Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey
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Terrain Classes

How "hilly" or "flat" a club ride is.

This relates to how much the ride goes up.

"Elevation gain" is the total amount of climbing (typically, spread among multiple hills).

The Terrain Class for a ride is determined using the average elevation gain per mile. To get this number, divide the elevation gain in feet by the length of the ride in miles.

For example, a 50 mile ride with 2,600 feet of elevation gain gives you a rate of 52 feet/mile, which is Moderately Hilly. A 50 mile ride with 1,750 feet of elevation gain gives you a rate of 35 feet/mile, which is Rolling.

Elev. Gain Rate
0-25 Minimal gear shifting required.
0-1,250 ft per 50 miles.
26-45 Some small hills. "Farmland" ups and downs.
1,300-2,250 ft per 50 miles.
Moderately Hilly
46-55 Numerous climbs with no "killer" hills.
2,300-2,750 ft per 50 miles.
56-75 Numerous long and steep climbs.
2,800-3,750 ft per 50 miles.
Very hilly
76-100 3,800-5,000 ft per 50 miles.
100+ +5,000 ft per 50 miles.


Don't avoid hillier rides

New riders often try to avoid hills. Given where the club typically rides, that strategy isn't going serve you well (about 20% of our rides are "flat"). Leaders really don't care how long it takes riders to get up hills and the common practice is to wait ("regroup") at the top of the more difficult climbs.

It's certainly reasonable to start out with easier rides. But working towards being able to ride hillier rides will give you more opportunities to ride.

Elevation gains are estimates

The gain determined by a cycle computer tends to be a bit higher than the estimate that RWGPS computes. This can be due to small bumps that RWGPS misses.

Cycle computers that use barometers are considered to give better estimates.

Keep in mind that elevation gain doesn't directly consider grade (steepness), which has a large impact on how hard a ride is.