In an attempt to describe the challenge levels of the rides this year, I've put together a list of features you might anticipate on each ride. If you have comments or suggestions to improve the descriptions, please let me know by posting a comment at the end of this post. Here goes:
Damsel (Easy) - relatively flat terrain with some hills; smooth, wide trail with few obstacles. Easy rides are mostly limited to paved rides and a few early dirt rides unless otherwise noted on the schedule.
Cardio challenge: mild to moderate.
Princess (Moderate) - mix of level, rolling terrain and some steep hills; some roots and other obstacles (rocks, sand, wooden structures) on the trail; some technical sections; frequent regroupings after technical sections or at major intersections. Includes a mix of wider trails and some singletrack. Many dirt trail rides will fit this category.
Cardio challenge: moderate to strenuous.
Diva (Difficult) - steep hills; roots and other obstacles on the trail, including rocks, sand, wooden structures; steep descents; Includes lots of singletrack; faster pace; and more mileage.
Cardio challenge: strenuous to moderate.
When looking at the early season road rides, note that I would consider the Bike For Women preride to be a Damsel ride because, despite the hills, it's on pavement. Yet it would have a moderate cardio challenge due to those hills.
Soon, all the rides listed on this site and on the members-only Yahoo site will have a rating applied to their descriptions. I hope this will help experienced and new riders decide which rides are best for you. I appreciate any feedback you have.
posted by rose