Categories: News

New Bicycle Tour Levels!

by Jessie Beyer - Friday, August 3, 2018

We’ve revamped our bicycle tour level system making it easier for you to know what kind of cycling to expect on tour. Along with newly classified tour levels, our itinerary descriptions now provide daily riding levels to help you find a bicycle tour that is best suited to your physical capabilities and interests.

The new system

Travelers have different cycling abilities and preferences for the number of miles, climbing, and type of terrain they want on a bicycle tour. Our new tour levels fall on a scale of 1 – 5. In addition to the overall tour level we have developed daily level summaries to provide an even more detailed look at what kind of cycling you can expect from each day on tour. You can find detailed information about the mileage, elevation gain, and type of terrain for every day of every tour we offer to help you better understand what to expect on your bicycling vacation.

Find the detailed definitions of each tour level here.

What’s in a number?

Our levels were developed using the following factors – mileage, elevation gain, and the type of terrain. Each factor was given a number based on a scoring scale.

Daily Level: Is the sum of each day’s mileage, elevation gain and the type of terrain.

Tour Level: The overall tour rating is derived from the sum of daily rides averaged by the number of riding days. Classic ExperiencePlus! tours fall between 1 – 4.5. Expedition tours can be a 5.

Each tour itinerary page now has a “Daily Ride Summary”, here is a primer for how to read it. 

Terrain Definitions

You will also notice new terrain icons accompanying each daily level description. The terrain icons indicate the type of climbing (or lack thereof) you can expect each day.

Mostly flat terrain has just a few rolling hills that rarely require you to change gears. It might contain a bit of climbing, but those climbs will be short and at a very gentle slope with little need for increased pedaling or downhill breaking.
Rolling hills refers to multiple gentle slopes (3-4% grade) with minimal need for changing gears or increasing in pedal power. Elevation gain should be less than 100m per hill and braking may not be necessary to control speed on downhills.
Hilly terrain has repeated hills and some of them may be require more pedal power as it has steeper inclines (up to 5%). You will change gears throughout the day and braking may be necessary to control speed on descents.
Very hilly terrain includes multiple hills on your ride, some of which can be steep or long climbs. You will change gears and need to use your brakes to control speed on your descent.
Mountainous terrain includes one or more sustained (more than 5km) climbs with frequent steep grades (over 7%). Mountainous rides may also feature multiple steep grades (greater than 6%) for extended periods of more than 5km. You will need to shift gears and brake on descents to control your speed.

 

Now that you’re ready to roll, use our Tour Finder to sort tours by level and select just the rigor of riding you want on your next bicycle tour in Europe or South America.

Jessie Beyer - Originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Jessie headed west for college and never looked back. She earned a Journalism and Technical Communications degree from Colorado State University, and has since worked in a variety of industries including radio, sustainability, and wine tourism. Jessie combines her passion for travel, cycling, and storytelling to help people understand the unique power of exploring the world from the seat of a bike. A self-proclaimed travel junkie, Jessie has found herself on many extended adventures. She spent 2015 exploring many corners of the world including tramping through New Zealand's mountains, cycling through Europe, and hitching a boat ride down the Mekong river from Laos into Thailand. At home in Colorado you'll likely find her singing her way up mountain trails, talking to strangers, and seeking restaurants with patios and Spanish wines.

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