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ITRS Updates

ITRS Releases update 4.2 with 5 endurance levels and other refinements

End of December 2023 we released a major update of the ITRS on www.itrs.bike. If you actively use the ITRS, please download the updated material and carefully read the below article.

During 2023 we were able to collect a lot of feedback on the ITRS. Especially from field applications of various destinations, from the trainings and presentations that we gave, and from developing the ITRS Trail Rating App (we will report more about this one in the near future).

So what’s new and why?

  1. Endurance
    • A fifth, orange, Endurance level was added on top of the level black
      It is named ‘professional training required’. It gives users the opportunity to differentiate extremely hard tours/routes, like long distance marathons, from ‘just very hard’ long day tours of the endurance level black.
      Please see the new documentation for the detailed specification. Please also download the respectively updated endurance calculator.
    • More background on Endurance ratings and their relationship with E-Bikes
      It is now explicitly stated that the endurance ratings of tours/routes are based on biking without a motor. The variation in assistance power and battery size of E-Bikes is too big to find a common ground for an endurance rating specifically for E-Bikes. In the updated documentation we provide comments for E-Bikers about how to read the endurance ratings for them. The introduction of the new orange endurance level gives E-Bikers more choice and information with respect to long and hard routes/tours.
      We also added guidelines on the professional’s page on endurance about how to incorporate additional aspects (grade of climbs, trail surface, carrying sections) in the endurance rating.
  1. Technical Difficulty
    • Refinement and adjustment of technical trail specification
      In general, all the below described adjustments do affect existing trail ratings only in a way that some trails may be rated as being easier as before. There are no changes that would require you to rate a trail as more difficult.
      The main goal is to put the different evaluation criteria even more into the context of the riding skills that are required to ride such sections.
      • The trail width description was simplified, and a page was added with a sketch explaining the terminology. Now the width of the trail bed counts, not only the width of the trail tread. The threshold values for red and black levels were reduced to allow for more narrow trails.
        The sub-factor describing the presence of ruts/trenches was specified more clearly including their depth.
        As additional sub-factor the clearance for pedals and handlebars was added. The latter applies, e.g., when a trail runs along a wall or between walls and it can be difficult not to touch those with the handlebar, or when a rut/trench is so deep and narrow that the pedals may hit the sides.
      • The trail surface criterium was refined. It is now more clearly described how the presence of loose material on the trail influences the rating. It makes a difference, if there is one line that is clear of loose material or not.
      • The values for the maximum grade were put into context. The numbers remain the same, but they only apply if the bikers need to control their speed strongly. This is, e.g., the case if the steep section has bad visibility, no roll-out, or is too long to just let go for riders of the corresponding tech level. This judgement is up to the persons rating the trail.
        For the other situation that the steep section can be ridden with little or no speed control, a new set of threshold values applies (which is equal to the threshold values of riding with strong speed control of the next higher level).
        This refinement accounts for the fact that different riding skills are required to ride down steep sections very slow and controlled or to just let go. The latter is much easier for bikers.
      • For the average grade the threshold values for red and black levels were increased. They follow the same logic than the maximum trail grade and are equal to the threshold values that apply to ride down a steep section with strong speed control. For the green and blue levels the previous values were kept.
      • For off-camber the threshold values were increased significantly. The previous numbers did not appropriately reflect the required riding skills. At first off-camber does not affect the riding skills a lot, but after a certain value it becomes more difficult to ride very rapidly.
      • For steps and similar obstacles, the threshold value between red and black was increased to 40 cm.
      • For TTFs a minimum width was added to the existing criteria of height and width-to-height ratio. This does, e.g., help to rate low but very narrow skinnies.
      • Enriched descriptions of the technical difficulty levels for bikers
        We refined the descriptions of the required riding skills for bikers and added brief descriptions of typical trail examples. Together with the existing example pictures this should help bikers to better understand the different levels.
        If you used those texts for info boards, please make sure to update those texts accordingly for your next projects.
      • Wording guideline to differentiate within one tech level
        On the page that explains the different ranges of the technical difficulty levels we added a wording guideline. If you want to express that a given trail segment is just above the threshold of the corresponding tech level it could be referred as “light blue/red/black/orange” while if it’s just below the next tech level it could be referred as “dark blue/red/black”.
  1. Exposure
    • Clarification of effect of trail width on exposure ratings
      Two completely new pages were added in the professional’s guideline that help rating the exposure. It is explained that the trail width has no influence on the exposure rating and practical examples are given. It means that even a 2 m wide trail/gravel road alongside a vertical drop has to be given the exposure rating black (fatal consequences).
      A short version of this information was also added to the biker’s guide to the ITRS.
      Please make sure to read those specifications carefully and take them into account in your exposure ratings.
    • Explanation of twofold purpose of exposure ratings
      Linked to the above topic the two-fold purpose of the exposure ratings was explained explicitly. It should a) warn persons being afraid of heights that they may have to turn around at exposed sections, and b) it should warn all bikers that falling off the trail/road would have severe consequences even if the trail/road is wide.
  1. Wilderness

In the professional’s document a new page was added to help determining the wilderness rating of a route. For water supply only official drinking water sources count, and a description is given how to measure phone reception.

  1. Signage
    • Reading example of ITRS route pie for bikers
      In the biker’s document a new page was added that explains how to read the ITRS route pie for a given example.
    • Route signage example of Garda Trentino
      For Garda Trentino a new route signage using the ITRS route pie was developed by Max2 GmbH from Innsbruck/Austria. This example has been included in the professional’s document.
    • Signage archetypes possible with ITRS
      In the professional’s document a new page was added that explains the general signage archetypes that are possible with the ITRS. This spans from only online information without any signs in the terrain to a complete route plus trail-segments signage. In this matrix some current examples are placed.
  1. Graphics and multi-language overview page

The set of graphics was updated to include the 5th endurance level, as well as the ITRS one pager in 4 languages. The ITRS route pie graphics have been updated accordingly. Please make sure to use those updated graphics for your future projects.

Download the latest ITRS documentation

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