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How Long in the Saddle? 

January 30, 2014
How Long in the Saddle?

You have your new bike, all the accessories and are full of motivation, but how far should you ride on your first few rides? How do I know if I have all the necessary equipment? What type of bike should you use? Does fitness levels or experience need to be considered? All these questions need to be properly examined before you go for a ride as they will not only effect the enjoyment of your ride, but will assess the necessary safety requirements. The information below is a guide to assist you in all your riding questions and needs.

Why are you riding

Identifying your goals and what you want to achieve out of your riding is very important. The four main categories of riding are leisure, fitness, training and commute. Which one do you fall under?

This category is for riders who want to solely enjoy the fun of riding. This has no specific distance range and can consist of a number of different bicycles.

This category is for riders who want to shed a bit of weight whilst enjoying the fresh open air. For individuals who wish to lose weight, the standard amount of time that is needed to be on a bike is roughly an hour a day. The best bike for this category is either the Road or Mountain Bike due to the comfort provided for long distance riding.

This category is for dedicated cyclists who wish to improve all aspects or their riding. The general distance that needs to be covered can average between 50kms to 150kms daily. The distance and the type of bike can depends of course on the style of riding you wish to improve, whether it be Road, Mountain, Triathlon/Track BMX riding etc.

This category is for city riders who choose the pleasures of riding, rather than the stop start traffic of a car. The general distance can range from 0km to 15km and the most suitable bikes are the Urban, Classic, Flat-bar Road and Hybrid.

Fitness Level

Your fitness level is the final important factor to consider before you start determining how far you should ride. You may be an extremely fit individual that can run 10kms every day and lift heavy weights at the gym, but that does not mean you are fit on a bike. Riding uses numerous muscles that you may have never used before, such as neck, buttocks, shoulders and legs. Your body needs to adjust in the proper riding position and after a while this can be extremely demanding on the muscles being used. Before you start riding, you need to address the following:

  • Ensure you are correctly positioned on the bike. If your position on the bike is not correct riding may cause you an injury. The further you continue riding in a poor position the worse this will be.
  • Regardless of your fitness level it is important to ease into cycling.
  • Begin slowly and avoid starting with a big ride. This can cause your body a lot of pain which may put you off the sport. An example of starting out slowly would be to ride for one hour (maximum), two or three times a week, for your first few weeks on the bike. Do not be concerned about the distance or speed -you’re riding. Just set yourself an achievable time based goal.
  • After you have started off slowly for two or three weeks you will have a better idea of your ability and how you feel on the bike. From here you can take the next step depending on your ambition.