How Long Is a Bike Marathon?

A bike marathon, popularly known as road bicycle cycling, has had rapid escalation in participation within the last decade. The most common competition formats for this marathon are mass-start formats where cyclists start together and time trials where riders race against a set time.

There are a number of bike marathon races such as traditional road races, gravel races, time trials, stage races, criteriums, and cyclocross races.

Although there are common features for all the races, each one of them has some unique characteristics such as distance, number of participants and types of roads they take place in.

What Determines How Long A Bike Marathon Should Take?

Have you ever wondered how long cyclists take and how far they go in a bike marathon? Well, all these depend on the type of race and category of participant. Let’s look at different kinds of marathon and what they entail.

Traditional Road Races

These are the longest type of marathon races that take place on paved roads, with or without safety precautions or controlled traffic.

Their course distance is often 30 to 60 miles for those in the amateur category. The races can be run on closed routes, point to point, open roads, or partially closed roads.

A beginner in 4 or 5 categories takes shorter courses while those in top categories cycle longer distances of up to 150 miles in a day. Common formats of traditional road races are mass start events and time trials

Stage Races

Stage races are also known as tours. They are multiple day races that involve a number of stages for mass start together with a few time trial stages. They last for 23 consecutive days. Two of the days are rest days; hence the stages are 21 day-long. It covers 2,000 to 2,200 miles.


This race is also referred to as a crit. It’s carried out on traffic blocked paved roads. 

The length of a Criterium race depends on two factors;

  • The precise number of labs on the route.
  • The number of laps that a cyclist is capable of completing in a particular amount of time- which is often an hour

Although commonly a lap does not exceed a mile, each can range between half a mile and 6 miles. Since the race time and the course of this race is shorter compared to traditional road races, participants can cycle all out, hence its intensity and average speed higher.

Gravel Grinder

These races are more like traditional road races. The difference is that their routes have paved as well as gravel roads. The computation is not all about who’s the first to finish. It also counts the types of bike and tire that’s most advantageous, considering the demands of the road surface.

Since gravel grinders are among the recent bike marathon races, participants still test with different kinds of bikes such as gravel bikes, cross bikes, mountain bikes and road bikes with thick tires.

What Are The Things That No One Tells You About Bike Marathons?

Body positioning, techniques, and nutrition are some things you may not be aware of concerning bike races. let’s unpack them

Hills are unavoidable. Hills and winds are not favorable situations for bike rides. To overcome, and have a smooth ride work on adding more gears and focus on maintaining your RPMs. 

You may experience body pains. You may feel some impact on your hands, shoulders, neck, and butt. For you to reduce the impact, put on a pair of shorts that are padded. Also, alternate your position and posture as required.

It involves the use of sense. Always have a positive mindset as you take the ride. Do not declare yourself defeated have a high spirit and enjoy yourself  

You need to eat well.

When undertaking long-distance cycling, you need to take nutritious foods that will provide you with the energy required. Whole grains and a lot of water are most advisable. 

How Can You Prepare For A Bike Marathon?

Adequate preparation will help reduce surprises than can make you frustrated in the course of the bike race. Here are simple things you can do to prepare.

Warm-up. Warm-ups like riding in parks will make your legs ready to move fast .you can also spin around to know the condition of your bike.

Be ready for anything. A lot can happen in a race; people may lose temper or get worked up. Be ready for anything. You can even encounter a flat tire, which means it’s essential you learn how to use a bike pump.

Keep it simple. If you are new in road racing, do not worry about many technical issues but rather be focused on finishing the race safely.

Take care of your bike. It’s important you learn basic cycling maintenance. Learning stuff like how to remove rust from bike can help you keep your bike in top shop for any marathon you’re planning.

Final thoughts 

Bike marathon or road racing is a renowned form of professional bicycle racing. It is popular in terms of the number of participants, spectators, and events. The race was started as an organized sport in Western Europe.

It takes around 1550 calories to cycle an average of 50 miles with a speed of 15mph. This is the same as running for a distance of 14 miles. This means that from a calorie burning perspective, cycling 95 miles is more or less similar to running a marathon.

The distance covered in the course of a bike marathon plus the time is taken to complete it depends on two major factors: the kind of race and the riders participating.

Amateur riders go for shorter distances and may take longer than experienced riders. Knowledge of technique and preparedness are also other factors that determine how a rider fairs in the marathon. 

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James Dawson

After learning how to ride a bicycle much later than all the other kids, James Dawson hasn't looked back. The author now actively rides a bicycle as a part of the community cycling group and competes regularly in local competitions. Aside from that, he loves technology and always keeps up to date with the latest cycling tech.