If you’re ready to challenge yourself & bike your first 20 miles, then you’re probably wondering how long will it take.
The average time it takes to bike 20 miles is 1 hour 20 minutes, riding at 15 miles per hour on a flat road. beginners riding at 10 mph can expect a 2-hour ride.
Like most cycling adventures there’s more that goes into a 20-mile bike ride, these include weather conditions, your fitness level, the weight of your bike & much more, so let’s dive into it.
Biking 20 Miles What To Expect
First, let’s take a look at what it will take to reach your desired finishing time.
Maintaining an average speed of 10 Mph = 2 hours
Maintaining an average speed of 15 Mph = 1 hour 20 minutes
Maintaining an average speed of 20 Mph = 57 minutes
Maintaining an average speed of 24 Mph = 50 minutes
Maintaining an average speed of 30 Mph = 40 minutes
As you can see the main metric that determines how long it will take you to bike 20 miles is your average speed.
This is determined by 4 factors:
- Your Fitness Level
- Overall Weight
- Type of Bike
Factors That Affect The Time It Takes To Bike 20 Miles:
Your Fitness Level
There are 5 elements that tie in together & contribute to your overall fitness level, they are your aerobic endurance, muscular speed, strength, muscle power, & muscle endurance.
Your aerobic endurance involves maintaining a constant speed efficiently for an extended period of time. Improving your aerobic endurance increases your body’s ability to use oxygen, this allows you to ride at a faster pace for an extended period of time.
Improving on your aerobic fitness will:
- Strengthen your heart which will produce more oxygen-rich blood per heartbeat.
- increased lung fitness
- Allow more oxygen to be transported to your muscles by increasing the number of red blood cells produced
- Allow you to breath more efficiently
Muscle speed refers to cadence, this is the rate at which you pedal. Cadence is measured in revolutions per minute, in simpler words this the number of times you turn the cranks in a minute.
Strength refers to the amount of force you can exert, this is built from riding in hilly areas & more inclined surfaces.
Muscle power involves strength & speed taking endurance out of the equation, this refers to the amount of power you will be able to exert in a shorter period of time such as 15-20 seconds.
Muscle Endurance refers to the ability to maintain a high pace without early muscle fatigue & lactic acid build-up.
Resistance is another element that can affect your overall cycling time, there are three types of resistance which affect your overall average speed, these are air resistance, gravitational resistance, rolling resistance.
Starting with air resistance, research shows that 75% of air resistance comes from the rider & 25% is from the bike. To reduce drag from air resistance directed to you there are 2 things that matter, your clothing & your riding position.
There are three types of resistance that affect cycling speed which are air resistance, gravitational resistance, rolling resistance. The first is air resistance, According to research 75% of air resistance is from the rider & 25% of the resistance occurs from the bike its self.
Fitted clothing is very important when it comes to reducing drag, baggy clothes will definitely slow you down this has been proven in several wind tunnel tests.
Your riding position is another important factor that can have a massive effect on your overall speed. A bad riding position can increase drag thus reduce your overall speed.
To optimize your riding position simply bend your elbows 90 degrees while keeping your forearms horizontal & your elbows tucked in, then slightly lower your head between your shoulder blades while keeping your back flattened.
The next 25% of air resistance comes from the bike its self, so having a more aero bike will definitely make a difference in your overall cycling speed.
The second type of resistance is gravitational resistance which involves weight. Additional weight has been shown to reduce cyclist’s average speed dramatically especially when on an incline.
This revolves around both the rider’s weight as well as the weight of the bike. The more weight you can reduce the better, both from the bike & your self. This will result in less gravitational resistance you will experience thus increasing your overall speed.
Type Of Bike
As we mentioned above the bike matters for several reasons first of all 25% of air resistance is dependant purely on the bike, meaning just getting on a more aero bike will simply improve your cycling speed by reducing air resistance. Secondly, the weight of the bike will have an impact on your overall speed, especially when climbing or riding in hilly areas, so a much lighter bike will definitely improve your overall time.
The last factor is Rolling resistance, Rolling resistance accounts for 11% of resistance experienced when cycling & this is dependant on your bike tires. Tire pressure tire tread, tire diameter, tire width, & tire construction all play a major role in rolling resistance.
Tips On How To Increase Your Average Cycling Speed:
Intervals are great when it comes to improving your overall fitness level, there are different variations of interval training, each based on the rider’s fitness level. Intervals involve sprinting as fast as you can for a short period of time & then resting for a short period of time before going again. For example, you can do a 2-minute sprint & rest for 2 minutes before going again & repeat this cycle 6-10 times.
Extended low-Intensity Cycling Sessions
There’s no substitute for long rides, this involves low to moderate intensity long rides to help build up your aerobic endurance & muscular endurance. This will help you maintain high speeds for an extended period of time.
What counts is your overall average speed, not your speed in the first 10 minutes which is why pacing is incredibly important. You want to ride at a pace where you can sustain the entire duration of your ride, with a little room to exert your self at the end.
As we mentioned above aerodynamics makes a huge difference when it comes to increasing your overall average speed, which is why you should maintain an aero riding position.
Simply bend your elbows 90 degrees while keeping your forearms horizontal & your elbows tucked in, then slightly lower your head between your shoulder blades while keeping your back flattened.
Diet is another important element to focus on when trying to improve your overall cycling speed. Proper nutrition has a massive impact on your endurance. Additionally, it will provide you with more energy while riding keeping you fresher for longer. If you will be on your bike for longer than 90 minutes make sure you refuel your body with carbohydrates while riding, this can be through an energy drink or an energy gel.
The average cyclist can finish 20 miles in around 1 hour 20 minutes. However, this number is dependant on your fitness level & your ability to maintain a high average speed. As mentioned above there are other factors that affect your overall speed besides your fitness level, these are resistance, weight, & your bike.
Optimizing your bike & riding position will definitely have a positive effect on your performance, combining that with a high fitness level will definitely amplify the results & allow you to ride 20 miles at a much faster time than the average cyclist.