There are various factors that affect the distance a person can bicycle in a day. The health and fitness level of the cyclist, the bike being ridden, and the condition of the road and environment can play a huge role.
Of course, all of these factors still cannot determine exactly how far one can bike in a day. For instance, one day, a person may feel on top of their game and go further than they’ve gone before. On another day, the same biker may not feel that great and only be able to complete half their usual distance.
However, there are certain ways through which you can determine how far you can and should bike in a day.
How Long is a Day?
Before factoring in how far you can bike in a day, it is important to clarify how long a day is. Technically, it is widely agreed that a day equals 24 hours. However, when you are talking about biking a day, you likely don’t mean that you’re going to be on your bike for the entire 24 hours.
For the majority of us, saying ‘a day’ usually means ‘a part of the day’. While it could mean completely different things to different people, this roughly adds up to 6 to 12 houses – give or take a few. Ideally, factoring in how many hours you are planning to bike can give you a better estimate of how far you’ll be able to ride.
On average, an individual participating in a long-distance bicycle tour will cycle between 40 to 60 miles (64 to 96 kilometers) each day. However, distance can be significantly shorter or longer than this, depending on the specific cyclist.
Here is a rough chart describing two broad categories of cyclists and how far they may be able to ride a bicycle in a day.
|Beginner/Undesirable Conditions/Not Fit||Experienced/Ideal Conditions/Fit|
|Average Miles – 55.83||Average Miles – 60|
It is important to remember that ‘not fit’ in the first category can imply a number of things, from having a headache or being out of shape. Similarly, bad condition could mean a very rough road or turbulent weather.
As you can see, the difference in riding conditions can cause a noticeable difference in the miles that a cyclist can cover in a day.
First Day on The Road
Your first day on the road could be as exciting or as anxious as you want it to be. However, it is important to plan ahead. For starters, you need to pick a path for biking. There are mainly two options for this: either you’d start cycling from your home or you drive to a certain location and start your ride there.
Since you are already aware of the streets, navigations, and road conditions in your area, starting the tour from your home can result in a longer ride. In fact, the familiarity alone makes covering 40 to 60 miles entirely plausible on your first day.
However, starting your biking tour from an unfamiliar location can significantly cut down the distance you can realistically expect to cover on your first day. Even if your goal is to cover 50 to 60 miles each day, your initial plan should be to only cover 20 to 30 miles – especially during your first day on a new path.
There are various reasons to do this. For starters, it may simply take more time to get to your starting location than you may have estimated. Since you will be biking in a potentially foreign location, just navigating through the starting spot may take more time than it would have taken in your own neighborhood.
Additionally, you will likely not be in the best shape for cycling – unless you’ve already done a significant amount of practice on a bicycle. Even if you are otherwise fit and healthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right muscle and core strength required to paddle a bike for a few hours. It’s unlikely that you will be able to cover a record-breaking distance on your first day.
The good news is that it won’t take long for you to develop this strength. Even if you cycle 4 to 5 times a week, you will be able to notice a significant improvement in your resistance by the time the third week begins. And the more hours you spend riding a bike, the faster you will become.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that there is more space for error during your initial days. Always expect that something may go wrong during your first tour, and allocate sufficient time to deal with any such mishaps.
Your tires could burst because you aren’t familiar with the road yet. You could lose your way. You may not be able to find your way back to the car. All of these can cause significant delays to your trip and may result in your getting late for home. However, allowing yourself space to deal with these issues can result in your first trip being fun and exciting.
Remember, your initial goal shouldn’t be to reach the destination in a record-breaking time. Instead, it should be to reach your destination safely and enjoyably. Having high goals at the beginning can demotivate you if you aren’t able to achieve them instantly. So be patient with yourself and allow yourself room to grow. This is also important if you are biking in your own neighborhood.
Update Your Goals As You Get Used To Biking
Once you start getting used to the road and the surroundings and get a better idea of the ways you can gradually increase the distance you cover each day.
It is possible that your second day may not be as exhilarating as your first. This is because you will likely experience some sourness in your legs, back, arms, neck, and hips. This is a result of delayed onset muscle soreness, as your body has been working muscles that have rarely been used before. As you continue cycling every day, your muscles will start loosening up, reducing the soreness you experience.
You can start to slowly increase your distance as you cycle daily. For instance, if you managed to cover a 30-mile (48 kilometers) distance on day 1, you can aim for up to 35 to 40 miles on the second day. The following day, you can add another 5 to 10 miles to your previous record.
Continue doing so until you reach a distance that allows you to meet your own personal biking goals while also being comfortable enough. But don’t get too comfortable and continue challenging yourself a little or you may get stuck in a rut.
It is also important to remember that everyone’s personal goals can be different. If biking 20 miles per day seems challenging enough for you, that’s completely fine. Continue covering a 20-mile distance until you get absolutely comfortable before thinking about increasing your daily goals.
At the same time, if 50 to 60 miles seem too easy, you can always try to cover more distance than that. You can even aim for 100 miles each day if you feel that is possible without wearing you out. It is all about understanding your body, as that is the best way to determine your personal goals.
Set Goals that Are Realistic
There could be a lot of reasons you want to start cycling more. Maybe you want to get fitter and would rather participate in a fun activity than going on a crash diet. You may want to participate in the next cycling marathon. Or you’re just looking for a fun new hobby to try.
Either way, setting up realistic goals can be helpful for keeping you on the right track.
The biggest mistake aspiring cyclists make is setting unrealistic goals and then getting disheartened when they aren’t riding 80 miles on their first day. Therefore, the most important thing to keep in mind while setting up goals is: Do not try to set goals beyond your capacity. This means that you should not be planning on covering more distance than you are capable of.
Even if you used to cycle 60 miles a day without an issue when you were 17, it doesn’t matter much now if you haven’t picked up a bike in ten years. Yes, you may be better on your first day than the majority of the people who weren’t riding 80 miles a day, but you will likely not be as good as your 17-year-old self either.
Therefore, as stated earlier, it is important to listen to your body while setting realistic goals. You don’t want to exert yourself, or else you likely won’t look forward to the activity the next day. The idea should be to meet certain goals while also enjoying yourself in the process.
Try to ignore the temptation of wanting to cover as much distance as possible. Instead, cover as much distance as you are comfortable with. In addition to that, taking your time on the cycle will also allow you the opportunity to slow down and take in your surroundings.
On average, 20 miles (32 kilometers) to 50 miles (80 kilometers) is an ideal range for most people. However, you can increase or decrease based on your own personal strengths and needs.
If you want to cycle in a marathon, you will likely have to increase your distance coverage. For this purpose, you will likely have to reach a daily goal of 70 to 80 miles. However, make sure to build up your resistance instead of trying to cover that distance on your first day.
If you just want to incorporate a new hobby in your life, just going as much as 10 miles a day will be enough to relax and unwind from your daily stresses.
Ultimately, how far you can bike in a day entirely depends on you.
As important as it is to challenge yourself while setting goals, it is also crucial to give yourself sufficient resting periods. Ideally, you should plan at least one rest day per week. Even if you feel motivated enough to bike every day, rest days are important to keep you feeling motivated in the long term.
The rest days allow your muscles to repair themselves and prepare you for another week ahead. They also provide you with opportunities to stop and recoup.
If your goal is to enjoy as you participate in a new hobby, you can even take 3 to 4 days off. Just make sure that you don’t take long enough breaks to completely fall behind on your practice and have to start again from scratch.
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Remember, when it comes to biking, the journey is more important than the destination, literally. So make sure that you enjoy the journey and continue updating your goals as you go.
I am Michael, an avid rider and bike expert. I am here to provide, biking tips and expert advice on in-depth bike reviews covering features, capabilities, price range, and much more. Specially on electric bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, etc. I will provide honest product reviews, along with expert advice on purchasing, training, and maintenance. Check out my complete profile.