It's now six weeks since I picked up the new bike, so today it's been back to the shop for its free service / check-up. They needed it for a couple of hours, so after dropping it off I wandered into town, mooched around for a bit, bought a book, found a café, read the book, then mooched around a bit more before picking the bike up, and bringing it home for a trial. They've trimmed things up nicely, and it is riding beautifully.
The book I bought was the Lonely Planet "Cycling Britain". Normally I'm a bit wary of national guides to cycle routes. Some offer good ideas that provide a basis for inventing local routes, but most use 80% of the space to describe short routes that are so far way that I couldn't realistically try them out, even if I wanted to.
The Lonely Planet guide, on the other hand, concentrates on routes that last a week or so. All of them are practical options for a cycling holiday, and parts of most are reachable for a short break. Even better, one route is similar to the one I am planning to ride in a few weeks time, and there are a couple that I've been considering for future trips. I've also ridden bits of the local routes that they cover, so I am able to compare my impressions with some of theirs.
I'd be interested in other views, but my first reaction was that there are an alarming number of typos for a book that has been around for nearly ten years, and that is in its second edition. Having said that, it reads as though they have actually ridden what they are writing about. When they describe the routes that I know, their impressions aren't hugely different from mine. So I hope that they will be pretty reliable for the other routes.
The book seems to be targeted at an international audience so it also offers some basic advice about cycling in Britain. Some of the suggestions are pretty mundane, but I particularly like the recommendation to "go through puddles". Some might read that as a cheap jibe about British weather, but I'm inclined to add it to the other basic principles of my kind of cycling: "if you are not having fun, then you are not doing it right", "any activity that requires special clothing can't be good for you", and "stop faffing around on the internet and invent a reason to go for ride".