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.
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.
- 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 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.