One of the most common ways to get around is by using a bike. Whether for work, exercise, or leisure, the humble bicycle can offer it all but it can be important to have a good idea how long it takes to ride a mile. The last thing you want is to be late to work or not plan your workout routine well. So, how long does it take to bike a mile?
The answer isn’t so simple. Many factors can determine how long a cyclist takes to complete a mile. According to Bicycle Universe, the most important things to consider when determining how much time it’ll take you to travel a mile on a bicycle include:
- The terrain of the course
- The fitness level of the cyclists
- The style of the bike being used
- The amount of gear being carried on the bike
While the average cyclist can travel a mile in around 6 minutes during a daily ride, professionals can cover the same distance in as little as 2 minutes. A mile on a flat surface can take between 4 and 6 minutes, while a mile through hills could take over double that.
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Things to Consider
What is my skill level? What style of bike do I have? How much equipment do I need to bring? What type of terrain will I be riding on? These are all questions only each rider can answer for themselves. Every detail should be considered a day or two before the ride is planned, that way they have ample time to prepare.
Every cyclist is unique and has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. How long a person has been riding and how physically fit they are each affect the time it will take them to bike a mile. A beginning rider might take 20 minutes to do so, while a seasoned rider will do the same in less than 5. A physically fit cyclist might finish a mile race in half the time as someone who is out of shape or someone who doesn’t have the same level of fitness.
There are no set skill levels either, every cyclist has their skill level and can’t allow other people’s riding styles or skill levels to influence their riding. This is a recipe for disaster. If an inexperienced rider follows a highly skilled rider’s exact method and style of riding they will likely hurt themselves.
Types of Bikes
Bike To Work explains how the style of bike that a cyclist has can play a significant role in determining how long it takes to bike a mile. Each style has a specific type of terrain and rider that best suits it. The 4 main styles of bikes are:
- Road Bikes
- Thin tires, a small frame, a lightweight design, and a short wheelbase are all common characteristics of a road bike, which can average 17-18 miles per hour.
- Touring Bicycles
- A sturdy, triangular frame helps this style of bike carry any equipment or cargo a rider can throw at it.
- BMX and Mountain Bikes
- Can be used on dirt, mountains, road courses, and a variety of other terrains. Considered two of the most comfortable options.
- Commonly used on beaches or for shopping, cruisers are safest and most comfortable on flat, smooth surfaces.
According to The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA), the equipment needed for the average cyclist can be divided into 6 categories:
- Includes necessities like a helmet and other protective gear, sunglasses for UV protection, and sunscreen should be considered as well.
- A tool bag is recommended for longer journeys where something on the bike may need to be fixed. This should include a patch kit, air pump, and miscellaneous things like house keys, cell phones, and money.
- Water is important when participating in any exercise, especially one as strenuous as cycling. It’s best to carry a water bottle with you everywhere you ride.
- If you are riding in a city you will want to have bright clothing that can be easily seen by drivers and other pedestrians. Wind resistance and drag can drastically slow a cyclist down so wearing tight-fitting clothes can also help reduce the time it takes to bike a mile.
- Individual cyclists may decide to include other gear in their travel bags. A tire pressure gauge, chain lubricant, and brake cables should be considered.
Keeping a running checklist of what to bring with your during a ride will ensure that you are able to complete your route without any issues. The last thing you want is to be a mile or more away from home and have to walk your bike home. Here are some of the things you should keep on hand during a bike ride:
- Toolbag, with a patch kit, air pump, spare tube, lock, chain lubricant, and tire pressure gauge. Extra cash and keys can also be carried in this.
- Helmet and safety pads
- Plenty of water
- MIrrors if you are planning to do a lot of city riding
- Anything else you might need for specific types of riding, such as camping gear for trail riding, a compass for riding in remote locations, maps, racks, books, entertainment, etc.
Where you will be riding will determine what style of bike you will want to have and ultimately how long it will take you to bike a mile. The terrain you ride on can be a circumstance of where you live, or it could be entirely your preference.
If you are going to be riding on dirt tracks or at skate parks, a Bmx bike would be perfect for you. Some track riders prefer modified versions of mountain bikes instead of BMX. But if you are going to be riding on paved surfaces then a road bike or cruiser should be on your shopping list.
If you want more of a leisurely ride, a cruiser or a road bike would be best for you. In addition, you will want to find somewhere with flat, smooth roads that you can roll along effortlessly. Try to avoid hills and roads with a lot of potholes. Cruisers should be reserved for short trips down a beach or to the farmers market a few blocks away, while road bikes are for short or long rides.
If you are looking for a more strenuous ride, then you might want to consider a BMX or mountain bike. Mountain bikes are used for both off-road trail riding and dirt tracks. They are useful for cutting through narrow trails down the side of a mountain and maintaining a grip on the shifty ground. Bmx bikes are best for people who intend to use their bikes for tricks or track racing.
So, how long does it take to bike a mile? There is no correct answer to that question. There are far too many factors to consider when estimating something like that. Only the individual can guess how long it will take them based on this information.
If you are a skilled rider and have a bike designed for the type of riding you plan to do, you should have no problem completing a mile-long ride in about 6 minutes. However, if you are new to the sport or don’t exactly have the right bike for the terrain around you, it could take you 20 minutes or more to travel that same distance.
The length of your trip should always be considered when packing your bag with necessities. If you are going on a long ride, more equipment will be needed than going down the road or a few blocks away. Always remember to pack plenty of water to keep you hydrated and always bring tools you might need if your bike breaks, things happen.
Without taking all of these things into consideration, a cyclist can find themself in trouble pretty quickly. Cycling a mile as fast as you can isn’t always the best way. You should find a style of riding that is the best fit for your skillset and physical fitness.
The only thing left for you to do is take the information that has been provided to you and use it to your advantage. If your goal is to bike a mile in the shortest time then get a touring bike. If it’s to take a leisurely ride through town then go out and get yourself a cruiser! Only you know how long it takes you to bike a mile. It could be 3 minutes or it could be a whole hour, both of which are completely acceptable.
Whether it’s your first time on a bike or your thirtieth year, biking a mile is something to be proud of. Happy riding, have fun, and be safe!