If you're a cyclist in Ireland - or have resolutions of becoming one in 2024 - here's a book for you.
Packed with 80 routes ranging from 8km to 207km, Cycling in Ireland is a comprehensive guide to some of the best routes across the island. The book covers all four corners of Ireland and author David Flanagan has put in the legwork, with 18 months of research resulting in an excellent guide.
You'll find full colour maps and photos of each route, along with a description of the terrain and tips on refreshments, local points of interest and so on.
A route profile helps give a sense of the relative hilliness/difficulty of each route, and as is common these days there's a downloadable GPX file for each one too, so you can load it onto your cycle computer and follow turn-by-turn directions.
The layout of the book, with wide pages, generous illustrations and easy-to-read text, make it a pleasure to leaf through. Ireland has some spectacular scenery and miles of deserted rural roads, cyclists here are spoiled for choice but it can be difficult to know where to start - especially if you want to avoid the busier roads.
This 272-page guide makes choosing a route easy, and there's something for cyclists of all persuasions with sections on Ireland's canal towpaths, mountain bike trail centres, road and gravel routes, and even a look at some long-distance routes like the Wild Atlantic Way coastal trail.
The book has brought home to me how little I've really travelled in Ireland, how much there is to discover. It's easy to fall into a habit of riding the same local roads - especially when, living in the Mournes, there's such a wealth of options on the doorstep - but picking through the pages of this book I've quickly amassed a list of "must do" routes that will easily keep me busy for the rest of the year and beyond.
Best of all, because Ireland is - relatively - small, they're all within a day's reach of home.
Visitors to Irish cycling groups on Facebook, like the Irish Gravel Cyclists page, may recognise David's name as a regular contributor, and indeed he seems actively engaged in helping promote cycling across the island: a mission that this book can only help with.
Its accessibility is a key part of the appeal: this isn't a masochist's guide to the most punishing climbs known to humanity (although if that's your thing, a list of Ireland's top 10 climbs is included) but rather a broad-reaching selection of routes that will appeal to a cross section of cyclists, from the super fit competitive or sportive rider to leisure cyclists and those seeking a family-friendly way of seeing the countryside.
While I say it's a comprehensive guide, David recently published an updated edition packing in even more routes: now 96 in total (the contents pages pictured above are from the 2nd edition).
Make room on your bookshelf for it, and consider adding the accompanying Cycling in Ireland poster as well: it may be winter now, but by the time the warmer weather rolls around you'll find yourself inspired to dust off the bike and explore this enchanting Atlantic island.
Cycling in Ireland: A guide to the best of Irish cycling by David Flanagan - €25 from threerockbooks.com