QUESTION: Is a 2 hour bike ride good? I just recently started riding. – Charles K
RBR’S STAN PURDUM REPLIES: Without knowing what you want cycling to do for you, it’s not possible to give you a detailed answer, but in most ways that matter, the answer is “Yes!”
Cyclists who ride primarily for enjoyment or adventure, might answer you by saying, “Any length bike ride is better than no bike ride at all” — just as many golfers who like to play 18 holes at a time would still rather play 9 holes than not play golf at all.
Cyclists who ride primarily for general fitness, well-being and staying in shape might qualify their yes answer by saying that a two-hour ride could be your once-a-week ride preceded by shorter rides on two other days earlier in the week.
Cyclists wanting to improve their athletic performance on the bike might add to their yes that the two-hour ride should have specific exercise goals — such as building speed or endurance — and be part of a comprehensive training program.
Professional cyclists, who are used to pedaling for many hours at a time, would still probably say yes, but add, “for the average person.”
People who take up cycling to lose weight might say that a two-hour ride could be too long to start with, but whatever length of ride you can manage is helpful, so long as you pair it with a healthy eating plan. And they might add, once you are able to ride for two hours, be sure to pedal with enough intensity to burn plenty of calories. (For more on this, see my answer to the question “Can you lose weight cycling”)
Regardless of which of these cyclist categories you fit in, you might also want to read this 2020 article from Outside, where writer and cyclist Eben Weiss (of “Bike Snob NYC” fame), argues that 20 miles is the perfect ride length.
My yes includes a caveat: Regardless of your cycling goals, if you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle, a two-hour ride should be a goal to work toward, not a starting point.
But my yes includes a heartily endorsement of the keep-moving principle, which is especially important as we age. Keeping active has been shown to increase life expectancy, strengthen your body, decrease the risk of depression and provide other benefits. Cycling is a great way to keep moving and is often more fun than other activities.
So if you can ride for two-hours, go for it. If not, make it a goal and work toward it.
Stan Purdum has ridden several long-distance bike trips, including an across-America ride recounted in his book Roll Around Heaven All Day, and a trek on U.S. 62, from Niagara Falls, New York, to El Paso, Texas, the subject of his book Playing in Traffic. Stan, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Ohio. See more at www.StanPurdum.com.
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