I.T.A.G stands for International Trail Ability Grading and was created for mountain bike coaches to encourage standardisation and safety out on the trails in the UK.

When I (Rafe, art of the Beyond the Mud team) dreamt up I.T.A.G Framework at the tail end of COVID after watching all these new riders emerge from their isolation I saw some amazing talent, a lot of progression, but a lot of riders who had learnt to run before they could walk. I wanted to create a framework which could give riders a ‘check list’ as it were of what skills to work on first.

I developed the framework alongside several coaches at Beyond the Mud and other organisations to ensure we had a wide range of expertise and opinions. The framework is built upon a natural progression of which skills a rider would need, from beginning their journey into the world of bikes, on green trails, all the way up to becoming a racer or free rider!

I have laid out the 9 column with 6 sub categories. Each sub category is a skill the rider must complete. Once the rider has completed all 6 and demonstrated them to the coaches they can be awarded their Tag, (a coloured paracord bracelet) their certificate and a poster. Once complete the rider can move onto the next column.

You might note the sliding scale of colours along the bottom of the poster. This indicates the trails the riders skill level would best suit. These are aligned with international trail grading markers to keep riders safe.

Here at Beyond the Mud we use this system during our summer camps and when working with groups of children on the trails. We have also started using this ethos with adults we coach too.