Grading definitions of mountain biking trails in Connemara

Forest roads are indicated in purple/white – suitable for a wide range of cyclists using most bikes and hybrids. Ability to use maps and/or GPS is useful. Routes may or may not be marked. Generally the surface will be flat and wide with surfaces varying from loose toppings to unevenness or even muddy at times. These roads may be used by other vehicles and other users including horse riders, walkers and hiker’s et al. Gradients can be variable and may include short steep sections. Occasional potholes are likely. A good level of fitness is required to make the trip pleasurable.

Easy (green ) – biking of less than 8 kilometers (5 miles), usually suitable for most abilities and most bikes and hybrids, even trailers. Routes and/or trails relatively flat and wide. The surface may be loosed, uneven or muddy at times and may include short flowing single-track style sections. Climbs and descents are mostly shallow with no challenging features. Suitable for most people in good health.

Moderate (blue) – routes and trails over 8 kilometers (5 miles), usually suitable for intermediate cyclists/mountain bikers with basic off-road riding skills using mountain bikes or hybrids thereof. Routes are similar to “green” above including specially constructed single track. The trail surface may include rocks and roots. Most gradients are moderate but may include short steep sections and technical trail features (TTF’s). A good standard of fitness will help.

Difficult (orange) – proficient mountain bikers with good off-road riding skills. Better quality off-road mountain bikes required. Trails are steeper and tougher, mostly single track with technical sections – expect very variable surface types. A wide range of climbs and descents of a challenging nature will be present. Expect board walks, beams, large rocks, medium steps, drop-offs, cambers and water crossings. Higher level of fitness and stamina required.

Severe (red) – expert mountain bike users, used to physically demanding routes. Quality off-road mountain bikes are required. The routes are as with red above and also include an expectation of greater challenges and continuous difficulty. Can include any useable trail and may include exposed open hill sections. Expect large, committing and unavoidable TTF’s, sections will be challenging and variable which may include “downhill” sections. Suitable for very fit people used to prolonged physical effort and endurance.

Extreme (black) – riders who aspire to an elite level of technical ability, incorporating everything from full on downhill riding to big-air jumps. Severe constructed trails and/or natural features. All sections will be very challenging with extreme levels of exposure and/or risk. Jumping ability is obligatory. Trail features will include a range of small, medium and large TTF’s, including downhill trails, free-ride sections and mandatory jumps. A good standard of fitness is required but technical skills are more important.