The very best beginner cycling goal is simply to ride.
Ride your bike as often as you can, and rest whenever you need it. Aiming to cycle between 3 and 5 times per week is a good target, with 30 minutes pedalling at various intensities more than enough to lay solid foundations for fast fitness improvements.
As a beginner to road cycling, setting too many goals may do more harm than good.
However, having a small number of goals for your cycling, whether they are short term, annual goals, or even longer term, can give some reason to get back on your bicycle, when perhaps you don’t quite feel like doing exercise.
That said, don’t over think it, no need to over complicate things, just enjoy your cycling without putting pressure on yourself. There’s plenty of time for setting more serious training plans and fitness goals as your cycling fitness improves.
How to get in bike riding shape?
Good news: You already are in bike riding shape.
If you can get your feet on both pedals you are ready to start cycling.
Your cycling fitness will improve as a direct result of, you guessed it, cycling more.
Therefore the very best way to get into bike riding shape is to get on your bike and start cycling.
Cycling: How long to see results?
This is a great question. It also depends on what results you are wanting to see.
Fitness improvements are lagging. Sadly, you don’t do exercise today and immediately see reduced belly fat, or a couple of kilos lost on the weighing scales.
Instead, the hard work you put in today is rewarded days or weeks in the future. So don’t get disheartened if you aren’t seeing immediately results after your first one, two, or three rides.
Below, we will cover in more detail the process of setting cycling goals as a beginner. These goals will directly impact how long it will take to see results.
With that said, as a beginner to cycling you will see the most rapid improvements at the beginning, and then as your fitness increases, the “gains” definitely become increasingly more challenging to attain. But that’s all part of the fun – even if it doesn’t sound like it, right now.
Keep A “Fitness Diary”
I strongly encourage you to keep a fitness diary, blog, excel spreadsheet, or some other written record.
You can automate this with gadgets, but you don’t need to spend even more money at this stage.
If you’re riding outdoors, use Strava on your phone to keep track of your ride.
If you’re riding indoors, the cycling app should take care of this step for you. However, you’ll still likely want to set up Strava and upload your indoor rides.
This all sounds like fluffy advice that you know the person writing it doesn’t actually follow. However, this is not the case. You can read my personal fitness diary here.
I’m not suggesting you need to be this involved, but just keeping a note of time spent, kilometres travelled, and calories burned gives you something to look back on and see your improvements over time.
It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come.
Which beginner cycling training app should I use?
You don’t need the premium plan. Just the free plan is plenty when starting out.
Strava is not a full blown cycling training app. It’s perfect for cyclists / runners looking for a place to log their activities.
As a beginner, you just need to ride your bike. Don’t worry about a strict training plan. All this can come later.
Feel free to follow me, and I’ll be sure to follow you back!
How hard is it to bike 30 miles?
Firstly, most cycling terminology uses Kilometres, not miles. You’ll have an easier time if you adjust from the start to use the metric system.
Kilometres for distance, and kilograms for weight.
So, switch the question to: how hard is it to bike 30 kilometres?
Well, good news. 30km is less than 30 miles! Result.
30 miles is 48km. Let’s round it up and say 50km. That’s a great longer term goal.
In order to work out how hard it is to cycle 30 kilometres, you need to determine whether that’s 30km on lovely, smooth, flat roads, or 30km going up Alpe d’Heuz twice.
Let’s assume you’re riding on mostly flat terrain. No climbing, for now.
I don’t know how fast you’ll be travelling, but I can tell you that when I started out I averaged 25km/h.
So, at 25 kilometres per hour, to ride 30 kilometres will take a little over one hour of continuous pedalling at a fairly steady pace.
I don’t know the average cycling speed for beginners in km/h, but I’d guess between 15km/h and 25km/h would be in the right ball park.
Cycling Goals Examples
I strongly advocate for starting small.
Much like runners have “couch to 5km”, I advocate a very similar process.
Goal 1: Cycle 5 kilometres
Don’t under estimate how easy 5 kilometres will be on a bike. If you haven’t ever cycled before, or you haven’t cycled in years, just getting on your bike and doing some exercise is a huge win.
You may feel absolutely knackered after 5 kilometres. I did. That was something of a wake up call for me, and it may be for you, too.
If you found 5 kilometres to be taxing, don’t fret. You don’t have to jump from 5km on your first ride to 10km on your second. Keep repeating each goal until it becomes easier.
And then creep up. Maybe stay on for an extra kilometre. Maybe an extra two. Before you know it you’ll be so close to 10km you’ll stay on just to check it off your list.
Goal 2: Cycle 10 kilometres
A logical follow on from the 5 kilometre cycle.
Depending on your cycling speed, this may take anywhere between 25 to 30 minutes of continuous pedalling to achieve.
There’s no harm in taking breaks along the way. And whilst 10km might not feel like a huge milestone, the way I look at it is it’s 10km more than you were doing previously. And that is a big win.
Goal 3: Cycle for 30 minutes
It may be that it takes you 30 minutes to cycle to 10km. Perhaps you are faster, and if so, great!
If it does take you 30 minutes – or longer – to reach 10km, then that’s great too. You just ticked off two goals in one ride.
Make no mistake, 30 minutes cycling is a tough workout for a beginner. You should feel proud to get through this one for the first time. It’s real progress from goal #1.
Goal 4: Cycle 20 kilometres
We’re looking at a time of between 40 to 70 minutes to achieve this goal, so we’re well into the “next phase” of our fitness gains by this point.
A few weeks ago the idea of reaching 10km felt a long way away. Now we’re starting to think about longer distances and more time on the bike per session.
This is a yet another big milestone in your cycling, and you should rightfully be feeling proud of your improvements.
Goal 5: Cycle X Distance in Y Minutes
There’s an old saying in cycling:
It never gets easier, you just go fasterGreg LeMond
Once you can comfortable complete a set distance on every ride, perhaps consider a goal of doing that same distance, but faster.
My initial goal was to ride to 10 kilometres in 20 minutes or under. This is considerably easier on an indoor exercise bike, or turbo / smart trainer than outdoors.
It took me a very long time to get under 20 minutes to 10km, and even now, a year and a half later, it is something I still struggle with outdoors.
Perhaps you can think of a similar goal you’d like to achieve?
Longer / bigger / annual cycling goals
Maybe you want to ride 100km (a metric century), or 100 miles (an imperial century).
Maybe you want to ride from Lands End to John O’groats.
Perhaps you just want to build a habit of riding your bike 5 times a week for a month, a quarter, or all year long.
Whatever your cycling goals, I strongly advise writing them down. You might never share your cycling goals with anybody. That’s fine. But the act of writing down a goal makes you considerably more likely to achieve it.
I sincerely wish you all the very best in whatever cycling goals you set for yourself. Remember, just getting on your bike and doing some pedalling is more exercise than you would have done sat on the sofa. It’s also vastly more than most people ever do.
Please leave a comment and share your cycling goals if you want too, I’d love to hear them.