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HomeRide Legend & Pace Ratings


Marin Cyclists Club offers rides of various durations, difficulties, and paces.  We have members of different ages, strengths, experience, fitness levels, and pace preferences so we try to provide rides to accommodate all levels.  This page will help you figure out which rides are right for you.  For each ride on the calendar, we list at least three descriptors: the distance, hilliness and pace.


The distance of the ride is listed in miles.  


The hilliness, or amount of climbing, is a big contributor to the difficulty of any ride.  We determine the hilliness rating by dividing the total feet of elevation gain by the total miles of the ride, based on Ride with GPS.  We use the following terms to describe the hilliness of our rides according to the calculated feet of elevation gain per mile.

Relatively Flat

<25 feet/mile


25-49.9 feet/mile


50 - 75 feet/mile

Very Hilly

>75 feet/mile


One of Marin Cyclists Club’s favorite rides, Around the Mountain, is 32 miles in length and has over 3,300 feet of elevation gain, which averages  104 feet of climbing per mile making it a “very hilly” route.  Contrast this ride with the Red Whale Sunday route, which is also 32 miles in length, but it has 1,480 feet of elevation gain, which averages 46 feet of climbing per mile, and is classified as  “rolling” and is much easier than Around the Mountain. Marin County does not have much flat terrain, so most of the rides on the calendar are at least rolling.

Difficult Climbs

The hilliness classification does not explicitly include the steepness of the individual climbs in a ride.  If there is a really steep segment or big climb, it will be listed as a “difficult climb,” with the length and average grade of the climb detailed in the ride description.  This information will be taken from Ride with GPS.  


Marin Cyclists Club divides our rides into four pace categories: Leisurely, Social, Moderate, and Brisk.  The actual speed of a ride varies depending on the hilliness of the ride.  So, the pace groups are described based not only on a rider’s average speed on a flat segment (about 5 miles long), but also the average moving speed on a rolling route, and on a very hilly route. In addition, these pace groups vary based on leader support and riding style.

Speed on 5 mile long, Flat Segment

Average Speed on a Rolling Route

Average Speed on a Very Hilly Route


14 - 15.9 mph

10 - 11.9 mph

6 - 7.9 mph


16 - 17.9 mph

12 - 13.9 mph

8 - 9.9 mph


18 - 20 mph

14 - 16 mph

10 - 12 mph



>16 mph

>12 mph

LEISURELY PACE  rides will average 14 - 15.9 mph on long, 5 mile flat segments, 10 - 11.9 mph on a rolling route  (eg: Paradise/Tiburon Loop), and 6 - 7.9 mph on very hilly routes (eg: Around the Mountain).  There will be  no pacelines, regroups will be frequent and the group will stay together. Beginners are welcome.  While we encourage all riders to have a navigation system or printed route sheets,  The ride leader, or another designated person, will provide mechanical support and navigation.

SOCIAL PACE rides average  16 - 17.9 mph on 5 mile-long flat segments, 12 - 13.9 mph on a rolling route (eg: Paradise/Tiburon Loop), and 8 - 9.9 mph on a very hilly route (eg: Around the Mountain). Riders might draft off each other if they are comfortable with drafting, but there are not usually organized pacelines. There will be regroups at major turns and summits, but not every corner.  If your pace is well below the listed average speed, you could be left to ride on your own so please make sure that you know the route, print out the route sheets, or have a navigation system like a bicycle computer or phone mounted on your bike.  The ride leader, or someone else in the group, will be able to help you change a flat tire. Social paced rides will rarely be labeled as beginner-friendly.

MODERATE PACE rides average 18 - 20 mph on 5 mile-long flat segments, 14- 16 mph on a rolling route (eg: Paradise/Tiburon Loop) and 10 - 12 mph on a very hilly route (eg: Around the Mountain).  Drafting and rotating pacelines are likely. There will be regroups at major summits and as communicated by the ride leader.  Participants should know the route, have a navigation system, or ride together with a friend who has a navigation system or knows the route.  Riders are expected to be able to change a flat tire and repair minor mechanical problems themselves. Moderate paced group rides are not beginner-friendly.  The intention is for everyone to ride together but these are not “no drop” rides; riders well below the listed pace will wind up riding on their own.

BRISK PACE rides average>20 mph on 5 mile-long flat segments,  >16 mph moving speed on a rolling route (eg; Paradise/Tiburon  Loop) and >12 mph on a very hilly route (eg: Around the Mountain).  Drafting and rotating pacelines are likely, when the conditions are safe.  There will be rare regroups as communicated by the leader at the start.  Riders are expected to know the route or have a navigation system, be able to change a tire, and repair minor mechanical problems themselves.  Brisk paced group rides are not beginner-friendly.  A Brisk paced ride is not a race, but slower riders will likely be dropped.

Leaderless Rides

Some Marin Cyclists rides are Leaderless. On a leaderless ride, everyone starts at the same time and location, and rides at their own speed.  The pace will be listed as “all paces.” Usually, people ride with one or two buddies.  There is no support for navigation or flat tires; riders should be self-sufficient. If the ride title does not say leaderless, then the ride will have a leader.

Gravel Rides

These pace categories do not apply to gravel rides.  Gravel  ride descriptions will tell you ride distance, elevation, general difficulty and whether pace will be brisk or leisurely. . Descriptions will note difficulty of trail surfaces and steepness of climbs, and outline locations for regroups if any. When in doubt, check with the ride leader.


The group rides on the calendar will follow this nomenclature:

Distance/Pace/Hilliness/Leader.  If the title does not say leaderless, then the ride will have a leader.  

Examples are as follows:

  • 30 miles/moderate/flat, means a 30 mile ride at a moderate pace with minimal climbing.
  • 32 miles/all paces/very hilly/leaderless/5 miles at 5% means a 32 mile ride, at any pace, which is very hilly and leaderless
  • 95/social/rolling means a 95 mile ride at a social pace with rolling hills.  

Getting Started

So how do you pick the right pace group?  Start with a leisurely or social paced group then gradually work your way to faster groups, only if appropriate for you.  If you need help with navigating or changing a flat tire, then you are better off in the Leisurely or perhaps the Social group until you learn these skills.  

You could time yourself or look at your usual average speed on a 5 mile flat segment or on a ride and see where you fit on the chart. Do this when the wind is fairly calm. Use your average moving time at your usual pace, not your personal best time. Exclude the time when you stop at a red light or for a coffee break. 

An example of a rolling route is Paradise/Tiburon Loop ( or 

An example of a very hilly route is Around the Mountain

Join Us!

Whatever your ride pace or desired length, we think you will find something that suits you!  Most of all, we want you to join Marin Cyclists Club Group Rides.  We hope to see you out on the road!  For questions, contact