What is a Big Ride?

I was talking to a friend of mine last night and he asked what plans I had for today.  I said we didn’t have too much planned, but part of my day would definitely include a big ride.  Then he asked me an interesting question….“What exactly is a big ride?”

I know that I’ve used the phrase “big ride” many times, but until this conversation I never had to go on to explain what I considered that big ride to actually be. The thing is, it can mean something totally different depending on what time of year it is and where my riding is at.  On top of that, a big ride to me might be a walk in the park for another cyclist, or something totally un-imaginable to another.  So maybe a “big – for me -for right now – ride” is more like it.

Right now, for my fall riding season, I’m scaling back on the weekly distance that I was accustomed to in the Summer.  So at this moment a big ride for me is anything over 2 hours or 40 miles (60kms).  At a different time of year, like that of spring and Summer, I’d probably classify that big ride as one in the 3 to 4 hour range.  Anything over that I would classify as a “big big ride” or an “epic”.

It’s all what you’re used to.  There used to be a time when I thought anything over an hour was a big ride.  For those ultra distance type riders, they probably think a few hours on the bike is simply nothing at all.  We all have our gages and we all have our definition of the big ride.

I’d love to hear back from you and find out what your definition of a “big ride” is.  Let us know, and let us hear how it’s changed through your cycling career or over a cycling season.

Enjoy Your Ride, whether it be big or small.

  • Michael Moriarity

    My two cents: Define your big rides by time in the saddle, not distance. Ride time should not change significantly from summer to winter. Only the intensity should change. Slightly less intensity in the winter as you work on that base, but don’t lose intensity all together. Keep the body on its toes, and never stop building!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Michael…..I, personally used to focus more on time, and now I seem to be more focused on distance.  I appreciate your perspective and suggestion….good stuff.

  • http://www.reasons2ride.com/ Joel Phillips

    Whether it’s racing neighbor kids in my townhouse community to the mailbox, a feverish sprint to the organic market at the end of the block or a 50-mile cruise in the foothills, every ride is EPIC.  If you’re TRUELY Loving The Bike, aren’t all rides big??

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Good point, Joel.  We should think that way about every ride.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly a “big ride” to me is more big in importance than distance…. I have done short sprints and considered them big if I beat a PR/PB on the same course. I have also had awesome Distance/Time rides that are my “big rides”. All my 6+ hour races instantly qualify but sometimes a 30km mtb race cam be a “big ride” just based on the meters climbed or the fun had… Big could just be the size of the smile sometimes…. Enjoy your ride!!! 

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Good point, egggman.  The importance of the ride can definitely be as big as the length in which you’re going.  You’re also totally right about measuring it by the size of your smile as well.  Nicely done.

  • http://chasingmailboxes.wordpress.com/ chasingmailboxes

    I define “big rides” not only by time in the saddle, but also by terrain and other elements.  Even though I randonneur and ride a Super Randonneur series whenever I can, I’ll never forget a December century I rode that 1. never got above freezing, 2. was windy, and 3. had over 10,000 feet of climb. It was KILLER! That said, in my “off season” from September to December, I consider anything over 200K a fairly big ride, particularly as rides longer than that at this time of year almost inevitably require night riding and managing big shifts in temps.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Great input…..and the terrain and elements can definitely play a huge part in the “big-ness” of the ride.  Yeah, I would say that anything over 200kms is totally a big ride.

  • http://twitter.com/icemanbb Bob Burpee

    Most of my riding is urban (a fair amount of stop/go).  For those rides anytrhing over 50 miles (4k+ climbing) I consider a big ride.  Other rides (trail or more rural roads) 80mi or more is a big ride for me.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Bob, it’s nice to hear about everyone’s perspective on big riding.  Keep on Enjoy Your Ride.

  • Luke

    Last year while riding my road bike more frequently and training for a double century weekend (STP) a ride over 60 mi felt like a big ride. This year I’ve mostly been riding my Kona Ute cargo bike and a 30 mi ride feels big.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, you’re right Luke.  The length of a big ride can also depend on what type of bike you’re riding for sure.  Enjoy your tim on the Koan as well as your road bike.

  • Jeremy Newfield

    I’m proud of myself and consider it a big ride if I go over 30 miles.  That used to take me over two hours but now I can do it usually in one and a half.  Now I am going for 40 miles.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Sweet…..go after those 40 miles and let me know how it goes.  Keep up the great cycling.

  • Anonymous

    I’m proud of myself and consider it a big ride if I go over 30 miles.  That used to take me over two hours but now I can do it usually in one and a half.  Now I am going for 40 miles.

  • Chad Ulrick

    Summertime 12 hour 40 miles 1 way 10 friends lots of beer camp overnight and do it all again the next day home

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Sounds like fun, Chad.  How many of those big rides do you get out on each year?

  • Greg M

    I am about to set off on a big ride right now.  I plan on getting in 70 miles and consider anything aver 60 a big ride.  I absolutely agree with your comment about a big ride being different for different people.  Plus it is always changing.  A couple years ago a big ride for me would have been anything over 40 miles.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Nice job, Greg.  I hope you had a great ride today and keep pumping out the big miles.

  • Samantha

    I’m still fairly new to cycling so a big ride to me is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 hours or 20 miles.  I’m working at longer distances and hope to start doing rides closer to 40 miles.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Samantha, I hope you reach your cycling goals and keep on setting new ones.  Keep up the great riding.

  • Scott

    You sound similar to me.  If I get out for anything over a couple hours this time of year I’m doing pretty good.  In the summer a big ride is anything over 3 1/2 hours for me.