Route Description Confusion

Century, 100k, Gran Fondo, Piccolo Fondo, Metric, Half-Metric.  What do these descriptions mean?  It can get a little confusing, especially when there’s no consistency with all the different event distance titles used by different cycling events.

Depending on the type of event or even the event organization/organizer, the same route distance can be called different names, making it even more confusing for everyone.

Currently, one of biggest issues with organized cycling events is that there’s a lot of confusion trying to figure out which color to follow for each route.  This can cause some safety issues and unintended consequences when an event participant follows the wrong color and ends up on a longer or shorter route.  Go to one event, and the century is marked with white paint.  The same century distance at another event could be marked in yellow, orange, pink, etc.

As a comparison, if you’re a snow skier, you may have noticed that there is a trail rating system that uses specific colors and shapes that is consistent at all the ski resorts throughout North America.  As an example, a Green Circle means that the trail is considered easy.  A Blue Square represents an Intermediate rated trail and a Black Diamond is for Advanced trails.

Snow Skiing Trail Rating System


The CAAM Tour Series (CTS) has established a color-distance system that is now being implemented among a growing number of cycling events that are part of the CAAM Tour Series.  

In addition, the CAAM Tour Series uses adhesive Route Arrows in the corresponding colors to mark the courses, adding a uniform marking style and shape to many events, to make it easier for event participants to recognize the correct upcoming turn markings for the route that they are riding.

Below is a general clarification of the different cycling route distances and some of the more common descriptions used.  Keep in mind that each event may use a different name or description that is not consistent with the table below. 

This table is just a general reference tool and not all events follow the same naming or route color marking system.

Typical Route Descriptions
Miles 124 miles 100 miles 74 miles 62 miles 50 miles 31 miles 15 miles 10 miles
Kilometers 200k 160K 120k 100k 80k 50k 25k 16k
General Description 200k Century Metric Century Plus Metric Century Half Century Half-Metric Century Quarter Metric Century Family
Gran Fondo Events   Gran Fondo Gran or Medio Fondo Medio Fondo Medio Fondo Medio or Piccolo Fondo Piccolo Fondo Piccolo or Breve Fondo
Route Marking Colors
– CAAM Tour Series Events
  Yellow   Orange   Green Blue Blue

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