We've had the pleasure of reviewing some of Mica's superb walkers' guides in the past. The formula is both attractive and effective. Within each deceptively slim volume you find maps and route descriptions, backed up by outstanding colour photography. Mica have now very successfully applied the same formula to a cycling guide and the result is a book that will broaden the horizons of anyone who fancies getting to know what is often called "the best small country in the world" on two wheels.
"Scottish Cycle Routes" by Alasdair Cain is a lovely little book. Between the covers are details of 30 circular road cycle routes, ranging in length from 35 miles to 115 miles. There are a couple of pages of introduction, and a map, for each regional grouping, and then we are into the rides themselves. For each you get an excellent and detailed full colour map, a gradient profile, and the same high quality colour photography we have come to expect from the walking guides: only this time featuring cyclists in the foreground. The text is helpful and informative, and covers everything from gradients to visitor attractions and the availability of toilets. The book commences with a short introductory chapter, setting out hints and tips for those contemplating road cycling in Scotland.
With any book like this, a great deal depends on the choice of routes included. What impressed us was the sense that there was something here for everyone, from relative novices to road cycling right up to hardened cyclists who simply need geographical pointers in order to explore somewhere new to them. We've already talked about the range of route lengths included. They also vary dramatically in character. At the hardcore end of the scale, two routes in the heart of the Cairngorms are included, the "Cairngorm Brute" and the "Cairngorm Monster", as is a route taking in the spectacular, and challenging, Bealach na Ba pass in Applecross. But fear not, there are also much more benign rides here taking in the Black Isle, the Moray coast, Ayrshire, Arran, the Lothians, Fife and more. Looking for the inspiration needed to get off your couch and get on your bike? Look no further!