Mountain Bike Ability Levels

It's important both to have a clear idea of the fitness and ability levels required for our trips before you book and to understand where your own level is in relation to that.

To help with this, we've added 1-5 scales for ability and fitness to the info pages for all of our riding weeks.

Note that all levels are given as minimum levels for the trip. We choose the trails to suit the riders in the group and almost always have more than one group operating. We can keep it mellow if required or we can ramp the difficulty right up off the scale.

Technical Levels:

You're a new or very nervous mountain biker. You're happiest on wide, smooth trails like forest roads. At this level, riding in the Alps would be very tough, but we can potentially run beginners coaching weeks for groups if you're keen to learn mountain bike skills on easy trails with some help from the chairlifts.
UK Trail Example: Any forest road / landrover track which isn't too steep.

You have some mountain biking experience and are happy on steeper, looser, forest-road type trails and you also enjoy riding easy singletrack, such as blue-grade or easy red-grade trail centre trails or scenic rides in the Lakes or Peak District. You generally get off and walk if there are big rocks or roots in the trail or if it gets steep. Singletrack trails at this level are generally smooth, but may have banked corners, rollers and small steps. At this level, your choice of terrain in the Alps would be limited, but get in touch with us and we may be able to arrange a group for you where it's more about scenic riding and enjoying the mountains than riding the steepest trails all day long.
UK Trail Example: Berm Baby Berm or Spooky Wood at Glentress, Llandegla red trail in Wales, Glenlivet red

You're a regular rider at trail centres and you're happy on most red-grade trails. You may also enjoy riding natural trails with roots and rocks. You'll generally ride most features, but will get off and walk if it's very steep or if you come across big rock/root features. You might enjoy small jumps and drops. This is generally the minimum level to be able to enjoy our Alpine riding, but get in touch with us if you're not sure. We're often able to offer a mellow, "scenic-riding" group for those you just want to enjoy being on their bikes in big mountains without riding technical singletrack all the time.
UK Trail Example: Most red and some easy blacks - e.g. Pennel's Vennel, The Pie Run at Glentress, Innerleithen Red, Coed y Brenin, BikePark Wales reds

You've done a lot of mountain biking and are happy to tackle almost anything. You're happy on rocky/rooty trails and on moderate jumps/drops. You might draw the line at very steep and technical features with serious consequences if you crash or on bigger jumps and drops.
UK Trail Example: "Proper" blacks such as Laggan or Stainburn or Bike Park Wales. Steep and technical natural trails like Ben Lomond or The Golfie at Innerleithen.

You're a very skilled and experienced rider. You know what to expect from Alpine terrain and you expect to be able to ride almost anything we can throw at you. You want to ride the steepest trails, the most technical features and the tightest switchbacks. If we ride the bikepark, you'll tackle most drops, doubles and gaps.
UK Trail Example: Not much! The steepest and nastiest trails at The Golfie, steep and technical sections on big mountains in the Lakes, Wales or Scotland.

You make a successful living from riding bikes as a pro, racer, guide or coach. You'll be very surprised if the guides manage to keep up.


Fitness Levels:

You're not very fit, ride a big bike that doesn't go uphill or you flat out don't want to do ANY pedalling at all on your holiday. No worries, we can accommodate you on our chairlift weeks, but be aware that riding down 4000m+ in a day is pretty tiring in itself and that it can sometimes be necessary to do short pedals or pushes to access the best trails.

You're fit enough to go out and ride your bike in hilly UK terrain for a couple of hours. You're prepared to pedal or push for a few minutes if it means accessing a great descent but you don't want to do any long climbs.

You're fit enough to do half-day rides on a regular basis in hilly UK terrain. You'd be prepared to climb for up to an hour to access a great descent, but would prefer to use as much uplift as possible.

You're fit enough for big, all-day rides in the UK and you're happy to do some climbing on your holiday to get to the best, least-used trails. You don't mind if you end-up climbing for an hour or two most days, as long as there's more down than up!

You're very fit and enjoy the climbs as much as the descents. You'd be really into tackling some big backcountry days with a lot of pedalling into remote terrain and you love the idea of our Summits Week.

You're exceptionally fit, into long road rides, 24hr racing or endurance challenges. You expect the guides to be labouring in a sweaty mess behind you.



The rock-drop on Whisky & Rye, Sainte Foy

Epic singletrack on the descent down to Bourg Saint Maurice

Backcountry singletrack

Technical switchbacks on a remote Les Arcs trail

More Sainte Foy singletrack