You wait ages for a ring-binder MTB guidebook with detachable OS mapping and then two come along at once. Independent, rider-publishers – one from southern England, t'other from the north - have produced high-end MTB guidebooks with loose-leaf pages. And both route guides come with optional extras...

Guidebooks ring in the changes

‘Beyond Hamsterley’ can be purchased with a £4.85 CD of GPS ride plots in Tracklogs format, and ‘Mountainbike rides to the South East’ can be upgraded with a £4.95 bike maintenance section that will be updated via PDF downloads. received news of both ring-binder route books within days of each other. Neither publisher knew of the other’s existence yet both have produced remarkably similar works, albeit of different regions of England.

Max Darkins started Rough Ride Guide Ltd to market his £24.95 ‘Mountainbike rides to the South East’. This has a skills section and 50 mapped routes in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Bucks, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex. The routes include GPS coordinates.

The £12.95 ‘Beyond Hamsterley’ was created and written by journalist Neil Gander of County Durham.

Gander, a member of the Hamsterley Trailblazers route building volunteers, said his book is "a new concept in mountain bike route guides. There’s no need to carry a cumbersome book with you. Simply extract the ride you want from the ring binder, slide it into the splash-proof holder and ride."

The guide has been published to mark the completion of the new Skills Loop at Hamsterley Forest.

"Anybody who knows the 7Stanes centres in the Scottish Borders, such as Glentress, will be looking forward to the buzz that tens of thousands of mountain bikers coming to [Hamsterley] annually will create," said Gander.

"However, many riders who visit the Scottish Borders tend only to ride the purpose built trails in the forests themselves and rarely venture out onto the natural tracks and trails that lace the areas. Consequently many visits are daytrips, weekends or long weekend stays. If Hamsterley visitors could be persuaded to stay a while longer, to explore all the other great riding the area has to offer, that would be to the benefit of the region’s tourist economy."

Both publishers are seeking trade stockists.

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