We really got into mountain biking in 2020 and the Vertebrate guides were fantastic for coming up with routes to do and knowing if I’d find them achievable (given I’m not really into tech routes!)
I loved the Big Trails guides, so I was very excited with the arrival of the Big Rides: Great Britain and Ireland book.
Providing an epic selection of 25 long distance routes catering for both road, gravel and mountain biking there’s the classic routes of Sarn Helen and Lakeland 200 but also some surprises too.
As with the Big Trails books, this isn’t a book to take out on the hill with you. It’s meant for reading with a coffee on a wet day as you start to plan adventures; a place to start if you need inspiration and advice.
Big Rides starts with a detailed ‘How to Use this Book’ section highlighting understanding icons used, the colour coding used for when to go and the differences in pace calculated for each type of adventure.
This is particularly useful if, like me, knowing the quality of the tracks is useful in advance.
For each route the book provides beautiful images along the trail, alongside a summary of the route, including highlights, key locations and things to think about while planning. This provides both inspiration and allows you to start to plan your adventure.
For each route there is also an overview map showing the route and for each there is a summary of essential information, such as distance, key features, a profile of the route height along the trail, and pros and cons of the routes.
It also lists good places to find out more about the route to aid planning, from books to websites.
It’s a bit surprising for a guide which covers GB and Ireland to have missed out some of the classic routes, but to have 2 which drift on to the north coast of France. For example the Pennine Bridleway, a classic mountain biking route is missing.
That said I love that it has a fair spread of routes in the 5 nations and it does have some really useful information for planning routes, for example I’m totally inspired now to check out Scotland’s Get North Trail.
If you’re in need of some inspiration for an adventure and need a place to start then Big Rides: Great Britain and Ireland will get you started with ideas.