My new book Britain for Bikers is published today. It's live on Amazon and should be arriving in bookshops (but support your local bookshop if you can). This is great and I'm really excited – but I'm also really nervous.
I'm excited because it's the culmination of a lot of hard work – a lot of miles and a lot of hours at the keyboard, not to mention a lot of careful thought.
I'm nervous because it's a bit of a different product to those I've produced before. I'm used to hiding behind my writing, trying to use some artful phrases and flourishes of text to convince the reader that they do want to go and do whichever ride they're looking at.
There's virtually none of that in Britain for Bikers. Each ride gets just a four- or five-line intro. That's it. Then the routes are presented with excellent A to Z mapping and a road-book of directions, so there's no space for me to puff it up. It really is all about the quality of the routes.
This is all based on what I've learnt from producing the other books, where people who wanted tankbag directions told me they had to produce their own. Well, we've done it for you with Britain for Bikers (though I'm sure most people will still follow the maps when riding the routes).
The routes are slightly different as well. Rather than a mix of rides – from an hour or two up to a week in length – these are all shorter, snappier routes. Running this website, with the downloadable GPX files, has shown me that the most popular routes are the quicker ones – so Britain for Bikers is all about those. Almost all of the routes take between 90 minutes and two hours to do (plus coffee and banter time, of course).
This is all very deliberate. The whole idea of the book was to cover the country with accessible, fun, easy-to-ride routes that can be fitted in with family life at the weekend. I hope they'll encourage people to ride a few miles to pick up a route in a slightly different area – which is what all the books are about, after all.
But you don't have to cross the country to find great new roads: the rides in Britain for Bikers should let you enjoy a tried-and-tested route that's only slightly off your usual stomping ground and they're deliberately short so it's possible to get home again easily (to mow the grass, wash the bike, have dinner with the family or whatever else has to be done at the weekend). No time off work, no B&Bs... unless you want that of course! All the routes are circular, starting and ending in petrol stations – easy locations at which to meet your riding buddies... and making sure you always have enough juice for the ride.
So now the book is ready, after a solid year of riding, writing, tweaking, editing and generally hammering away at routes from Kent to Caithness, from Cornwall to County Down, across Wales, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire – in every corner of the country. I had so much help from so many people, checking roads and even entire rides and giving me feedback that it really feels like a team effort (especially with the work the publishing team put it).
The final stage was to shoot a promo video for it – have a giggle at how uncomfortable I am in front of the camea – and let you all know that Britain for Bikers is available now. I hope you enjoy it.