Bike Tour Planning: How Far Should You Plan To Cycle Each Day?

Have you ever dreamed of becoming the next Eddy Merckx or Lance Armstrong?

Do you want to push yourself to the limit to see how far you can cycle?

Are you a complete beginner and wondering what the ideal number of miles cycled per day is for you?

If any of these are burning questions in your mind, you’re in the right place. In this cycling for dummies guide, we will be addressing all these concerns and more. 

Whether it is for building up stamina or burning off those extra calories, cycling can be a fun and effective way to introduce some physical exercise into your daily routine. But, like with any exercise, you need to be mindful of how much you are working your body to see the best results.

Too much in a single day will leave you sore and bedridden, disrupting your progress. Too little, and you’ll barely notice any change.

So how much should you push yourself? How far can you bike in a day?

Keep reading our guide on How far can you bike in a day to find out!

How Far Can a Beginner Go Cycling? 

If you’re starting with cycling, you need to go slow. We know you might be excited to break in your new cycle or kick start your fitness regimen, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to ease yourself in. Both mentally and physically, following a specific plan and making gradual progress is crucial. 

As a biker, you need to start thinking of your progress in terms of the distance you cover and the time in which you cover that distance. For beginners, the speed factor is the main issue. When you are just starting out, you probably don’t have the stamina of a seasoned cyclist. Hence maintaining high speeds will be challenging for you. 

However, what you can control is the amount of distance you cover. Opinions vary as to what this ideal distance should be, so you’ll probably get very different figures if you start asking people. Some might tell you to limit yourself to 10 miles per day, while others suggest you push yourself to 40 miles on a good day. Following any of these arbitrary numbers religiously will be your first mistake because the answer is never that simple. It varies from person to person and depends on factors like age, mass, and daily physical exercise. 

Your First Day On The Road 

You’ll never forget your first day on the road as a beginner. It’s the day you’ll get your first cycle rash, and the night you’ll get leg cramps after cycling for the first (but not last) time. Some of these things are inevitable, but there are other preventable annoyances that can become a nuisance down the road- pun intended. You can’t really plan your experience down to at, but being prepared always helps. Going out there with a plan will make your first cycling day much more enjoyable, and help you figure out what works for you.

The first thing you need to consider is the track that you’re using. Are you taking your car to a nice cycling spot? In this case, you’ll be starting from a location you aren’t very familiar with. Or are you starting directly from your home and plan on cycling a few rounds around the block? In this case, you probably know your way around.

If the first case applies to you, then we’d suggest erring on the side of caution and opting for a safe 20 to 30-mile distance. This is primarily because you don’t know your way around the place. You don’t want to risk getting lost and end up cycling more than planned for longer than you planned. Give this new route a week or so, and then you can elevate your game. 

If you plan on cycling on a familiar track, then you can be a little more daring and go for a 40 to 60-mile ride. 

We want you to start slow because your body isn’t used to this particular form of activity. If you do other sports occasionally and have a more athletic build already, then you can dare to cover more distance. But even then, cycling engages different muscles in your body that might not be working that much if you’re doing other forms of exercise. 

Increase Your Distance As You Gain Experience

As cliche as this might sound, with cycling, slow and steady wins the race. Progress is more about consistency than it is about how much work you do in a single day. Even if you don’t cycle more than what we suggested above, you’ll still find yourself squirming to climb stairs the next day. Because cycling engages many different muscles, you feel cramping pain in places you didn’t even know had muscles. Pain in the neck, lower legs, hips, and back is pretty normal, so don’t worry about it (be grateful you didn’t go overboard because it could be worse).

Now that you have made it to your second day, you can start thinking about increasing your distance. If you started with 40 miles the first day, feel free to push yourself to 50 miles. Try to bump that up to 60 miles the following day until you are satisfied with the number of miles you are covering in each session. That said, it’s important to feel comfortable with how much you’re pushing your miles. If you feel like it’s too much for the day, then it’s okay to find a middle ground. 

Set Other Goals For Yourself 

In our opinion, the key to consistency is setting goals for yourself. Once you plan out your week of cycling and decide how many miles you will cover each day and where you want to be by the end of the week, you’ll feel much more motivated. The reason behind this is simple: you work better when you can envision yourself succeeding. 

With that said, it’s equally as important to set realistic goals for yourself. You cannot overestimate your potential for a few reasons. 

First off, overestimating how many miles you can cover on a particular day is the biggest reason why people quit their cycling regime prematurely. Because you are setting high expectations for yourself, failure to meet them will make you feel bad about your progress. Once you start losing faith in your own ability to make progress, you’ll be less motivated to meet your goals. Secondly, if you push yourself too much, you will end up wearing out your muscles to the point of injury. 

So the trick is to enjoy yourself and push, not shove, your limits. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself while you push yourself. 

Planning For Periods Of Rest

Resting periods are an extension of our point about setting realistic goals for yourself. Whenever you start an exercise that engages muscles more than usual, you essentially tear and rebuild stronger muscles. For your body to be best equipped to do that, setting aside a day to rest is essential. 

One resting day a week can also serve other purposes. Let’s say you had to do some more work one day, so you didn’t get enough time to finish your scheduled number of miles. You can work those miles out in the resting day that you had assigned for yourself. This way, you will still meet your weekly goals without having to disrupt too much of your routine. 

Additionally, many people find resting days a great way to set up and commit to their routine. Knowing that you have a day of the week to relax a little can be a great motivator to work hard while you’re at it. So plan out a break. You deserve it!

Factors That Affect a Good Distance To Cycle

The reason why it’s hard to put a number on how far can you bike in a day is because several factors need to be accounted for. From the place you bike to the bike you have, the “ideal distance” to cycle changes considerably. 

1. Why Do You Ride a Bicycle? 

Exercise 

Many people want to get into biking simply because they want to get in more physical activity. While exercise is a general term and can refer to anything from general fitness to heavy workouts, professionals recommend getting in about half an hour of physical activity each day. This is the minimum that you should be doing. If you’re only just starting, 5 miles of biking at an average pace of around 12 miles per hour should be fine. 

Weight Loss 

One of the biggest motivators for people to get into cycling is weight loss, and there’s no doubt that an exercise that engages the full body like biking is a great way to do that. You can burn up to 1000 calories in an hour of biking, but of course, that depends on factors like speed, distance, and terrain. As a benchmark, though, someone weighing 185 pounds can burn about 355 calories if they ride for 30 minutes at a speed of 12 miles per hour. 

Your plan for the week should include about 5 hours of this type of cycling to see effective weight loss. 

Training 

Cycling is also a great way to build up stamina for upcoming races and marathons. Many trainers specifically get into cycling and similar cardio workouts because they engage the entire body. Whether you have a swimming competition or a 400-meter foot race, you can greatly benefit from cycling. 

While professional cyclers spend 20 to 30 hours a week cycling at high speeds, you probably aren’t looking to compete in the Olympics. For a more casual form of training, we suggest keeping your hours to 7 a week. 

Fun 

We might not have the clearest answers to how much you should bike for the other biking purposes, but we do for this one. Bike as much as you want to. If you’re cycling because it’s a pleasant day or because you want to have some fun, there’s no point in worrying about hours, speeds, and distance. The only thing you “have” to do is have fun.  

2. What Are You Riding? 

Just like how your motivation affects how much you should be riding, the type of bike you are using also make an impact on your cycling. 

E-bikes 

E-bikes are essentially reducing the workload on you when you move a certain amount of distance. This support can either be in the form of a throttle that carries you along or an assisted pedal that makes the push easier, but overall, the effect is the same: you’re working less. 

However, you can’t expect yourself to blindly cycle insane distances simply because you are using an E-bike. E-bikes offer support, but they do not give you superpowers. The amount of distance that an E-bike would increase can range from 1.3 miles to 9.2 miles. This depends on the type and function of your E-bike. If you do end up switching to a regular bike, make sure you adjust your distances accordingly. 

Road Bikes

Road Bikes also increase the distances you cover for your work but not in the way E-bikes do. With road bikes, it’s the lighter frame and larger tires that let you travel at higher speeds. 

For reference, if you were riding a normal bike at 10 miles per hour, then you’ll find yourself zooming at about 14 miles per hour on a road bike. These bikes are designed for smooth, hard roads, so you have to be mindful of your biking route. 

Mountain Bikes

While Road Bikes are made to be light, with thin, large tires, Mountain Bikes are much heavier and have smaller tires. This makes them more durable and strong- two essential characteristics for a bike that you are riding on rough terrain.

With mountain bikes, you can expect yourself to tire out earlier than usual. You’ll find yourself working harder to maintain normal speeds. That’s because you’re pushing against more rugged terrain. So if you’re using a mountain bike, feel free to lower the distance you have set for your everyday goals. 

3. How is Your Physical Condition? 

Your previous physical activity also plays a big role in determining how much your body can take when you first start cycling. If you regularly play sports or work out, your stamina and muscles can take on longer distances. 

Fitness 

General fitness certainly adds to one’s advantage even if they don’t cycle. Many muscles overlap across different physical exercises. If a person runs regularly and does cardio, they can cover longer distances on their first few rides. 

Fitness is also a general term, but we are primarily concerned with lower body strength and cardiovascular endurance. This is the type of fitness that is primarily tested in cycling. 

Medical Conditions 

Several medical conditions can inhibit your ability to power through cycling over long distances. You have to make sure you are adjusting your goals and plans according to your medical needs. If you got your leg fractured a few months back, then you might find it painful to pedal after a while. Other conditions like Arthritis, breathing issues like asthma, and Diabetes can also limit how long you can cycle in a go. 

You can reduce the number of miles you travel overall or even spread them across more days to have a less intense regimen. Slowly, but surely, you too will reach a point where you’ll see gains in your endurance and physical strength.

If you have any such conditions, it is also vital to keep your physician in the cycling loop, metaphorically speaking. Some injuries may be worsened because of a particular way of cycling. Your physician might recommend safety measures you can take on your daily rides.  

Weight 

Weight works differently than how people think it does. More weight does not equate to a bad physical state. However, because you weigh more, your body will need to use more power to travel the same distance. This is especially important when you consider uphill climbs. 

For perspective, when you’re cycling on a plain, even terrain, you can expect a 0.5% drop in speed for every 10 pounds you gain. But for that same equation, if you are traveling on a 7% gradient, the speed reduction spikes to 6%! 

Age 

Age is another thing you have to factor in when calculating how much your body can take. The simple fact of the matter is that your body becomes less efficient at managing work with age. Physical activity becomes more challenging for you than it was when you were in your twenties. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit and overcome your limitations. In fact, cycling can help your body stay in shape. 

Not to mention, more medical conditions come into play with age that you will have to consider. 

It’s hard to quantify precisely how age affects people’s ability to cycle in numbers, but a rough estimate is as follows: 

Both men and women can expect a speed drop of 1 mile per hour across the age of 20 and 60. The value of speed drop, of course, increases with the distance you cover. 

4. How is the Terrain, Weather, and Your Route? 

The last major factor you need to consider when drawing up a plan for your cycling regimen has to do with the environmental factors of your route. The first of these is the terrain of your cycling trail. Put, even and flat surfaces are easier to travel on than rugged, hilly ones. 

Secondly, when it comes to the weather, your biggest enemy is the rain. Rain not only makes it harder to control your bike, but if you have an off-road cycling route, then you’ll be running into mud puddles. And if the wind decides to work against you, you’ll be expending much more energy than usual. Quick tip, align yourself with the direction of the wind to get a little boost. It’s like they say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  

What is a good distance to cycle? 

In conclusion, as much as we’d like to give you a clear-cut answer, there is no number of miles anyone can prescribe you. Many things need to be accounted for when determining how far you can bike in a day. A rough estimate for average conditions can range from 20 to 60 miles. The only way you can figure out what works best for you is through trial and error and a fair number of educated guesses.

So get on the bike and start pedaling.

Happy Cycling!

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Bike Tour Planning: How Far Should You Plan To Cycle Each Day? — Bike Hacks