These are the cycling speed ranges (pace) for rides/tours. Each rider, as part of the organized group, is expected to ride within the given cycling pace range established for any given tour — except in cases where there are wind or terrain factors that may temporarily slow or increase the pace. The reason for these pace categories is to help ensure that everyone who is considering participating, and those who are actually on the ride, will know what to expect. Equally important, this pace range helps with organizing timeframes and other planning before and during the ride or tour.
- Fast = 30 kph +
- Quick = 25 kph to 29 kph
- Moderate = 19 kph to 24 kph
- Leisure = 14 kph to 18 kph
- Slow = 13 kph or less
- No set pace (NSP): riders cycle at their own pace.
These ride/tour descriptors (terms and phrases) give a rider an overall indication of any climbs/descents as well as the type of road or trail surfaces to expect. In some cases, the route of a ride/tour may use several descriptors of the terrain. This information can be used by individual riders to help determine personal fitness needed for a given ride/tour and selection of bicycle/equipment.
- Mostly Flat – No noticeable elevation change.
- Gentle Grades – Noticeable elevation changes without distinct climbs that require only slightly lower gearing and/or some increase in pedalling power.
- Rolling Hill(s) – Elevation changes that may require use of lower gears and/or increase in pedalling power with descents where some speed is increased without pedalling.
- Steep Hill(s) – Climbs requiring use of lowest gears and/or marked increase in pedalling power and use of breaking on descents.
- Big Climbs! – Long climbs, not necessarily steep, with significant elevation changes using lowest gears.
- Paved Road – Pavement (asphalt, concrete) roadway surfaces.
- Gravel Road – Roadway with a gravel surface with either dirt or pavement as base.
- Dirt Road – Unpaved dirt roadway surfaces.
- Paved Pathway – Off-road path or trail with paved surface designed for bicycle use.
- Unpaved Pathway – Off-road path or trail with packed stone-dust, fine gravel, or packed dirt surface designed for bicycle use.
- Trail – Unpaved off-road path, including single-track trail, with potential obstacles and uneven surfaces.
Level of Difficulty
How difficult, or easy, any particular ride/tour may be depends on many factors and is largely subjective to an individual’s experience, skills, and physical ability. That being said, there are some general “rules” that apply to estimate how difficult a ride/tour may be. Distance, pace, and terrain are generally accepted as parts of cycling difficulty. The longer, the faster, and the steeper and/or more rugged; the more difficult the cycling – for anyone. Based on the these factors, as described in the Calendar, the following is additional information that may help individuals determine if a particular ride/tour is appropriate for them.
- Easy – Rides/Tours that have a Slow or Leisure pace on Mostly Flat to Gentle Grades and maybe some Rolling Hills. Roads or pathways, paved or hard packed surfaces, and distances usually not more than 40 km. Often there are more stops for breaks on these rides. Most persons, with or without cycling experience, who have a reasonable fitness level, can reasonably cycle on these tours.
- Moderate – Rides/Tours typically with a Moderate pace, distances up to and between 50 km and 100 km per day, and/or Rolling Hills, and/or off-road unpaved pathways and trails. Shorter and slower rides/tours can be moderately difficult due to surface conditions and climbs; such as those requiring mountain bikes for single-track trails. Riders need overall good fitness level and stamina and some cycling experience.
- Challenging – Rides/Tours typically at a Quick or Fast pace, often over longer distances, and/or terrain with steep or long climbs. May also include multi-day tours at a moderate pace where endurance over longer periods of time is required. Shorter rides may also be challenging due to sustained fast pace and/or rough terrain (as in MTB rides). This level of cycling difficulty will attract experienced riders with good fitness levels.
Some of the other issues that factor into cycling difficulty include weather conditions (e.g., wind, temperature, and precipitation) and bicycle/equipment (i.e., best style, fit, and adjustment of bicycle and right gears, tires, etc. for the type of ride). In addition, personal factors such as overall physical fitness, physical and mental health on any given tour/ride day, and individual cycling skills (e.g., cycling technique, proper use of gearing, bike handling on the road/trail) affect cycling difficulty.
Less experienced riders may not realize their own abilities and limitations. Someone new to cycling may think riding 40 km is a very long way while another less experienced rider may over estimate his or her abilities and think 80 km “should” be easy. It could be that both these new to cycling riders are correct about their abilities, but they could both be wrong too. If not sure about the difficulty of a particular ride or tour, contact the ride organizer or leader for more information. Don’t be shy about discussing any concerns regarding your cycling ability.
A downloadable PDF copy of the Ride Ratings is available.