Guidebook: Lake District Mountain Biking
3rd Jan 2007
Written by Chris Gore & Richard Staton
This is the 6th book in Vertebrate's mountain biking guide range in 2 years. That's seriously worrying for anybody else producing, or thinking of producing, mountain bike guides. Not only because of the number of guides, but because they are doing them well.
This guide to the Lakes is fatter than its predecessors (Dark Peak, White Peak, South West, and Yorkshire Dales South & North) with 205 pages, but importantly is still compact enough to take on a ride with you. The guides are actually small enough to fit in most pockets.
For me, the most important element of any guidebook is the orientation map which should invariably be inside the front cover or early in the book. In earlier versions of the Vertebrate guides the maps left a little to be desired, with the bare minimum of information. The Lakes guide is a good example of how to do it right. About 10 pages in is a double spread showing the whole area. It features an inset detailing where in the UK the Lake District is, useful for foreigners, and a table detailing each ride, its name, type, length and page, with a number cross referenced to the adjacent map. Perfect. I can look at this map and decide very quickly what sort of ride and where I fancy going for the day. Furthermore, the start of each section features a map for that area with the routes drawn to scale giving a really good visual indicator as to how long they are.
The big change from the earlier guides to this one (and the Yorkshire Dales edition) is the individual route maps. Initially they were based on Ordnance Survey and portrayed a relatively small amount of information. Vertebrate have switched to Harvey Maps and gone for the full monty. Each map is effectively a sub-section of a fully blown walkers map. However, despite giving a wealth of information they don't have a scale included which is mildly irritating.
With each route description is a profile showing how much height is gained and lost and how steeply, distance, start and finish points, parking, pubs and cafes, an introduction selling the ride, a detailed description, written directions, a map and some photos. Also included, where relevant, is a bit at the end explaining how you can extend things to make a day of it. A nice touch.
The four sections are split by type rather than location, into Classics (10), Epics (7), Enduros (7) and the very sinister sounding Killers (3). There are also a couple of sections on the best downhill runs and singletracks. The 27 routes range in length from 12 to 60km.
The quality doesn't really need commenting on as it is a Vertebrate production. There are plenty of inspiring colour photos, the routes look excellent and the design is top notch. One point worth noting is the increase in the number of adverts gracing the pages. Importantly though, the back cover is free of them, featuring information about the guide, as all guides should do.
It is priced £15.95, and well worth it.
Reviewed by Matt Heason on behalf of planetFear