How Far Can Beginners Cycle? And How Fast Will You Improve?

When I first got my bike, I was raring to go! I couldn’t wait to get out to the open roads, tear up the tarmac, and throw down. Until I actually got on the bike and realized it wasn’t as easy as I remembered from my childhood. But I persisted, and I went from being able to ride just 15 miles to 100 miles.  

As a beginner cyclist, you can expect to be able to ride anywhere from just a couple miles to about 10 miles when you first start. Over time, though, this will increase. If you stick with it, you’ll be able to add miles. However, there are a lot of factors that can influence the number of miles you can ride, including the type of bike, your age, fitness level, terrain, weather, and what kind of riding you are doing. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how many miles you can expect to do when you first start riding. We’ll also talk about the factors that affect your ability to ride and how you can build up to longer rides over time. But first, let’s take a look at how many miles you might be able to do when you first start. 

How Far Can You Cycle When You First Start Riding? 

The answer depends on a lot of factors. Your fitness level, type of bike, terrain, and weather will all affect how much you can ride when you first get into cycling. If you are already pretty fit, you can expect to go further. But if the terrain is very steep, or the weather is very windy, you might not get very far at all. And if you have an old bike that isn’t in good condition, you might have trouble going even a mile or two! 

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As a beginner rider, your body isn’t used to the muscle patterns used in cycling. So the number one limiter when you start cycling probably isn’t your lung condition or your strength. Instead, the number one limiter for beginner cyclists is the pain in their seats. 

Start Small

When you first start riding, you should probably plan to ride for about half an hour. You don’t want to stray too far from home only to discover your tush hurts far too much to get you back home! 

Beginner cyclists can usually ride at a comfortable pace of 8 to 10 mph, even right off the couch. So a half-hour ride at ten mph would give you a very nice-paced 5-mile ride. 

What Factors Affect How Far You Can Ride? 

As previously mentioned, there are several factors that will affect how far you can ride as a beginner and as an experienced cyclist. 


Your starting age can affect how far you can cycle. Young children might be tired out (or bored) after just a few rides up and down your driveway or street. Adults can typically get away with 5 or 10 miles to start, but if you’re past middle age, you might want to approach cycling more slowly to prevent injury. 

Fitness level

Your starting fitness level will also affect how far you can go when you first get started. If you are into other endurance sports, such as long-distance running or swimming, you might have an easier time breaking into cycling, but you’ll still be learning new motor patterns.

Type of bike

The kind of bike you ride also affects how far you can cycle. For example, if you are riding on an older, heavy steel bike with just a couple of gears, you might not get very far because the weight of the bike and the demands of the gearing make it hard to ride. On the other hand, if you are riding a modern, lightweight bike with plenty of gears to make it easy to spin, you might be able to go even further. 

Type of ride

The type of ride you are on will make a difference, as well. Group rides are usually 20 to 30 miles, which might be too much for you if you are just getting started. On the other hand, maybe you are commuting to work by bike. According to, most bike commutes are only 10 to 14 minutes long. So even for a beginner, this would be easily feasible. A leisure ride might be best suited for beginners since you can choose the length and speed you are comfortable with. 


The terrain will have a significant effect on how far you can go as a beginner rider. Flat terrain is the best for a beginner, but if you live in a very hilly area, you might not be able to ride as far or as fast. Hills take a lot more muscle and lung power  

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Weather affects how fast you can go, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned cyclist. Strong headwinds will slow you down, making it harder to travel and, of course, shortening the length you can go in the same amount of time. Rain will also slow you down since you’ll need to take more time when turning and descending. 


Of course, motivation makes all the difference. If you are determined, you can cycle further than if you just aren’t motivated to go for a ride. 

How Long Does It Take to Build Up to Longer Rides? 

It takes time to build up to do long rides for a beginner or anyone who has been off the bike for a while. Many group rides, even at the beginner level, last for an hour or more. However, the ‘easier’ the ride, the more breaks you’ll have. 

For example, most social rides are no-drop rides. This means that whenever there is a hill or intersection, the group waits for everyone to catch up. And they’ll usually wait for you to catch your breath and get a drink, too, if you need it. So although the ride may last for 2 hours, you won’t be riding for 2 hours straight. You’ll have plenty of breaks in there to rest. 

However, many advanced rides are drop rides. These rides are often 2 hours of non-stop riding. Longer rides may have a lunch stop, but they won’t be waiting for you to catch up. If you’re a beginner, it might take you a few years to build up enough fitness to be able to hang on for these rides and enjoy them. 

Build Up Your Rides Over Time with Club Rides 

If you are a beginner, don’t start with an advanced ride. Instead, pick a short, beginner ride at a slow pace so you can get used to riding in a group. Once you are comfortable keeping up, then you can move up to the next level. Keep in mind. There are big jumps between levels, so you’ll want to make sure you are ready! 

Club rides are a great way to increase your distance as a new cyclist. You’ll have people to talk to, encourage you, and hopefully, people who can help you out if you are struggling or have a mechanical issue. 

Sample Club Rides

 Speed on flat terrain 30 minutes1 hourTypical Ride Length
Beginner (D club rides)8 to 10mph 4 to 5 miles8 to 10 miles15 to 20 miles
Social Rider (C club rides)12 – 14mph6 – 7 miles12 – 14 miles15 to 30 miles
Intermediate Club Rider  (B club rides)15 – 17mph7.5 to 8.5 miles15 – 17 miles30 to 40 miles
Advanced Club Rider  (A club rides)20-22mph N/A22 to 22 miles35 miles plus
Uncategorized (A+, AX, or AXE)22+mph N/A22 or more miles35 miles plus

How to Increase Your Ride Length on Solo Rides 

When you first start riding, it’s hard to know just how far you can go, especially by yourself. No one wants to start on a ride and have to call a friend to pick them up because they are just too tired to finish riding home. So when you plan your first rides, make sure to be conservative in your estimates. 

Try an Indoor Trainer to See How Far You Can Go

If you have an indoor trainer, you can get a rough idea of how many miles you can go at once by seeing how many miles you can go on your trainer. However, riding a trainer indoors is not an exact replication of an outdoor ride, so you’ll probably go fewer miles in real life than you would on your trainer. For example, if you can do 25 miles on the trainer, you’ll probably still only want to stick to about 15 miles outdoors until you’re really confident in your abilities. 

Try Doing Laps to See How Far You Can Go

Another means of seeing how far you can go is to do laps on a local bike track. Where I live, we have a 1-mile loop with a small hill, which is perfect for doing laps. I knew I could confidently ride a 50-mile solo ride when I could do 50 laps with just 1 or 2 short breaks. If you don’t have a lap, find a few local, low-traffic roads that make a one or so loop. That way, if you get tired, you’re never too far from your vehicle, and you can do as many laps as you can to see how far you can go. 

Each week, try to add a lap or two until you build up until you reach the distance you need. 

How long does it take to train for various distances as a beginner?

Here’s an estimate of how fast you can expect to progress to various distance milestones as you get into cycling as a beginner. Remember that these numbers vary from person to person depending on the factors mentioned above.

Training 1-2 times per weekTraining 3-5 times per week
10 miles1-2 weeks1-2 weeks
20 miles3 weeks3 weeks
30 miles6 weeks5 weeks
40 miles8 weeks7 weeks
50 miles10 weeks7 weeks
100 miles24 weeks16 weeks

Sam Benkoczy

Hi, I'm Sam. I own and maintain 6 e-bikes, 15 regular bikes (road bikes, folding bikes, hybrid bikes, city bikes among others). I learned about bikes from my local bike mechanic as well as from bike maintenance courses. I love being out there in the saddle, and using my bike as a practical means of transportation. You can also find me on my YouTube channel at Say hi to me at

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