Mountain Biking Trail Centres: The Guide

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vertebrate_trailcentres_lo (24K)

  • Mountain Biking Trail Centres: The Guide
  • £17.95
  • www.v-publishing.co.uk

Vertebrate Publishing has built its reputation with a portfolio of well-regarded MTB route guide books, but its latest offering is a little different. Rather than being focussed on a region and describing traditional rights-of-way routes therein, Mountain Biking Trail Centres: The Guide does just what it says. Compiled and written by Tom Fention, you’ll find key details of the UK’s 67 purpose-built trail centres contained within the book’s 216 pages.

After the usual preamble about bikes, safety and so on (with some added trail centre-specific notes on grading systems and the like), it’s into the meat of the book. It’s split into three sections covering England (with a surprising 25 centres), Scotland and Wales – sorry, Northern Ireland. Sitting between each section are some Top 10 pages – To Start Out On, Flowing Singletrack and Tricky Trails – plus some background on the process of trail building in the back.

Each centre gets a suitability rating for beginners, intermediates and advanced riders, a guide to facilities, an at-a-glance list of the trails and all the usual useful information – nearest bike shop, location, short description and so on. There’s also a handy “pros and cons” list for each centre. Then you get a little more detail about each trail – distance, a time estimate, ratings for Effort and Technicality and a short description.

Obviously the usual guidebook fare of route directions and maps are largely redundant here, although you could make a case for height profiles and amounts of climbing/descending to add to the distance and time guides. There’s an overview map up the front so you can see where everything is, and each centre has a simple location map.

There are plenty of photos to inspire you, with the selection doing a good job of making trail centres look more varied than you might expect – clearly there’s no shortage of conifers, but there’s a healthy amount of moorland and open skies too. There’s even a shot of your slightly-esteemed editor on page 163.

Mountain Biking Trail Centres: The Guide is presented in a slightly larger format that Vertebrate’s other route guides, and is a rather glossier proposition than the only similar book we know of, Nicky Crowther’s Where To Mountain Bike In Britain. It’s a handy thing to have lying around in the depths of winter, ready to dip into with thoughts of summer trips…

Ups and downs

good Everything you need to know, ideal for browsing and planning

bad Will inevitably gradually go out of date

Verdict

This is one of those “Why hasn’t this been done before?” propositions. By focussing on purpose-built centres, the book has a pretty clear remit and can be genuinely comprehensive (at the time of publication, at least). It’s fairly expensive, but that’s books for you…

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