DOWNHILL TRAIL GRADES
|Colour||Grade||Suitable for||Gradient||Acceptable features|
|Blue||Moderate||Novice downhiller with some previous experience of XC trails, suitable for all good quality mountain bikes||Moderate gradients with short sections of steeper gradients followed by a shallow gradient run-out||Loose surfaces, ruts, potholes, tree roots, berms, rollers, bridges, small drops and jumps all which may be rolled over at low speed and medium drops and jumps with an alternate line around them.|
|Red||Difficult||Intermediate downhiller with experience of moderate trails, suitable for free-ride, all-mountain and DH mountain bikes only||Moderately Steep gradients. May include drop-offs of up to 150mm, medium jumps and small rock gardens||As blue except jumps will either be roll-able at moderate speed or have an alternative line around them. Arm & Leg armour is advised|
|Double Red||More Difficult||Competent downhiller with experience of difficult trails, suitable for free-ride, all-mountain and DH mountain bikes only||Steep gradients. May include drop-offs of up to 300mm, medium jumps and large rock gardens||As red. Jumps will either be roll-able at moderate speed or have an alternative line around them. Arm & Leg armour is advised|
|Black||Severe||Good downhiller who will expect and relish technical challenges, suitable for DH mountain bikes only||Any rideable or usable gradient. May include large drop-offs and jumps||Small jumps may not be roll-able. Large Jumps will not be roll-able, but will have an alternate line around them. Hazards are expected as assessed and agreed by a good DH rider. Full body armour is advised|
|Double Black||Extreme||Expert downhiller who will expect and relish major technical challenges, suitable for DH mountain bikes only||Any rideable or usable gradient. May include very large drop-offs and jumps||Large and small jumps will not be roll-able and may not have an alternate line around them. Hazards are expected as assessed and agreed by an expert DH rider. Full body armour is advised|
In general a downhill track is more technical but shorter when compared to a similarly colour graded XC trail
A helmet must be worn at all times whilst riding, a full face helmet is recommended
So what do the coloured diamonds on the track signs mean? The simple answer is; the shape - pretty much nothing, it’s the colour that counts...
The grading scheme used at Gawton Gravity Hub and Tavi Woodlands is based on a combination of the DH grading schemes used at Whistler in Canada, the DH centres in the USA and the French Alpine DH centres. They in turn based them on their downhill skiing schemes. So from France we get the colours - Green, Blue, Red & Black, whilst from Canada & the USA we get colours and symbols - Green (Circle), Blue (Square), Black (Diamond) and Double Black (2 x Diamonds). Some US resorts also use a Blue square with a central black dot to represent a harder blue run, but we decided not to use that. We then invented Double Red ourselves.
When Gawton Gravity Hub opened we wanted to show HSD as Red because we didn’t want people to mistakenly think Gawton was easy. As Red doesn’t have a symbol we decided to use the diamond for it too.
At Tavi Woodlands we’re more ‘alpine’ so no symbols are used; the colour used for the track name on the track board represents the grade.
At the end of the day it's all about showing relative grading at a site and riders should never assume just because they can blast down a red track at one site they’ll be able to blast down a red track at another site with equal ease.
We do however try to be consistent across Gawton Gravity Hub & Tavi Woodlands, and to answer a question often asked, if it wasn’t for the two jumps on the Open Track, its top section would almost certainly be classified as Green.
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