WE are cycling off the beaten track this week. I have been speaking with author Chris Sidwells about his new book Wild Cycling

Matt: What is Wild Cycling about?

Chris: Essentially, it’s a guide to 50 off the beaten track cycle rides spread around the UK. Each ride is an introduction to the wild cycling potential of the location it’s set in. The rides I’ve included in the book are templates you could follow, but alternative sections, short cuts and long cuts, and ways of expanding each ride are pointed out along the way. The book also gives tips about technique and equipment, about how to read Ordnance Survey maps, and use them in conjunction with the book, both as back-up and to create new rides or loops in each area.

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Matt: What is it about taking the path less ridden?

Chris: Overall, for me, linking back roads, trails and bridleways, feels like cycling felt when I was kid; when I used my bike to explore where I lived and find out was around the next bend or over the next hill. There is also the visceral pleasure of riding where few people go, but it’s even more than that. Remember what it felt like when you were young to go bombing through the woods on your bike? That’s what wild cycling is for me. It’s getting away from the main and the manicured, from traffic and trouble, and linking together trails and back roads to explore and enjoy the countryside, and even the wilder side of towns and cities.

Matt: How did you draw up a shortlist?

Chris: My aim was to spread the rides throughout the country, and to make sure there was something for everyone, whether they are new to cycling of very experienced riders. There are some short and/or undemanding rides in the book, but I think they are still very interesting. Of course there are there are also really hardcore rides in the book, like riding up and down Snowdon (you can’t ride all the way, or at least I couldn’t), almost 1,000 metres of height gain and loss in one ride.

Matt: I imagine a ride or two threw up some unexpected and memorable experiences?

Chris: I know I’m selling a book, but the first thing to say is that all the rides were a joy. They were full of interactions with wildlife, especially with birds. I did quite a few with a photographer friend, Andy Jones, who as well as covering cycling is a great nature photographer. Even with me jabbering away in his ear, Andy picked up the songs of rare specimens I’d never seen.

Matt: Do you think this aspect of getting out and about on a bike is under-represented?

Chris: Yes, I think it could be the next big thing in cycling. For many people some of motivation to take up cycling is doing something out of the ordinary, as well as exploring the countryside and the sense of accomplishment with a hard ride under your wheels. Wild cycling offers these things in spades.

Matt: What will people will get from the book?

Chris: I hope people will find going wild is something they can add to their cycling lives. One of the big messages in the book is that you don’t have to travel far to enjoy wild cycling, there is plenty of it around where people live. For example, one ride is inside the M25, and another is set in Newcastle.

Matt: Is there a truly wild ride you would like to experience?

Chris: Yes, I’ve already done some, but I’d like to do more of the trails in the Pyrenees and Alps that link or are continuations of the great mountain passes of the Tour de France.

  •  Wild Cycling is out on September 7, priced £12.99 and available from most big book shops and Amazon.co.uk