Another month, and another brilliant mountain bike guide from Vertebrate Publishing. Wales Mountain Biking is the latest addition to what is rapidly becoming the definitive series of British MB guidebooks. Author Tom Hutton is the man behind the pull-out route guides in MBR magazine and has used his encyclopaedic knowledge of Welsh mountain bike trails to produce an authoritative volume.
Following the tried and tested Vertebrate formula, the guide breaks Wales down into three distinct areas and details twenty one rides that run the entire gamut from old favourites to the relatively obscure. The Brecon Beacons Gap Road ride will be familiar to many mbers, (it was in fact my first ever proper mountain bike ride way back in 1993), and the increasingly popular Doethie Valley makes an appearance in the Mid-Wales section, but there are less familiar areas covered too. The Preseli Hills and Llanbedr Hill are not well known for the quality of their singletrack, but that could all change thanks to this slim volume.
As you would expect from Tom Hutton, the route descriptions are comprehensive without being verbose. The maps are superb and there's a wealth of extra information contained in the route summaries that ensure that you don't miss any of the local colour, landmarks or historic sites. There's some real gut-busters included such as the 50km Berwyn Hills circuit but for those of a more leisurely bent, there are a number of introductory rides to tune you up for the epic ones.
A good guidebook should get you to the ride and round it without too much hassle, but this guide does this and a whole lot more. It has inspired me in the depths of this cold winter. All being well, I'll see you in the Doethie Valley or the Brecons or Carneddau next summer because this isn't a guide for the bookshelf, it should be stuffed in the top of a hydration pack while you enjoy the delights of some of the best mountain biking in the world.