The Good Mountain Biking Guide
27th Sep 2011
Somebody had to do it. The UK has been crying out for a guide like this for quite some time. I remember back in the late 80s getting my first mountain bike and riding it up Snowdon from Llanberis and then down to Rhyd Ddu. I went over the handle bars. I was 15 at the time. It was ace. Mountain Biking has come on a long way since then. The bikes themselves have evolved to an incredible level. The riders are more plentiful than ever thanks to affordable kit, inspiring videos, they bike-to-work scheme and a thousand other reasons. But most importantly are the number of places to ride your bike – whatever type it is. Sure bridal ways have not changed much since the advent of the MTB, but there’s now a whole industry dedicated to the art of creating purpose built bike trails and even trail centres. This book, at long last, combines the lot of them into one hefty directory, packed with information to make getting out on your bike a doddle, wherever you are in the country.
But that’s the crux of the issue. Despite having over 500 areas detailed on 638 pages it doesn’t even touch on the best area of all – Scotland! Scotland will obviously be a second tome. And a tome it is. 638 pages. Not a book to take on the ride with you. Neither is it a guide that will serve you particularly well for your local area which you will no doubt know in far more intimacy than it covers (though you may well find a surprise or two). It’s a guide that should accompany you on any trip you take within England and Wales, along with your bike and an OS map to the area. There are actually 4 pages of suggested guidebooks to buy for specific areas should you want to go beyond the suggestions in the book.
It’s colour coded for quick reference to the region of the UK that you want to know about, the regions split into sub regions at the start of each colour coded zone (these are handily referenced in an overall map on the inside of the back cover). Sub regions are given a general introduction and then split into actual areas, many of whose names you will recognise – Betws Y Coed, Salisbury, Wharncliffe Woods etc. It’s these latter areas of which there are a staggering 500 (The amount of work that’s gone into producing this book is quite mind boggling). Each area has its own map with a number of suggested rides detailed as well as general info about the area – local bike shops, pubs and cafes, distance from the nearest population centres (there’s also a handy coloured circle in the top corner of each map to geographically orientate you). Of course there is a scale, north arrow, grid references, telephone numbers, websites and post codes for any useful reference points. No sat nav coordinates though which is a surprise (then again that would have been another year’s work!).
To top things off it’s full of inspiring picture too. A mighty piece of work. The two pages of acknowledgements are testament to the amount of work that has gone into the book, and also the close-knit world of mountain biking. My one complaint would be a lack of directory of trail actual centres – something for the next edition…
Retails at £19.95 – excellent value for money.