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Biking 20 Miles a Day: Benefits and Tips How to Prepare
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Biking 20 Miles a Day: Benefits and Tips How to Prepare

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on November 22, 2022
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11 min

Biking 20 miles a day might not be easy, but it is a great goal for any cyclist. Regardless of your skill level, with the right preparation, there’s no reason you can’t easily knock out a 20-mile ride.

biking 20 miles a day

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Getting outside for a cycle around your city is a great way to spend an afternoon. Biking is the perfect combination of being out in fresh air, soaking up vitamin D, and doing something good for your body.

If you’ve been cycling for a little while, you might have your eye on the prize of completing a 20-mile bike ride. 

This is an ambitious goal that probably won’t be easy, but it’s definitely possible – with the right preparation.

In this article, we will be giving readers insights into the benefits of cycling 20 miles a day, as well as some useful tips on how to prepare to bike this lengthy distance.

Why Is It Worth Biking 20 Miles a Day?

There are so many reasons for you to start biking 20 miles a day, including that it’s:

  • Better for the environment
  • Gives you the opportunity to get out of the house
  • A low-impact exercise that is great for anyone wanting to get in better shape
  • An activity that you can enjoy with your friends
  • Great for your mental health

Not to mention that there are a ton of physical benefits as well that we will cover in more depth later on in this article.

How Long Does It Take to Bike 20 Miles?

If you are an experienced cyclist who has completed distances of a similar length before, you can expect to finish a 20-mile bike ride in as little as one hour.

For a beginner cyclist, it can take up to two hours and thirty minutes. This time could be extended to up to a few hours for anyone wanting to do longer rides at an average speed – there is nothing wrong with focusing on enjoying yourself along the way.

What Should I Eat Before Going on a 20-Mile Ride?

If you want to bike 20 miles a day, it’s important that you’re intentional about preparing your body with a proper fuel source to give you power while you ride.

Eating nutritious food that is high in protein will also lend a hand in aiding your body’s recovery after your workout. Here are the 5 best picks to eat before cycling:

Carbohydrates for energy

Eating carbohydrates before biking 20 miles a day is a must. Carbohydrates often get a bad rap because people think eating them will cause them to gain weight. 

The truth is, they’re the food group that is responsible for giving us the energy our body needs while working out. This is because they are what the body uses to create ATP.

ATP is what the muscles use as fuel, and it is created through the breakdown of glycogen. 

When the body stores carbohydrates, they store them as glycogen, and without enough of it, you won’t have the fuel you need to make it through such a lengthy workout.

Ensure that you have a high-carb meal the night before you plan on cycling.

What are healthy carbohydrates?

Whole-grain pasta, quinoa, potatoes, and oats.

Protein for recovery

Eating protein after cycling is important for the recovery of your muscles. 

As you do an intense activity, you create small tears in your muscles – which are then repaired using protein as the building blocks – when you rest. 

Having high protein food is an important part of any cooldown routine and will ensure you give your body everything it needs to continue building strong muscles. 

What are the foods that are the highest source of protein?

Chocolate milk, yogurt, poultry, and seafood.

Fruits and veggies for fiber

Eating high-fiber foods is great for making you feel full for longer, which is helpful for anyone who is trying to lose weight. 

Not only that, but it also aids in the removal of the unnecessary by-products of intense exercise, which will help you recover more quickly after you cycle 20 miles. 

What are some high-fiber foods?

Pears, carrots, beets, broccoli, and collard greens.

Snack bars

As you exercise, you will exhaust the glycogen stores that you usually rely on for energy, especially when you are doing an activity as strenuous as biking for 20 miles. 

For this reason, it’s not a bad idea for you to pick up a few granola bars for you to snack on along the way. 

Bananas for potassium

Potassium is one of the most important minerals for muscle function. Without it, you might find that you experience muscle weakness and cramping. Bananas are not only high in protein, but they’re quick and easy to snack on, making them perfect for a mid-bike snack.

Eating an overall healthy diet full of high protein foods, healthy carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables is important, regardless of whether or not you are exercising.

But, this is especially true for anyone who is biking 20 miles a day with the goal of losing weight. 

If eating a healthy diet is something you struggle with, then it might be time for you to get some backup.

Getting enough of the foods you need isn’t always easy, so finding new ways for you to improve your diet is never a bad idea. 

5 Benefits of Biking 20 Miles Every Day

Cycling, especially every day, has a number of amazing health benefits. It can improve your physical health, and because it is a stress-releasing exercise that is often done outdoors, it can even help boost your mental health.

#1 Increased muscle strength

Cycling is a great workout for improving the strength of your muscles – particularly the muscles in your legs, including your quads, hamstrings, and calves – although it can also have an impact on improving core strength as well.

It is also a low-impact exercise, meaning it improves the strength of your muscles and can aid in weight loss, all while having little to no negative effects on the bones and joints. 

This is great for anyone who is currently overweight and wants to improve their muscle strength before doing more intense activities like lifting weights or running.

#2 Improved cardiovascular health 

In a time when poor cardiovascular health is responsible for one death every 36 seconds in the US, anything that can help decrease the chances of cardiovascular disease can’t be overlooked.

Your cardiovascular system is considered your heart, arteries, and lungs, and exercise improves cardiovascular health in a few different ways.

First off, increased blood flow removed any fatty buildups along the artery walls. This decreases the chance of blood clots forming in the arteries and later being dislodged, causing a heart attack or stroke.  

It can also help strengthen the heart and improve its ability to pump blood throughout the body, meaning it has to work less and contributes to lower blood pressure.

Cycling can be either aerobic or anaerobic exercise, depending on how vigorously you decide to exercise. 

Regardless of which of these two kinds of exercises you choose to do, you can feel good knowing you are improving the health of your cardiovascular system and lung capacity.

#3 Reduced levels of stress

When you exercise, you activate the sympathetic nervous system. This is the nervous system that is responsible for the fight or flight response and triggers the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

Without knowing it, a lot of us are walking around every day with this nervous system activated, which is incredibly draining for the body. When we finish an intense bout of physical activity, it triggers the activation of our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” process.

This switch in nervous system activation from sympathetic to parasympathetic along with the release of feel-good hormones like endocannabinoids that can give us a peaceful and euphoric feeling.

This is the reason that often, after working out, we feel as though we have worked away all the stress we were holding onto in our bodies, which is great for helping you fall asleep faster at night.

#4 Weight loss

Are you trying to get into the best shape of your life? Cycling could be the perfect thing to help you reach all of your weight loss goals.

It is a great exercise for anyone who is currently overweight or dealing with health issues because it is a low-impact exercise that burns a high amount of calories. 

It burns a high amount of calories in comparison to a lot of other exercises because it enlists the help of many of the largest muscles in your body to carry out movement.

Biking is an exercise many people turn to when trying to lose weight. This is because even though cycling can burn right around the same amount of calories as running, it does so while putting significantly less stress on the bones and joints.

Biking at a moderate pace can burn between 240 and 336 calories in just a 30-minute period, depending on your body mass.  

The number of calories burned in this short amount of time can be as high as 700 if the cycling is done vigorously.

#5 Fun to do

Whether you decide to hop on your road bike for a cycle around your city or your mountain bike for a pedal through some tougher terrain, there is no denying that cycling is a ton of fun.

Even if you just decide to bike a few miles around your city, it’s a great excuse to get some fresh air and explore. And it’s even more fun when you can do it with friends.

The sense of accomplishment you feel when you finally bust out some serious mileage, such as completing a 20-mile bike ride, is worth all of the efforts it takes to get it done.

Finding an activity that helps you burn calories and tone your muscles while also having a ton of fun can make reaching all of your fitness goals that much easier.

How to Prepare for a 20-Mile Ride?

Biking 20 miles is no easy feat. To make sure you not only make it through your workout but actually enjoy it, here are some simple ways for you to prepare your body beforehand, as well as tips to keep in mind throughout your workout.

Pick up a heart rate monitor

It’s normal at the beginning of the workout to want to go 100% right from the start, but doing so likely won’t set you up for success.

When doing any sort of long-distance or lengthy exercise, you want to make sure you are working out in your aerobic zone for the majority of it. 

Aerobic exercise is done between 60–75% of your maximum heart rate, and it is the most sustainable kind of exercise you can do.

Picking up a heart rate monitor and using it to stay in this range throughout your ride can help ensure you have all the energy you need to complete your 20 miles.

Get hydrated

Getting properly hydrated before your ride is one of the most important parts of your preparation.

Having enough water in your body is a key function in regulating your temperature. When you are biking for a long distance, you can expect to work up a sweat, especially if it is hot outside.

Having enough water in your body means you can keep your blood pumping well through the body and keep relieving your body of heat by moving it to the surface of your skin through your sweat.

Drinking enough water before your run is a must, and you can’t forget to pack some water to keep you hydrated while you ride. Things like camelback drinking pouches make it easier to drink while you ride, and if you’re serious about cycling, it could be a worthwhile investment.

Fuel your body

As we mentioned earlier, dieting and fueling is an important part of any exercise routine, but especially one of this level of intensity.

Before biking, you should make sure to have a light but nutritious meal. A bowl of oatmeal and some yogurt if you’re biking in the morning.

You should also plan around getting hungry along the way and make sure to bring something to snack on. A bar or a banana is an easy option.

FAQs

What is an average 20-mile cycling time?

An average cyclist can expect to finish a 20-mile bike ride in around 1 hour and 40 minutes.

How many calories does a 20-mile ride burn?

For someone weighing 150lbs, a 20-mile bike ride will end up burning around 953 calories. This number will be a little higher for people with a larger body mass and lower for someone weighing under 150lbs.

What can substitute cycling?

Swimming is one of the best substitutes for cycling because it is a low-impact sport, making it great for easing the strain on your muscles and joints. Running is the best alternative for anyone looking to burn the same amount of calories as they would cycling.

A Word From Our Coach

When you set the goal of biking 20 miles a day, it’s very possible that it’s not something you will be able to do right off the bat, and that is okay.

Whenever you set big goals for yourself, it’s important to set an intention – or a reason why exactly you want to accomplish this goal.

Ideally, this intention will be in line with self-love and wanting to feel better, even if one of the goals of your biking is to lose weight.

If self-love is your objective, then you can always feel good knowing that even if you hop on your road bike and do a quick cruise around your neighborhood or head to your local gym for a bike indoors, you will still be doing something good for your body, mind, and soul.

Bottom Line

In this article, we have covered all the reasons why you should take up biking. Including having the opportunity to spend time with your friends while doing something good for your body and the environment.

We have also gone over some of the health benefits, including improving your cardiovascular health, reducing your stress so you can get better sleep, and burning calories which can help you to lose weight. 

Most importantly, we hope that you learned tips that can help you be successful in biking 20 miles a day so that you can start making healthy habits that can change your life.

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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