couple of 100+km days with a loaded bike to see how that felt.
Conditions play a huge part though. If you’re riding bitumen you only have weather, wind, temp etc. to factor in. On the Mawson you also have the condition of the track. Remember – it can be so muddy that not only is it unridable, but it’s unwalkable as well, as your bike turns in to a heavy, bike-shaped object with wheels that won’t turn on a surface where you have no traction to try and push it.
Try to avoid getting in to that situation. Use caution. Once per lifetime is often enough to tackle thick mud on the Mawson. It might sound like a grand adventure, but remember, that’s what the diggers thought about going to the Western Front in WWI.