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previous book reviews

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part of the way there to a site conversion to web standards. the look and feel of this page is controlled by a stylesheet, and soon i'll manage the whole thing (maybe).

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spain: the trail rider guide. revolution publishing. 17 (uk)

trailguide spain front cover

it's a bit of a mystery as to how this book only costs 17 in the uk. authors, mountain bikers, total factotums, james nathan and linsey stroud, gave up their jobs as teacher and barrister (not sure who did what), sold the house and upped sticks to spain to search out the best singletrack money could buy (if you follow my drift).

and you certainly can't accuse them of not having done their homework, which even stretched to ms stroud learning quarkxpress in order to lay out the book. this concise volume, sized nicely to take with you on the trail(s) provides more information than you could possibly shake a gear cable at (always assuming it's possible to shake a gear cable at all).

trailguide spain title pagethe inside front cover explains the layout of the subsequent pages: details such as the availability of local services, the distance covered by each route, approximately how long the route will take, along with distance, elevation and gps info, technical difficulty, the wonderfully titled 'followability', map location, general description of the area etc., etc.

having read most of these, i'm beginning to think i know spain better than islay. the detail really is quite incredible and you just know that even though they tell you they have ridden every inch, they really have ridden every inch. and as if to reinforce this notion, there are copious photographs of just about every inch of spain, from the mundane (rear jockey wheel in the grass) to the glorious (beautiful singletrack snaking into the distance along a hilly coastline.

trailguide spain the maps covering each section are of graphical value only - ordnance survey they are not, but that's hardly a justifiable expectation of any book this size. and i can't think of too many people who would mountain-bike parts of spain at this level without having acquired a detailed map. that said, assuming you know how to get to the start of any given ride, the descriptions along with gps information begin to make a map look reduntant. just stick the gps thingy on the bars and pedal like stink.

just to take valle de tena in northern spain as an example (page 64), the headings encompass location (western pyrenees), general background (panticosa alone has nine peaks above 3000m), weather (storm fronts, local winds and total unpredictability), protection status (riding is permitted anywhere), local dangers (sun exposure), equipment (lightweight full suspension or hardtail), cross country and freeride (tough cross-country, no operational ski-lifts), downhill (potential as yet untapped) and local observations.

along the bottom of the two pages containing the above information is a substantial amount of local information, ranging from the area's highest peak, which maps cover the area to bike repair and what to do on a day off from biking (as if you'd want to).

however, you don't really have to take my word for it, since revolution publishing have provided thewashingmachinepost with the opportunity to let you download a chapter from the book. see the link at the end of the review.

trailguide spain mountain bikerto get back to the mystery of such a low cost for such a crammed book (and i mean that in the best way possible) the apparent sponsorship of the trek bike company may well be a factor, becuase despite the majority of rider shots in the book being of (presumably) james nathan aboard a cannondale, there is a trek logo adorning the front a back covers of the book. inside is a profile of a mountain bike along with the spanish nomenclature for the major parts thereof (in case you break something and have to buy a new bit from a spanish bike shop - now that's something i'd never have thought of). the bike is a trek liquid.

even if the notion of mountain biking in spain has never entered your head - and i'm the first to put my hand up here because i spend all my riding time aboard a colnago c40 that only gets to glance sideways at anything approaching offroad riding - rush out an buy this book because it engenders a spark of freedom that consists of warm, dry, dusty singletrack that crunches nicely as a pair of knobblies glide over it very quickly. and you will indeed, hablo espanol.

the trailrider guide to spain is intended to be the first in a series of european mountain bike guides from revolution publishing. we look forward to reviewing future publications. the book is available from good cycle stores, bookstores and amazon.co.uk. more info at trailriderguide.com or revolutionpublishing.com

download a sample chapter (pdf 1.6mb) alpujarrar. (mac users option click/windows right click and 'save to disk')

trailguide spain back cover
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by the way, i've already had promises of photos for the velo club d'ardbeg web page, so just a reminder: if you've bought an ardbeg cycle jersey, get a photo of yourself wearing it along with your favourite bike, and we'll put them up on a vcd'a page on the post, before we start hassling the good folks at ardbeg to incorporate similar onto their own website. and remember, the official tea stop and club hut is at the old kiln cafe at ardbeg distillery. wear your jersey anytime you visit. if you missed the ardbeg cycle jerseys, click here for a look see.

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this website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine

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as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.

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previous book reviews

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