Get your bike down to the book shop, for two new titles about cycling in and around the city are published this month.
London on Two Wheels is a collaboration between Ebury Press and Santander Cycles — the bank-sponsored branch of Transport for London that oversees the cycle hire scheme. It's a straightforward guide to getting the most out of the so-called Boris bikes.
The introduction provides some entry-level tips on safety, etiquette and fitness, then it's on to the exploration bit. The guide offers 25 routes, all starting and ending at a cycle hire docking station. With over 700 stations now in operation, the bikes can take you further out than you might expect.
Trips in the book can stray mid-route as far as Kingston and Highgate, although most stick to more central areas. Everything is clearly laid out, with features of interest to look out for on the way. The book squares up well as a beginner's guide, but might be old hat for regular cyclists.
Cycling Climbs of South-East England is most definitely not aimed at those on Boris bikes. Author Simon Warren details 60 of the greatest hills in London and the Home Counties, including 'some real brutes'.
Three of the hills are in London proper: College Hill in Dulwich, Muswell Hill in north London, and the slopey bastard that is Swain's Lane, Highgate. (The famous cemetery is an appropriate stop, half way up.)
These are mere hillocks compared to some of the provincial climbs. Barhatch Lane in Surrey, for example, is a 'remorselessly tough' challenge, with 25% gradients in places. We've owned cars that wouldn't make that climb.
Gluttons for punishment will want to fill in the table at the back of the book, to keep a chronicle of every painful incline. If that's still not enough, Cycling Climbs of South-East England is just the first of eight new regional guides. Conquer them all and you'll have thighs like milk churns.
Read other Londonist book reviews.