Bike commuting to work can be the best possible option if you want to cut down on expenses such as gas or other means of transportation. Moreover, it is an excellent way of keeping fit and active if you have a desk job. However, while the idea of biking to work can be alluring, a lot of thinking and dedication has to go into it.
One of the most common questions that may arise is if you are considering biking to work is:
What is a reasonable distance to bike to work?
The answer to this question is not definite since it depends on several factors. From my personal experience, the most common factors for most riders will be:
- Their Physical Fitness
- The Route they will need to ride on
- Bike Type
- The amount of time available
Let me explain...
During my initial days, when I first started to bike to work, I took around 45 minutes to ride 5 miles and about the same amount of time going back home. By the time I got home, I was exhausted. Initially, I thought that was it. Forty-five minutes to ride 5 miles was my "reasonable distance to bike to work."
However, after weeks of regular bike commuting, I noticed my fitness level increase. I could endure more, and my speed increased as well. As of today, I can conveniently cover 5 miles on a bike within 25-30 minutes easily. No Sweat!
But that just shows that it's quite hard for someone outside to determine what's a reasonable distance for "You" to ride to work. But that doesn't mean that you can't figure it out before trying it.
In this article, we will discuss what's a reasonable distance to cycle to work and all the other relating factors. If you just want a quick answer, it's down below.
In a nutshell:
On average, about 5-10 miles is a reasonable distance for daily bike commuting to work for most people with average fitness. Cycling 5 – 10 miles usually takes at most 60 minutes with the average person's physical health. But some advanced bike commuters may not agree with this as they can do it in far less time.
So, as said earlier, the reasonable distance and time taken may differ from person to person on several factors like your fitness level, Route, speed, time, etc. For a clearer understanding, let us discuss each aspect in detail:
Your Health Condition and Fitness Level
Your health and fitness level is one of the most important factors to consider while planning your bike commute journey. The first thing you should remember is not to compare your 'bike commuting pace' with other bikers. So while some people may effortlessly commute up to 20 miles on a bike, doing the same is quite challenging for others.
If you regularly hit the gym and consider yourself fit, you can easily bike up to 15 miles to work. For professional athletes, this distance is even higher. They can easily bike up to 30 miles without any feeling of fatigue and possibly get there with time to spare.
But if you haven't exercised in a while, biking 10 miles might be a real challenge.
The good news, however, is that you can always improve your fitness level as you bike to work. Each day you take that long, tedious trip to work; you improve your physical fitness. You'll improve your fitness level daily as cycling is one of the top exercise forms that is known to improve overall health and strengthen different parts of the body.
So, once you start cycling biking to work, you can expect that the journey will become easier as your endurance and strength improve.
To know more about your current fitness level, you can start by doing a trial bike ride to work. Do the test-ride during your off days so you won't have to rush anything. Take this test-ride to record your duration and distance.
Make sure not to take it easy on the journey to work as you need to assess your performance and time carefully as it's something you'll potentially be doing daily. You should also take this time to familiarize yourself with the Route to your work and find out the best pace needed to reach on time. Once you know the time you take to get to work by riding at an average speed, you will then be able to start improving.
A Word of Caution:
It may not be a one-night success. But once you start biking regularly, you will notice both your fitness level and biking speed increasing.
Route and Climatic Conditions
Another crucial aspect of why there is no definite answer to the question "what is a reasonable distance to bike to work?" is because different people bike on different routes. While some may have to bike on uphill paths, others may deal with heavy traffic, or maybe the weather may be harsh for some.
Thus, depending upon the type of Route you bike on, your "reasonable distance" may vary from others.
For instance, you may take 30 minutes to bike five miles on a flat route. However, you may take double the time when you bike five miles on a route with more elevation and heavy traffic. Thus, route conditions also play a vital factor in your biking journey.
Also, climatic conditions are just as important. Remember, while headwinds slow you down, strong tailwinds will help you increase your speed. So for these reasons, that first test ride to work will allow you to measure the time accurately that it would take based on these conditions.
While doing your first ride, try to gather as much information as possible. Is there a proper bike path? Is it uphill, downhill, or a flat route? Do you have to deal with traffic? What about the weather conditions?
Most bikers have claimed that depending upon weather conditions, their commute time differed from 40 to 75 minutes.
Type of bike
The type of bike you commute on also has some role to play in your entire bike commuting quality, time taken, and ease. Now, this does not mean to ride the most expensive bikes or the latest models. A reasonable budget-friendly hybrid bike can easily get the job done in most cases.
In fact, most bikes work fine for biking to workplaces. However, there are three main things you need to make sure that your bike has before even considering bike commuting. They are to:
- Make sure that your bike is comfortable. Before buying a bike, go for a test ride to check how comfortable it is.
- Find the right-sized bike. If your bike is too big or too small, it is bound to affect your commute.
- Do not go for very cheap or heavy bikes.
Since you are most likely to commute on the same bike regularly, you might want to consider all the aspects mentioned above. Riding the right bike will surely go a long way in making the distance tolerable. It will not only aid you in increasing your speed but also give you a more comfortable daily ride.
With that in mind, you can use the three points mentioned to determine your reasonable distance to bike to work. But in general, if you are just a newbie in bike commuting, about 5-10 miles is entirely reasonable to get started.
So, if you are all set to bike to your workplace, you might want to know some essential tips to get you started:
Plan a proper schedule. If you are a newbie, make sure you at least spare 60 minutes for biking to work. If not, you may end up rushing to get there on time, which will be counterproductive. It wouldn't make sense to try to save money commuting to work on a bike and then getting there dead tired and be unable to perform your job. So take your time!
Make sure you have enough time to bike to work by leaving home an hour earlier. Ride comfortably and at your own pace. And with each day, your body will become used to it. This way, your speed will increase as well.
Helmet Helmet Helmet!
Wearing a helmet is an essential part of cycling to work. Helmets were made for your safety and can save your life or the life of your loved one. Prevention is better than cure, so always make sure you have your helmet own before starting your bike commute. If you don't already have one, you can check out the options on this list for a good collapsible helmet that offers great portability.
Having a good biking backpack is the most convenient way of carrying all your essentials while biking to work. Make sure to keep your luggage light. Do not forget to carry a bottle of water. Also, if you plan on changing your clothes at your workplace, you can conveniently carry it in a backpack.
If you want to avoid any weight on your shoulder, you can even install detachable racks or baskets either on the front or back of your bike.
Sweating is inevitable with any type of moderate to intensive physical activity, so embrace it. However, for short commutes like 2-4 miles, sweating is not an issue. But if your Route is about 6 to 10 miles, and you are just not up for sweating, an electric bike might be the best option for you.
If you prefer the thrill of manually pedaling, then it's best to stick to light and airy clothing. Also, you can use some antibacterial soap and deodorant to fix any bad odor from sweating.
Some of the most commonly asked questions you may need advice on:
What to look for while buying a commuter bike?
The first thing you need to make sure is the size. Make sure it fits you perfectly. Also, a lightweight bike proves more convenient and comfortable than a bulky one.
How far is too far to bike to work?
Biking to work involves regular to-and-fro biking for five days straight, or sometimes even six. So, for regular biking, up to 10 miles is considered reasonable. However, for most people with average fitness levels, biking more than 10 miles each day might be too far. So it is advised that you alternate days in the beginning while you get used to the distance.
What safety precautions can we take while biking to work?
First, always put on your helmet before getting on your bike. If you have to travel multiple routes to your workplace, pick the one with the least traffic. Be well-aware of and follow the traffic rules. Carry a small first aid kit and a whistle in case of any emergency.
Biking to work is enjoyable and allows you to save money, stay healthy, and relieve stress. But you need to be ready to tackle some inconveniences along the way. There are days when you wouldn't want to bike. But motivate yourself. Remind yourself why you first started. Is it because you want a healthier lifestyle? Is it because you want to save some money? Or, is it simply because you care for the environment?
Whatever your reason is, make that you motivate yourself each day. Also, in the initial days, you might experience some fatigue and body ache, especially on your legs because of all the muscle straining. But don't you worry! With regular biking, fatigue and pain will slowly disappear.