Difficulty Ratings

When deciding on your tour, it’s important to keep in mind that our difficulty ratings are relative to the trips that we offer, as it can be somewhat challenging to come up with a comprehensive rating system that applies to every rider.

On our trips, every participant rides at his or her own pace, so you’ll generally have all day to complete the distance. Slower riders (or those planning on lots of photo ops!) can plan to leave earlier in the morning while those opting to zip through the miles may linger over coffee. Typically, folks who ride at a similar pace end up as riding buddies sharing each day’s ride.

Although our supported tours are accompanied by vehicles that are available for your use should you find the going too tough, we strongly encourage each tour participant to come prepared to complete each day’s ride.

If you have any questions or want to discuss any tour in more detail, please feel free to give our office a call at 800.755.2453 x3.

Beginner

Characterized by flatter terrain and comparatively shorter distances (25–45 miles per day). These tours have minimal hill climbing and are optimal for newer or easy-going cyclists, or those traveling with friends or family members unaccustomed to cycling. Exception: Family Fun trips tend to have mileage in the 20- to 30-mile per day range.

Beginner+

In comparison to our Beginner tours, Beginner+ tours have some additional climbing characterized by rolling hills and/or longer daily mileages (35–55 miles per day). These trips are great for newer cyclists looking to challenge themselves. Exception: Family Fun trips tend to have mileage in the 20- to 30-mile per day range.

Intermediate

Characterized by rolling terrain and medium-distance days (40–60 miles per day). Intermediate tours can involve some climbing, but the climbs are usually shorter (1–2 miles), and the grade tends to be no greater than 6% for an extended period. These tours are best for individuals who are regular or semi-regular cyclists.

Intermediate+

In comparison to our Intermediate tours, an Intermediate+ tour often has slightly more climbing or a few longer days (50–70 miles per day). A few of our self-contained Intermediate+ tours are ranked as such not due to high mileage or heavy climbing, but because riding loaded for several consecutive days can be physically taxing.

Advanced

Characterized by consistently undulating terrain and relatively longer distances (60+ miles per day). Advanced tours may also feature steep grades (greater than 6%) for extended periods. These tours are best suited for more experienced cyclists or folks with a higher fitness level.

Most of our longer (more than two weeks) self-contained tours are rated as Advanced or Advanced+. This has less to do with high mileages or unrelenting climbs, and more to do with the tour length, group roles and rotations, and the added challenges of riding loaded bicycles on lengthy tours.

Advanced+

In comparison to our Advanced tours, an Advanced+ tour will see a greater number of consecutive higher mileage days (60+ miles per day) and a larger number of climbs. An Advanced+ tour might involve some exceptionally hilly terrain, high mileage days, and/or take place at higher altitudes.

Most of our longer (more than two weeks) self-contained tours are rated as Advanced or Advanced+. This has less to do with high mileages or unrelenting climbs, and more to do with the tour length, group roles and rotations, and the added challenges of riding loaded bicycles on lengthy tours.

Technical Difficulty

This rating is relevant to our dirt-based tours, referring specifically to bike-handling skills. Most paved and many dirt/gravel roads don’t require any special technical handling skills — if you are comfortable on your bicycle, you’ll be comfortable on the tour. However, some of our rougher-road or singletrack backcountry tours do require a higher degree of technical riding ability.

Easy to Moderate

Characterized by travel mostly on hard-packed dirt roads and trails, Easy to Moderate Technical Difficulty tours can typically be ridden on a rigid-frame bike with a tire size of 35–42mm. This technical rating may also be applied to tours with mixed paved/dirt surfaces.

Moderate

Characterized by travel mostly on dirt roads and trails, Moderate Technical Difficulty tours ride on roads and trails that contain sections of loose gravel, soft dirt, or ruts. Riders will find more comfort on mountain bikes with front suspension or plus-size/semi-fat (3in. wide) tires. These rides may feature sections with singletrack options.

Moderate to Difficult

Characterized by travel on dirt roads, trails, and two-track, Moderate to Difficult tours ride in more remote areas and challenging terrain. Climbs and descents on loose gravel are typically in the 2–6% grade range, and sections of singletrack are available. Hardtail mountain bikes with a good tire tread are recommended.

Difficult

Characterized by travel on dirt roads, trails, two-track, and singletrack, Difficult tours ride in remote areas and challenging terrain. Climbs and descents on loose gravel can be greater than 6%, and sections of singletrack are typically part of the route. Hardtail mountain bikes with a good tire tread are recommended.

Tour Team Top Picks

2018 CA Gold Rush to the Bay II
2018 CA Gold Rush to the Bay II - Inn to Inn

Inn to Inn. There is no better way to see and experience the San Francisco Bay Area, along with a splendid section of Northern California, than from the seat of your bike. Add in a fabulous ferry ride and two convenient train connections, and you have all the ingredients for a fun, multimodal travel adventure that covers significant distances, with cycling at the heart of each day.

2018 CA Gold Rush to the Bay I
2018 CA Gold Rush to the Bay I - Inn to Inn

Inn to Inn. There is no better way to see and experience the San Francisco Bay Area, along with a splendid section of Northern California, than from the seat of your bike. Add in a fabulous ferry ride and two convenient train connections, and you have all the ingredients for a fun, multimodal travel adventure that covers significant distances, with cycling at the heart of each day.

2018 Selkirk Splendor
2018 Selkirk Splendor

Self Contained. Pack your passports for this international tour through some of the finest cycling terrain that the U.S. and Canada have to offer along “The West’s Best Scenic Drive.”

2018 C&O Canal/GAP - Spring
2018 C&O Canal/GAP - Spring

Self Contained. This spring, you won’t need to worry about traffic as you ride your hybrid or mountain bike some 330 miles on hard-packed, gently graded gravel and dirt trails from the heart of the nation’s capital north to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.