To make it clearer what kind of ‘difficulty level’ club events are, we use the colour-coding system that was designed for mountain biking. That way no one will bite off more than they can chew and no one will be disappointed that a ride isn’t long enough or technical enough. Mountain bikers will know the grading system already. We’ve just ported it over to cover road rides too.
For mountain biking, the grading is essentially a combination of how long the ride is and how technically difficult. For road riding, it’s a combination of how long the ride is and how fast the pace would be. A ride that was short but very technical or very fast could still be rated Black.
This is what they mean.
Green: Easy. Suitable for absolute beginners and family cyclists. Relatively short (up to about 6 miles) and not technical. Ride will be on wide forest ‘fire-road’ tracks, tow-paths, disused railway tracks, or very easy and smooth singletrack. Suitable for hybrid bikes as well as mountain bikes.
Blue: Moderate. Suitable for riders with a little experience. Ride could be a little longer (up to a about 12 miles) and/or include singletrack but won’t require riding over obstacles. Suitable for basic mountain bikes or better.
Red: Challenging. Suitable for regular mountain bikers. Could be up to 30 miles or so long and will include steeper descents, rockier sections, step-downs, and steep climbs. Suitable for proper mountain bikes only.
Black: Expert. Suitable for fit, technically skilled mountain bikers. Could be pretty much any distance and will include hazards such as steep gradients, drop-offs, ‘North Shore’, etc. Falls will happen from time to time. Suitable for good quality mountain bikes only.
Green: Easy. Suitable for beginners and family cyclists, including younger children riding solo. Distance will be short (usually under 10 miles and never more than about 20), with no severe climbs (that can’t be walked). Will take place on traffic free or minor roads without awkward junctions. Average riding speed: as low as required. Suitable for any roadworthy bicycle.
Blue: Moderate. Suitable for anyone with moderate fitness and with experience of cycling solo on road. Distances will be from 20-50 miles, with few huge hills. Pace will typically be ’steady’. Best suited to drop-bar bikes.
Red: Challenging. Suitable for fit, regular cyclists. Distances will be longer (up to about 80 miles) or will be ridden at a faster pace. Could include busy main roads and big hills and may be fairly remote from towns and villages. Best ridden on road bikes or lightweight touring bikes.
Black: Expert. High level of fitness and stamina required. Distances will be long (e.g. 80+ miles) or will be ridden at a demanding pace. Likely to include big climbs, remote roads, and any traffic conditions. Best ridden on lightweight road bikes with a good gear range.
By way of examples for road rides: the Sunday ride would be graded Blue while the Saturday ride would usually be Red. A 100-mile ride over the moors would be Black. A chain-gang session would be Red at least.