I am thinking of getting a bike and biking it home from work on a mountain bike its 9 miles and reasonably flat, I'm not the fittest guy so I'm wondering if I would struggle??

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    9 miles is not a lot for an experienced/fit rider but might prove to be a challenge for a noob. You say it is flat but don't mention what surface - roadway? You say you're thinking of getting a bike...any chance you could borrow one and try the ride out, before you commit to buying one? Just to see how comfortable you are?
    – PeteH
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 22:07
  • Assuming flat roadway, for 9 miles I'd guess at 45 mins +/- 15 mins, depending on how fast a rider you are. So if you put yourself at the slow end of that scale, do you think you're fit enough to ride for an hour? Obviously these are ballpark numbers, but for 9 miles you're not talking 10 minutes and you're not talking 2 or 3 hours (hope not anyway!). But look, if it scares you try and think of ways you can make it easier for yourself. Cycling is a sure fire way to get yourself fit, good luck.
    – PeteH
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 22:30
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    When I first started commuting it was a 12 mile trip 1 way. The first couple of times that I tried it I had my wife come and get me to take me home, I was so sore, but after that I was able to do the trip both ways a couple of times a week, working up to almost daily at one point. But prior to starting I had been taking maybe 5 mile rides during my lunch hour, a couple of times a week. 9 miles a day is certainly doable, if you're in halfway decent condition and the road is reasonable and the bike is semi-OK as a road bike. (Don't try with a full-suspension mountain bike and knobby tires.) Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 2:36
  • Depends how bad your shape is, but when I was a kid that was a daily bike ride, went fine from day 1. A mountainbike might help since it makes the ride lighter, however you might have to get used to the bike itself, my first mountainbike rides got me sore aswell. Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 10:08

7 Answers 7


I agree with the comments that 9 miles is a not a short ride for somebody not in shape, but you’ll get in shape for it really fast, so you should go for it. Just get ready to be sore in funny places for a couple weeks.

You can make your situation better by doing a few things:

  1. Buy a road bike instead, assuming you’ll be on pavement. At the very least, replace your mountain tires with something smaller, in the 30–40mm range. Mountain tires will slow you down and make you work harder. So will a heavy steel bike.
  2. Get a rack for your bike and buy panniers to haul your stuff. Wearing a backpack for 9 miles will get old fast. Whatever you do, don’t get one of those hip shoulder bags. Chiropractic disaster. Best is to get a bike with in-frame attachment points for the rack – many road bikes don't have these, so make sure to check before buying.
  3. Get the bike and do weekend rides to get fit before using it for work.

Good luck, have fun, and be safe!

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    YMMV about back packs. I used one for years on a 30km commute (double what the OP is planning). Using one avoids the extra unsprung weight that comes from loaded panniers. It doesn't take many potholes hit hard to wreck a back wheel.
    – andy256
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 4:03
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    +1 on swapping the tires. Swapping in favor of high-pressure slicks is a night-and-day difference in speed. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 6:21
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    Rather than pure road I would recommend something in between like a lite touring bike as they will take larger tires and have mounts for racks and fenders but still have most of the inefficiencies of a pure road bike.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 15:44
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    Tread the pedals? What does that mean? If you're saying what I think you are, it sounds totally bogus. Which brings me to another suggestion, which is clipless pedals. They are not just for racing -- once mastered they will make life easier and safer. I can barely imagine commuting without them, or at least toe clips. Last two cents on the backpack: it is very, very inconvenient, makes the ride more strenuous, and is bad for your back. I'm honestly baffled by the resistance in this community to panniers. They are the obvious solution to a real problem.
    – tef2128
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 23:36
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    @Thriveth Yes I know question is about a starting 9 mile commute. He is going to be doing that in the seat and extra weight on his back is not going to help with pedal action one bit. Even out of the seat it is the same amount of work and if I pull down on the bars to generate some more force is not more work than carrying that weight on my back. On my back it is full time extra work.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 13:14

I've cycled 15km (or 9.3 miles) to work for over 2 years. You'll get used to it very fast. I can reiterate what @tim.farkas is saying about that wearing a backpack will get old fast. I've bolted a big plastik box onto my bike rack to put my backpack in. It was very relieving to cycle without anything on your back.

Take your time in the beginning and cycle at a pace you feel comfortable with. It's not a race. I'm well trained now and on average I need about 45 minutes one way. Plan more time than that.

If the distance is still too much, there might be tricks to take it easier in the beginning. Where I live I could take my bike with me in the train in the morning, and cycle back in the evening. A friend of mine is cycling the same way with an electric bike. He bought it because he wanted to arrive sweat free for work.

One more advice that is off-topic: The longer you cycle, you will someday get a flat tire on your way. That's why I always carry tools and a spare tube.

  • +1 for mentioning tools and a spare tube. It can lead to annoying situations and long walks, if your a not well equipped.
    – Robin
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 14:24

Biking is an easy activity to throttle. Start slow and take breaks along the way if necessary. Also take days off when you feel fatigued or sore. Make sure you hydrate.


Consider an electric bike. My situation was similar, 15km is just about 9 miles and while I'm not a "big fat slob" I'm not super-fit either. I could do it on a moderate quality touring bike in 45 minutes but I got to work soaked in sweat. Taking a (dare I mention it) cigarette-pause around kilometer 10, and cycling gently, I took 55 minutes but didn't offend my co-workers. I bought an e-bike and did it in 40 minutes.

My e-bike had about 100% boost (for every joule I gave, it added one joule) so I got a reasonable amount of exercise. In summer I managed out-and-back on one charge, in winter the batteries are less efficient so I took a charger with me. This was 6+ years ago, batteries are probably better now.

I had the good fortune that my route was through wood- and farmland, and I enjoyed it a lot.


I been making 5 miles from home to work for a year and this are a few advices by myself.

  • Try to make a first ride of recognition when you don't have to worry about time, maybe the weekend. In this ride you have to pay attention to bumps, holes, car's crosses and transit signals in the road and if there is places for fix your bike in case of something happens.

  • Ride 15 to 30 mins early the first times until you get used to.

  • Define your route and if you have multiple choices, categorize them (I have one when I'm late and another with a beatiful landscape).

  • Don't use your clothes of work to ride, instead use a shirt for sweat and get dirty, and in a bag put you work's clothes, the first times you're gonna sweat like a pig.

  • Always bring with you deodorant or a perfume if you can't shower in the workplace.

  • Bring with you a rain slicker like this Rain slicker, but don't use this non-permeable suit because in this you're gonna sweat the double!!.

  • If you're going to ride in night or even late afternoon, equip your bike with lights.

  • Use this for you pants, you dont want to get dirty of grease at work. reflective band

  • (Optional) Use a scarf and glasses, sometimes the air make your throat and eyes sick.

  • Always be sure you have attach you bag firmly to your bike because when you're riding this can fall and you can lose it (if you doesn't notice). If you carry on yourself your backpack for 9 miles that is gonna make you sweat more.

  • Don't bike without a minimal cash (for incidentals).

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    Gloves/taboggin for fingers/ears when it's chilly. Temps below around maybe 60F, which usually feels nice for a jog can really bite when your cruising at a good speed and have lots of air passing over them and dissipating heat faster than your body can warm them. I used to bike 20 min to work, and on chilly days I'd feel hot while at the same time my ears/fingers were so cold they were burning.
    – AaronLS
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 0:35
  • I also brought a wash cloth, get it damp in bathroom and wipe off my face, and sweatier parts before drying with a paper towel and applying deodorant.
    – AaronLS
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 0:38

First of all I'd like to congratulate you, you've already done perhaps the hardest part, deciding to cycle to work. Its going to be tough, but I'm sure you can manage, and its well worth it.

I'm going to go through some concerns that others haven't brought up.

  1. You will want to get the fastest bike you can get. You want a road bike or a cyclocross bike. Don't think about the extra resistance as helping your fitness. If you are riding an appreciable amount on the road, you want the extra speed to stay safe (cars have little patience for a slow and bouncy Full Suspension bike).
  2. Have someone teach you to change an inner tube with you. You WILL get punctures, and nothing will ruin you day like being stuck half way between work and home with a puncture you can't fix.
  3. Map out and learn your route before you go. If you are in London, TFL have some great maps which rate each road on bike friendliness. Try cycle each leg of your route before hand, you may find that some roads turn out to be impossible to ride (at least at your level).
  4. Hi Vis. Get some. They look COOL. Safety first!
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    Fast is good, but functionality is better. He needs a bike that allows mounting of fenders and racks. Even on dry days there manages to be a water puddle somewhere to splash up.
    – BPugh
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 17:33

"9 miles, reasonably flat" is not quite enough to divine how difficult it might be to negotiate the way from home to work (and back). Traffic, and safety in general, is another concern, especially if biking is not in your blood. Quality of the road also matters -- smooth tarmac, for example, is much easier than dust or gravel.

One trouble with biking to work is that you're not free to make many choices (as opposed to a Sunday afternoon trip). If you're not dependent on biking as a means of transport, you can decide each morning whether to go or give it a miss. You're not free to make the same choice in the evening (unless you can leave the bike at workplace overnight). You do not choose the weather. You do not choose the timing. You do not choose where you go.

However, biking to work is a great way to start the day and purge your head a bit. It's definitely worth trying and persevering. Take as much rest as you can when not on bike (lots of sleep). Go every day if feeling fine, go every other day if too tired. Borrow a bike if you just want to try it. Keep safe, and good luck.

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