How Many Miles Should I Bike a Day?

How Many Miles Should I Bike a Day

Cycling is more than just a leisure activity. Most cyclists, if not all, have a goal that they desire to attain through cycling. The goal may be weight loss, being in perfect shape for competition, staying fit, among others.

Read also: What’s the Best Smart Bike Trainer of 2020?

Regardless of what you want to achieve, a well-laid out plan is important. That plan should include the number of miles you will have to ride every day. This will help you fit your bicycling sessions into your day to day plan and it is also a great way to ensure that you remain committed to the journey.

Factors to Consider

1. The Goal

Someone who just wants to stay fit does not have to put in many miles per day, while a cyclist training for a triathlon will have to push themselves harder. People who are seeking to lose weight have to go a distance that will see them lose a certain amount of calories.

The general rule for cycling for fitness is cycling over short distances on a regular basis. Experts recommend thirty minutes of exercise per day for an adult and sixty minutes for children. The average cyclist rides 10 miles to 12 miles an hour (at a moderate pace). You can, therefore, begin with about 5 miles per day—assuming you do not do any other physical activity.

It is advisable to combine cycling with other exercises. This way, you can cycle fewer miles. As riding 5 miles per day gets easier for you, start going harder or further. Always make sure it is a challenge. If you start going soft on yourself, the exercises will not be profitable and in some cases, the progress you have made will be reversed.

Training for an organized ride like a century ride or any other competition requires a little more work. You want to be as ready as possible for the competition season. If you have not been doing much cycling, you can start with 10 miles as you try to get back in shape. This should only be your starting point; keep pushing yourself every day. Organized rides can be very long, take the example of a century ride which is 100 miles. The closer to 100 miles you ride a day, the better. Assuming that you have started preparing 3-4 months in advance, you should ride an average of 20 miles per day in the first month, 30 miles in the second month and an average of 50 miles in the last month. To avoid straining your body too much, you should not ride every day and on some days you ride fewer miles than others. There are tons of training plans online to help you train efficiently.

Cycling for weight loss is easier once you figure out your caloric needs and how many calories you need to burn every week. That said, there is no magic number of miles. A person weighing 130 lbs burns 36 calories per mile when cycling moderately at about 12 miles per hour. A heavier person will burn more. To effectively lose weight through cycling, you need to focus more on the intensity of the ride and not the number of miles. Regardless of how much you want to lose weight, be careful not to ride too many miles away from home— especially when you are alone. Lastly, you may want to check what you eat for better results.

2. Your Health

Your medical condition and your age are great determinants of how many miles you can or should ride. A 25-year-old can easily ride more miles than a 70-year-old; assuming they are all healthy. Depending on your age, try starting slow and gradually increase the distance. As far as health is concerned, it would be better to talk to your doctor. People with serious conditions should not try pushing themselves without consulting their doctor. The repercussions may be serious.

3. How Long Have You Been Riding?

A cyclist who practically lives on his bike will have no problem clocking 100 miles a day. But if you have been riding leisurely, on rare occasions, you had better not try it. You will wish you hadn’t. Start by doing light rides, a 5-mile ride is enough for the first day (if you have been a couch potato), then move up from there. If you consider yourself a fit person, you can start higher, like 10 miles and go farther when you get too comfortable. Here is a little secret: the more you ride, the farther you will want to push yourself. Very soon, you will be touring the country on your bike and be able to tell cool stories like this one.

4. Where Are You Riding?

You cannot compare a 50-mile ride on hilly terrain to a 50-mile ride on flat terrain. Cycling on a hilly road is definitely harder and is not the best starting point for someone that has not been doing any form of exercise. Use the same guidelines above but remember to pay attention to how your body is reacting.

Useful Tips

  • No matter how motivated you feel, be careful not to hurt yourself. Some cyclists go too hard to the point of vomiting. You do not want to create another problem.
  • Have the right gear for cycling. Bike shorts are especially necessary and way more forgiving. A casual pair of shorts may do but as you start to go for longer distances, invest in appropriate clothing.
  • It is better to ride short distances for 4-5 days a week than ride long distances for 1-2 days a week. Short and regular rides will work better than long far-apart rides. Keep your muscles engaged throughout the week.
  • Combine long moderate-pace rides with short, fast sprints. Both of them have benefits. Also, try to ride on all kinds of terrains if you can.
  • Be consistent. If you decide to ride three or four times a week, do exactly that. As you plan your week, set aside some time for your sessions.
  • Make use of modern devices. Smart bike trainers, for instance, will help you clock in some miles when the weather is bad. Another important device that will help you with heart zone training is a heart rate monitor.
  • Hydration is crucial. When you are riding, you might not see much sweat, but it is not because you are not sweating. The sweat is just evaporating faster because you are moving at high speed.
  • Do not settle on a comfortable distance. You will never really know how far you can ride if you keep riding 10 miles every day. Do something hard; that is what makes it fun.
  • Have fun. Cycling is one of the most enjoyable forms of physical activity. It is not strenuous and it has a myriad of benefits. As you cycle do not forget to enjoy the view and clear your head.

Nobody can really tell you the exact number of miles that you should per day (except maybe your doctor). Nonetheless, you can use the above advice to get an idea.

If you are only doing this to remain in shape, a 10-mile ride is enough but as soon as it becomes too easy, it will not be that beneficial. If you are doing it to lose weight, you may want to do a little math to get a number. Alternatively, do challenging cycling exercises consistently and adopt an overall healthy lifestyle.

To summarize it all, the key thing is to start at a comfortable point and then gradually increase the distance. Make sure you work up a sweat and raise your heart rate every time. Finally, enjoy the sessions.

25 thoughts on “How Many Miles Should I Bike a Day?

  1. When I moved to Florida in 2005 I started gaining lots of weight. South Florida it’s not as bicycle friendly, especially Palm Beach County which is awful. By 2010 I was about 100lbs overweight! So…. I bought the cheapest bike at Walmart and a few months later I was touring the state and of course, lost all the weight. I’ve visited 50%+ of the Sunshine State, including every single town and city in a 300 mile radius from Miami, 39 counties!
    Right now I’m almost back in the beginning, I stopped for about 3 years because West Palm Beach is really unsafe for cycling and I was working as a f… slave for nothing…. but started bicycling again and getting back in shape.

  2. george cooper says:

    I am a 72-year-old senior in terrific shape young for my age thinking of road biking at the moment I am walking 10 miles a day and I work out with weights looking for a new challenge I figure a hard workout on a road bike trip is for me don’t have much money purchased a goplus road bike to see if this fits and then move up from there. I live in senior housing and there is sub zero exercise need to get out with active people thought I would start a senior bike club I am a good leader and organizer any tips or encouragement would be appreciated. thank you the never through in the towel guy

  3. This is incredibly helpful!! I started getting into cycling this year. With the Roadster Kent 700c bike from walmart. Its budget-friendly. I actually use it for commuting to places.. it’s light, efficient, and great! Guiding me to the right decision is crucial at this point. I am an average cyclist around 30 miles on long rides. easily could just slowly cruze around 5 miles. Included hills/ flat surfaces. Definitely need to learn some cycling techniques. Reading this article really gauges my skill level and my capability. I learned that you’re not supposed to go all out especially if you’re a beginner. planning your rides is a huge part of cycling too. Not to mention the safer routes with fewer cars. I usually cycle alone even on long rides. So that was a big part For in case any injuries or any disruption to the bike on the cycle route.
    The one time I did cycle with my friend to Coney Island during the phase 2 opening of the coronavirus, I didn’t even think of the keeping distance part. I mean I cycling behind him maybe for 20 feet distance. He didn’t sneeze but yeah I can imagine you don’t want to run through that cloud. On that day I picked up a new interesting task for cycling which is drafting. you can certainly feel the difference between cycling on your own vs riding behind someone. even though we wore masks for heavily crowded areas. anyways he has a pretty high tech bike, I was struggling to keep up. I heard that a good bike plays a huge role in cycling that’s why you can see some bikes hit the 4 digit range.

    Thankyou for the article

    • In in the UK and started riding along the canal to work not too long only 7 miles there and 7 back.
      And literally today I was a little tired a guy went past me so I started drafting 100% makes a difference, once he turned off I almost felt like I had stopped for a rest and was refreshed for the remaining 2miles home.
      I have noticed however it always seems to take longer on the way home =/

  4. Kenneth Bradley says:

    At 65 years old i ride daily 10 to 12 miles daily it keepy my mind stable my body healthy. I have the ability tp push out my distance out to 50 miles easily. Your article is well written and accurate.

  5. I just started biking a few months ago, I have a pretty decent bike. I’m 63, and I bike 10 miles on a average day, Sometimes I really have to push myself to finish the 10 mile goal. I try to combine my biking with walking, but to me honest I’m a bit lazy when it comes to exercising but I’m trying to lower my blood pressure. I’m in Delaware and I bike and walk alone.

  6. I am a 16 year old boy. I have been pushing myself in lockdown to do a reasonable amount of cycling each day my average ride is between 15 and 30 miles which i do in between 2 to 4 hours I cycle on a combination of hilly and rocky country roads to flat pavement on the offside of a moterway. I find that when a started cycling for exercise a few months ago I could only do around 10 miles but now with a couple of months of dialy or bi-daily riding I can do 20 miles without to much of a problem.

    • Mark Sullivan says:

      You are off to a great start young man. It’s great exercise, and a sport you can do for a lifetime. I am 68, and still ride about 125 miles a week a an average speed of about 17.5 mph. Don’t worry about speed to much in the beginning, rather, slowly build up your endurance and distance. The speed will come, and you will improve your technique, like efficiently shifting to keep your pedaling cadence consistent. You will learn how your position on the bike can cut down wind drag. As you mention riding on motorways, I strongly advise to put a red flasher on back of your bike. Wear a bright jersey. You want to make sure the motorists see you so they can give you some space. Of course, always wear a helmet. Good luck, & enjoy the journey.

  7. Lisa White says:

    Very helpful article. I started cycling 6-12 miles a day during lockdown and love it. I go out for 1/2 hour early morning 6-7am. It’s so peaceful and safer as less traffic. I get home and start my day feeling energised. I them go out mid evening 2-3 times a week also. My legs have toned, I’ve lost weight and I feel fitter than I did 20 years ago in my 30’s. Once you start it becomes a good habit. My cycling fits in around my family and it’s a win win all round.

  8. Conner Harper says:

    I am an average cyclist which has increased dramatically since lockdown. All of my rides so far have been for leisure only, but i plan to cycle to college, when campus teaching begins again which is around 8 miles either way. I do on average 20-30 miles per ride. One day i did 61 miles and felt really exhausted, so dont do that straight away unless you are fairly fit. But if i really push myself i can probably do around 50-60 miles. 40 miles for me my legs start to hurt and cycling uphills will feel almost impossible after the 50th mile. After the 60th mile, thats where I would almost feel like fainting on the ground. My rides are a real mix of downhill, flats and uphills. The terrain is a factor which impacts hugely on the ammount of energy getting burned. I could probably do 80 miles of completely flat, but becuade my area has alot of uphills, 60 miles is the absolute line not to cross for me right now. Remember to stay hydrated, take snacks along (such as nuts, raisins, fruit etc.)

  9. Pat McGroyne says:

    I’m in my second year of “more” serious cycling since I had a total knee replacement. I used to do century rides twice a month back when dinosaurs roamed the planet. Ultimately, I stopped exercising and got fat. Fast forward, I got active again and lost almost 100 lbs. before my knee replacement. A mix of weights, elliptical, rowing machine, and walking. Bought a flat bar hybrid last year and rode it 15-20 miles every other day or more. This year, I went full carbon and bike 40-50 every other day, which is only 2-2 1/2 hours depending on terrain. I lay off the weights during summer riding season, which isn’t the smartest thing, but I just want to ride ride ride ride. I’m still a big boy at 235#, but that’s at 6’1″ and a 35″ waistline….but all that riding just isn’t getting rid of the little pooch. *sigh* I guess that’s old age. I also developed a severe hand/nerve issue from all the riding (the Shimano STI shift stroke was killing me), but upgraded to Di2 and that has gotten much, much better. I also bought a Kickr for rainy and cold weather, so I’ll still keep on keepin’ on…but I’ll add weights, elliptical, and rowing back into the mix. I bought all that stuff for the house. Might as well use it.

  10. I am 16 and have started to cycle in lockdown I started at 5 miles and am now doing around 15 – 25 without problem. It took me 5 months to be able to do a 40 mile ride without being to tired.

  11. I live in Minnesota and I will not ride when it is below 40 degrees. I retired in 2009. The eight years before I retired I averaged 1825 miles per year. Below are my stats during retirement. I now weigh 20 pounds less than when I retired.

    Year 2010/Age 54
    5,000 miles
    An average of 27.03 miles per ride

    Year 2011/Age 55
    4,150 miles
    An average of 25.94 miles per ride
    I fell and broke a bone in my hand and missed over a month of riding.

    Year 2012/Age 56
    7,500 miles
    An average of 31.51 miles per ride

    Year 2013/Age 57
    6545 miles
    An average of 40.15 miles per ride

    Year 2014/Age 58
    6,500 miles
    An average of 40.30 miles per ride

    Year 2015/Age 59
    8755 miles
    An average of 40.07 miles per ride

    Year 2016/Age 60
    11,150 miles
    An average of 50 miles per ride

    Year 2017/Age 61
    10,550 miles
    An average of 47.96 miles per ride

    Year 2018/Age 62
    5040 miles
    An average of 40 miles per ride
    I got married before the bike season started.

    Year 2019/Age 63
    3780 miles
    An average of 40.21 miles per ride
    I had a double hernia surgery and missed two months of riding.

    Year 2020 (as of September 7)/Age 64
    4037 miles (I hope to get to at least 5500 miles)
    An average of 31.29 miles per ride
    Both I and the person I ride with decided to do shorter rides this year because of Covid-19. We have read that your immune system can be compromised if you exercise too much.

  12. This is a great article and I love these comments, very inspiring. I am 55 and have dabbled in bike riding most of my life, with a few weeks here and there of dedicated, more intense riding but mostly just dabbling a coupe of times a week and even long breaks in between. I arrived in Chicago a few days ago for work (without my family for a month) and thought to bring my bike with me. I am trying to ride 20 miles per day while I’m here (10 in the morning and 10 in the evening) and so far it is working out. Ideally I’d like to increase that amount but right now 20 is a reasonable challenge for me. I feel I could do more but at the same time it is reasonably challenging as I haven’t done it for a while. The path is quite flat and great views among the lakeshore here. As I get older, I would like to see bike riding as my daily, intense exercise that will help keep me fit. Frankly I don’t always love exercising but I do love bike riding so it seems like a good solution for me. I would like to drop maybe 10-15 lbs as well. Fingers crossed and thanks for the inspiration.

  13. My name is Brian Do. I live in Garland ,TX.
    I ride 847 miles in almost a year.
    I am very admire old people put in a lot of miles.
    I will follow you .
    Good luck.Good health

  14. Gene Lee James says:

    I’m 72 and I’m cycling with a 17 yr old artificial knee. I average 7-8 thousand miles a year averaging 40 miles per ride. But I find it difficult after my rides to get out to a park and use a pair of battle ropes I bought for upper body work. I’m one of those people who eat and drink what they want and I find it increasingly hard to maintain my body weight.

  15. I’m 73 and live in South Carolina. I cycle every day, as long as the weather is dry which is most days here. I do 11-12 miles per day at an avg. speed of 15 mph.. Roads are flat and lightly traveled. I’m feeling great and look forward to doing the ride every day. It’s a great mood booster.

  16. Don’t get bogged down with distance speed and rates (unless your competing) cycling can be boring and lonely like that focus more on your route, beauty spots and cool energy/hydration stops (or preparing your own menu as I do) cycling in itself is fairly boring so try very hard to make it not so by planning and getting yourself excited mixing road and mountain is another good way to keep it fresh. Going with someone else is good but not for everyone so maybe do as I do and play music from a speaker (not headphones that’s just dangerous) your phones speaker will suffice its all about getting out and seeing the beauty of the world and often its inhabitants as long as you cruise and sprint cruise and sprint you will get all the body benefits your looking for regardless of distance and you may meet someone new or see something special and that will give you the mind benefits that make it good to be alive. Crag
    Good article. UK Rider of 48yrs

  17. I started biking two months ago due a heel injury on my left foot from running. I’m 65 yrs old and bike 4 to 5 times a week. My rides ranges from 20 to 30 miles. My average miles per week is around 100. I wished I had started biking early to take pressure off of my joints. The pain in my foot is not nearly intense as it was when i was running. The results of cycling is better than running and you burns a lot of calories. I also exercise on the elliptical and have found that this actually help my cycling. I highly recommends cycling and it’s very addicting once you starts.

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