All cyclists have their regular routes – the one to work, the one to your mate’s house, the one to the bike shop.
But these can become tiresome day after day as you mentally move away from your surroundings and set your body to autopilot.
An adventure on unfamiliar terrain will fix the problem, even if you’re just spending an afternoon exploring another part of London.
We’ve rounded up some of the best books to help you out of that rut. Grab a coffee and get planning!
The London Cycling Guide, Updated Edition: More than 40 Great Routes for Exploring the Capital – Tom Bogdanowicz (IMM Lifestyle Books, 2016) – £9.99
Written by a top bod at the London Cycling Campaign and shaped by years of member contributions, The London Cycling Guide covers routes in both the inner and outer parts of the capital.
Every route mentions points of interest along the way, how long it will take and places to stop for some food and drink.
It was updated in 2016 so its has details of newer routes along with tips on using Santander Cycles – handy when you’re in a bind.
London Cyclist 35 London Cycle Routes – (London Cyclist) – £9.95
Excuse the plug, but this is a mighty fine ebook. The download contains 35 cycle routes, complete with GPS coordinates.
When you set off you can choose to download a map or load up the GPS coordinates to help you on your way.
Each trip lists details on distance, difficulty and nearby transport connections as well as points of interest, mileage markers and as nearby facilities (including pubs – get in!). You’ll have a link to a Google Map of each route too.
Rides range from gentle five-milers to more ambitious 113-mile trips around the capital.
It comes with free upgrades for life so whenever a new version comes out, you’re sorted.
The Great British Road Rides Guide: The Best of the UK in 55 Bike Routes – Clive Forth (Bloomsbury, 2014) – £9.34
Try out these 55 routes which vary from 30km to 200km. Each ride had a route map and an elevation
map along with info on route length, climbs and rail links.
It also includes two ‘Taste Le Tour’ rides for each of the two Tour de France Yorkshire stages in 2014.
Bike Scotland (One, Two and Three) – Fergal MacErlean – (Pocket Mountains Ltd, 2005, 2007, 2011) – £3-£5
The Bike Scotland series contains three volumes – one for central Scotland, one of the north east and one for the highlands and islands.
These books are particularly family-friendly. Each adventure is accompanied by a full-colour photograph, contoured map and extra snippets about the region’s history, geology and wildlife.
They’re travel-sized as well so it’ll pop right in your pocket.
Scottish Cycle Routes: 30 Lowland and Highland Road Routes – Alasdair Cain (Mica Publishing, 2015) – £12.95
Get stuck into one of these 30 circular road cycle routes, ranging from 35 miles to 115 miles. You can even customise your routes with extensions and variations: perfect if you fancy a strenuous day (or a lazy one). The routes include two Cairngorms crossings.
Circuits are accompanied by detailed descriptions and Ordnance Survey mapping. It’ll pinpoint uphill and downhill and the spread of total height gain. There are also route fact files indicating starting point, distance, height gain, maximum gradient and approximate time. We can’t forget about everyone’s fave: the café stops.
Lost Lanes Wales: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Wales – Jack Thurston (Wild Things Publishing, 2015) – £14.99
Take in the beautiful sites of Wales with Lost Lanes. The guide includes 36 summits travelling through ‘mountain summits, enchanted woodlands, wild seashores and ancient ways’.
Downloadable information will help you along your way. Follow routes from easy to challenging using handmade maps, tips on the best pubs, tea stops, B&Bs, camping pitches and even some wild swims to cool off. Each route is downloadable on GPS.
Compact Wales: Iconic Cycling Trails in Wales – Phil Horsley (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2017) – £5.95
This little-known newcomer contains 16 family-friendly routes around tidal estuaries, woodlands and more.
Paul Benjaminse explores routes between Belfast and Dublin, featuring maps and detailed routes of Ulster, Sligo, Cork, Connemara, The Burren, Leinster and the Dublin Mountains.
The spiral-bound book can take a fair battering on the road too so don’t forget to take it on your travels.
100 Greatest Cycling Climbs: A Road Cyclist’s Guide to Britain’s Hills – Simon Warren (Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, 2010) – £7.99
Here’s one for the hardcore hill climbers. Make your way through the UK’s best 100 climbs – everything from cobbled city streets to seemingly-vertical mountain climbs.
It includes maps with a start and finish point for each climb as well as grid and OS references, timings and difficulty ratings ranked from 1-10 based on gradient, length and surface.
Legend has it that only four people have tackled all 100… tempted?
Sustrans’ Traffic-Free Cycle Routes: 150 Great Days Out – Wendy Johnson (Sustrans, 2015) – £12
Discover more of the UK with this guide featuring 150 rides across the country. There are rides for all a
bilities, so you can even take the sprogs with you if you like. It has
your typical places to stay and eat along the route as well as info on bike hire centres, public transport links and other points of interest.
It’s a rather nice way to mark 20 years of the National Cycling Network.
Do you have any books you’d like to recommend? Tell us in the comments below.