The book Off Road Cycling Adventures uses this ride rating system, which we occasionally quote.

Technical difficulty Skill level Fitness level
Very steep climbs.
Rough technical descents.
Rocky, rutted or very loose surfaces.

D Requires advanced technical skills.
Walking may be required.
4 Highly trained, race fit.
Able to maintain constant high power output.
Highly developed muscular and cardiovascular systems.
Dirt-based track of varying width.
Often with poor drainage.
Likely to be slippery or muddy when wet.
Frequent hills.



Requires confidence and intermediate technical skills


Well developed riding fitness.
Able to handle long mountain climbs over varying terrains for extended periods
Single track.
Dirty or rocky surface.
Logs, obstacles and ruts likely.



Moderate skills needed.
Good opportunity to gain confidence and experience.
Degenerated or partly overgrown tracks.
Predominantly dirt or rocky surface.
Expect logs and other obstacles.
Occasional steep hills.

Moderate endurance required to cope with hills and a ride duration of 2+ hours.
Fire trail, relatively wide.
Few obstacles.
Often a gravel or mixed surface.
Possibility of real hills.


Basic MTB skills.
Transition from bike path and road riding to bush and single track


Basic cycling fitness.
Able to ride flat and undulating surfaces for 1-2 hours.
Dirt road, possibly some sealed sections, and/or bike path.
Undulating rather than hilly.

A two hour ride along a fairly smooth dirt road with few hills would be rated as A 1.

A ride with technical difficulty of C and fitness rating of 3 would indicate a 2-3 hour ride over a variety of trail surfaces and plenty of hills.