How Far Is Too Far To Bike To Work?

Leaving your car at home and biking to work is a great way to get in some exercise.

You’re also doing your part to reduce carbon emissions in the environment.

Before you ditch your car keys and grab your bike, you want to consider a few things.

The most important being distance, so how far is too far to bike to work?

The Distance to Work Matters 

Most people aren’t ready to bike in a marathon nor want to on their way to work.

Look at how far your job is from your house, and factor in the time it takes you to bike there.

For example, if your office is 20+ miles away you can expect around a 2-hour ride both ways.

That’s a total of four hours on your bike every time you go to work. For most people, the commute is a little too much.

To give you an idea of the difficulty level of your bike ride based on mileage, here’s what you can expect.

Miles (One Way) Level of Difficulty
0 – 5 Easy
6 – 10 Moderate
11 – 15 Hard
16 – 20 A Long, Sweaty Ride
Over 21 Marathon

Bike rides 10 miles and under shouldn’t leave you tired and gasping for air when you make it to work, but anything over depends on your fitness level.

What’s Your Fitness Level? 

In general, most people with an average level of fitness can easily handle a 3 to 7-mile commute on their bike.

Average fitness implies that you do get regular exercise that includes biking around the neighborhood.

If you’re just getting started cycling, build up your endurance before you start biking to work.

You’re also building up endurance every time you bike to work.

Over time, you’ll notice you’re pedaling faster and breathing easier.

At this point, you can start thinking about adding some fitness training to your commute.

See if there is a slightly longer route to continue building endurance.

Know Your Route 

Safety is paramount on a bike, and some routes are safer than others.

You don’t want to risk an accident or injury the first time you decide to ride your bike to the office.

If you’re used to driving on the freeway, you’ll have to plot out a different route.

It’s dangerous and illegal to try and ride a bike on a major highway.

The best scenario gives you multiple routes to choose from.

This way you can find one that’s safe and meets your fitness level.

You also want to look at the miles, some routes may be longer than others.

However, the shortest route may not be the safest.

Busy roads, even with dedicated bike lanes, still present challenges to riders.

If you’re not used to biking with traffic, try to find a less crowded route.

Maybe, there’s a bike path you can follow from home to work and back.

As your skill and confidence levels increase, you can gradually start taking other routes.

How Long Will the Bike Ride Take 

Driving to work may only take minutes and you have it timed perfectly so you’re never late to work.

You are going to have to make some adjustments when you start biking.

Even a 3-mile ride will take longer than a couple of minutes.

How fast you cover the miles depends on your fitness level.

Most people that have average fitness levels can cover one mile in 10 minutes or less.

The terrain and amount of traffic will also affect how long the ride takes.

If your route takes you up and down hills, it may take longer.

Don’t presume that the downhill glides will make up time spent pedaling up hills.

Heavily congested roads, especially with lots of stop signs and traffic lights will also slow down your commute.

Some bike riders have noted that they could drastically shorten the time it takes if they could safely use the freeways.

A good tip is to bike the route a few times before you start cycling to work.

This way you’ll know how long it takes and when you need to leave the house.

man in suit bike commuting

Think About Your Appearance After Biking 

You have no protection from the weather on a bike, other than your helmet.

It will keep your hair dry and you can also avoid a wind-blown appearance.

What you want to consider are the occasional mud splashes from passing vehicles, along with the possibility of sweat.

In some occupations, these details do not matter due to already dirty working conditions.

However, if you spend the day in an office or close to co-workers, dirt and sweat are rarely appropriate.

There are a few steps you can take to avoid these problems.

The easiest is to pack a change of clothes.

It’s not hard to bike with a small backpack and you can also have a rack or basket installed on the bike.

Can You Fix Your Bike? 

You don’t need to know how to rebuild your bike from scratch, but you should be able to make simple repairs.

Like your vehicle, bikes can also break down. Bicycles are easier and less expensive to fix.

The longer distances you’re regularly covering increases your chances for a flat tire, slipped gear, or stuck bike chain.

These are common problems with bikes, and you can easily fix the issue on the side of the path.

Keeping a portable bike pump, along with a small bottle of chain grease, and some levers in a bag ensures you have the tools on hand to fix the problem.

If you can’t get your bike rolling again, most rideshare services will pick up you and the bicycle.

How Much Can You Carry on a Bike 

You know you need to carry a few tools and possibly a change of clothes.

The weight is quickly adding up, so how much can you carry?

How much you carry on the bike depends on your fitness and what you need.

Most bike commuters try to keep their packs around 10lbs, especially if they’re covering longer routes.

It is harder to keep the weight down when you add in electronics and paperwork.

Think about what you need to bring and what can stay at home or work.

If you don’t work at home, do you need to carry your laptop?

If you can leave it at work, you’re reducing how much you have to carry.

What Type of Bike Should You Ride 

There are multiple bike styles to choose from.

You can commute on a road bike, fixed gear bike, or folding bike to name a few.

Regardless of which type of bike you use, you want to pay attention to two important factors.

The bike needs to be comfortable and reliable, otherwise, you’ll quickly switch back to driving to work.

How comfortable a bike is depends on its geometry, especially the handlebar placement in relation to the seat.

Look for bikes with handlebars higher than the seat.

You also don’t want the handlebars leaning too far forward.

The most comfortable riding position for commuting is when you can sit upright.

Bike size also determines how comfortable you are during rides.

Frames that are too short leave your legs cramped and possibly bumping the handlebars.

The opposite is true when the bike frame is too big.

It is difficult to reach the pedals and safely control the bike.

Check the Bike’s Reliability

You don’t have to speed a lot of money on a bicycle, but you also don’t want to buy the cheapest one.

You want a bike with durable parts that are designed to last with little to no adjustments.

Shimano gears are designed not to slip.

Bikes with aluminum alloy frames are lightweight, durable, and sturdy.

You also want to regularly check tires for wear and tear, along with the pressure.

What to Do with Your Bike at Work 

Some places allow their employees to bring the bicycles inside for safe storage, but this isn’t common.

Chances are you will need a bike lock to keep the bike secure while you’re working.

Always chain the bike to an unmovable object like a pole or pillar.

Ideally, there’ll be a bike rack nearby for employees and visitors.

Always chain both tires and the frame.

You want to be careful when threading the chain through the tires, so you don’t accidentally bend the spokes.

Conclusion 

There are benefits to biking to work. It’s healthy and good for the environment.

Biking also saves you money on gas, along with expensive wear and tear on your vehicle.

Before you grab your bike, you do want to consider the distance.

If it’s over 10 miles, are you in good enough shape to make the ride?

You also want to think about the route and how long it will take you to bike to your job.

If you’re ready to start commuting by bicycle, make sure yours is comfortable and reliable.

Plan your route and start enjoying the fresh air and a healthier lifestyle.

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