Thursday, 28 August 2008

101 Mountain-bike routes in Scotland Harry Henniker (1998)

Mainstream Publishing 1 85158 936 8 223pp £14.99

There are any number of guides to various kinds of cycling in locations various. Henniker’s stand out for a number of reasons. His knowledge is that of a life-long enthusiast who runs Bike Bus – a service providing transport for cyclists. He packs all of Scotland into a single volume. And, his routes are straightforward to follow.

Given the size of Scotland, covering it all in only 200 or so pages is no mean feat, but he manages it. There are routes described from Dunnet Head to Maidenkirk – or very nearly. There are also immensely varied – including both modest circular routes and some of the more ambitious journeys that are possible in Scotland.

Henniker’s kind of rides are the tracks and trails that were once the preserve of the Rough Suff Fellowship. Glentress does get a mention, but his main interest is not really the high octane thrills and spills of downhilling.

Each chapter is accompanied by rudimentary maps, and is described. In all probability, you would need a set of OS maps to actually take to the hills and follow most of these routes. Indeed, one wonders how long it will be before volumes such as Henniker’s are offered with CDs containing sat nav files that riders can download to their own handlebar guiding devices.

The author maintains that Scotland is the best country in the world for mountain biking. That remains a matter of contention – but he certainly provides more than enough evidence for someone to make a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of Caledonia’s potential for aficionados of the knobbly tyre.

PS august 2008

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