Is biking 20 miles hard? There is no one answer that applies to everyone. 20 miles for some is a cakewalk, and for others, it will be a real struggle. Whether a 20 mile bike ride is easy or difficult will depend on a number of factors.
For most cyclists, 20 miles is not a long distance and will not be too challenging. However, for beginners and those that are out of shape, biking 20 miles will be more difficult. Riding 20 miles will be harder depending on your endurance level, the bike you ride, the terrain and weather, and experience of the cyclist.
With more than one influencing factor, there is no one set answer to the question: is biking 20 miles hard? The answer for you will be different to your neighbor and this guide will let you know all the reasons why.
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Table of Contents
How Hard Is It To Bike 20 Miles
Biking 20 miles is only hard if you are not ready for it. By this, I mean ill-prepared as well as out of shape. You need a certain level of fitness to complete a 20 mile bike ride.
You also need to be prepared as you would be for any road trip. 20 miles is not considered a long-distance ride, but for beginners, the elderly, and those out of shape, the ride may be slower and require more breaks. How hard the ride is will depend on how prepared you are.
If you are not in the best shape, you should plan to take breaks. You should also plan to cycle at a slower rate. It is not a race, so you can pedal at a slower rate than professionals would.
If, on the other hand, you are training or exercising, you will want to cycle faster and avoid breaks. In this case, all you need to do is make sure you have plenty of water with you to power you through the ride.
Those with high fitness levels can complete 20 miles in about an hour, so no need to bring snacks. Unless you want to refuel once you are done.
To prepare for a 20 mile bike ride, you always need water. Pack bottles in a backpack or invest in a water bottle holder for the bike frame. You also want to plan the route.
Terrain changes can influence the difficulty of a ride, so if you are planning on a leisurely ride, avoid hills. Plan your breaks out evenly, to give you rest periods where you can get water and snacks if needed.
Most importantly, to complete your goal of 20 miles, whether at a fast or slow pace, your mindset matters. Set small goals you can achieve and congratulate yourself as you complete them.
Each rest point is a goal and an inspiration to keep going to the next one. It is also better to ride with a friend so you can motivate and encourage each other. It also keeps you from getting overly focused on counting the miles.
What Makes Biking 20 Miles Hard
There are different factors that will influence whether riding 20 miles is hard or not.
- Endurance Level: The average cycling speed is 17mph. The difference between beginners and people in better shape will be endurance. A person with a higher fitness level will be able to maintain that speed for longer, which means greater distances can be covered easier. A beginner will drop speed on occasions or may even need to take breaks.
- Bike Style: Completing 20 miles will be easiest with a road bike as they are designed to be lighter and they take less force to pedal. This means you can get further with less exertion. With the right bike, you can move faster without wasting energy.
- Landscape: The more hills you have to climb and descend, the more challenging the ride will be. The effects of gravity will greatly influence your ride. More challenging terrain will require more effort, more energy, and a higher fitness level.
- Weather: Winds can push you along or slow you down. Facing headwinds means you have to pedal harder and exert more energy. This can influence whether 20 miles is easy or hard very quickly. Rain will also make a ride more challenging unless you have a bike that is better equipped to apply friction of wet roads.
Average Time It Takes To Bike 20 Miles
The amount of time it will take to bike 20 miles is influenced by many factors. Your health, the type of bike you have, the route you’re taking, and the environmental conditions will all affect how long it takes to complete the ride. That being said, there is general information you can consider to help you estimate the average time it can take.
For a normal, everyday ride, it can take 6 minutes to travel a mile. This is assuming you cycle at an average of 10mph, which would be ok for a beginner. An experienced rider will likely travel faster.
This would mean that 20 miles would be completed in about 2 hours. You then have to consider whether the road is flat or hilly. On flat surfaces, you can cover one mile in 3 or 4 minutes while the same mile with hills will take closer to 8 minutes.
If you are looking to complete 20 miles under an hour, then you will need to calculate your speed based on the terrain and conditions around you. To complete 20 miles in an hour you would need to cycle around 20 miles per hour, and this is the level professionals often cycle at.
Beginners would likely not be able to achieve this rate. To get a faster time, you could also invest in more aerodynamic wheels or frames. Ultimately, the only way to get a faster completion time is with regular training.
Can A Beginner Bike 20 Miles
A beginner could certainly bike 20 miles, but this will mostly depend on their fitness level. A beginner to cycling may not necessarily be a beginner to fitness, meaning they have great endurance and strength. A beginner to cycling will, however, struggle to complete 20 miles with ease.
A young person of moderate fitness level can easily cycle for 20 to 25 miles whereas an unhealthy person or an elderly person may only get 7 miles before needing a break. Teenagers can typically ride greater distances without complaining and those who do regular workouts and stay in shape will find a 20 mile ride to be pretty easy.
In general, you can classify the difficulty of biking different distances according to the table below.
|Average Time (10mph)
|0 – 5
|0 – 30 min
|6 – 10
|36 – 60 min
|11 – 15
|66 – 90 min
|16 – 20
|96 – 120 min
|21 – 25
|126 – 150 min
|26 or more
Do You Have To Be Athletic To Bike 20 Miles
While being athletic will certainly make a 20 mile bike ride easier, it is not a prerequisite. The better shape you are in, the faster you can cycle and the easier it is to overcome challenges such as hills. That being said, a beginner or someone who is out of shape can still easily cycle 20 miles. They just need to take it slow and take breaks.
Cycling at a 10mph rate is not very taxing for a beginner and is a comfortable pace. An overweight person looking to exercise more can also cycle at this pace to complete 20 miles. The important thing is to take regular breaks and be sure to have plenty of water on hand.
Those who are more athletic will be able to cycle closer to 12 or 15 mph and professionals and serious cyclists can go at 17mph with ease. Going slower, does not mean it cannot be done. It just will take longer. But there is definitely not a rule that says you have to be athletic to ride 20 miles. You just need to plan and take it easy.
Cycling is often used as a way to lose weight and get in shape, so is a good place for beginners to start. The average person weighing 155 pounds can burn just under 300 calories in 30 minutes. This is traveling at a rate of 12 mph. Cycling faster will result in more calories burned and weighing more to start will also lead to more caloric burn.
Helpful Tips To Know Why Biking 20 Miles Is Hard
When you are deciding to start biking, it is a good idea to set goals. 20 miles is considered a relatively easy distance to complete in general. For beginners it is helpful to remember a few tips when deciding if 20 miles will be hard to complete.
- Your Fitness Level: If you are not in great shape, plan to cycle at a slower pace
- Prepare: Bring water and snacks and plan for breaks
- Your Bike: An aerodynamic bike will be easier to pedal
- Terrain: Hills and tough terrain will make the ride more challenging
Cycling is both fun and a great form of exercise. It is also common for people to set goals in terms of miles completed. So, is biking 20 miles hard? The answer is not a simple one. Factors such as fitness level, bike used, terrain, and weather will all influence this.
Cycling 20 miles will be hard for some and easy for others. What matters is getting it completed and if you have to go slower, then so be it. Biking 20 miles doesn’t have to be a challenge and it will certainly be a victory when you get to the other end.