The Rating System
The I.C.R.S. uses a very basic 1 to 10 numerical scale, with half-point increments in between the whole numbers for a total of twenty initial levels. It may seem complicated at first, but it’s really pretty simple. It's easier to understand a system if we look at the obvious extremes. The very best professional cyclists in the world for example, would be rated as 10's, whereas an advanced beginner rider is rated a 1.
Beginner .5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5,
Intermediate 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5
Expert 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5 8, 8.5,
Professional 9, 9.5, 10.
Take some time to learn the system. It’s enough to be able to distinguish the difference between three main categories (beginner, intermediate and expert) before getting into half point differences. For right now we will focus on the three main groups. The real purpose is to be able to rate yourself closely enough to be able to enjoy riding with other cyclists.
Guidelines for I.C.R.S. Ratings
As a common starting point the I.C.R.S. suggests a road 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) individual time trial for most adults and a one-kilometer time trial for youths 12 and under. To equalize conditions between a stationary indoor trainer and riding outdoors, assume minimal wind resistance on a relatively flat course. These 1 and10K individual time trials establish benchmark speeds, a reference used to get initial self ratings.
The 10K distance is the best measure for our intermediate cyclists, levels 3 through 5.5. Our 6 Intermediate levels of cyclists derive the most benefit from a rating program. The Expert cyclists (levels 6-10) generate their own ratings from race results, and obviously possess the necessary skills and advanced bike-handling abilities needed in competition.
A cyclist’s rating is based on two main factors: bike handling skills and time trial performance abilities. Skills are developed over years of accumulated cycling experience and are more difficult to objectively rate than the speed averaged over a kilometer. It is important to remember that the suggested performance guidelines, such as an average speed, make up only one part of the I.C.R.S. rating. There is no substitute for years of riding and race experience. A riders experience and bike handling skills are the less visible part of a rating and need to be given equal consideration. A time trial speed gives no indication of a cyclist’s group riding skills, an important safety factor in massed start events. When setting up activities, event organizers should solicit and evaluate each cyclist’s background and experience.