Mountain Biking in the Lake District is the first in a new series to be released by award winning publishers Cicerone. The series is already being added to with a very nearly released guide for the South Downs and having spoken to Cicerone directly more guides are to be released in the near future, with a commitment to making the guidebooks a ‘long-term' series.
Anybody in the UK who releases a mountain biking guidebook has the unfortunate job of following in the footsteps of giants, of such quality are the guides by the guys over at Vertebrate Publishing, that they are now in danger of spoiling us -the Ferrero Rocher effect.
Durable plastic coated front cover of the new guide.
The author of Cicerone's new guide Ian Boydon, has been exploring what the Lakes has to offer for over 17 years and his extensive knowledge has been compiled in to one volume for all to share. 188 pages include 24 routes, divided in to short, medium, long and full day loops, taking on the ever subjective blue, red and black gradings that are used in the trail centres around the UK.
The danger with guidebooks to places like the Lake District is that there are a number of ‘classic routes' that beg to be included in any guide, the problem with it is that the same ground can get covered again and again, with nothing original coming to light. However to leave these routes out would immediately cast any hard-earned guidebook under the bed, to be forgotten about and for your kids to find in years to come, stating how our bikes look ‘well old' and ‘our ‘helmets look stupid'. What Boydon manages to achieve in this new Lakes guide is an acknowledgement of these classic areas or rides whilst adding enough variation to appeal to those who know the area or own other popular guides on the market.
Routes details are clear and well presented, with a percentage on/off-road indicator.
Routes are given a clear layout with a helpful percentage indicator of how much on and off road is to be expected on each ride, something I dislike is getting psyched for a route only to find out i've a day on tarmac to reach the downhill reward. The routes utilise Ordnance Survey mapping, in my opinion better than Harvey's maps for biking, and indicate the route clearly at a 1:50,000 scale. A route profile is also included stating where the ups and downs are to be found on the route, plus all the usual details you'd expect like total distance, ascent in metres and feet, guide time, start/finish grid reference and nearby amenities. In addition the on and off-road distances are given for each loop which again helps in the planning stages.
1:50,000 OS mapping will clear route directions
Route descriptions are clear, however a text description is something I pay little attention to, as I usually rely wholly on the mapping included in the book. In terms of structure the cover is plastic coated and therefore very durable, nice when being stuffed inside a pack for the day, and a ribbon is attached to the spine as a bookmark, a small feature but one that saves you flipping through the book three times to find where you were.
Despite being well designed and laid out, my only gripe is that the images in the Cicerone guide aren't on a par with those by John Coefield, whose photos benefit from a liberal splash throughout the VP guidebooks, perhaps a small point but the Cicerone images show me and don't psyche me.
As a stand-alone guidebook I have a whole lot of praise for Cicerone's new offering and if you're seeking a guidebook for the Lakes with some variation to the classic routes and new ones to boot then this is definitely one to buy. £12.95 is an extremely competitive price for a well structured and informed guidebook from the UK's most highly awarded Outdoors publishers.
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