The prowess of a cyclist is often measured in terms of two main stats: speed and distance. Beginners struggle to generate sustained high speeds, as their bodies adapt to the new skill of riding.
Consequently, their overall distance is far less than that of intermediate and pro riders. Answering a question such as “What is a good distance to cycle?” is difficult; as there’s is no single answer to that question.
It’s not just about skill or fitness, either. There are a number of factors such as your health condition, bike type, terrain, weather, and route that affects the outcome.
How far you go is impacted by everything from the road, or lack thereof, to your age, to the bike you happen to be riding. It’s also about your intentions — your goals.
How Far Can a Beginner Go Cycling?
Getting into cycling is a great way to relax your mind and workout your body. Not just it increase your flexibility, strength and mobility but is equally thrilling and has long lasting health benefits.
Distance in Miles
0 – 7
8 – 14
15 – 21
22 – 28
Very Challenging but Do-able
29 – 35
35 + Miles
Not Fit for Beginners
Similarly its obvious to find out what is a good distance to cycle before embarking for the first ride. After all we all want to know if we are on the right path to success.
That’s why we see beginners always asking question like “Am I Cycling Enough?”, “How Long Does It Take Bike X Miles or Distance” and “How Far Can a Beginner Go Cycling?”.
Your current fitness level has a detrimental impact on how long can you ride a bicycle. A young person with moderate fitness can easily go as far as 30 miles.
But I will tell only what is doable as it takes time just for your butt and the saddle to adjust to each other. The most reliable approach would be to start with a 30 minutes ride or 3 to 5 miles.
After a week or two when your body adjust to your bike start to take your bike for commute. This way you will slowly adapt your body to go farther and farther without risking overexertion.
Most beginners tends to stick to 5 to 10 miles for months before they built basic stamina for longer distance say 20-30 miles and even higher as a regular cyclist on tours and bike trips.
If you want to be able to cover longer distances in quick time you would need to build stamina and start to trust your bike. This involves regular maintenance and commuting building skills.
Factors That Affect a Good Distance To Cycle?
1. Why Do You Ride Bicycle?
The perfect distance to ride on a daily commute is the distance it takes to reach your destination. If you want to bike a particular track, then the best distance is the length of the track. What if you’re biking just to get some exercise in? What if you’re simply riding for fun?
In a real sense, you determine what will count as a good distance to you before you begin each ride. It all comes down to why you’re riding in each case.
It’s no secret that cycling is a fantastic way to stay in shape, but how far should you be riding to keep fit? Well, it’s more a question of time than distance.
Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day to maintain general fitness. Cycling is a fine way to fulfill the requirement, but how far should you expect to go?
For a beginner, the distance might be around 5 miles, based on the average speed of 10-13 mph. As your average speed increases, your distance will as well.
Biking can burn from 400 to over 1000 calories per hour of riding, depending on a variety of factors. When it comes to distance, you’re once again looking at the speed you need to ride to achieve your desired goals.
For instance, suppose you’re a beginner rider, and you weigh 185 lbs. If you ride for 30 minutes at 12 mph, you can expect to burn 355 calories.
In that example, your distance should be around 6 miles. If that rate of caloric burn is fine for you, then that would count as a good distance in your case. However, experts recommend at least 5 hours of riding per week for effective weight loss, so you should aim for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week.
Following that principle, you’d ride 60 miles each week starting out, and that figure would increase with your average speed.
Many cyclists take up the hobby with the ultimate goal of competing in a race or undertaking a particularly long ride. Even experienced riders can feel like beginners when they begin to train for competition, as distance can become more important than time.
The form your training will take differs depending on the sort of race you’re training for, and won’t be static from day to day in any case. Determining a good distance for training is more about balancing improvement with safety.
The average bike race distance is between 40-100 miles, and pro riders often train for 20-30 hours a week. Assuming you’re on a more recreational level, 7 hours a week is a more common figure, representing 1 hour a day of riding.
In any case, doctors recommend the distance ridden in a week not regularly exceed 110-150 miles, the lower figure being for beginners and less fit riders. Beyond that range, training can become counter-productive, and the chance of injury increases significantly.
When you saddle up with the intention of simply enjoying the experience of riding, don’t concern yourself with how far or fast you go. Riding for fun means riding however you like, and it’s an important way to maintain your passion for, and enjoyment of, the cycling hobby.
2. What Are You Riding To Cover the Distance?
Once you’ve determined your intentions, your next consideration is the bike you’ll be riding. Before you hop on, you should adjust your performance expectations up or down depending upon key features of your vehicle.
If you’re riding an electric bike, you’re going to ride farther. Whether you’re relying entirely on the throttle to carry you along, or are getting a boost via pedal assist, you aren’t as restricted by your own physical limits.
How much farther can you expect to go? Studies have shown that daily ride distances can increase by 1.3 miles to as much as 9.2 miles. Beginners in particular will enjoy greater average speeds, and thus distances, at the outset.
This may result in setting higher target distances than you would with a regular bike, which is not a problem. Just remember, to adjust the numbers downward if you do switch to a regular bike.
Road bikes have lighter frames, larger tires, and are built for speed. They’re also made for the flat and easy terrain of paved roads or hard-packed paths, which are ideal conditions for faster riding.
As such, you can expect to achieve longer distances more easily when riding one of these bikes. The 10-14 mph average for beginning riders is based on this type of bike.
Mountain bikes are built for durability and maneuverability. They are heavier, with smaller tire diameters. These design choices serve you well in off-road conditions, but lower the average distance you can expect to ride.
If you’re riding a mountain bike in off-road conditions, your overall distance will vary drastically depending on inclines, declines, and ground quality. When riding single track, beginners tend to average 10 mph, but this slows to 8 mph uphill, and can balloon to 17 mph or more downhill.
With so many variables, your definition of a good distance will likely depend on trail length or your destination.
3. How is Your Physical Condition?
Your body is the bicycle’s engine. Anything that impacts your physical performance will also have an effect on what you can do while riding.
Just like a car engine, you have to take care of your body to get optimal performance. At the same time, you have to identify and accept the limitations of certain unchangeable conditions and the wear and tear conferred by age.
Don’t confuse fitness with skill level. A person in great physical condition may have never ridden a bike in their life. Yet, they will still have advantages, and can reach higher speeds and distances sooner.
Runners, or others who have strong cardiovascular endurance and lower body strength, will quickly adapt to the physical demands of riding. Conversely, if you are out of shape, your early speeds and distances will likely be lower than the average.
This covers the things that exercise and diet may not be able to change. For instance, if you’ve suffered broken bones, or undergone surgery, the impacted areas of your body will have new limitations that may affect how far you can ride.
If you suffer from any of the following, or any other, serious conditions, you should discuss how the length and the intensity of your rides with a physician:
- Cardiovascular Disease
Your weight directly impacts the mechanics of travel. Not everyone who is heavy is in bad shape, but the more you weigh, the more effort you’ll expend riding.
How drastic the effect depends on the terrain as well as your weight. Generally, for every 10 lbs gained, you can expect about a .5% decrease in average speed on flat, easy terrain. Yet, try traveling up a 7% gradient, and that increases to a whopping 6% speed reduction.
Physical deterioration due to age is inevitable, but the impact it has on your cycling distance can be greatly reduced with experience and conditioning.
On average, both men and women will see a drop in speed of roughly 1 mph between the ages of 20 to 60. This figure raises to an approximately 1.5 mph decrease if the ride is longer than 2 miles, producing a corresponding decrease in distance.
4. Terrain, Weather And Your Route
It goes without saying riding a bike on a paved road is easier to ride on hilly terrain. In fact, these surface features have a huge impact on biking.
Muddy trails and mountainous terrain makes you put more effort to peddle and be careful when riding; thus reducing your average speed and total distance travel.
Then there are natural forces like friction, wind, and gravity that can work both for and against you. The more you have to go uphill the less distance you can grind out.
Similarly, the wind can impact your distance traveled being both supportive or against. If you are cycling into a strong headwind you will take 10-15 minutes more than normal to cover the distance.
A significant tailwind on other hand will have a positive impact in the same way. The wind will give you a push making you ride faster, farther and longer.
The more windy the day is the better ( more clear ) will be its impact. So always watch out for the weather condition, wind direction and speed to gain full advantage.
Then there are your choice for routes that effects your average speed and total time. The first thing you need to take into account is to look for flat and straight routes.
Conclusion – What is a good distance to cycle?
In truth, there is no such thing as a “bad” cycling distance. A complete neophyte might only travel a few feet on their first attempt at riding, and count that as a triumph. Why? Because they made progress towards their goal.
Remember when riding to keep your goal in mind, and to count any distance you safely ride on the way to that goal as good.