Revised Grading System 2021

The basic idea is to give a shorthand expression of what the rider can expect from the ride and also what the Ride Leader expects of the rider.

If you have any queries about a particular ride, always ask the ride leader in advance or when you turn up – they will always be happy to advise and will try to accommodate everyone on a ride wherever possible. Contact our ride leaders from HERE or jump to our answers page for Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

There are a number of elements to each ride:
The surface on which to ride is catered for by the subdivisions “Road” and “Off Road”.
The level of ability, speed and endurance are combined in “Cyclist Level”.
The terrain, gradient and level of experience are combined in “Terrain”.


It was felt necessary to define types of tyres from the point of view of traction and resistance to punctures.
Narrow, slick tyres are unsuitable for Off Road rides but suitable for all Road rides.
Tyres with some tread or smooth tyres with knobbly edges are suitable for Level 1 or 2 rides Road or Off Road.
Knobbly tyres are not really suitable for Road rides levels 3 – 5 but suitable for all Off Road rides.


ROAD – on paved surfaces only, suitable for any cycles.
OFF ROAD – roads, cycleways, gravel surfaces, tracks and fields, rocky and muddy surfaces require cycles with treaded tyres. At higher levels, C & D, Off Road includes challenging terrain, steps, rocks, slopes and mud requiring increased grip from cycles with knobbly tyres only.
NB Adverse weather, mud and slipperiness will increase the grade of any Off Road ride.

Cyclist Level

GradeRoadOff Road
1New to cycling and can cycle several miles at about
twice walking pace on a flat route.
New to cycling. Slow pace with frequent stopping. Flat terrain.
2Easy Touring: can maintain an average pace of about 11-12 mph on moderate terrainRides occasionally. Can ride at a steady pace for an hour. One or two short hills are OK.
3Touring: can maintain an average pace of about 12-13 mph on moderate terrain. Rides a few times a month. Can ride at a steady pace for 3 hours. No problem with hilly terrain.
3+Touring Plus: can maintainan average pace of about 13-14 mph on moderate terrain
4Fast Touring/Intermediate: can maintain an average pace of about 14+ mph on moderate terrainRides regularly. Can ride at a steady pace for 4 hours or a quicker pace for 2 hours. Steeper hills are OK.
5Sportive - can maintain a pace of at least 17 mph on moderate terrain.Rides a lot, often over hilly terrain for 2 to 4 hours each ride and, occasionally, all day.


GradeRoadOff Road
AA basically flat route.Country roads and smooth cycleways with low hills.
BA reasonably flat route with a few minor hills.Bridleways, byways and fields, may be rough and rutted. Some steep slopes.
CA partly hilly route with no hills being steeper than 10% (1 in 10).Rough and rutted byways and fields, gravel and rocky tracks with many hills.
DA hilly route where some hills are steeper than 10% (1 in 10)Technically difficult with steps, berms (banked curves), jumps and craters. May include steep gradients.