"Be swept around the heartland and coastlines of Britain in 55 flowing road rides" says the blurb for Clive Forth's Great British road rides guide. While 55 rides are never going to give complete coverage of the country, the rides on offer here certainly live up to the claim.
I have always found it hard to be objective about any route guidebook, because you simply cannot get around to testing every ride. However, for the first time I have come across a guidebook where I find that I have ridden about half of the routes on offer. Either I have lived close to some of the routes, or I have chosen to go on a cycling holiday in an area featured in the book.
Just like the author Clive Forth I chose the routes because of "their lack of traffic, their variation, and their stunning views of the British landscape". Seems like we have the same idea of what makes a good route, which gives me confidence that the other routes will suit my riding preferences.
All of the routes start and finish at a railway station – but not always the same one, because not all routes are circular rides. Some of the routes are based around the Tour de France's visit this year, but they do not actually follow the race route: after all, main roads without the same road closures that the professional peloton benefits from are never fun. Instead, you can be guided around only the more enjoyable and interesting parts of the race route.
A summary at the start of each route gives the sort of information about distance and location that you would expect; special attention is given to any climbs that will be encountered, including the elevation profile from Clive's Garmin GPS unit.
Each route is accompanied by half a page of 1:250,000 Ordnance Survey mapping, which may not always be detailed enough on its own to follow the route. I found the actual marking of the route to be a bit confusing at times since it is in the form of a red line – just like many of the A roads on the map. Fortunately the intention is that you don't have to rely on the book, as eventually you will be able to download every route from Bloomsbury.com (http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-great-british-road-rides-guide-97814081...). This is a thoughtful touch that means that you don't have to take the book with you, although for "unresolved technical reasons" this feature is not ready yet. In addition, you will soon be able to download every route in .GPX format from the Garmin Connect website, which is another useful service.
It is worth mentioning the pictures, which are plentiful and inspirational. I feel that they do a good job of giving a flavour of what to expect on the ride, confirming the stunning views promised.
Great selection of well-chosen routes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bloomsbury The Great British Road Rides Guide
Size tested: Paperback
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
My rating is dependent on the ability to download the routes as promised; I would knock a point off if that does not become a reality.
About the tester
Age: 55 Height: Weight:
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,