cycling distance for beginners

An Easy Guide to Average Cycling Distance for Beginners in 2023

How far should you cycle as a beginner cyclist?

If you are a beginner cyclist you should be aiming for a speed of about 12 kph or 8 mph. However, it is not easy to put an average cycling distance for beginners given that this will be affected by factors such as physical well-being, fitness levels, and the ground surface on which you are riding.

The average bike ride distance for beginners is thus variable depending on several factors that you may or may not be able to control.

The most reliable way to determine what distances you can achieve as a beginner cyclist is to get on your bike and ride for about an hour. You should be pedaling at a steady pace that allows you to still have a conversation without running out of breath.

The best way to know you have not pushed yourself too hard is if you finish the ride and feel that you have burned some calories and still enjoyed the exercise. In this article, we provide information to help you determine what distances you need to be riding as a beginner cyclist.

Check out the average cycling speed for beginners

how many miles should a beginner bike?

One of the best ways to get a relaxing workout for the body and mind is by going on a long ride. Cycling not only increases your mobility, strength, and flexibility but is thrilling in addition to providing a ton of long-term benefits for your health.

Distance in MilesDifficulty Level
0 – 7Very Easy
8 – 14Somewhat Easy
15 – 21Can be Done
22 – 28Huge Challenge but Do-able
29 – 35Very Hard
35 + MilesNot Recommended for Newbies

Before embarking on that first ride it is critical to know what you can take, as that first ride can mean the difference between taking up riding and quitting if you push yourself too hard.

Current fitness levels have a huge impact on how far and how long you can ride a bike. If you are young, have no health issues, and are moderately fit 30 miles of riding can be done.

However, you need to remember that you still have to adjust to the saddle while it adjusts to your butt and this can mean some uncomfortable riding. The best way to do it as a beginner is to ride for 3-5 miles at a time for no more than half an hour to get yourself up to speed.

After riding for a week or fortnight your bike saddle and body will be fairly adjusted to each other ad you can now take the bike on longer rides such as your daily commute. This will allow you to slowly adapt to the rigors of riding without being exposed to overexertion.

Most people who are just starting out will rarely go above 5-10 miles for several months before they attain the stamina needed to go for something like 20-30 miles which is what is required for a regular cyclist on a tour or on long weekend trips.

To be able to go long distances in a short time, it is critical to start trusting your bike and build your stamina. This will mean regular commuting and maintenance of the bike.

Factors that determine beginner cycling distance

There are several factors that determine how far you can go as a beginner cyclist including:

1. Ground Surface on Which You are Riding

The first thing about cycling distance has to do with the surface. Mountainous terrain or muddy trails are more challenging to ride on as compared to smooth paved surfaces. Such surfaces provide less friction and this makes it easier to peddle meaning you can go faster.

Dirt and mud create a stronger connection between the wheels and the ground making it a slog getting through them. You will typically get your best mileage on paved road surfaces.

average cycling distance for beginners

The second thing about the terrain has to do with the gradients. The more hilly the route you take is the fewer miles you can achieve on your ride. Paved road surfaces with relatively flat inclines are great for cycling and you can get some good distances on them even as a beginner.

Unfortunately, slopes and hills are very common and you should not avoid cycling hills as they build stamina. Moreover, if you intend to become a regular cyclist or even go pro, steep inclines are going to be part of the game.

2. Weather Conditions

Weather conditions such as wind, sun, and rain can play a huge role in the distance you ride.

Riding against a significant headwind will mean that you have to exert more strength and get exhausted faster which will reduce the distance traveled significantly. You will have to increase cadence to maintain your speed and this can be very tiring.

Cycling with a tailwind on the other hand can increase the distances traveled considerably. For instance, if you take about half an hour to commute to work against a headwind, or a tailwind and take at least seven minutes off your ride. Moreover, I will not have to ride harder and exert myself as much.

riding in good weather

If you are rising in heat, you can also find that the distance covered is impacted. While most bikes will take the heat quite well your body will not. Humid and hot air will make peddling harder causing you to exert yourself more and reducing your stamina.

As such it is always advisable to ride while well-hydrated in hot weather. You also need to bring along a water bottle as dehydration is one of the easiest ways to reduce your staying power on long rides no matter how fit you are.

3. The Type of Bike

There is all manner of bikes out there from BMX to road bikes, commuter bikes to mountain bikes. The type of bike you are riding will determine ease of riding and this will in turn impact distances covered.

For instance, carbon fiber road bikes weigh significantly less than mountain bikes. This means that you do not have to exert as much energy riding it as compared to a heavier hybrid or mountain bike.

Different types of bikes

To go the maximum distance, it is always advisable to go with a road bike which is more aerodynamic and lighter making it easier to go longer distances. However, this will depend on the terrain you are riding on. If you are riding on stony terrain or gravel, a mountain or hybrid bike would be better suited to those conditions.  

How Fit You Are

Fitness levels vary quite a lot across the board and there will be significant differences in bike riding distance depending on how fit you are. The general rule is that the fitter you are the more stamina you will have and the longer the distance you will be able to cover as a beginner cyclist.

However, it is important to note that fitness levels will increase over time and it is not recommended to measure yourself against more experienced and fitter riders who can go longer distances when you are just starting

Fit rider

Many riders get into cycling after watching the Tour De France. While you may think that you could ride half the distances the professional cyclists do, nothing could be further from the truth.

Trying to emulate these riders could leave you miles from home with no energy to go back since hardly anyone has the fitness to cycle such distances as a beginner. Moreover, it may take you days if not weeks to get back the energy and stamina to get back on the saddle once you have recovered enough.

If you have been out of the game for years are have never cycled before, the best thing is to start with a thirty-minute ride. Cycling for only thirty minutes will be quite an achievement that you can build on over the following weeks. It will not be long before you start adding hours to your ride rather than minutes.

5. Physical Well-being

The last thing that would impact your distances is your well-being which will include things such as sleep, and overall health.

How much sleep you got last night or over the course of the week can seriously impact your physical performance. A great night of sleep can result in enhanced energy which you can tap on to achieve some impressive mileage. Conversely, a poor night’s sleep can cause a decline in performance and reduced recovery times.

Similarly, you will have poor energy if you are not in the best health both physically and emotionally. If you are just coming back from illness or have a long-term illness, you will not have the physical energy or be in a state of mind to exert yourself and this will significantly reduce your stamina.

A post you might find interesting how long does it take to bike 5 miles

Physical well being of rider

Long-distance biking for beginners

If you are a beginner, it is not recommended to do long-distance cycling since it usually requires a lot of physical fitness, lots of energy, cycling experience, and endurance among other things.

As such, you should stay away from long-distance cycling in the beginning since you do not have much experience. You would need to attend a lot of training sessions and expend a lot of effort before you are ready for long-distance cycling.

As a beginner cyclist, your biggest focus should be on your cycling technique, increasing stamina and endurance, maintaining stability, trying out different types of bikes, learning to ride on different types of terrain, and learning to ride alone.

Once you have achieved a measure of competence you can then try long-distance bike rides.

What Should a Beginner Cyclist Focus On: Speed or Distance?

Speed usually refers to the time taken to cover a given distance. the typical beginner cyclist will usually attain speeds of about 12km/h. As such, most cyclists who are just getting introduced to the sport of cycling will usually cover 12 km in about an hour.

A beginner cycling needs to focus first on the distance they can cover rather than their speed when they are just starting out. To be able to ride for long periods of time, the biggest thing one can do is to build up their stamina.

As a beginner cyclist, it is thus critical to initially focus only on the distance covered rather than the speed they can attain since speed is more often than not a secondary thing. Once you begin being consistent with the distances covered, you can then start looking to increase speed over a given distance

How to increase Average Biking distance as a beginner

  1. Whether you are running or cycling or engaging in any other physically taxing activity, it is important to build up your stamina over time. The rule of thumb is to increase the mileage or time by no more than 10 percent every week.
  2. If you cannot engage in conversation with other riders then you probably are pushing too hard and need to slow down so as not to tire yourself out too quickly.
  3. Go on three to four rides a week which will help to improve your fitness better than one or two longer rides.
  4. Keep Your bike light and resist the lure of shinier and newer parts. Pedaling up an incline means you are pedaling a 14-25 pound bike plus your own weight and you do not want to add to that weight.
  5. Invest in cycling clothes and shoes for longer rides. Cycling shoes need to come with clip-less pedals as these are safer and more efficient. Cycling shorts should be the lycra or baggy style designed to reduce friction while riding.
  6. Always stay hydrated while riding and bring along a bottle of water. You need to remember that since you are moving sweat evaporates faster from your body while cycling than with other physical activities such as running.
  7. Enjoy the ride and get on your bike because you want it and not because of how fast or how far you can ride.
  8. Pedal Smart if you intend to last long. This usually includes finding efficient gear that will not fry your legs by being too hard. A slightly easier gear with a higher cadence is usually better than a lower one which is harder to turn.

Best Bikes for Beginner Cyclists: Our Top Picks

If you intend to become a cyclist, then what you need is a perfect bike that can go on the terrain on which you will be riding. The caveat here is that some bikes such as the road bike tend to be very specialized and hence are better for experienced or pro cyclists rather than beginners.

If you are a beginner the type of bike that would be best for you include all-terrain bikes, single-speed bikes, hybrid bikes, and some basic mountain bike models. The first thing you need to do is to learn how to ride properly, then proceed to maintain stability, increase endurance and stamina and then try to increase cycling speed

According to our research, some of the best bikes for beginner cyclists include:

Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike

Schwinn Network Men and Womens Hybrid Bike

Schwinn Network Men and Womens Hybrid Bike

Schwinn Discover 2 Hybrid Bike for Men and Women

Schwinn Discover 2 Hybrid Bike for Men and Women

Schwinn Network Men and Womens Hybrid Bike

Schwinn Network Men and Womens Hybrid Bike

How to choose the route for the first ride?

In the end, I will give you some practical tips on how to choose your first ride. I know how important these are since I was completely lost without them when I first got into cycling. I had no idea how big of a lap to pick, what roads to ride on, and no idea where to go.

  • Route Length – This is one of the most critical factors when deciding on what route to take. We always advise that you choose a route between 10 and 14 miles long as a beginner.
  • Destination – During every ride, opt for an interesting destination about halfway on your route. I always advise a destination where you can relax, sit down and maybe have a drink of water or coffee. Making your rides very enjoyable often means that you will have more motivation to tack on the miles.
  • Roads – You will sometimes have to ride on roads alongside other vehicles. In that regard, I always advise that you go with a route that takes you through areas with thinner populations and less traffic and congestion. If possible avoid the main roads, particularly on your very first rides.
  • Terrain – Your first five rides should be done on flat terrain. You need to be avoiding big climbs at all costs. If you will have to deal with some minor climbs, you should adjust the length of your route. The fewer miles you do the better able you will deal with climbs.

Cycling Training Plan for Beginners

The best thing that you can do as a beginner in cycling is to ease yourself into it. In this regard, we have put together an 8-week plan that will help you go from a total beginner to an intermediate cyclist as it culminates in a 10-mile ride. In this plan, you will be cycling three days every week and having your longest rides on Sunday or Saturday so that you do not have conflicts with work.

Before beginning, select the best days ideally one of which needs to be a weekend. Alternate the training days so that you do not train two days in a row. We usually recommend training on Sundays, Thursdays, and Tuesdays. You can always expand the times f you believe you have the strength and stamina to complete it. If you believe you can go longer, don’t hold back as long as you keep the times relative to each other on the plan.

  1. The first fortnight is all about getting up to speed on cycling and hence it is important to begin with 10-minute rides on your first two outings and then finish on the weekend with 20-minute rides.
  2. Repeat Week 1.
  3. Ride for 15 to 20 minutes for the first two allocated days then do 30 minutes on the weekend.
  4. For this week, remove one day and then do a longer ride on the remaining two days. We usually recommend doing 35 minutes during the weekend ride and 25 minutes on Wednesday.
  5. Go back to riding three times every week again. Cycle for half an hour on the first two days and ride for 45 minutes on the weekend.
  6. Repeat Week 5
  7. Cycle 30 minutes on the first day, then do twenty minutes on the second day, and on the weekend do a one-hour ride.
  8. On the final week, add an extra day of riding. Ride for 45 minutes on the first day, then up it to an hour on the second day, and then do a 20-minute ride on the very next day and then finish by riding for 10 miles.

With this plan, it can be very easy to go from a total newbie in just about two months. For complete beginners, it is usually better to stick to a relatively flat route but you can go with a route with hills if you feel that you are up for the challenge.

What is the average bike ride length?

The average bike ride length is between 10-15 miles and this is always impacted by factors such as experience, terrain, weather conditions, and the type of bike ridden

What is the average bike speed and distance for beginners

The typical beginner can usually achieve speeds of up to 12 miles an hour covering about 2 to 3 miles. For cyclists with less than 6 months of experience, they can get to speeds of between 10 to 12 miles an hour

how far should a beginner cyclist ride

The average cyclist can attain a speed of up to 12 miles an hour which means that in your first week, you can ride up to 2 miles in distance. After about two months of training, you should be able to ride for 10 miles with no trouble

What is a good distance to bike daily?

The average cyclist will hit between 10-12 miles an hour in speed. A pure greenhorn cyclist will thus cycle for about 5 miles riding for 30 minutes

Is 30 minutes a day of cycling enough?

30 minutes of cycling is the recommended duration for a beginner. This should be 15 minutes riding away from home and then fifteen riding back.

Is 20 miles a long bike ride?

a 20-mile bike ride is doable for a beginner cyclist with reasonable levels of fitness. Anything above 20 miles will prove a huge challenge for most beginner cyclists.

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