While Britain is one of the world's most densely populated nations, with a bicycle it's easy to leave the crowded main roads behind and find yourself in an idyllic country setting. The country maintains an astonishing complex of minor roads that links thousands of cities, towns, and villages. It's only a short pedal to the nearest pub, café, or guesthouse. Britain is also a land of many hills but few mountains, which makes it easy to take in the graceful scenery and rich history or meet the locals. As Britain claims to be the birthplace of the bicycle (a Scottish blacksmith built the first self-propelled bike), you can also visit several collections of bicycle memorabilia. The Lonely Planet guidebook has a wide range of itineraries and tours for riders of all abilities, with detailed maps and excellent directions for each, from a Sunday ride past London's best-known sites to a ten-day journey through the Highlands, islands, and quiet roads of Scotland.
Lonely Planet provides in one book all the information a cyclist will need for a tour of Britain, including Wales and Scotland. "Facts for Cyclists" provides practical information on when to ride, a checklist of what to bring, information on buying or renting locally, a list of cycling events, and Internet resources. There's a detailed introduction to the British cycle-touring scene, with tips on how to get to and from Heathrow Airport and how to use the excellent rail network to cover more of the island. There are tips for senior, disabled, and gay and lesbian cyclers, and those riding with children, as well as lists of which airlines are bicycle friendly and how to pack and transport your bike. The "Health and Safety" chapter explains the British rules of the road, and gives tips for getting and staying fit. It discusses treatments for common ailments on the road, and even explains how to avoid the "bonk." As well, there's the usual information on where to stay, what to eat, and what to see, and photographs (though the latter are on the small and skimpy side). With the inclusion of a chapter on bicycle maintenance and repair, this is one excellent, all-purpose guide. Be sure to make room for it in your pannier. --Lesley Reed [via]