Many of the state and local roads in Arizona are badly in need of repair. They can be pot-holed, uneven, cracked and rough. The term Arizona paved refers to paved roads like this where it is better to have 32 mm tires than 23 mm tires.
Rock chunks that are about the size of a baby head. The largest classification we have for rock chunks. Note – this is not a term we have originated, it is a common term used within mountain biking. Trust us – Google it!)
A route with several loops beginning and ending from the same location, kind of like how clover grows.
An unofficial / non-marked exit from a road. Usually, it is a way to connect two roads by riding through a median or ditch or across an embankment.
An out and back section of a route that is normally attached to a loop around the mid-point. The dogleg is normally included so that a scenic attraction of the area is not missed.
A route that is shaped like a dumbbell weight. It has two loops attached by a common segment in the middle that is use in both directions.
We tag our routes as eBike friendly: (a) if we believe that eBikes are legally allowed on all elements of the route and (b) if the route has little hazard to using an eBike (i.e. that there are no hike a bike sections, stream crossings, etc.). However, it is still the responsibility of the eBike owner to ensure that they ride legally, responsibly and safely. We do not consider battery life when tagging a route as eBike friendly.
eBikes are allowed on Department of Interior trails / paths / roads where non-powered bikes can go. The Department of Interior manages national parks and monuments and the Bureau of Land Management. For more information on the Department of Interior policy click here.
eBikes are not allowed on National Forest Service trails where non-powered bikes are allowed. On National Forests eBikes are only allowed on roads that are legal for powered vehicles. For more information on the National Forest Service policy click here.
On state, county and city lands, eBikes policies vary. Be sure to check with each jurisdiction before riding on these types of lands.
Elevation Gain / Distance Ratio
The ratio of elevation gain (in hundreds of feet) to distance (in miles). For example, if a route has 3400 feet of gain in 20 miles, the elevation gain / distance ratio is 34 to 20 or 1.7. A ratio of greater than 1 indicates a route that will feel “climby” or said another way, the route is a climber’s route.
Rock chunks that are about the size of an eyeball. Smaller than fisters, bigger than pea gravel.
A route that has a two loops, joined by a common point or common segment. Usually, one of the loops rides in the clockwise direction, the other in the counter-clockwise direction.
Rock chunks that are about the size of a fist. Smaller than baby heads, larger than eyeballs.
A ride that is mostly gravel / fire roads. Best ridden with a cross / gravel bike or mountain bike.
The term gravel bike has become an all encompassing phrase to describe almost anything that is not a road bike and not a mountain bike. For the purpose of providing clarity to our readers in selecting routes, we have broken down the category of gravel bike into 3 sub-categories: all-road, gravel, and adventure.
An all-road bike is a bike with similar geometry to a traditional road bike, but able to accompany tires up to 32 mm or so. Yes, this bike can handle some firm hard packed gravel, but it would not be our choice for a long day of gravel roads. This bike is also really good on those old paved one-lane forest service roads that are starting to degrade (potholes, frost heaves, etc.). A good example of an all-road bike is the Salsa Warroad.
A gravel bike is that bike that runs a 40 mm tire, maybe has just a little more slack geometry than a traditional road bike. This is the go to bike for many people. It is kind of the swiss army knife of gravel bikes. It does well on paved road, gravel roads, and some chunkier forest service roads. Most of the time you cannot go wrong with this type of bike. A good example of a gravel bike is a Salsa Warbird.
An adventure bike has a geometry closer to a mountain bike than a road bike. Sometimes they are called drop bar mountain bikes. But … they usually have no suspension. Tires are typically 2.1″ (50 mm) or larger. They can handle rocky gnarly stuff and moderately difficult single track. A good example of an adventure bike is the Salsa Cutthroat.
A gravel road with a clay base that has embedded rocks the size of peas to the size of softballs. The riding is rough and unforgiving much like the famous cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.
A route that has a stick and a loop. The stick comes at the beginning of the ride, leads to the loop, and the stick is then re-ridden back to the start. An example of this is the Brickhouse route.
A route that is a circle / loop. The start and finish of the route are common, but (in general) no other points along the route are in common.
A ride that includes a mixture of pavement, gravel / fire roads, bike paths and possibly a bit of double track / single track. Best ridden with a cross / gravel bike.
A talcum-powder-like trail surface commonly found during the arid midsummer months. Moon dust is loose, slippery, unpredictable and difficult to ride through. On gravel roads, moon dust can be from less than an inch deep to over 6″ deep.
Out & Back
A route that goes out to a point, makes a U-turn, and returns on the same roads / trails. The turn around point is usually a scenic vista or natural feature — something worth riding to!
Point to Point
A route that starts at Point X and goes to Point Y. The start and finish of the route are not the same place. Point to Point routes are common in bikepacking.
Broken pavement or short sections of high quality gravel roads interspersed amongst long sections of pavement. Roubaix sections are usually abondoned / decommissioned paved roads.
Terrain & Technical Difficulty
This rating reflects three elements of the ride not contained in other metrics like distance, elevation gain/loss and paved versus gravel. The factors taken into account are (a) technical riding difficulty, (b) navigation challenge and, (c) rescue risk.
Technical difficulty includes road surfaces and features. Are sections rocky and gnarly? Sandy? Is there singletrack trail? How demanding is it? How steep are the steepest pitches? Up and down. Etc.
Navigation challenge is a measure of how difficult it is to follow the course. Are there a lot of turns or just a few? What are the consequences of taking an unknowingly wrong turn?
Rescue risk takes into account how difficult it would be to self-rescue due to injury, a medical condition, or a catastrophic mechanical failure. Is the route accessible by car? If not, what is the furthest distance to a vehicle access point? How far would you have to walk to get assistance? Is there cell phone reception? How far away is a town with a hospital?
The “Terrain & Technical Difficulty” rating is a subjective measure by us. The rating is a composite of the three elements above. In general, we assign the highest rating of the three as the overall rating.
We use a rating scale of easier, moderate and advanced with plus / minus modifiers.
Tootsie Roll Wrapper
A route that has a middle loop, with two common segments. The common segments are used in both directions. One of the common segments is at the beginning of the ride and the second common segment usually at the far end of the loop. For an example, see the route My Girl Paulina.
Tread on Terra
Slang for riding a route. The literal translation is bike tires on the earth.